Skip to Content

How To Make Sourdough Starter

One of my 2011 resolutions is to start making more of our family’s grocery staples from scratch — granola, yogurt, pancake mix, etc… and of course bread. I have an awesome Zojirushi breadmaker, but I’m guilty of not using it nearly enough. That’s all about to change, and I’m starting with sourdough bread.

Since sourdough starter takes around five days to finish fermenting, I decided to get a head start and whip up my first batch this afternoon — and I certainly learned a thing or two in the process. Namely that sourdough starter rises.

Yes, in hindsight I suppose that should have been a given… But when the recipe instructed me to pour the starter into a quart-size container, I did, even though there wasn’t much excess room.

Doesn’t it look pretty in the mason jar? I covered it with cheesecloth and went about my business. Twenty minutes later I walked back into the kitchen and was horrified to see that my starter had risen through the cheesecloth and was spilling over onto the counter.

Really it was pretty comical, and I wish I’d thought to snap a picture, but I immediately went into cleanup mode. At least you won’t make the same mistake!

Making Sourdough Starter Making Sourdough Starter
Making Sourdough Starter Making Sourdough Starter

How To Make Sourdough Starter

How To Make Sourdough Starter

Yield: 4 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 4 days
Total Time: 4 days 5 minutes


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey


  1. Gather your ingredients. You'll need yeast, flour, water, and either sugar or honey to feed the starter.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water.
  3. Whisk together the remaining warm water, flour, sugar or honey, and dissolved yeast mixture.
  4. Cover the sourdough starter with cheesecloth and let stand at room temperature for 3-5 days, stirring three times daily. The starter is ready for use when it smells fermented and the vigorous bubbling ceases.
  5. When your sourdough starter is done fermenting, you may store it in the refrigerator in a covered plastic container.

Maintenance and Use of Sourdough Starter:

  1. To use your starter, first stir it up. Then measure out the amount of cold starter that you need, and then let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding with your recipe.
  2. Replenish your starter by adding 3/4 c. all-purpose flour, 3/4 c. water, and 1 t. sugar or honey to remaining starter. Let stand at room temperature for a day, and then you can cover and place it back in the refrigerator.
  3. If you don't use your starter within 10 days, remove one cup of starter and add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup lukewarm water and stir well. You can then refrigerate it again immediately.

Have you tried this recipe?

Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag it @unsophisticook and hashtag it #unsophisticook!

Once you get your sourdough starter going, check out the recipe for my bread machine sourdough loaf — simple and delicious!


Monday 18th of January 2016

Doesn't the Zojirushi make sourdough starter in a 10 day cycle?

Tara @ Unsophisticook

Monday 18th of January 2016

Yes, it does have a 2-hour sourdough starter course, which makes a very mild sourdough bread. You can also do a 10-day sourdough starter it in, but the directions instruct you to keep the starter in the pan for the 10-day timeframe, so unless you have more than one pan, you won't be able to make any other bread during that period.

ETA: After rereading, it does say you can transfer the starter to a non-corrosive container. But it appears that the recipe only makes enough starter for one loaf of bread.

Sarah @ the magical slow cooker

Wednesday 19th of February 2014

I just got a new bread maker for Valentine's. And I have your sourdough starter bubbling away. I can't wait to use it!


Friday 20th of December 2013

Oops, I just noticed it wasn't your starter recipe that said to start with rye flour. Anyway, I added a couple of tablespoons of rye flour when I woke up my starter and this may have contributed to the more sour taste also.


Saturday 2nd of November 2013

I tried your Sourdough Bread Machine recipe in my bread machine using my sourdough starter. The bread is wonderful! I had tried several recipes that did not work. Your's is a winner! Thanks for the recipe.


Tuesday 16th of July 2013

I love your blog!!! Am definitely going to try this with my new San Francisco sourdough starter : ) Just ordered it from Sourdough's International! Love their products.

Skip to Recipe