Easy Sourdough Starter


This Sourdough starter recipe came down to me from my great aunt who got the recipe and her first starter from a friend of hers in the 1960's. Her friend in turn had the starter and recipe passed down to her from her grandmother about 30 years earlier, so my aunt's starter by the time she got hers was already about 30 years old and then she still has the same starter so it is at least 70 yrs old now and her friend told her when she gave it to her that her grandmother had brought it from Russia in the early 1900's. Well anyway this is the recipe as was given to me by her.

Note: This recipe contains bakers yeast in the form of dark beer, meaning that this is not the traditional sourdough process (of rising the dough with just wild yeasts, coming from the fermentation of flour + water).

The Dough

Ingredient Metric Imperial Baker's Percentage
White flour 71 grams 2.50 cups 83.33%
Rye flour 14 grams 0.50 cups 16.67%
Whole Milk 43 grams 1.50 cups 50.00%
White Sugar 43 grams 1.50 cups 50.00%
3 tbls. Honey 3 tablespoons 100.00%
Luke-Warm Water 14 grams 0.50 cups 16.67%
Dark Beer 28 grams 1.00 cups 33.33%
Total Flour Weight:
3 cups

Percentages are relative to flour weight (flour equals 100%) and every other ingredient is a percentage of this. Flour from the starter is not counted. This recipe was originally in cups and has been automatically converted to other measures.


Combine all ingredients into a crock with a crockery lid. Mix with a plastic or wooden spoon till well mixed will be about same consistency as pancake batter. Let stand in a warm place covered for about 1-1 1/2 weeks stirring about 3 times a day. replenish by taking out about 2c of starter and replacing with 1cup flour 1/2 c sugar and 1/2 cup warm water. This starter is best left out on counter it does not respond well to refrigeration, also it will develop a sour smelling dark liquid on surface simply stir back into starter. I would recommend using it at least once a week for bread or pancakes or whatever. Remember to replenish as above. Feed about once a week by following replensih instructions above.

386 users have voted.


lyndyloo2010 2010 November 15

Thank you so much for this.I have been looking at so many starters and trying them,with no sucess!Will def try this.Can you please give me the recepe for the bread as well?I am just a home exec,trying to make sourdough bread simply.Small loaves for 2 people.So far,have not managed to have much sucess.lotsa bricks tho!LOL.Thanks Lynn

Sourdough_joy 2010 November 16

I will definately get you a great recipe for my favorite recipe for bread. Now below I am including an even easier way to get a starter going that is basically fool-proof and this recipe was given to me by the same aunt because it is much easier for the working man.

 Enjoy. This is not a starter for the purest because I do take a little help from packaged dry fast acting yeast. But as I have learned once the yeast colonize then they make room for whatever types are in your area anyway. So by the end the dry yeast is no longer dominant in the culture anyway, it just makes it easier for the wild yeast and micro-organisms to colonize.Well here is the recipe.1pkg. fast acting dry yeast2 cups White Flour, A.P. flour,i.e. Bench Flour2 cups Granulated Sugar1/2 cup Milk mixed with 1/2 cup Tepid water2 tblsp. Honey1 large crock canister to keep culture in. Method: Dump all above ingredients into crock, stir well until incorporated with a wooden or plastic spoon. Cover with loose fitting crock lid. Store at about 74 deg. F. for 4-7 days stir 4-6 times daily. every couple days add 2tbsp. Flour to crock stirring in well. replenish and feed according to instructions for my Easy Starter recipe. Again if develops a sour liquid on top (which it will !)just stir back into culture and remove 1/2 cup starter and replenish with 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup tepid water.Store at room temp. if going to use at least 4 times a week if not store in the fridge setting out every two weeks overnight and then removing 1/2 cup starter and replenishing then let sit again overnight at room temp. before returning to fridge.Let me know what you think.
Sammie21787 2011 April 26

Quick question.  I am on my first day of the starter that contains the dry yeast.  I understand the stirring it 6 -7 times per day and doing this for 5 - 7 days.  What I don't understand is... do you feed it?  Just every couple of days?  I am wanting to use the recipe for the bread that is below this starter recipe.  How do you end up with 2 cups of starter along with enough to keep the culture going?  Thanks for any help or advice you can give. 

lyndyloo2010 2010 November 16

Hi Joy,Thank you so much for this.I really appreciate it.Shall get it going tonight!

Just one thing,what is AP Flour?Bench Flour? Am in U.K.,and not familiar with it.

Thanks again.Lynn

Dorean 2010 November 16

AP flour is short for "all purpose". In the US it's the most commonly used kind of flour. It's protein content is middle of the road, more than cake flour, less than bread flour.

Delveen 2010 November 16

What would you experienced sourdoughers recommend as best container for starter storage?

I only make a loaf every fortnight for myself so is there a particular size starter recipe I should use?

Delveen :)

Sourdough_joy 2010 November 16

I would recommend either a crockery container or a glass container, either or should hold about 4 cups total starter with about 2 cups more head room for doubling.

Sourdough_joy 2010 November 17

Hi sorry I was so late replying my computer was having issues here is one of my favorite sourdough recipes I think you'll enjoy!

Everyday Sourdough Bread(for five loaves)

The night before baking, mix in a very large bowl a batter of:

2 cups Sourdough starter

4 cups lukewarm water

5 cups flour

Mix well, although there may still be small lumps. Cover lightly and leave overnight at room temp. The next morning, stir down the batter and return 2 cups to your permanent sourdough container. To the batter add:

3 cups lukewarm water

1/4 cup sugar

1 tblsp. salt

1 cup powdered milk

1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted and cooled(1/2 stick)

or vegetable oil

flour(see below for quantity)

Stir in about 5 cups of flour and beat well. Add about 5 or 6 more cups gradually, until too stiff to stir, then turn out and knead well, adding flour as necessary until the dough is smooth and stands about 1/3 as high as it is wide when resting, or more. Place in a greased bowl, let rise til doubles. Punch down, let rest 15 minutes. Shape into 5 loaves, place in greased bread pans(9x5x3). Brush tops with 1 tbs melted butter. Let rise until tops are almost even with top edge of pan. Bake 45 minutes at 375 deg. farenheit. Turn out immediately onto racks. For a soft crust, rub with hard butter while still hot. Freeze in plastic bags when cool.

20glen11 2011 June 23

 Think I found my answer!

Im new to this and I have succeeded with my starter and wanted a good easy recipe which doesnt need loads of fandangle equipment that a novice such as myself does not have!!

will definately give this a go 

thank you

panfresca 2011 June 23

 This is what worries me about this post - it's not sourdough... nor for that matter is it any easier than actual sourdough starter - which couldn't be much simpler, just flour and water!

If you're going to make bread this non-sourdough way, the simplest way is to avoid all this fairly complicated preamble and just add bakers yeast.

I make breads using commercial yeast, and I make breads using natural yeasts in the form of a sourdough starter, but I kinda despair at the unnecessary confusion introduced by threads like this one.


Dúnia's picture
Dúnia 2010 December 4

 Hi, I´m having some trouble with my starter. When I first tryed, it raised after about 2 weeks but then it fell back, and what was left was only a mess with three layers: the first is a bubbly layer, like a foam; the second is a brown water layer (it does not smell bad at all, like the other times I tryed...), and at the bottom stays a large layer of some kind of sticky dough. Can somebody help me? Must I trow it away after so much effort to cultivate? Thanks, and bye.

lyndyloo2010 2010 December 20

Hi Joy,

Thanks again for the starter recipe.I have now used it about 6 times,and it is fab!!!!!You can tast the beer in it,which is yummy.I didnt use the bread recipe,because I dont have space for all the loaves.

Thanks again for a Very delicious and easy starter.

Take care and have a wonderful Christmas.


sarmoonta 2011 January 6

 with this starter recipe handed down to you, do you add flour and water every day or just stir the mixture that you have? i'm a first timer and am getting confused. im on day 3

Katelyn 2011 February 8

 I am pretty new to baking. I am interested in making sourdough started. I cannot find Rye Flour in my grocery store. Im in a small town and I don't have much to choose from. I was wondering if I can substitute Whole Wheat Flour for the Rye flour, or if I should just use all White Flour. 




panfresca 2011 April 27

I'm interested in why this starter recipe is so complex. When I first got a starter going, I just followed the method outlined by SourDom in his blog on this website, using just flour (well, a couple of flours) and water, and the results were excellent. 

Does this more complicated method offer any advantages? I'm guessing perhaps it might get to a state of being usable a little quicker than the normal 7-10 days of the other method perhaps? 

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 April 27

Hey KymH,

I think there probably as many starter recipes as there are bread recipes.  Some simple, some complex.  Probably all good.  Personally, I am a great believer in the KISS principle (and I agree that SourDom's method is a beauty) but if something more complex takes my fancy at any time I might try it just to see what the difference is.  I suppose there are likely to be some subtle flavour effects of a starter such as this but to each his own.



panfresca 2011 April 27

Hi Farinam 

Fair enough - am just interested to know if what the advantages might be doing it this way, and the reasons for the extra ingredients.

The effect of different bread recipes is immediately apparent, but I'm unclear what proportion of the flavour is provided by the starter and what comes from the flour. I'm thinking it probably varies a lot.

In this starter recipe, my guess is that the sugar is there to give the fledgling yeasties an energy boost, the honey has "antibiotic" properties for want of a better term, which could possibly do the same thing as pineapple juice in protecting against intruders such as the leuconostoc bacteria. The milk? Not sure - maybe some kind of stabilising influence, though it might aid or protect lactobacillus species possibly? All that's pure speculation, and perhaps in the end the only answer I'm going to get is that it works. As you say, I can also give it a go myself.

It would be interesting to know if there's any practical difference between starters raised by the two methods. IIRC, I think it might have been Dan Lepard who recounted acquiring a San Francisco starter only to have it revert to something with much less bite after a few weeks - which raises the question of whether any starter will retain its original characteristics over time, or change to reflect its newfound environment and feed-flour(s).

Sorry if these questions and comments are so clearly in newbie territory, I'm getting there but still have a long way to go!


Pinky 2011 May 1

Dear sourdough joy

I mixed up a batch of the sourdough starter yesterday, and already it has a few bubbles. But I just don't get the replenishment process. Surely if I keep taking out 2 cups of starter, and replacing it with white flour, then I will dilute the flavour even before I use it. I realise it has to be fed, but surely the flavours of the rye, honey and dark beer will be diminished.

And when I do use it for baking, say once or twice a week, and replenish it, once again with white flour, won't those flavours disappear with time, and change the flavour of the bread?

I guess I'm asking, how can I maintain the integrity of the flavours of rye, honey and beer?


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 May 2

Hello Pinky

I'm no expert but I suspect that the concoction added at the start is purely intended to give the thing a kick start and not to contribute to the final bread flavours.  The flour used for feeding could easily be a mix of rye and plain if you wish.

I also think that most would agree that the sources of sugar (honey etc) are not needed, perfectly adequate starters arise from just flour and water.



Pinky 2011 May 2

Hi Farinam

Thanks for the breakdown - I thought the honey and beer were for flavour, not to get the natural yeasts going. So I'll keep feeding it a bit rye and mostly white, and see how it goes. I have a plain flour and water mixture bubbling away in the cupboard as well - I'll compare the flavours.

I was buying Morpeth white sourdough from my local shop, but they stopped stocking it (very expensive), so I decided to make my own. I actually make my sourdough loaves in the bread machine - is that sacrelage? They turn out just fine, just the right shape for toast and sandwiches.



Millciti's picture
Millciti 2011 May 2

This is a site for Sourdough and this Recipe should be filed under Other Than Sourdough!!! Please read the following article from one of Sourdough's legendary defenders John D:   http://sourdough.com/blog/johnd/sourdough-bread%E2%80%A6-real-thing  

This recipe as such, is cheating all who use it from really experiencing Sourdough Baking.

I know that it was posted with the intent of sharing a family recipe for sourdough, but Bread made with commercial yeast is at best a Hybrid, not Sourdough!!  If you really want to make real Sourdough - Go to the beginners section of this site and Start a real Sourdough Starter!  Sorry if I sound harsh ~ but there really is no substitute!  

Initially I made no comment on this, but I just can't stand by silently any longer letting new bakers think that they are actually making sourdough starter from this recipe.  If you want to truely participate in this site and follow the Sourdough baking and recipes posted here you will need a REAL SOURDOUGH STARTER, not a fake Easy one.




Maedi's picture
Maedi 2011 May 2

The original recipe doesn't contain bakers yeast. Just the comments. It is correctly filed under starters, and as the original recipe doesn't contain bakers yeast the title is valid. We may be able to move certain comments over to a new recipe.

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2011 May 2

Good answers both...:)  Thanks for the support Kymh!

But Maedi - to quote John D. 

"The name came from the American gold fields to identify bread made without baker’s yeast… or Bakers. Most don’t realise that until recently, commercial yeast didn’t exist. Various types of leavening agents were used either from ale yeast (barm) or Leaven (or levain or sourdough otherwise levain/sourdough)) - all made by the baker, not purchased. Somebody on the goldfields from the old country knew about this and just did it, to satisfy the demand for the staple food …bread.

Microbiologically, this culture (sourdough) does not ever contain saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is an ale yeast, now known as bakers yeast. And this is the significant difference between a sourdough and a yeasted bread. Among other criteria, Sourdough is actually defined by the absence of this sacc cerevisiae."

Isn't this a Barm starter?  Doesn't it contain beer (ale) yeast?

My other big complaint is the word EASY - it is like honey to a bee for the Novice sourdough baker.  Who wouldn't want to start an easy starter.  But can this "starter" be a replacement for the starter required for any "sourdough" recipe on this site?





panfresca 2011 May 2

Well spotted, Terri. You're quite right - the first recipe won't produce sourdough either, because the beer means its fermentation is entirely from saccharomyces cerevisiae - commercial yeast (baker's yeast/brewer's yeast).

Beer-yeast based bread is on my to-try list, but I completely agree with you that it needs to be made clear that this is, as you say, a barm - and not sourdough. Suddenly all the other ingredients in the original recipe make more sense.

panfresca 2011 May 2

Hi Maedi

The note's an improvement (though to be annoyingly pedantic it's slightly ambiguous!) - but the title is still completely wrong, "Easy Sourdough Starter". It might be easy enough, but it's not sourdough at all. Can I suggest changing it to, um, well you're the one getting the high pay...  .... and making a note that the title has been changed?



panfresca 2011 May 2

I agree that the second post which contains the commercial yeast is unfortunate - because it perpetuates the myth that commercial yeast can be used to create a sourdough starter, which is not true (the acidity of sourdough is not an environment in which saccharomyces cerevisiae can survive).

It's a shame that some people might come to a site called sourdough.com and think that recipe is valid for creating sourdough. It's already hard enough navigating the oceans of mythology and old wives tales, without being misled on a site which aims for a higher level of knowledge. I mean no offence to the OP, I'm sure the intentions are of the highest order.

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2011 May 3

Thanks Maedi! Kymh too!  I really appreciate your help on this issue, it should help clarify what type of starter this is for newcomers.   I have been looking to try a good Barm recipe, maybe I will have to get some dark beer and give this a go!   Maedi do you think you could highlight the note, or is that overkill? 

Been crazy busy with work and school and demo'ing at the Market in Wooster, but still baking.  Im on my third or 4 phase of different sourdough experiments - hope to revisit and blog some new ideas soon.  My latest experiments are Sourdough with milk, goatsmilk, buttermilk and whey - not all at once of course!

Sunday's bake was an almost white, (unbleached, white wheat, durum, rye - in order of volume) with milk (nonfat non-instant milk powder), honey and olive oil rolled up with a swirl of apricot fruit spread and golden raisins.  My husband can't leave it alone.!


albert z's picture
albert z 2013 January 6

I have started "sours" this way also, and they do get sour, and like was said, additional feedings are just water and flour... some add fruit, or potato, (i also like jack daniels) who is really to say what can or can not be a sour, some frown a Baga but i use it alot also, before it was a "cool thing to do", it was just the way it was done. funny, we did not even know it was cool or bega, it was using old dough that "by the way" happened to make a nicer dough...<grins>...in baking there is no "one way" that is what makes working with food..."COOL".


Bill Avery 2013 January 15

Using dark beer as your yeast source is a good idea but I found an better source of making a natural sourdough starter that uses pineapple juice. You got me right, pineapple juice.

The pineapple juice is not the source of yeast but a natural inhibitor.  It lets the wild yeast fourish faster than the bacteria that turns your sourdough starter black. Mind you it takes a few days of building the starter before the pineapple taste goes away but still you are guarenteed to have a one of a kind local sourdough starter.

The fellow I got this recipe from failed at his  first few attempts but I was thrilled to have mine work the first time out.

Get the recipe here... http://workwithbillavery.com/how-to/natural-sourdough-starter

I have ventured on ito using whole grains and flours other than wheat but I have not written down any of my experiments yet. I'll be doing that soon.

Bill :")

rsrj317 2014 August 24

Sourdough_joy, I think I need some help. I am going to use it for pancakes tomorrow morning though. Anyway my starter is very thick. I mean thicker than pudding. What can I do to thin it out with out ruining it?


farinam's picture
farinam 2014 August 24

Hello rsrj317,

When you make your batter just add more water or whatever it is that you are using and it should be absolutely fine.  You certainly won't ruin it.

Good luck with your projects.


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