Sourdough not starting!


I'm having an issue with my sourdough starter not bubbling at all... I use organic whole wheat flour and bottled water, started 4oz of each. Each day I throw out half and feed 2 oz flour & 2 oz water. I have a scale to weigh. The starter is in a glass jar with clingwrap to cover. Our house is pretty cold so I've been leaving it in the oven with the light feels 70ish degrees in there. It's been several days. The smell is nice and sour-y but I have never had any bubbling witnessed at all. When I stir it to refeed, there's no bubbling underneath the surface either. Just smooth, thick pancake-like batter. Never rises, never bubbles! Help meeee. :)

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Staff 2018 March 11


Normally in cold climates I would recommend the consistency of thick pancake-like batter that you are making. However since this is not working I suggest you introduce a level of stability by making a stiffer batter and using an alternative method for regulating temperature.

Photos show a system that I use here 

Make a starter ball about the same consistency as a stiff bread dough. It is similar to some of the modelling clays. Measures are not required. A golf ball size finished dough made with more flour than water.

Temperature regulation is acieved with a steam bath as per pics. I use a 2L yoghurt container, boiling or very hot water, a ceramic bowl, and a plate for a lid. That is my preference...many variations on this will work.


Leave the ball in the temperature regulator until it starts to ferment. That's it!

Change water 2 - 3 times a day, depending on how cold your environment is.

It's fine if it gets cold overnight. However you could cover with a folded towel or blanket to better regulate temperature and potentially speed the process up.

In cold conditions it may take a week or so to show signs of fermentation. A strong smell is a start. Bubbles, signs of aeration are what we are after.

Once fermentation is active you can use a small amount of this ball to start another ball, or two start a more fluid batter-like mixture similar to your current one.

You can use the first starter ball to leaven bread..but will get much better results if you go through at least one more cycle, preferably three. Each successive cycle will likely get stronger (more evidence of fermentation) and faster.

mydadsamilkman 2018 April 27

I just stumbled across this thread and my starter wasn't getting started at all but after 24 hours of using the hot water bowl suggested above, it's looking like its working. Just wanted to say thank you!

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