Starter culture for making sourdough bread

Many people think of sourdough as something from the Gold Rush days. Not so! Sourdough was the first way raised breads were made. "Way back then," there was no such thing as active dry yeast, and all breads (along with a number of other goodies) needed sourdough starter to rise.

There are a number of recipes for sourdough starter, but this is one I've used, and it works fairly well. It came originally from the cookbook The Complete Sourdough Cookbook by Don Holm.


(makes 3 cups)


  1. Get a container for the starter. Crockery is best, but just about anything can be used, \fBexcept metal. Try to get something with a lid. I use a vinyl plastic food-storage container.
  2. Mix flour and water (and optionally yeast).
  3. Let the starter sit (uncovered or loosely covered) in a warm place until bubbly and sour, about 3-5 days.


If you do a lot of bread baking, there will probably be enough yeast spores floating around your kitchen so that the added yeast isn't needed. The less yeast you add to the starter, the more "authentic" the flavor.

If the starter starts turning orange or green, throw it away. Other nasty things have started growing in it!

After the starter is ready, it can be used immediately. Try to use some of the starter once every few days, or it will start to die. The starter can be refrigerated to last longer (use at least every other week). Make sure the starter is at room temperature before using.

After using some of the starter, replenish what you take with equal amounts of warm water and flour. Let the starter sit until nice and bubbly before using again.

Usually, the first starter made will need a while to "come up to strength." Best bets for first recipes are ones that don't require much raising, such as pancakes, or ones that have additional yeast.


Difficulty: easy.
Time: 5 minutes preparation, 5 days waiting.
Precision: no need to measure.


Bill Turner 
Hewlett-Packard Personal Software Division, Santa Clara CA 
Recipe last modified: 2 Jan 86

Original header

From: bill@hppsd2 (Bill Turner)
Subject: RECIPE: Sourdough Starter
Date: 16 Jan 86 08:36:14 GMT
Approved: reid@glacier.ARPA
Organization: Hewlett-Packard Personal Software Div., Santa Clara CA

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