Very fast fermentation



this is my first sour dough starter, so I'm very new to this. I started the sour dough on Monday night (with organic rye flower and water), and already 24 hours later, it had doubled in size and was very bubbly with aromas of beer, fermented fruits and a little bit of alcohol. I scooped out half of it, and fed it again with 60g organic rye flour and 60g water. No more than 12 hours later, it had again doubled in size. This morning, I once again scoop out half of it and this time added 60g all purpose flour and 60g water. No later than about 2,5 hours later it had again DOUBLED in volume. 

Most recipes I read say it's going to take 4-5 days before it starts being active, but mine is just incredibly active already after 2 days. 

Can I start baking with my sour dough already? Should I store it in the fridge? I live in New York city where it right now is very warm and humid (in the days aprox 80F during the days and 72F in the night when the AC is on). 

Thank you very much. 


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farinam's picture
farinam 2017 August 3

Hello Sebastian,

Sometimes, with just the right conditions fermentation can begin happening very rapidly.  What does take a while is for the culture to become stabile and robust as the acid producing bacteria and the acid shuts out the sometimes nasty beasties that can be about.

You might find that your starter will suddenly slow down its activity. Or even seem to stop working for a day or two.  Do not despair, this is a common occurrence, just keep on with your discarding and feeding.  It might even go through a phase of not smelling quite so nice, making a smell a bit like acetone (nail-polish remover) - just press on.

Your active starter will raise bread or pancakes just fine so you could start using it but just be warned that if it has not yet stabilised, the results could be erratic.

Have a taste of the mixture before you discard at your next feed and see how the acidity is developing.  If it tastes quite sour, then you are well on your way.

In the meantime, if you haven't already, have a read of the beginners turorials from the home page of this site for a very good primer on most things you need to know.

In any case, in only a few more days you will find that you have a good stable starter and you will be off on your adventure in the world of sourdough.

Good luck with your projects.


sebgraus 2017 August 3

Thank you very much farinam, actually it seems to have slowed down dramatically all of a sudden. But will continue discarding and feeding as you recommended! Thank you. 

Milla 2018 January 26

Hi Sebastian,

I live in Australia and get the exact same starter activity with yours (except that I used whole wheat). Second day, instead of throwing away the discard, I tried to use it to bake bread. Sadly didn't turn out great. Today is third day and the starter activity has changed dramaticaly. No rise whatsoever, just a few bubbles and the smell that lets me know it's still alive. Reading Farinam's experience that it is a common occurance is a big relief. Let's see how ours behave the next few days.

Best of luck!


mattie 2018 June 18

I just started making starter 2 days ago. I used whole wheat flour and water in a glass mason jar coverd with a cotton towel. I removed part of it (put that in the fridge), fed it with more WW flour and water, 4 hours later it looked PERFECT! I wanted to follow the directions I got off of the web, so I was getting ready to remove and feed it again today and it was SO RANCID (it was really, really rotton)--I was gagging. So I threw it out.

1) Can I use the part I kept in the fridge to start over?

2) would it be better to start from scratch?

3) I think I need to not only wash the mason jar but use boiling water to really make sure it is super clean.

Note: I am not sure, but I think because we live in teh tropics, it is 70-80 deg F day/night and very humid--this used to affect when I made bread using packets of yeast--I had to double the amount to get the usual amount of rise. Now I think my starter was speeded up and I should have either kept in the fridge (there is no "cooler" area in the house).

I am ready to start my starter over! I would welcome ANY suggestions or comments. Thank you for such a wealth of information in this site.

Staff 2018 June 24

Hi Mattie

You can use some starter mixture from the fridge in your new starter. We do not know if there is any activity in that starter...but there may be. Even with no activity it could help to increase the acidity of your 'new' starter, which is a good thing.

We want to encourage acid tolerent organisms so making the mixture acidic to begin with makes sense (rather than trying to accommodate non-acid tolerant organisms, which will ultimately die out). Some bakers add lemon juice or vinegar to achieve this effect. I don't do this but it is your choice!

The temperatures you mention 70-80 deg F, or 21C to 27C are actually very good for activating a starter. Once the starter is reliably active (see Farinams comment above) I would use partial refrigeration to maintain the starter once it is active. Frequency of cycling in and out of the fridge will vary depending on how often you bake :)

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