Start(ER)ing From Scratch?

Dear Sourdoughmaniacs, 

Today, I would like to teach you my method of creating your very own sourdough starter, also known as mother dough, mother culture, lievito madre, and many other culturally diverse expressions. Whether you are a complete sourdough beginner, have been successfully baking for years, have tried making your own sourdough starter before and were unsuccessful, or simply want to learn something new, this post is for you. 

Those of you who have been following me for a long time know that when I first tried to make my own sourdough starter, I didn’t really know what to do, and my starter died. On my second attempt, I was successful and my Rudl bubbled to life. So, if you haven’t been successful so far, don’t let that sour your fun. Our sourdough baking journeys, much like our sourdough starters, can have their ups and downs, and that’s exactly what makes them so unique and magical. 

So, if you are ready to rise to the occasion, grab a jar, some (rye) flour, and water, then swipe for the instructions, and let’s get starte(r)d.


Fermented tips and tricks to make your very own sourdough starter


  • a clean jar with a twist-on lid (that can hold approximately 400 ml of water)
  • a spoon
  • a digital kitchen scale


(rye) flour, water, time, and patience

Hint: To get the best result, I recommend using high quality organic stoneground flour and filtered water (or water that has been left to sit on your kitchen counter for at least 2 hours) as chlorine can kill wild yeast. 

TIP: if you aren’t using rye four, use less water than flour and make sure your mixture is on the thick side. It shouldn’t be runny or watery.

DAY 1:

Mix 20 g of rye flour with 20 g of water. Cover with a lid but leave it slightly ajar.

Leave at room temperature on your kitchen counter. Stir the mixture twice a day.

Hint: Don’t place the jar next to a radiator or another source of heat as high temperatures can actually harm the wild yeast cultures you are trying to cultivate.

DAY 2:

Add an additional 20 g of rye flour and 20 g of water to the mixture and give it a thorough stir.

Stir twice more throughout the day.

DAY 3: 

There should be some signs of “life” and activity in the jar by this point. The mixture should be rising up slowly and smell a little bit sour or perhaps even bit odd. Don’t let that disturb you, it’s normal.

Add an additional 30 g or rye flour and 30 g or water. Stir thoroughly.

DAY 4:

Take away half of the mixture or even more and add it to some pancake batter. ?

For the next three days, feed the remainder of the starter in the jar with 30 g of water and 30 g of rye flour and stir thoroughly. That way, by day 7 you will have cultivated a sufficient amount of yeast culture and lactic acid bacteria and your starter will be ready to bake with. 

DAY 5:

Add 30 g of rye flour and 30 g of water and mix thoroughly.

DAY 6: 

Add 30 g of rye flour and 30 g of water and mix thoroughly.


If after day 3 your starter stops reacting, stops growing, and/or smells awfully sour, take away approximately 5 g (or one teaspoon) of the mixture, put it into a fresh and clean jar, and feed it with 20 go of flour and 15 g of water. Repeat if necessary. Make sure that the mixture is thick after you add water. It shouldn’t be runny or too wet, regardless of the type of flour you use.


You only need to follow this 7-day process once. Once your sourdough starter is active and bubbly, you can start feeding it with all-purpose white flour or bread flour to make it more “neutral”. Full grain flours or rye flour have more nutrients so they can make your starter sour quicker, but don’t fret! If that happens, simply repeat the SOS step and you should be good to go.

TIP: Once your starter doubles in size within 24 hours of being fed, you can start storing it in the fridge until the next feeding or until you want to bake with it. If your starter rises and falls evenly by the 4th or 5th day, you can even use it as early as that. But keep in mind that the younger a starter is, the more vulnerable and unpredictable it can be, so don’t be discouraged if your first loaf of bread looks a little bit on the flat side. The older your starter gets and the more consistently it is fed, the stronger and more reliable it will become! 


Now that you’ve successfully created your sourdough starter, don’t forget to name it. Doing so will make taking care of it much easier and seeing as you and your starter will be collaborating on many a fermented project it’s important that you form a bond. Coincidentally, today is also International Pet Day, and although you can’t really walk or pet a starter, they do make great baking companions and I’ve even taken mine on holiday with me a few times. So, if you’ve always wanted a pet, but for any reason can’t have one, making and naming a starter, is a good way to… well start. 

Don’t forget to tag me in your sourdough stories and posts, so that we can keep track of your growing starter together!

Have a nice day and let’s bake the world a better place. 

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