How to Start a Sourdough Starter from Scratch


In this guide How to Start a Sourdough Starter from Scratch, I’m going to take you through step-by-step and you’ll be baking homemade sourdough bread products in no time!

a jar of active sourdough starter tilted on it's side


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1 bag Organic unbleached flour

Filtered or spring water

Clean jar and lid

Kitchen scale

Rubber band, hair tie, sticker, dry erase marker – something to mark growth on the jar.

Notes before we get started

I want to mention a few things before we begin our process. First, I HIGHLY recommend using good quality flour and water. I’m not saying it won’t work with low quality products but you may have a difficult time. Second, I also recommend investing in a kitchen scale. The one I just linked is $11 at the time of writing this. If you are venturing into the world of sourdough, many of the recipes online are measured in grams and honestly, it’s the best and most accurate way to do it. I will mostly speak in grams throughout this guide. Third, you need something to mark the growth of your starter on your jar. I use a rubber band but there are endless items you could use to do this. Whatever works for you is fine. Lastly, temperature really matters for this! Your starter needs to be kept at roughly 70°-85°F. If it’s too cold you will not have success. Heating mat, oven/microwave with the light on, near a wood burning stove, are all good options. In the first few days of starting my original starter. I kept a pan of warm water on my stove and let my jar of starter hang out in there. It was kind of a pain trying to keep the water warm not hot but it really helped my starter get a jumpstart.

How to Start a Sourdough Starter from Scratch

Day 1:

On this first day, in your clean jar combine 60g (1/2 cup) of flour and 60g (1/4 cup) water. Stir well. This will be the consistency of a thick pancake batter. If it seems unreasonably dry, add a splash of water.

Put a lid on it but you don’t want it to be airtight. Perhaps leave the lid a bit loose. Mark the starter level on your jar and place it somewhere warm.

Day 2:

Take a look at your starter. Are there any bubbles? Has it risen at all? Is there a grey liquid on top? Does it look literally the same as the day before? All are normal.

*Mold, pink hue, green or green-blue hues are all NOT normal. Throw away and start again.

We are only observing today. Look but do not mess with it.

Day 3:

We have a total of 120g in our jar currently and we need to discard half.

Discard 60g of starter or 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons roughly.

*DO NOT CONSUME THE DISCARD! Even if you see bubbles, this discard is not yet safe to consume. Just throw it away!

We now have 60g of starter in our jar. We are going to add 60g of flour and 60g of water. Mix well. This leaves us with 180g total volume in our jar.

Put your lid on and store it somewhere warm.

Day 4:

You want these feedings to be roughly 24 hours apart but I’m not militant about it. If you’ve been discarding and feeding in the morning, try to keep it in the morning. You will not see exact time stamps in this guide.

On this day, we have a total of 180g of starter. This is where my guide will differ from others.

Discard 120g of starter. This is almost 2/3 cup. I attached a picture to show you. This leaves you with 60g.

a measuring cup nearly full of bubbly sourdough discard

Add 60g flour and 60g water to your 60g of starter for a total of 180g.

At this point you may notice your starter begin to rise. That’s good! When it falls, it’s time to feed it. If it falls and you choose to wait the full 24 hours to discard/feed it again, that’s fine. It just may take a little longer to become strong. Feeding your starter twice a day (if it’s telling you that’s what it needs) will help establish it more quickly.

Day 5, 6, & 7

These days are the same as Day 4. You will have 180g of starter in your jar from the day before.

Discard 120g. This will leave you with 60g of starter.

Feed it 60g of flour and 60g of water for a total of 180g starter.

Beyond Day 7

Your starter should be active and bubbly by the end of the first seven days. If it is not, you need to consider the quality of your ingredients and the temperature.

I recommend waiting 14 days before consuming/using your sourdough starter. This gives the lactic acid your starter appropriate time to deal with any bad bacteria that may be present in your starter. Continue discarding and feeding those 14 days.

Beyond Day 14

Congratulations on your new sourdough starter! Give it a name and begin using it in the kitchen, if you’re comfortable. *If your starter still stinks, it needs more time. If it doesn’t stink, it’s bubbly, and it’s rising and falling after being fed, your starter is active and ready to be used.

Your Starter is Talking to You

There are signals your starter may be giving you. Here’s what to look out for.

Hooch: hooch is a greyish liquid or film on or near the top of your starter. This is normal. It is a signal that your starter is hungry.

Rising/Falling: a starter that rises after being fed is a happy starter. When it falls (all the way back to your marker), that just means it is ready to be fed again. I do not feed my mature starter as soon as it falls, I feed mine once a day in the morning and it can wait. However, a new starter would benefit from being fed when it communicates it wants to be. If you see the greyish liquid or you see it has fallen, it won’t hurt to discard/feed again. You can stick to your 24 hour schedule and still be successful, just not as quickly.

Pink/Green/Greenish-blue Hue: BAD! This means the bad bacteria in the starter are winning and the wild yeast can’t get a good hold. Throw it out. Make sure your equipment is very clean and start again.

Mold: Same as above.

Bubbles: mean activity! Bubbles don’t always mean your starter is safe. Please wait the 14 days to be sure. Bubbles are a good sign and your starter is becoming established.

Great job on your new sourdough starter! Ready to use it in the kitchen? CLICK HERE for sourdough recipes!


  1. This is probably the simplest and easiest explanation I’ve seen for a sour dough starter. Definitely trying this now.

  2. So what do you do after day 7 if it’s successful? Stop feeding and wait another 7 days to use it? Store it on the counter or in the fridge?

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