Sourdough in the tropics?


I live in Northeast Thailand where the temperature rarely drops below 90 degrees for 8 months of the year and humidity is very high. The starters I've attempted have all got white mould on the top after a few days of starting.


Is it possible to start a starter in the fridge until it reaches the point where the acidity levels are high enough to stop mould forming?



325 users have voted.


martin_prior's picture
martin_prior 2012 June 14

 I am just down the road from you in Malaysia. I use sourdough in my bakery. after making a starter just keep in the fridge till needed. For example, the day before baking take out some of the starter, say 25 g. Mix it with 100 grams water and 100 grams flour and leave over night (which should be cooler). In the morning incorporate into the dough. remember most books talk of room temperature (25c), so you will find that unless you can find a cooler area your dough will ferment more quickly.

koratchef 2012 June 19

Hi Martin,


Unfortunately my shop has several refridgeration units and they give of a fair bit of heat. I'm trying figure out a place where there is a steady ambient temperature that's not too low. I'll try your suggestion too.


Thanks for the tip.



wishfish's picture
wishfish 2012 June 24

I managed to get a starter going in Panama which has fairly similar climate, I think - high amibient temp and high humidity.


I experiemented a bit and discovered that feeding the starter often (every 12 hours) worked out much better than techniques that recommended feeding every 24 hours or less (some said wait until you see activity and that didn't work for me at all). I didn't have any problems with mould. Now that the starter seems active and stable I keep it in the fridge.


Keeping the sides of the container clean is important, I think. So either rinse it out regularly or scrape the sides down really well.

esbkk 2012 June 29

H i there -


I live just north of BKK and have had a starter going for nearly three years now - the easiest way is to start with a rye flour starter at 1 : 1.  for water I use the cold water (room temperature) from a boiled kettle after my cup of tea and it has never failed. Once going the starter can easily be changed to any other flour.

If you would like some let me know and I'll send you some by EMS.


Good luck !


Fay 2020 August 25


Thanks Eberhard for your tips. I've just relocated back to Thailand (Bangkok) from the UK where I'd been baking sourdough a lot. The first day I started to make sourdough starter, after 14 hours of leaving it in room temperature, I found my starter moldy :( I haven't given it another try yet as I felt heartbroken haha, but wanted to do some research about how to get the starter going in the tropics.


How long did you leave your starter out before feeding it again when you first made the starter? I think I'll try to experiment with shorter period of time before feeding it again. Hopefully I'll get a healthy starter soon.

Joanne 2021 March 14
Hi, I just relocated from Bangkok to Singapore. Started a new sourdough in Singapore but after a week, it still doesn't grow. I am beginning to think it's all the physical factors affecting it. I had no problem when living in Hong Kong and Bangkok when I started the Sourdough. Now I am wondering why and what's wrong.
JP 2021 April 17

Hi Joanne,

I found that my starter kept dying off, and eventually discovered it was due to chlorinamation in the tap water.  I switched to bottled spring water and my sourdough starter flourished.  I also used a Kilner style jar with the seal removed, so it's covered but breathable.  Can you tell me a bit more about what you're using?

Joanne 2021 July 31
I used filtered and boiled water which has been left to sit for 24 hours prior to feeding my sourdough. I had tried with distilled water, was great for initial feed, but sourdough just didn't rise after a week.
chazzone 2012 June 30

 I know that a lot has been written about allowing starter to be open to the environment, and in cooler climes, this seems to have varied success, but I would recommend that you consider keeping as clean a culture as possible.  Like Eberhard wrote, I would use water that has been boiled and cooled, make sure that the fermenting container is sanitized, and has a good cover that allows gasses to escape, but keeps the nasties in the air from contaminating your raw materials.


Also, given the temps, i'd definitely feed it more often to get it going, strong.


I'm also a mead and beer maker, and if I make in the summer, I will set my carboys in a large pan of water to help keep it cool. 


Good luck,






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