How to Make a Sourdough Starter
Sourdough Starter – Amy’s Bread
From AMY’S BREAD, copyrighted.
This starter is begun with rye flour because rye just LOVES to
ferment and is an easier starter to get going than a wheat
starter. When I first made it, it had a bubble or two within a
The procedure is to start it with rye flour, then transform it by
changing what you feed it. The original rye will dilute to nothing
over time and you’ll end up with a white flour (or whatever other
grain you choose, it could be whole wheat or pumpermickel, or you
could leave it as a rye starter) and water based starter, but it
had the advantage of beginning it’s life from highly fermentable
Start it with organic rye flour and spring water. Once you have it
going well you can switch to all-purpose white (or other) flour as
you choose. The use of spring water is recommended for
maintenance, however, as tap water may contain elements (such as
chlorine) which may be detrimental to the health of your starter.
I also recommend that you use a container that you can mark the
volume levels of starter each time, so that you will know when it
has doubled. Use a marking pen or tape or any other means to
indicate on the container the starter levels each time you feed.
Phase 1 – Combine 2 oz organic rye flour (room temp) with 4 oz
spring water in a clear container. The batter should be about the
consistency of very thick pancake batter, add more water or flour
if necessary. Cover & let it sit for 36 – 48 hours at 75 – 77
degrees (a little cooler is okay but over 80 you will incubate the
wrong kind of bacteria and your culture will have an unpleasant
bitter taste). You should start to see tiny bubbles forming after
about 24 hours. By the time it has doubled, there will be a
noticeable network of small bubbles throughout the batter & it
will be foaming & bubbling on top. (If the batter has not doubled
within 48 hours, feed with 2 oz water & 2 oz flour (add more of
either if necessary for the consistency) and let it sit another 24
hours or until you see some definite activity.)
Phase 2 – Stir the culture down, notice how soupy it’s become. The
batter should have a noticeable sour smell & a mildly tangy taste
at this point. Add 2 oz water & 2 oz flour and stir vigorously
until well-combined. Let it sit for 12 hours. It should be showing
a fair amount of activity at this point. You should see lots of
foaming & bubbling through the sides as well as on the top. Don’t
be concerned if the culture deflates & loses volume. This means
the yeast has exhausted its food supply, but it will continue to
increase in acidity. Don’t worry if your culture isn’t
dramatically active yet. As long as there is some noticeable
activity going on and the mixture smells & tastes sour, you’re on
the right track.
Phase 3 – The culture should now have a pronounced, sour, fruity
taste and smell, it should not taste musty or bitter (if it does,
discard and start again, paying close attention to the temp of the
culture at all times). Now you can start “transforming” it into a
white (or other) flour based starter. Use 6 oz of the starter, add
3 oz water & 3 oz flour, stir vigorously. Let it sit for 12 hrs at
75 – 77 degrees F.
Refresh it again, setting up a maintenance level of 12 oz of
starter. This will be your “mother” starter that you use to build
the sourdough starters/sponges needed in individual recipes.
Each time you take part of the mother out to build a starter, you
must refresh it with equal weights of flour and water to bring it
back up to its maintenance level.
To maintain – Use 6 oz of the mother culture (discard the rest),
add 3 oz water & 3 oz flour, stir vigorously, let it sit at room
temp until doubled in volume.
A strong mother will double in 8-12 hours. If yours doesn’t do
that, let it continue to sit out until it has a nice tangy taste
and smell; discard all but 6 oz and repeat this procedure. Repeat
this procedure as many times as necessary until the mother doubles
within 8-12 hrs. It may take several days. Don’t get discouraged,
it’s worth the effort.
9 Comments Add yours
Sounds and looks delish!
Beautiful Bread!And it has the best clothes..your boards::)
I hope mine comes out as good yours. My starter will be used this weekend.
Debbie, This is a great starter. I kept one going before for a number of years and then got lazy and let it die. I'm going to make a a biga or a levain tonight with some of the starter and make bread tomorrow. Look forward to your bread post.~Ann
I was doing well until I saw that pic of the buttered bread and egg. That's just pure evil since I don't have a starter going. If you have any left, can I just fly to where you live and steal yours, preferably baked first. I'll toast and butter myself. Thanks!
Your bread photos are always so beautiful! I love making bread, and while mine taste good, they don't look as photogenic as yours. Thanks for posting this recipe. I too have recently gotten into the sourdough bread making, thanks to a friend that gave me a starter from the Tartine cookbook. I am wanting to try a few. Tartine uses a whole wheat blend. I like that Amy's uses a rye blend. Also want to try some that use pineapple juice or cabbage as the fermenter.
Thanks Shelley. Nice to get an already active starter. Must be just about time for your Farmer's market to open again. Are you still involved? I look forward to following again on Facebook.~Ann