Starting a Starter Problems?


I just started a new starter trying to follow the recipie by another blogger - sourdom on this forum. I'm in the USA so I had to try to figure out the measurements. I ended up using  4 tbsp water and 4tbsp flour. I have been using just white flour b/c I didn't have any other flour. I have been feeding it for about 4 days now and it is the consistancy of sticky thick pancake batter. It bubbles a little when I stur it but its not doubling in size or anything. The starter I use to use was a potato flake, sugar mixture. It was a good starter but a little sweet. I was trying to do a more traditional sourdough. 

Am I doing something wrong or is it suppose to be this consitancy? It doesn't smell bad just like flour. I attempted putting 2 tbsp sugar in it last night to see if that would help "feed it". Any thoughts or suggestions?  Do I need to start over or do I really need to go and get wheat flour to feed it? It has been sitting in a glass pint jar covered loosley w/ a paper napkin. Do I need to cover it to keep the gases inside?

Any help would be appreciated. My husband LOVeS sourdough. The temprature here has been wierd latley. One day its been 50' and another 70' but we usually keep our house at about 65-68'.

319 users have voted.


Broodt 2012 December 6

Maybe you need to have a little more patience. Looks like you doing everything right. My starter started to get really lively after 7 days. Maybe winter has to do with it too. There are less yeasts in the air.


craig_the baker 2012 December 6
I use 50g of bottled water and 25g each of AP flour and good rye flour. I start out letting the initial mixture sit for 1 to 2 days (I think I let mine sit for around 18 hrs) After that, remove all but 50g of culture and add another 50g of water and 50g of flour mixture. Repeat this every 12 hrs until you get a happy,bubbling starter. I fed mine on a twelve hr schedule for a week after I got the starter going well just to insure it stayed well fed and could develop. I now keep mine on the counter and feed it once a day in the morning. It raises my breads just fine and produces a mildly tangy bread. I've only had it going for about a month or two and I've only used it in making Chad Robertsons' Tartine Country Loaf with fantastic results. If you are concerned with waste by feeding every day, consider making sourdough pancakes or other goodies with the starter you would otherwise throw out. Hope this helps, good luck!!
shasta's picture
shasta 2012 December 6


I'm in California and use King Arthur's AP flour to feed my starter on a regular basis. You are most likely doing fine as far as the development of the starter in concerned. My guess is that you are feeding equal portions of flour and water by volume to the starter when you feed it. This in known as 166% (water weight is 166% of flour weight). This will produce a starter that is typically too thin to double in size. If you can, feed equal portions by weight like craig_the baker listed he is doing above, it will produce a thicker starter known as 100% (water weight is equal to 100% of the flour weight) that should more than double between feedings.

Depending on the temps you keep the starter at you will need to feed it one to two times a day. No sugar will be required if you are using a good AP flour. I use un-bleached but regular would work too. You could also mix flours as Craig is doing. The main thing to remember is that measurements by weight is the best way to get consistency.

Good luck and keep us posted!


prisskat 2012 December 7

Thanks. I will switch to a different flour and perhaps mix them. I dumped out most of the mixture this morning and fed what was left. Its starting to smell a little more sour-y. I used a little less water this morning and it was more dough consistancy. I guess I'll have to get a kitchen weight and start weighting the ingridents.  Makes sense about the  cold too. Last time I tried a starter it was in the late summer months and after it was developed I kept it in fridge until needed.  


Thanks :)

gongoozler 2012 December 8


I’ve never understood why it is standard practice in the USA to use volumetric measurements (i.e. cups) – works okay for liquids but it’s pretty difficult to measure a cup of, say, butter isn’t it? Also a cup of flour can vary quite a bit in weight depending on how compressed it is. I guess the custom goes back to the  days of the pioneers when it was not practical to carry scales.

Having go that off my chest I would say that if you are serious about breadmaking a set of electronic scales would be an excellent investment.

All you really need to create a nice active starter is flour, water and patience. I agree with what others have said about the feeding regime and would only add that I have found temperature makes a big difference – keep it nice and warm, somewhere between 25°C and 30°C (say 75° to 85° F) works well for me. I would forget about the sugar but I do think that a little rye flour makes a difference if you can get it. I mix 50% flour and 50% water by weight (i.e. 100% hydration) which gives a mixture that is pretty thick but just pourable

Once your starter is really up and running you can cut down on the frequency of feeds. I keep mine in the fridge and feed it every 4 or 5 days which seems to work fine.

Don’t give up, I’m sure you will soon be producing excellent sourdough.

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