Sourdough Starter


Good day!

I've been trying to make a sourdough starter with Unbleached White Flour for about 3 weeks. I created 2 batches feeding in a 1:1:1 ratio by weight of Starter:Water(Carbon Filtered):Flour, every 24 hours. After about 12 days, I see less than 10 small bubbles at the end of the last 3 days, sometimes the starter smells creamy like cheese and other times a strong smell of nail polish. The only real activity I see is in the first 3 days where it rises up due to the bacteria and after that nothing. I started with 100g of flour and maintained 300g at the end of each feeding.

Right now I'm thinking the flour I'm using isn't very "natural" in that its processed beyond recovery. Should I swap it out for some Whole Wheat Flour instead? I hear they are much less predictable than that of White Flour. Also, my room temperature averages between 28-31 Degrees Celsius.

Here are my assumtions as to why it has not worked:

  • The temperature in my home is too high (I tried putting it in my airconditioned room but it formed a dry layer on top.
  • The Flour has barely any wild yeast due to it being super processed.
  • Contamination?
  • Water may not completely be filtered off chlorine and flourine

Just for reference, I stay in Singapore where the humidity is high and the sun always shines, a alot.


Hope someone out there could help a brother out.



12 users have voted.


Staff 2018 June 17

Hi Singaporean Anon,

Yes, swap out your flour for the most wholesome one you can find. Yeast and bacteria do generally come from the flour.

We recommend maintaining your starter with a wholegrain flour (wheat, rye or spelt) and preferably one that is organic or chemical free. This way it has not been denatured and contains the natural microbes which will allow it to ferment when mixed with water.  Starters seem to fizzle out when maintained with white flour, it's like feeding a child white sugar.

You are in a warm climate, that is good for fast fermentation, however the initial fermentation contains yeast and bacteria that are not all tolerant to acid environments...which you are creating.

Your current method of getting the starter going is okay, just use a better flour. If it starts to smell or look unhealthy, take a teaspoon of starter out and use this as part of a brand new starter, making the new starter a bit stiffer than the original one.

Ultimately in a warm climate it is easier to work with a stiff starter than a wet starter. However, to get the starter going in the first place it might be best to begin with a more liquid mix initially and then make it stiffer as you go.


There are more tips here from SourDom for making your starter:


stevegask 2018 July 1

Hi Guys

I am from Southwest Victoria (Australia) and have made one quite good loaf using a packet sourdough starter - but I noticed that as well as the different strains, the first ingredient was yeast. To me that seemed like cheating - so I'm trying the natural way now.

BUT - I too have been using an unbleached premium white flour - with not great results. Apart from the fact that it's winter here in July, with room temperatures a bit low - so I am warming my room.

And - after reading this post - I'm now wondering if it's the white flour? I will ditch half of mine and add whole grain, which is what we prefer anyway.



Ludmilla 2018 July 7

Hi Steve, 

Fun to see someone else from Victoria! I'm in central Vic and finding fermenting a sourdough starter difficult because of the cold. I had a starter in Nthn NSW which I kept going for years but in Vic almost impossible this time of year. Rye starter has more depth of flavour in final product & I add half a teaspoon of Miso for even tastier! 

Packaged starter? The wonderful aspect of creating your own is that the ferment draws bacteria from your environment & then gives you immunity to bugs in your environment.. Magical.

Good luck & enjoy the staff of life.

oldman 2018 November 9

Packaged gives you experience working with starter, a known culture, and a better chance of avoiding the frustration that makes people give up on baking.  It's not a bad starting place.

One problem people have starting sourdough is that their environment is too clean.  Between food safety concerns, neurotic parenting, and HEPA filters their aren't as many wild yeasts or bacteria in the flour, the water, the air, or on your hands. Some people recommend adding organic fruit and honey to starters to try to introduce wild micrfauna that way.  If you're counting on something other than the air to give life to your starter it's not really 'local' and you might as well use a dried starter.

If you want a local starter and aren't having any luck indoors, try taking it outdoors.  Cover the top with a mesh screen if you're worried about bugs leaves or grass. It's not really necessary though, since foreign material you can see with the naked eye is easily removed with the tip of a knife ot spoon. Let it sit in the open in a spot where it's not in direct sunlight while you picnic, fish, or watch cricket.  One of my favorites started life on a golf cart.  When you get it home, feed it and cross your fingers. If it grows make a note about date and location of capture.  If it's a keeper you'll need that info to pick out a name and do its astrological charts. :-)

Lukas 2018 July 8

Hi Steve,

I am in VIC too, just keep going, feed it every day, halve when you have to much, it took 8 days for my starter to activate completely.


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