sourdough starter ( d.i.y.)

for as long as i can remember, my grandmother would make the-BEST sourdough waffles from a sourdough starter.  it was her trademark.  when we showed up to celebrate a holiday or birthday we knew exactly what we were getting and we were excited.  my favorite part was that she would always make more then any of us could ever consume, so you never felt guilty going back for seconds, or fifths.

with easter coming up and it being a fantastic opportunity to make yummy breakfast and brunch foods, we thought we would share a recipe and printable tags to inspire your own sourdough tradition.

to make a starter you will need:

2 cups all-purpose flour  .  2 teaspoons granulated sugar  .  1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) of active dry yeast .   2 cups warm water

*** this will make enough for 2 starters***


1. mix the flour, sugar, and yeast together in a mixing bowl (ceramic or glass…  no metal or plastic!) that can hold 2 quarts.  gradually stir in the water and mix until it forms a thick paste.  any lumps will disappear in the process.

if you are a bit wild in the kitchen (aka clumsy) like me, you’ll also want to wear an apron!

2.  set your bowl with the mixture on a rimmed plate or tray and cover with a dish cloth.  let it stand in a warm place (about 70 degrees) for 3 to 5 days.  stir the mixture once per day.

your starter is ready when it develops a pleasant sour smell and looks bubbly.  

3.  next, transfer your starter to a container with a tight lid and store in the refrigerator.  mason jars work great for this.  you can also divide your starter into two containers (1 cup per starter is usually enough) and set aside to give a friend or neighbor.

next, download the cute labels below, cut them out, hole punch or circle the month and year you made the sourdough and place on the lid of a mason jar or use contact paper to adhere  it to a different container.  wouldn’t they make a cute hostess gift?

(click to download)

( see the cute pintucked napkin?  it’s one of the projects from our threads sewing classes that will be released in just a few weeks….  april 9th!)

when you are ready to use your starter in a recipe, remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.  pour it into a glass or ceramic bowl and add 1 cup flour and 1 cup warm water.  stir and let sit out overnight or at least 8 hours.  return at least one cup back to it’s jar or container to store and use the rest in a recipe or as a gift.  be sure to read any sourdough recipe carefully as some of them already include the above steps.

***UPDATE:  use or “feed” your sourdough starter every 2 to 3 months.  use the same steps to feed your starter as you would to use it in a recipe outlined above.  you can find other recipes that require you to “feed” the starter every day or that use dairy ingredients instead of yeast.  also note that (like most things) your sourdough starter will get better with age!***

we used this recipe to make the waffles above.

our test tasters were very pleased with the results!


xo . rae + jane

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  • michelle March 21, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    can you share your waffle recipe? They look delish!

    • Tonia March 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Click on the word “this” above the cute pic of her kids…she embedded the link to the recipe there! Yumm-o!!

  • Crystal March 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Is this a recipe that you need to “feed” ? Or you just follow the above directions for 3 days and then put it in the refrigerator?

    • rae March 23, 2012 at 12:39 am

      thanks so much for the question! read the “***UPDATE” section towards the bottom of the page.

  • Crystal March 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Could you please provide the feeding instructions?

    • rae March 25, 2012 at 5:58 am

      i just included them in the “update” section towards the bottom of the post. thanks crystal!

  • Kim March 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I’m nwondeirng if I could cover this with plstic wrap while “brewing” on the counter. WIth our fast warm-up, ants are curretnly an issue, but I want to get a batch made.

    • rae March 25, 2012 at 5:59 am

      hi kim, i have seen other recipes that indicate plastic wrap as a way to cover the starter so it should be just fine! you may want to open it up from time to time and let it breath though.

    • Susan March 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      I’ve made starter before, and I put it in a gallon size ziploc bag. It seals it all in nicely, but leaves room for the “gassy emissions” that the yeast give off as they feed and grow. I did have to “burp” the bag once a day or so, but otherwise, it worked fine.

    • Meg Bayliss April 2, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      If you sit the bowl inside a larger bowl with a little water in it the ants won’t be able to swim across 🙂

  • CKM March 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    How long will the starter last in the fridge?

    • rae March 25, 2012 at 6:01 am

      you want to use or feed it every 2 to 3 months. if you do that it should last for a VERY long time!

  • Ashley March 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    How long will it last if you continuously use it(returning 1 cup)? Do you ever have to add more yeast or start over? How long if you don’t use it very often? Do you have any recommendations for sourdough bread recipes? Thanks! This is great!

  • Elise March 23, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Maybe I just didn’t see it, but how long will this starter last in the fridge? Do you need to make a new one every few months? Thanks for the darling printables!

  • Russell at Chasing Delicious March 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    These labels are soo cute! I’ve been wanting to get into sourdough and I have a whole bunch of jars so I know what I’m doing now!

    • rae March 25, 2012 at 6:23 am

      fun! thanks for sharing your enthusiasm… xo

  • Marthe March 24, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Isn’t sourdough supposed to be made without yeast?

    • rae March 25, 2012 at 6:22 am

      Hi Marthe, Thanks for visiting us and leaving a comment. I’ve seen a couple recipes that use yogurt or milk as substitute for the yeast. My Grandma’s recipe calls for yeast and it’s the only one we’ve used, so i thought it was best to stick to what we know for the post.

  • connie lang March 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I’m going to start you sourdough started here in the next few days. Could you share some of your recipes that you use it in? Also, I ‘m not seeing the “update” section at the end of your post for feeding instrucitons. Can you help? Thanks . Connie

  • shannon March 26, 2012 at 1:21 am

    here is another sourdough starter recipe primer:

  • shannon March 26, 2012 at 3:12 am

    and another – this is my favorite:

  • Christi March 26, 2012 at 5:12 am

    U need yeast of some sort but u can catch ur own wild yeast from the air that will be specific to ur region by using just flour and water…google catching a wild yeast for instructions and details. 🙂

  • Meg Bayliss March 31, 2012 at 2:57 am

    Yay – super easy and super excited, I made it yesterday, sourdough virgin… Therefore have posted lots of pics in my blog. It seems to be developing really well, and already has that great smell going on!

  • Rachel April 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Oh wow, what a fantastic project! I would love to link to this in my next crafty food roundup if you didn’t mind.

  • JACKIE April 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I love this, Is there any other recipes you could share to use the sourdough with, I thinking like cookies or cakes. This is so awesome to finally find this. Thank you so much

  • Cara W April 29, 2012 at 2:38 am

    My mom used to always make sourdough waffles for Christmas brunch. I remember her making the starter and everything. Thanks for the post. Now I need to call and bug her about why she hasn’t done that in a decade or so.

  • Amy June 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Hello. I would love to try this with Wheat flour. Do you know the conversions necessary to do so?

  • Alison J June 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I found this recipe for sourdough donuts, which my husband loves!

  • ambrosia December 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    oh sweet! I am going to do this!

  • Debra February 1, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Glad I came across your version of this. All others seem to need to be fed OFTEN, and needed much more tending to. This one would fill the bill for me on several levels, and I look forward to putting a batch together. I want sourdough, but I don’t want to take it on to raise 🙂

  • Christa April 2, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I make my sourdough without yaest…. Just water, flour and honey. And a lot of patience :)))
    Then one container in the freezer, one in the refrigerator and one for daily fresh bread. With these cute labels, the container I offer sometimes will look nice. Good idea! Thank you very very much

  • teressa August 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Can I use whole wheat flour for this recipe? A great time saving method!!

    • rae August 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      my thought would be “yes! go for it!” but i haven’t tried it so don’t know for sure. 🙂 xo

  • shannon October 14, 2013 at 9:18 am

    So what if you want to make a loaf or loaves of bread what would be the directions for that and temp. to cook on . Thanks