A Newbies Tips for a Sourdough Starter

Meet Charlotte, my sourdough starter!

Here is a photo of her on her first day of life. So cute.

I am officially 3 months into my Sourdough Starter Journey and I have learned SO much, but I also have a lot to learn! I wanted to write up a recap on my first 3 months and share some tips. There are a ton of great guides from masters and professionals, which I highly recommend, but that is not what this post is. This post is a reflection on a newbies thoughts and tips. I will share what guides I followed, what I have learned and mistakes I have made. I hope you you feel inspired to start your own sourdough starter too!


Who I Learned From

Here are Guides I read and Youtube videos I watched:


Feeding Schedule Days 1-21

Here are my feeding notes for the first 21 days. I kept my starter at room temperature the first 21 days and fed once or twice daily.

WEEK 1:

  1. 24 hour feedings: 100g Rye + 150g H20
  2. 75g Starter + 50g Rye + 50g AP + 125g H20
  3. 75 g Starter + 50g Rye + 50g AP + 125g H20
  4. Started 12 hour Feedings: 80g Starter + 50g Rye + 50g AP + 125g H20
  5. 80g Starter + 50g Rye + 50g AP + 125g H20
  6. 80g Starter + 50g Rye + 50g AP + 125g H20
  7. 80g Starter + 50g Rye + 50g AP + 125g H20

Comments: Had the initial surge of activity on Day 2. Rest of week continued to have very slow growth (20-30%), bubbly with a cheesey smell. Kept in the oven with the light on and stated around 77-80F.

WEEK 2:

  1. DAY 8, Feeding every 24 hours: 75g Starter + 20g Rye + 80g AP + 100g H20
  2. 75g Starter + 20g WW + 80g AP + 100g H20
  3. 70g Starter + 20g WW + 80g AP + 100g H20
  4. Day 11, Back to 12 hour Feeds: 55g Starter +20g WW + 80g AP + 100g H20
  5. 55g Starter + 20g WW + 80g AP + 100g H20
  6. 35g Starter + 22g WW + 83g AP + 105g H20
  7. 35g Starter + 22g WW + 83g AP + 105g H20

Comments: On Day 8-10 I went back to 24 hour feeds and switched to 1:1 H20:Flour feeds and change the Rye to Whole Wheat flour. Then, went back to feeding twice daily on Day 11. Day 11 I noticed a change in the smell, started to smell more sour. By day 11, I started to see a little more growth than the week before (50%). I also started slowly lowering the percentage of starter.

WEEK 3:

  1. DAY 15, Feeding every 24 hours: 40g Starter + 30g WW + 90g AP + 120g H20
  2. 40g Starter + 30g WW + 90g AP + 120g H20
  3. 40g Starter + 30g WW + 90g AP + 120g H20
  4. 33g Starter + 125g AP + 125g H20
  5. 25g Starter + 100g AP + 100g H20
  6. 30g Starter + 125g AP + 125g H20
  7. 30g Starter + 120g AP + 120g H20

Comments: Charlotte went on her first road trip! I started to play around with ratios this week and wanted to slowly increase the ratio to 1:5:5. I read that some people feed 1:5:5 to 1:10:10. With increasing ratios, I wasn’t getting any growth. Then, I saw someone who only does 1:3:3 feeds, which is what I ended up sticking with for weeks 4 and on. I began to notice more growth and have kept my feeding ratio at 1:3:3. Going up to a 1:5:5 feed didn’t seem resemble to me during the cold winter months of a new starter. I attempted my first loaf on Day 20 (pictured below), it was really tough and gained no height. My thoughts as to why: improper folding during bulk ferment, my inability to shape properly, and yeast was not active enough.


My Current Feeding Schedule

On Day 28, I decided my starter was ready to be refrigerated between feeds! I work M-F and do not have a family to cook for. Feeding daily doesn’t work for me because I am too busy + wasting too much discard. I’m sure this feeding schedule will change as the temperature rises and I will adjust the ratios as needed.

Here is my current schedule:

THURSDAY MORNING: Take out of fridge and feed – 20g Starter, 20g whole wheat flour, 40g all-purpose flour, 60g H20.

THURSDAY EVENING: Feed – 20g Starter, 20g whole wheat flour, 40g all-purpose flour, 60g H20.

FRIDAY MORNING: Feed – 20g Starter, 20g whole wheat flour, 40g all-purpose flour, 6g H20.

FRIDAY EVENING: Feed – 20g Starter, 20g whole wheat flour, 40g all-purpose flour, 60g H20.

SATURDAY MORNING: Make levain for my bread and use discard for other baked goods. Feed starter – 20g Starter, 20g whole wheat flour, 40g all-purpose flour, 60g H20 and place back into the Fridge.

SUNDAY: Resting in the fridge.

MONDAY: Resting in the fridge.

TUESDAY: Resting in the fridge.

WEDNESDAY: Resting in the fridge.


Mistakes I Have Made

  • Bottle Water – I used tap water the first week and once I switched over to bottled I started to see better growth.
  • Folding and Shaping – it took 3 loafs of bread to get folding and shaping down. First time, the dough was sticking to me and the table and I had a terrible time shaping it. I have made 6-7 loafs of bread now and feel I have better technique and handling!
  • Rice flour – I didn’t think I needed to buy rice flour to dust the bowl. I had a lot of issues with my dough sticking when I dusted the flour sack towel with all-purpose flour. Once I started using rice flour, I had no issues!

What I Have Baked in My First 3 Months

In 3 months, I have already made a lot of bakes with my starter discard! Some have turned out great, some I need a lot more practice on (aka donuts).

  • Bread (obviously)
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Croissants (I actually shared that recipe here).
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Focaccia
  • Donuts

My Newbie Tips

  • Know that saying, Patience is a Virtue? Well it totally applies to sourdough baking! Many guides tell you your starter will be ready in 7-10 days. Mine was not growing well for weeks! Honestly, it didn’t double in size till 6-8 weeks in. I made my first loaf on day 21 and it sucked. I didn’t make a great loaf till my third bake! Do not rush the feeds, levain, or bulk ferment. Stay to schedule and be patient! If its day 14 and the guide you are following says your starter should be doubling or tripling in size by now and yours is not do not fret! Keep feeding it daily and be patient and eventually your little baby will grow!
  • Colder weather slows growth. Starting a starter in Cleveland in January, probably wasn’t my best decision. During 12 hour feeds, I placed my starter in the oven (off) with the light on to help keep it 75-79F.
  • Use bottled water for your feedings. Some city tap water contains chemicals that can kill the yeast.
  • Invest in Rye – its like crack for your starter if its being lazy.
  • Keep a journal! I found it really helpful to analyze and take notes early in the process. I do not take as many notes now, but it really helps to pinpoint what temperature and feeding ratios work for your starter. Also, a great way to reflect on your new hobby!
  • Do your research! Read up, watch how to videos, and take notes. It can seem overwhelming at first, but I promise once you get the hang of it you will be addicted!
  • Find a friend or group of people who also make sourdough bread. I am apart of a small group of people, who has provided me with LOADS of advise and motivation!

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