What should my sourdough starter look like?

Making a sourdough starter requires patience and regular care. Here, Express.co.uk walks you through how to make the start and what it should look like.

How to make a sourdough starter

BBC Food recommends using natural yoghurt to give the recipe “a helping hand by introducing a little friendly bacteria”.

So before you begin, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Fresh, live, full-fat, plain yoghurt

Skimmed milk

Strong white flour


ALSO SEE: How to make sourdough without yeast

Sourdough starter method

Day 1: Heat the 175ml of milk in a saucepan over a gentle heat then transfer to a bowl and add in the yoghurt.

Cover the mixture and leave in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours until it has thickened. You can then stir in any liquids that may have separated during that time.

Day 2: Stir 120g of strong white flour through the yoghurt mixture, making sure it is evenly distributed.

Cover the mixture again and leave at room temperature (at about 20C) for two days.

The starter should begin producing bubbles and will start smelling like sourdough.

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Day 4: Add 180g of strong white flour, 100ml of water and 40ml (3 tbsp|) of milk to the sourdough starter.

Stir the mixture together, cover and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.

Day 5: At this point, the sourdough starter should be fairly active and full of small bubbles.

Empty half of the mixture and replace with 150g of strong white flour and 150ml of water.

Cover and leave at room temperature for another 24 hours.

Day 6: The sourdough starter should now have a bubbly look, indicating it is ready to use.

You can keep the starter at room temperature but you will need to “feed” it daily by combining equal parts of the starter, water and flour and mixing thoroughly.

Some of the starter may have to be discarded so you don’t end up with too much.

Keep it covered and use when needed or if baking less often, it can be kept in the fridge and fed once every five days.


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Cookery website Virtuous Bread advises doing the “water test” to check if the sourdough starter is ready.

They said: “In order to determine that with total accuracy, that your refreshed starter is ready to use, do the water test.

“Put a spoonful of your refreshed starter in a glass of water. If your refreshed starter floats, it is ready to use.

“If it sinks it is not ready OR you have left it too long and it’s gone past its peak.”

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