After two failed attempts at creating a sourdough starter from scratch, and a lot of helpful advice and comments from readers, I have created what appears to be a very healthy 12 day old starter.

The method came from Mike at, by way of Jonathan and it was very simple (thanks guys!):

Mix 1/4 cup of water with 3/8 cup of organic rye flour in a container, cover it loosely with plastic wrap, and feed it 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of organic rye flour every 8-12 hours. That’s it!

The major indicator that the starter is healthy is that it doubles its size between feedings. After about 2 days, it started doing this consistently. It also developed a very tangy, green-apply smell, and the gas bubbles in the dough between feedings appeared to be growing bigger each day.

Day 2: Before Feeding

Day 2 stirring in the water (note there are no bubbles)

Day 2: Stirring in the water (note there are no bubbles)

Day 3: Stirring before feeding, notice all the air pockets!

Day 3: Stirring before feeding, notice the air pockets!

Day 3: Mixing in the water, lots of bubbles develop

Day 3: Mixing in the water, it gets milky and lots of bubbles develop

Day 3: Marking the Height

Day 3: Marking the height

Day 4: More than doubled in size!

Day 4: More than doubled in size!

To prevent the dough from taking over your kitchen, Sourdough Mike recommends disposing of 1/2 of the starter following each feeding, (I’ve been throwing out 1/2 each day).

Although my starter appears healthy, Mike recommends not storing it in the fridge until it is 30 days old. So while I can start using it, I have to keep feeding it twice daily. As an insurance policy though, after today’s feeding instead of throwing 1/2 of it out, I put it in a jar and stored it in the fridge. Just in case anything happens to my pet I’ll have a clone.

It really has been like having a pet. I feed it at night before I go to sleep, and then in the morning before I leave for work and marvel at how much it has grown. Once a week I transfer the starter to a bowl while I clean out its cage, and I make sure I give it lots of love. In return, I’m hoping this baby is going to make me some tasty bread. Tomorrow it will finally be put to the test as I attempt to make a sourdough batard from Daniel Leader’s book Local Breads, stay tuned!

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4 thoughts on “A Sourdough Starter: Success?

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  • June 4, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    so, essentially, you’re feeding this twice a day forever?

  • June 4, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Hi Lan, no you would only need to feed it twice a day until its healthy enough to store it in the fridge, which in my case was after a month. Once in the fridge you can cut back to feeding once a week (I’ve forgotten on a couple of occasions and it’s been fine even after 2 weeks). Good Luck! Let me know how it goes.

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