Starter: A Conversation About Sourdough

In my online fermentation course, students learn all about Sourdough and get an in depth breaducation. Since Sourdough is a favorite in the Fermentation Course, I wanted to offer you the cliff's notes so you can leaven your bread game! 

Sourdough is a fun food, it's alive and it has character. The life of a Sourdough starter can easily surpass that of a human, and could conceivably go on forever, or until the sun expands to swallow the Earth, but that's another post. A friend of Chef Frank's even had one that was over 150 years old. Talk about bridging generational gaps. 

Sourdough has many advantageous qualities in the realm of bread:

A foundational piece of the anti-bread arguments revolves around digestion. In grains, the hulls of the seed contain high amounts of phytates that are anti-nutrients themselves. Phytates further render important minerals unabsorbable and can ultimately deplete the body of them. Over time, this action of phytates on the body can render a person nutrient deficient. That is one way a person can be obese and malnourished. 

  • Sourdough creates ideal conditions for the production of the enzyme phytase (that which breaks down phytate) during its increased rise time which is an ideal condition for bread eating! 

Then there is the gluten thing...

  • Sourdough in its longer soaking and rising breaks down this difficult to digest protein into simpler forms, increasing it's digestibility. Again, an ideal condition if you're gonna eat a sandwich!

Then there is the carb thing...

  • Sourdough, as was so with the gluten, the living bacteria, breaks down the carbohydrate molecule rendering it more absorbable AND research supports that leavened bread (compared to yeasted bread) induces a significantly lower blood sugar surge. 

Get your butter ready for some Sourdough. Don't make it die a Wonderbread death. As Julia Childs said; "How can a nation be great if their bread tastes like kleenex?" 

For more detailed info on phytic acid, please read HERE.

Here's how to get your starter started:

How to Make a Sourdough Starter


  • 3/4 cup flour (use any type of flour you wish
  • 1/2 cup quality water

In a glass or wooden bowl combine well, using a wooden spoon. The initial mixture will be thick but combine thoroughly. Scrape the sides of the bowl/jar down then cover with plastic wrap or cheesecloth. Store around 70° - 75°F.

Repeat the same process every 24 hours using 1/2 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of water,  being mindful to really whisk the ingredients together as aerating the flour-water mixture will help speed along the fermentation process.

As each day progresses, the starter will become bubbly and take on a sour and vinegary taste and smell. 

Sometimes this process can take a week for the mix to fully sour.

5 Day Mark

Around the 5th or 6th day, it is time to use some of the starter. Make waffles (recipe to come), pancakes, bread sticks, bread, so many options really!

Once you take away from the starter, it is time to replenish. Add flour and water, then continue and continue on. 


If you get to a point where you want to put your starter on hold or need to go away and will be unable to maintain it, the fridge is your best place for storage. Before moving it to cold storage, add 1 cup of flour and mix thoroughly. This will give your active starter plenty of food to eat slowly while chilling.