Sluggish starter



I'm trying to cultivate a sourdough starter for the first time. I'm following the instructions here:

My starter is about two weeks old now, and I'm getting worried. It has yet to show much activity at all. I usually just see a few small bubbles on the surface. The bubbles haven't gotten any larger in size, and there hasn't been any noticeable rising either. There is a nice, mild sour smell to it though. Oh, and occasionally there is a small amount of hooch. Of note, I did deviate from the recipe above after about a week, when I read online that feeding the starter twice a day might be too often. Changing the feedings to once a day did not seem to make much difference. I've attached a picture which I hope is clear enough to show how my starter looks. What should I do?





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farinam's picture
farinam 2016 February 17

Hello Ben,

It looks as if you have a bit of activity going on there.  While the time taken can vary, i would have thought you should be well on your way by this.

Adding some wholemeal flour (rye seems to be a better tonic) to your feeding mix (say 10% of the flour) has been known to give things a boost along.  So perhaps if you try that from now on it might make a difference.

It also looks as if you have a fairly high hydration mix there so a little less water to make something more like a thick rather than a creamy batter.  Also, if you have a narrower, taller container (such as a mason jar - you seem to be using a bowl) this will help to monitor any expansion of the batter as the gas is generated.  The thicker batter will be better able to support itself and the sides of the jar will reduce the span that the rise has to bridge.

Also, have a read of SourDom's Beginners Blogs that are accessible from the Home Page in the right hand panel.

Good luck with your projects.


Breadalone 2016 February 19


Thank you very much. Yesterday I changed the proportions of flour and water to thicken the starter slightly and transferred it to a mason jar. I'm currently out of whole grain flour and so was unable to try that suggestion.

When I checked the jar this morning I was thrilled to find that it had risen a great deal! It even passed the "float test." I'm amazed at how much it changed overnight! I think I'll feed it again today and see if it's ready to make bread with tomorrow.

Thanks again,


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