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close up of active sourdough starter in a glass jar
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5 from 58 votes

Sourdough Starter 2 Ways - Traditional and No-discard method

Learn how to make sourdough starter 2 ways - the traditional method of feeding and discarding & a no-discard method using yeast water!
Prep Time5 mins
Fermenting Time5 d
Total Time5 d 5 mins
Course: Baked Goods
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 433kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Traditional Starter Method - Initial Mix (Day 1)

  • 120 g whole rye flour or whole wheat flour - See Note 1
  • 120 g filtered water - use warm water if you're in a cold environment

Traditional Starter Method - Daily Feeding (Days 2 to 7)

No-discard Yeast Water Method

Instructions

No-discard Yeast Water Method (100% hydration)

  • Mix all the yeast water, bread flour, and sea salt in a clear bowl or jar and cover it with plastic wrap. Set it in a warm place for 12 to 14 hours or until it doubles in volume.
    If you choose not to add the sea salt, it will be ready in less time (around 6 to 8 hours) so keep an eye on it. See Note 2 about adding salt.
    yeast water being poured into flour in a glass bowl
  • Once it doubles in volume, the starter is ready to use. This makes 200g of starter which is sufficient for most recipes. If you'd like a little leftover to keep in the fridge, increase the amount accordingly.
    Store any leftovers in the fridge and feed it like you would a regular starter. It will start to develop a sour flavor over time.
    close up of active sourdough starter in a glass bowl

Traditional Sourdough Starter Method (100% hydration)

  • Day 1: Mix 120g of rye or wheat flour and 120g of filtered water together and add it to a glass jar or bowl and loosely cover it with plastic wrap. Set it in a warm place for 24 hours (74 to 78 degrees F).
    first day of sourdough starter in a glass mason jar
  • Day 2: Save 120g of the initial mix from Day 1 and discard the rest. Then, add to the initial mix 120g of bread flour and 120g of water. Mix everything together, loosely cover it, and set it in a warm place for 24 hours.
    We'll be referring to this as your starter. Total amount: 360g of starter.
    water and flour mixture combined with a spatula in a glass bowl
  • Days 3 to 5 (Two discards and feedings per day) - Save 120g of the starter and discard the rest. Then, feed the starter with 120g of bread flour and 120g of water. Mix everything together, loosely cover it, and set it in a warm place for 12 hours. Repeating this step of discarding and feeding 12 hours later.
    At this point, you should start to see small bubbles and signs of activity in the starter. It will smell like yeast with a very subtle tang.
    You should end up with 360g of starter at the end of the day.
    close up of active sourdough starter with little bubbles forming
  • Day 6: The starter should be very active and bubbly. It should double in volume 4 to 6 hours after a feeding and smell tangy and like fresh dough. You should see it rise and fall on a regular schedule with each feeding.
    At this point, you can bake with it or store it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation.
    If you store it in the fridge, feed it once per week by following the same process: discard all but 120g and feed it 120g of bread flour and 120g of water.
    If your starter isn't showing signs of activity by day 6, repeat the twice daily discarding and feeding schedule until you start to see it double in volume. It may take longer if you're in a cold environment.
    active sourdough starter in a glass mason jar showing bubbles and increase in volume

Notes

  1. Whole rye flour - based on my experience, starters that began with rye flour become active much faster due to the high nutrients found in rye flour. If you don't have rye flour, you can substitute with whole wheat flour. Avoid using bleached flour when making starters.
  2. Salt in the no-discard yeast water starter - the reason for adding salt to this method is because the yeast water already has a high population of yeast. So, we're able to add salt to delay the fermentation and add more flavor without harming the yeast. 
 
See the Frequently Asked Questions above for troubleshooting tips. 

Nutrition

Serving: 360g | Calories: 433kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg