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I Feel Like Ma Ingalls… My First Attempt at Sourdough Starter!

First Attempt at Sourdough Starter

This happened this afternoon: my first ever sourdough bread starter.

It seems like I usually can’t keep plants alive for very long so I’m not sure if I can keep this alive either, but I’m excited to try. I feel like I’m channeling my inner Ma Ingalls and I kind of like it!

Sourdough Starter

It was so easy to do this. I think the hardest part will be remembering to actually feed the starter.

My First Attempt at Sourdough Starter

I put reminders on my Google calendar and am hoping maybe that will help since Google calendar functions as my brain most days. 🙂

Have you tried making sourdough bread before? Any tips for me?

P.S. In case you were wondering, I got a great deal on the Sourdough Starter packet. It’s a free bonus that comes with the purchase of the . You just pay $3.99 for shipping. I was very impressed with the sourdough starter options they are offering as a free bonus and was also impressed with all of the helpful information they provide on their site: free videos, ebooks, and more.

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35 Comments

  • debbie says:

    I was able to get 11 people to sign-up last week. Thanks for letting me know about the Healthy Living Bundle. I’m excited for the release!

    • Jo says:

      WOOHOO! You should be getting an email early tomorrow morning with your FREE bundle!!! So excited for you… the bundle is PACKED with great stuff (I got a sneak peek at it!)

  • Ann says:

    I made my own starter once several years ago from a recipe in the red and white Betty Crocker cookbook. I followed the directions exactly and ended up with AMAZING sourdough bread! I guess I don’t have any advice, other than to maybe keep it near your sink so you’ll see it. Put a reminder in your phone to go off when you need to tend it. Or tell one of your kids – they don’t seem to forget much, unless it’s to do their chores!

  • Diane says:

    We just finished reading the Long Winter. I am so thankful for my vitamix to grind grains instead of using a coffee grinder all day long!

  • tuxgirl says:

    I tried my first starter a couple weeks ago. I gave up and flushed it down the sink halfway through because it stunk *so* bad. Honestly, when we had company over, I had to hide my sourdough a couple hours before, and air out the kitchen, and when I retrieved it after they left, I felt like I was going to vomit when I opened the door….

  • says:

    I have used Annie’s sourdough recipe and it hasn’t failed me yet! Delicious bread 🙂


    King Arthur Flour is also a great resource [such as if you forget to feed your starter and want to bring it back to life ;)]

  • says:

    I love sour dough bread, so tried to make starter a few years ago when we lived in Idaho. It is cold there! Anyway, it did not work. But I think you will have better luck in TN, because it is so much warmer.

    I have 3 daughters and we read all the “Little House” books when they were younger. I enjoyed it, and I had so much to be thankful for. And we do live on a farm, heat our house with wood, etc. But I can still go to town and buy socks! Ma had to shear the sheep, spin the wool and then knit the socks…

  • Carla says:

    I see you are using a towel to cover the starter. I found that it was a bit “out of sight, out of mind” if I did that. I used a wide mouth quart jar (easier to wash every week when I fed it and transferred it to a new jar) and a coffee filter with a canning ring to allow the starter to breathe. I also tried to keep it in the front of my fridge when storing it during the week. I found a time of the week that was most often free for me to remember to feed it (it turned out to be Fridays). If I missed a Friday, I usually caught it on Saturday.

  • Danny says:

    Sourdough starters are hard to kill, even if you don’t feed it well. I have had the same starter for over a year and seldom feed it. And it still makes an amazing bread. Your starter will change in flavor and intensity over the course of a year, due to temperature, humidity, and other factors.

    One tip is to keep it in the fridge until it is needed. Then feed it and let it wake up the counter for about an hour before adding to your recipe. Another hint, if the sourdough flavor is too strong, add a table spoon of sugar.

    By the way, another name for a sourdough starter is a “mother. “

    • says:

      I was going to say something similar. I found the harder trick twas to remember to set some aside when I made a recipe. Keep it in the fridge, and it will last a very long time.

  • says:

    I find the combination of feeding your sourdough starter and putting your reminders on google calendar a funny combination of the old fashioned and the modern!

  • Jay Kay says:

    Congratulations on your starter! I wish more people tried making sourdough bread at home, especially since many people that think they have a gluten intolerance may in fact have a problem with commercial yeast! Try using unbleached flour to feed your starter, at least until it is established. Feed it twice a day, if you can, for at least the first week. It should bubble and grow energetically by then. I recently started a wild yeast starter by just mixing freshly ground whole wheat flour and pineapple juice (search wild yeast sourdough starter on thefreshloaf.com for the process). It was a lot of fun! Hopefully you will be baking bread in no time! It is worth the effort!

    • Quinn says:

      You have made an interesting point that reminds me of an article my husband shared with me.

    • says:

      thefreshloaf.com is a great resource! Glad you mentioned it 🙂

      I have never had good luck with sourdough bread, but I made some delicious sourdough crackers that tasted like Cheez-its 🙂

  • says:

    I’ve got a sourdough starter still in the package from last year’s bundle. (No, I never procrastinate. ) You’re inspiring me to get it out and try it, though!

  • says:

    I made one without a starter following the King Arthur flour instructions. I kept it up for about a month — it was fun! Check out King Arthur flour for ideas on what to do with all of that sourdough — they have pizza, waffles, cake and more. Pinterest had a lot of good ideas too.

  • Paula says:

    Love sourdough starters. If you get a stable enough starter you can actually put it in the fridge up to a month (or longer) without any issues – no feeding. My starter is from a local Appalachian TN mom whose aunt had it and no one knows of its origins!

    Did you know they used starter to “chink” log cabins and some people have taken the chinking and refreshed the starter? Ma Ingalls….

    When I make bread I will do a Big Bread day (6-8 loaves). I only have two loaf pans. So, I bake two loaves of bread – put one in the freezer – and then mix up the other loaves and put in the fridge for baking later in the week. Each time I will bake the two loaves and put one in the freezer. I also make a breakfast bread that the kids love and will freeze half of this. My stater goes in the fridge for a few weeks until the bread is gone and then I do not have to feed it for a while.

  • Lana says:

    Does anyone have experience with the sourdough cycle and starter on the Zojirushi bread machine? I have had my machine for nearly a year and have not tried it. The instructions say to stir the starter 2-3 times a day and that is what has kept me from doing it as I am sure to forget.

    Carla-thank you for the tip about the canning jar and coffee filter.

  • margaret says:

    Several years ago I discovered, “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.” It is by far the easiest bread baking book out there. And if you get busy or intentionally forget about the starter in your fridge for a week, you end up with a very yummy crispy outside sourdough loaf. Great book for busy homeschooling moms!

  • Carrie says:

    Does anybody know how you would do a starter without buying a packet? Is there a way to do even that part naturally?

    • Jay Kay says:

      Go to thefreshloaf.com and search for wild yeast sourdough starter. I used their method successfully to make a starter a few weeks ago. You actually use the yeast that is naturally occurring on the wheat kernels. You need fresh ground flour and pineapple juice to start. The pineapple juice gives the acidity needed for the yeast to start to grow. Good luck!

    • Carla says:

      Pinterest has a TON of natural-no-packet sourdough starter recipes. That’s how I started mine.

  • says:

    My mother kept sour dough starter all through my adolescent years – such a wonderful, amazing, incredible scent in the home! you will love it!

  • Joy A. says:

    I recently bought Filmjolk yogurt starter from Cultures For Health and really love it! It is really easy to make also which is what I need right now with having three children ages four and under another on the way.

  • Cherie says:

    Ditto on king arthur for advice even if you mess up 🙂 I only got a good starter rhythm going last year – even though I’d always baked bread. I guess now that my kids are older THEY like sourdough bread [they didn’t when they were younger so it would die before I remembered to make some for the grown ups] – no I make a loaf every few days and it’s always well fed and ready because of that. Do put in on your calendar if you don’t use it regularly – or just plan to feed it when you bake something else

  • kim t. says:

    we made a wild starter last year, and I failed with the loaf of bread i tried, but the pancakes were delicious! – a different texture, a little spongey. but yummy!
    then, summer was busy and I couldn’t find out how to keep it without using it every week, so it went bad. 🙁

    • Maria says:

      Unless it really truly sat a long time in warm weather, it might not be dead. I know someone that had theirs in the fridge unfed for two years and brought it back.

      Don’t mind if it gets stinky or separates, just stir it. It’s the yeast developing. Oh and some sourdough trivia: sometimes it will separate and develop a liquid on top. That’s the alcohol, and the miners use to pour it off and drink it (shudder!). They called it the hooch — and that’s how booze got that as it’s nickname.

  • Maria says:

    I just baked 2 loaves yesterday and today and gave some to neighbors. (I’m comparing sour levels/retarding dough in the fridge 1-2 days. I bake sourdough weekly). Yes, to the fresh loaf being a great resource. Yes, you can make a starter with just flour and water. It’s much easier to try and the make a starter in warmer weather (been there, done that). Costco carries an organic unbleached flour from Central Mills that is comparable to King Arthur flour for a fraction of the cost (if they don’t have it in your area, request it). It’s protein level is near what other brands bread flour is – and it’s organic. When you are ready to start baking, watch pro videos on shaping – it will help a lot. Then look up roasting pan covered baking on fresh loaf or dutch oven for bread rounds. Both of these methods give outstanding results with great “oven spring” aka rise to your bread.

    Have fun — I started last Thanksgiving and love it. It was a bad (cold) time of year to get my starter going, but now I have a white starter and a rye starter, getting ready to make a third one adjusting the bacteria/acid levels for a more sour one.

    Holler (post) if you want/need more info! Oh, and you might want to look up “bakers math” on fresh loaf when you get ready to read recipes as they aren’t written the same as other recipes.

    Get a food scale if you don’t already have one – I have the OXO, that’s what ATK listed as their best buy.

    Leftover/discard from your starter makes for great pancakes/waffles.

  • Joanne Peterson says:

    I used Nancy Silverton’s sourdough starter recipe using wild yeast. She said and I have found this to be true, if your sourdough starts getting quite sour, you have not been feeding it enough, and the leavening power is low. A starter should be tangy and have a developed flavor, but should not taste ‘sour’ in the finished baked bread.

    Feed it the night before if you plan on baking in the morning so the starter is invigorated.

  • says:

    I don’t have any advice for sourdough starter but your post made me remember my mom having a jar of some type of bread or cake starter called Amish Friendship Bread starter. This was back in the 70’s and no we weren’t Amish. Does this ring any bells with anyone else? I remember the end result being really delicious.

  • says:

    My 4 yearold and I are in the process of attempting to create our own starter. We have been lovingly calling it our microbial pet. It looks like it may actually be coming to life. If this attempt fails we will probably order a tried and true starter online.

  • says:

    I keep wanting to try making sourdough, but the whole idea of having to maintain a starter intimidates me. I checked out the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” from the library last week, and I’ve made one loaf so far. The dough is in the fridge right now, and supposedly it gets more sourdough-like as it gets older, so we’ll see. Hope yours turns out well!

  • Becky says:

    My starter is healthiest when I use bottled or Berkey-filtered water. When I first attempted a water-and-flour-only starter, I was rather discouraged until I realized the chlorine in my tap water was killing the wild yeasts. Huge improvement after that!
    Also, you HAVE to try the King Arthur sourdough piazza recipe!

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