Ben Starr

The Ultimate Food Geek

How to make Sourdough Starter from ANY Flour (old method)

(Printable link at the bottom of the recipe!)

A proper sourdough starter can be made from ANY flour (even bleached, all-purpose flour) and filtered water. In my YouTube series, I explain in plain English, with terrible illustrations, and in exhaustive detail, the science behind what sourdough starter really is, and how it works. Endure it, it’ll make you smarter!

Note that I have a newer and simpler method posted here, but it leaves your starter more susceptible to mold invasion, if your home has a mold problem.

My baking scale of choice

My Kitchen Toys


In a quart-sized container, combine:

2 ounces (56g) ANY type of flour (fastest results, according to the finished experiment, are with organic, unbleached flour, but conventional wisdom suggested organic, whole grain flours reach maturity fastest)

4 ounces (113g) filtered water


2 ounces (56g) unsweetened pineapple juice, plus 2 ounces (56g) filtered water, for a total of 4 ounces liquid. (Beginning with pineapple juice helps protect your starter from invasion by mold, and suppresses the naturally-occurring leuconostoc bacteria that can fool you into thinking that your starter is mature too early in the process.)

Stir well with a clean spoon, cover lightly with lid, and set in a 72F-78F (22C-26C) place. (Warmer is better than colder.) Stir vigorously with a clean spoon several times per day.


Continue stirring every few hours with a clean spoon. Do not feed.


Add 1 ounce (28g) of the same flour used in the beginning, and continue stirring every few hours.

Day 4

Add 1 ounce (28g) of the same flour and continue stirring every few hours. Stir well with a clean spoon, scrape sides of container mostly clean, and place a mark at the level of the starter. This will be your discard line for future feedings. Removing excess starter back to this line will mean you have approximately 8 ounces (226g) of starter left in your container.

Day 5

Add 4 ounces (113g) of ANY type of white flour (bleached or unbleached, organic or not), and 4 ounces (113g) filtered water. (If you started with whole grain flour, you’ll get better results by switching to white flour for feeding from this point forward, but you can stick with your original flour if you wish.)


After a feeding, wait for the starter to DECREASE in activity. This means that the starter has begun falling below a level from which it previously rose (you’ll see streaks on the side of the container when the starter has fallen from a previous high), or you’ll see liquid begin to gather on top of the starter. This can take anywhere from 1-4 days after a feeding.

When you notice decreasing activity:

Discard half the starter until you have about 8 ounces (226g) of starter remaining, back to your original line. Feed with 4 ounces (113g) white flour and 4 ounces (113g) filtered water and wait for a decrease in activity.

When your starter doubles in volume within 24 hours of a feeding, it is likely robust enough to bake bread. Until you reach that target, keep feeding and waiting for the starter to decrease in activity, then discard back to your original line and feed again.

Most modern research says that 13 days is the “sweet spot” when most starters are fully matured, but yours may be ready to bake bread faster than that. If after a week your starter shows signs of vigorous activity in the first 12 hours after feeding, but does not double its volume before deflating back down to a resting stage, change your feeding cycle to every 12 hours.

When you think your starter is robust, pull off 4 ounces and mix up a test batch of Simple Sourdough. If the dough doubles in volume in 24 hours or less, your starter is mature, and it can move to a larger container, get a big feeding (but don’t fill the container more than halfway!) and go into the fridge after a few hours on the countertop, during which time it should get nice and bubbly. Your starter will live the rest of its life in the fridge. It will only come out when you’re baking something. And you only need to feed it when you get low and need to make more.

Feed it by AT LEAST doubling its weight with equal parts flour and water. However, most of my feedings are much larger than this, because I don’t want to feed frequently. A typical feeding for me is 16oz flour and 16oz water, when I have about 4oz starter remaining. After a feeding, leave the starter at room temp until it is bubbly (several hours) and then put it back in the fridge.

(Note: As an Amazon associate, if you buy something from my links, I may get a few cents!)

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