How to make your own sourdough starter

I am 99% gluten free 90% of the time, with the exception of sourdough bread. I don’t eat a lot of sourdough bread, but when I do, I make sure it’s from a quality source. Sourdough bread should probably be your only bread, even if you’re not gluten sensitive. Here are the top 5 reasons to chose sourdough bread:

1.  Increases beneficial lactic acid
The longer rise time needed for sourdough increases the lactic acid and creates an ideal pH for the enzyme phytase. This enzyme breaks down phytates (read more about the dangers of phytic acid here) more effectively than in yeast breads.

2. Predigestion of starches
The bacteria and yeast in the sourdough culture work to predigest the starches in the grains, thus making it more easily digestible to the consumer.

3. Breakdown of gluten
Here again, the longer soaking and rising times in the preparation of sourdough breaks the protein gluten into amino acids, making it more digestible.

4. Preservative
The acetic acid which is produced along with lactic acid, helps preserve the bread by inhibiting the growth of mold.

5. Better blood glucose regulation
There has been some research suggesting that sourdough bread — sourdough white bread — showed positive physiological responses. The subjects’ blood glucose levels were lower after eating sourdough white bread compared to whole wheat, whole wheat with barley and plain white bread. Interestingly, the subjects tested after eating whole wheat bread fared the worse — with spiking blood glucose levels. (Real Food Foreager)

We started buying only sourdough bread a few years ago. We hate most of the gluten free alternative breads, and once we figured out that sourdough broke down the gluten proteins, we were sold. Brett eats the bread a lot more frequently than I do, because in the end it’s still a pretty wasted carb for me. Unless I am loading it up with eggs or avocados, I don’t need much bread in my life. We usually buy sourdough bread from our local Farmer’s Market, and it is essentially made up of wheat flour, water and salt. The fewer ingredients the better! And while I love this bread, and do not anticipate making my own as frequently as I can buy it, I wanted to start my own culture so I could start experimenting with sourdough recipes.

I googled, and googled for sourdough recipes, and essentially found that most of them are the same. You can make gluten free sourdough too, but I went old school on my recipe. I bought organic unbleached flour (Bob’s Red Mill) and used filtered water. That’s literally all you need!

I was sure I was going to screw this up, but it was so much simpler than I thought. I swapped my container three times because I didn’t know how big it was going to grow, and also kept freaking out that there was too much surface space, but it turns out all of my fears were empty. It doesn’t matter what container it’s in, it will still grow. I followed the instructions from Roldale’s Organic Life, but their instructions are similar to almost every other recipe I saw.

Start with a clean jar/container that you want to grow your starter in. It doesn’t have to be massive, you can always put it in a larger container if you need to later. I’d 1/2 gallon is plenty to start with.

Day 1 – 

Mix ¾ cup of flour and ½ cup warm filtered water together in your large jar. Use a whisk, as that will help get lots of air (and the airborne yeasts and bacteria you want) into the slurry. Cover the jar loosely with some cheesecloth or an inverted sieve—something that will keep bugs and objects out but allow air to circulate. Place it in a room-temperature location, and ignore it.

Day 2 – 

Add another ¾ cup of flour and ½ cup warm water to the mixture and whisk it vigorously. Cover loosely and keep at room temperature.

Day 3 – 

By now you may notice some small bubbles in your slurry; this is good! If not, just be patient. Add another ¾ cup of flour and ½ cup warm water to the mixture and whisk it vigorously. Cover it loosely and keep it at room temperature.

Day 4 – 7

Pour out about ½ of the slurry  (you can make sourdough pancakes with the extra) Add another ¾ cup of flour and ½ cup warm water to the remaining mixture and whisk it vigorously. Cover loosely and keep at room temperature.

Repeat the Day 4 instructions daily until your slurry becomes a spongy, bubbling mass that doubles in size by the next feeding time. This usually occurs in about 5 to 7 days total. It should smell and taste a bit sour and a bit yeasty, but pleasant.

If you want to expedite this process, you can feed your starter ever 8-12 hours. I also read that rye flour helps the starter to grow faster too. Below I’d added an image from My starter mimicked her pictures, and it worked perfectly.


As far as caring for your sourdough, if you’re an infrequent baker, like myself you can keep the starter in the fridge. Pull out what you need for your recipe and set  aside. Take the left over starter and make sure to feed it again. After feeding it, leave it out for at least 12 hours so the bacteria can grow again, then cover and put back in the fridge. If you’re a frequent baker, then it’s recommended that you leave the starter out and feed it daily. Here’s a good read if you want to put your starter on hold.

Other than that, this was a pretty simple process. I have already started pinning recipes, I had no idea you could make so many things with sourdough starter!

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