How to make sourdough starter?

Posted by Isabel on Jul 22nd 2022

How to make sourdough starter?

Have you ever wondered how to make sourdough starter easily?

To make your own natural sourdough is very satisfying. In addition, it will give a unique flavor to your homemade sourdough bread and improve its nutritional qualities. While we may think that it is difficult to make sourdough and maintain it, it is actually very easy!

Just read all our tips to get started with your homemade sourdough. Then you will be able to do all kinds of recipes: Sourdough bread, brioche recipes and other delicacies.

The idea of making a homemade natural sourdough came to us after making our French country bread recipe.

The French team was so fond of this country bread that we quickly wanted to do another. But this time we wanted to try the sourdough bread. For that, it was necessary to start by knowing how to make sourdough, right?

Sourdough definition:

Natural sourdough is the result of fermentation caused by naturally occurring bacteria in the shell of the cereal grain. The envelope is the part that is called bran. Each variety of wheat has different characteristics and different bacteria. This is why the same starter recipe made from different wheat flours (or other cereals such as organic rye flour) will give very different results.

This will give the sourdough bread a characteristic taste very different depending on the flour used to make its natural sourdough. Hence the importance of starting with quality ingredients. You will put all the chances on your side to succeed with your sourdough. And this will ensure you a bread with a unique taste.

To obtain this fermentation, flour (wheat, rye, for example) is mixed with water. You can add in its first mixture a little sugar or honey to boost the fermentation. Indeed, bacteria like sugars. Sourdough is a living organism that must be nurtured and nourished.

Why make your own sourdough?

Sourdough has many virtues. Whether it's nutrition, taste or conservation, you'll find at least one good reason to make your own sourdough.

1. Sourdough bread is more healthy

First of all from a nutritional point of view: sourdough bread is more digestible than traditional yeast bread. During the growth of the bread, the bacteria present in the natural starter feed on the starch, thus making the bread more digestible. Finally, sourdough bread glycemic index is lower than regular white bread.

2. Preservation of the sourdough bread

Bread made with sourdough, can be preserved better than traditional bread. It can be kept for up to a week (well packaged in a clean tea towel). While the classic bread will only hold 2 days. So you can make your sourdough bread on Sunday and enjoy it all week.

3. The incomparable taste of sourdough bread

Not convinced yet? This is the best reason to make sourdough and make sourdough bread. The taste of sourdough bread is different from traditional bread. Its flavor is more subtle. In addition, the crumb of sourdough bread will be more light, giving it a pleasant rustic side in the mouth. Finally, the bread crust will be crispier. You are going to make delicious sandwiches!

Cut loaf of french artisanal bread and a knife with butter on a linen cloth, selective focus.

What are the ingredients for your sourdough? How to choose them?

Flour and water are mixed at equal weight. And we can add a pinch of sugar or honey to help start.

1. The flour

To ensure a good sourdough start, heathy and of good quality, choose a good flour, preferably organic.

Alternatively, you can start your sourdough with a whole wheat flour, rye flour or wheat flour or buckwheat, for example.

We recommend rye flour, because it gives very good results for the starter.

2. Water

Choose bottled water. Or if you are taking tap water, leave it open for one hour to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Chlorine kills bacteria. Now, we need to develop bacteria for the fermentation.

3. Sugar / Honey

This is not mandatory at all, but you can add a pinch of sugar or honey. You make sure that the leaven will be well fed. It's a bit like giving a plant a natural fertilizer! This boost is only used to start your natural sourdough.

How to make sourdough?

Ingredients for the sourdough starter

  • 30 g of rye flour
  • 30 g of spring water
  • A pinch of sugar

Tools for the sourdough starter

Tip: you can start your sourdough using our sourdough starter.

  • A glass jar with a lid.
  • A very clean spatula / spoon

Preparation of the sourdough starter

Start by boil quickly your sourdough jar. This will increase the temperature. Natural sourdough likes warm temperatures, around 75°/76°F, not hotter.

Mix in the rye flour and water. You must obtain a slightly thick liquid paste. Add a pinch of sugar (our fertilizer!).

Cover with the lid, without closing.

Leave your sourdough in a warm place of the house. The temperature should be around 75°/76°F. This can be at the top of a closet or near your Internet box.

And now, your natural sourdough is ready for fermentation.

  • D + 1: The sourdough softens slightly. Mix 1 or 2 times in the day.
  • D + 2: The texture starts to change. We see the first bubbles and the smell is different. We refresh it a first time. Add 50 g of flour and 50 g of water in the jar. Always use the same flour, so as not to disturb the flora that settles. Mix well. Cover with the lid, without closing. Leave in a warm place.
The sour dough is ready
  • D + 3: It's time for a second refreshment. Add again 50 g of flour and 50 g of water. Mix. If need be change jar for a larger jar. The smell is slightly sour, it's a sign that the fermentation has started well! Cover with the lid, without closing. Leave in a warm place.
  • D + 4: Natural leaven swells and foam. He is alive! Congratulations! You have just given birth to your natural leaven.

It's time to give him a little name! Our natural sourdough is ready!

Feeding sourdough starter

Our sourdough starter is alive. You must feed it and maintain it regularly. It requires little maintenance, but you must do it regularly. Try to see it as a tamagotshi who needs you to live;)

Feeding sourdough starter if you use it regularly:

Feed it every day. Just give him a tablespoon of flour and 2 teaspoons of spring water directly into the sourdough jar. Mix.

If you need more leaven, feed it more to increase its volume.

Feeding sourdough starter if you don't use it often:

You can put it to sleep in your fridge for several months. Take it out when needed.

Keeping your sourdough starter in the fridge when you don't use it:

The cool storage is very convenient in case of absence. Or if you do not make sourdough bread often. This will allow you to keep your sourdough in a very simple way and always have it handy when needed.


You need an airtight jar with a resistant lid. Do not use a plastic container that will not hold yeast pressure. (It stays slightly active, even in the cool)


Start by refreshing your sourdough starter so that it is fully active. (50g of flour + 50g of water, mix)

When it has grown well, before it goes down, put it in your airtight jar. The jar should only be filled 2/3.

Close with an airtight lid.

Leave to cool, until 3 months without problem.

To reactivate it before using it:

Less than a week in the fridge:

Return it to room temperature for a few hours. It is ready to be used without being refreshed.

Stay more than a week in the fridge:

Use of the sourdough starter in your recipes

Feed it (50g of flour + 50 of water). Let it grow a day before using it.

The difference between sourdough starter and leaven

The leaven that you have just created is what is called the sourdough starter. It's the one you'll always keep. We call sourdough starter the main sourdough that your feed and maintain. We call leaven the part that you'll be actually using for your recipes.

In order to use it your sourdough starter in leaven, you must feed it the day before you want to use it. This increases the amount and makes it very active. You will then be able to sample leaven for your recipes.

For your recipes using leaven, you need:

The day before use: Feed your sourdough starter. (Flour + water, quantities according to your need for the recipe)

The next day: He rises well. You can take what you need for your recipe.

If your sourdough becomes too sour

It happens that a natural sourdough becomes a little too sour. In this case, you will find this sour taste in your recipes. To avoid this, we can reduce its acidity:

To reduce its acidity, take half and discard the rest. Feed it with its weight in flour + water. For 100g of sourdough, feed it with 50g of flour + 50g of water. In this way, its taste will be less sour.

Now that your sourdough starter is ready, try our sourdough bread!

Would you like to know more about sourdough and sourdough bread?

We highly recommend these complete and very well done books:

  • Poîlane: One of the oldest and most iconic bakery in Paris. They are specially famous for their sourdough bread. A beautiful book with some recipes and a lot of stories.
  • Bien cuit: The art of bread. All you need to know to make delicious bread from scratch.
  • Tartine bread: The Bible for the home bread-maker!

Not sure if starting from scratch is for you?

Try this dry sourdough starter

Do you like French bread? Try our super easy French country bread