How to Make a Sourdough Starter: Day Two

I’m back to tell you about day two of my sourdough starter experiment.  So, 24 hours later and my jar of flour and pineapple juice looks exactly the same.  But that’s okay, I wasn’t expecting any change yet.

There were a few teeny tiny bubbles in the top, but I’m not sure if that’s a sign of activity or not.  Either way, it’s time to feed this thing.  I prefer to do this in a separate bowl so that I can clean out the jar and start fresh.  It makes it easier to read the level of the starter and see if any growth occurs tomorrow.

I scraped the contents of my jar into a mixing bowl and added 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour  (the type of flour has changed from yesterday) and 1/2 cup of pineapple juice.

I mixed it all together until the all the flour was completely hydrated.  The consistency of my starter is kind of like a pancake batter.  I’ve already had some questions on Facebook about the thickness of the starter.  Depending on what type of flour you used and how you measured the flour, you may end up with a thicker dough-like consistency.  That’s fine.  If you prefer it to be less thick, just add a bit more liquid.  It will still work – this process is pretty flexible.

After mixing up today’s batch, I cleaned the glass jar and scraped the mixture back into the jar.  I used a rubber band to mark the level of the starter and covered the top with a paper towel secured with a rubber band, just like yesterday.  I’m hoping that by day three, I will notice some activity.

Want to create your own sourdough starter?

Here are the instructions (click on the links for photos):

Day One: In a small bowl, mix one cup of whole wheat or whole rye flour with 3/4 cup (6 oz) canned pineapple juice (at room temperature) until all of the flour is hydrated.  Scrape mixture into a quart-size wide mouth glass container, such as a jar or glass measuring cup.  Mark the level of the starter with a piece of tape or rubber band. Cover the container with a paper towel, cheesecloth, or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.  Leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day Two: You probably won’t notice much change at this point.  Scrape the contents of the jar into a mixing bowl and add 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose or unbleached bread flour plus 1/2 cup pineapple juice (make sure juice is room temperature).  Mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Wash and dry your glass container and scrape the mixture into the container.  Mark and cover the container just like day one.  Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day Three: You may notice some activity at this point.  The mixture may have risen some and there might be bubbles.  Regardless of whether you notice any fermentation or not, discard half of the mixture (or give it to a friend to cultivate), and mix the remaining half with 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose or bread flour and 1/2 cup filtered water (make sure water is room temperature).  Wash and dry your container and scrape the mixture into the container.  Mark and cover as before.  Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day Four: The mixture should have at least doubled in size at this point.  If it seems to be sluggish and hasn’t doubled in size, allow it to sit at room temperature for another 12 to 24 hours.  Otherwise, repeat instructions for Day three.

Day Five: Feed the starter (repeating day three instructions) first thing in the morning and then again in the evening (about 12 hours apart).

Day Six: If your starter has been very active and always doubles in size (or more) between feedings, then your starter is ready to bake with.  You may also choose to refrigerate your starter at this point and slow down the feedings to once a week.  If you’d like to bake some bread, here is a basic sourdough bread recipe to get you started.  If your starter still seems a little sluggish, continue with the twice daily feedings as above.

Day Seven: Same as above.

If you’d like to play along, I’d love to hear about it.  Please feel free to share photos of your sourdough starter experiments on the Pinch My Salt Facebook page.  If you’re a blogger and decide to write about the process, please share your links with me so that I can share them with others.

  1. bevanne crawley

    I just found this at theperfectpantryblog and was intrigued but do not have the rye or whole wheat flour I do however have the unbleached all purpose bread flour would that work? Id like to play along although I’m not a blogger but do follow several cooking blogs and have been considering making a blog of my own but jst don’t know how to begin thanks in advance for any advice

    7:21 am  Sep 25th, 2011
  2. Laura

    I think those bubbles were for real. I remember that it was on day three that I started seeing more bubbles and it was uphill from there.

    Can’t wait to see what you use the starter for!

    7:57 am  Sep 25th, 2011
  3. Nicki

    What is the reason for the switch to white flour today? Is that just the sourdough way? I am definitely not a bread-making expert. I do well with my bread machine, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten! Thanks!

    9:14 am  Sep 25th, 2011
  4. Nicole

    Bevanne – you can certainly give it a try with unbleached all purpose flour. It should work, but it might take a little longer than starting with whole grain flour. Or maybe you could just borrow a cup of whole wheat flour from a neighbor or buy a cup from the bulk bin at the store?

    Laura – I’m definitely seeing activity now!

    Nicki – I’m doing a white flour starter simply because the first loaf I’m going to talk about making on here will be a standard white sourdough loaf. After that, I may delve into whole wheat sourdough. At any time, the starter can be converted to whole wheat by feeding it with whole wheat flour for a few days. It’s just a matter of preference 🙂

    11:02 am  Sep 25th, 2011
  5. Nicki

    Thanks Nicole! I love sourdough bread, so I’m definitely going to try this out!

    11:28 am  Sep 25th, 2011
  6. Tracy

    O.K., I’ve started one with whole wheat, and one with buck wheat flours. I look forward to mirroring your progress!

    12:14 pm  Sep 25th, 2011
  7. Tracy

    This is day 2, for me. I can tell that something has happened, in 24 hours, because the consistency has changed. It has become more ‘foam-like’. This is very exciting!

    10:38 am  Sep 26th, 2011
  8. Jenn

    Tonight I will be at Day 3’s instructions, but I took a peek at the starter this morning. I’m a little nervous because on the surface of my starter, I see some black growth, with bubbles. Is this normal? Did I do something wrong and should start again?

    10:41 am  Sep 28th, 2011
  9. Nicole

    Jenn – if you have black mold growing on the starter, you’ll need to start over. Not sure what would be causing it, but it definitely shouldn’t be black at this point. I would dump it out, wash everything really well and start fresh. Sorry!

    10:53 am  Sep 28th, 2011
  10. Annie

    It looks like you used a metal spoon (or something) to stir your starter. Does using metal make a difference? I’ve heard that it’s not good–only plastic or wood should be used. I’d like your take on this.

    5:36 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  11. Jenn

    I used a metal whisk – but I used it also when I started over. The second time was a charm – I have a starter that I keep in my fridge now.

    6:17 pm  Nov 13th, 2011
  12. Emily

    question. I started a starter in June and it is definitely alive, but it has never doubled in size. It foams a little then settles down and I just get the hootch on top after abt 24 hrs. I feed it with all-purpose and distilled water, and when I use some to bake with I feed it, then separate out what I want to use. The only flour that I’ve had success with in baking it is bread flour. If I use any other flour to bake with I don’t get a good rise with it no matter how long I let it sit….any ideas??

    9:59 am  Dec 8th, 2011
  13. Annie

    Sorry you are having problems

    Are you leaving the starter in the fridge? I only put mine in the fridge when I’m not going to be baking for a day or two just to slow down the activity. It’s hard to say what is going on with your starter. I followed Nichole’s recipe exactly and have had fantastic results. For white flour bread I have been using King Arthur All-Purpose though I’m going to try something else when I run out. I have also had great results using organic white whole wheat and really outstanding results with a rye/white mix.

    After feeding my starter it will frequently double in height within 5 or 6 hours! Also, I don’t use distilled water; only purified tap water. Maybe your starter wants minerals!

    I think, if I was having your problems I might consider starting over from scratch making a brand new starter. Maybe it’s got a bad bug in it that’s slowing it down–that can happen to anybody.

    12:21 pm  Dec 8th, 2011
  14. kim

    On day two my starter double so fast if overflowed in the first 3 hours. Is this bad, should I feed it earlier that the 24 hours or let it keep going?

    4:46 pm  Apr 10th, 2016
  15. kim

    My starter doubled and overflowed like yours did above only it happened in about 3 hours. I feel like it will break like a sauce but not sure. Should I just let if keep going or stir and take some out?

    4:49 pm  Apr 10th, 2016
  16. Brian

    When you say filtered water. Does that mean like bottled water, distilled water, or like Brita filtered tap water? I’ve tried this 3 times now and have not gotten much rise. Now at day 4. I started out using whole wheat king aurthor flour then switched to all purpose white unbleached flour and have been using bottled water from day 2 onward. I live in a low humidity area. 20-30% and the typical temp in the house is around 70F.

    7:51 pm  Sep 25th, 2016
  17. Nicole

    Brian- Pretty much any water will be fine as long as it isn’t chlorinated tap water as the chlorine could harm things. I use Brita-filtered tap water. Bottled water is fine as well, doesn’t matter what kind. If you still aren’t getting much activity, try stirring the mixture vigorously a couple times a day. This should also help with that skin that keeps forming. You can also cover with plastic wrap to help keep the skin from forming. Don’t seal it completely, but most of the way. Hope this helps!

    6:27 am  Sep 26th, 2016
  18. Brian

    The top each day seems to form like a skin. Can touch it without breaking the surface. I’m using an 7″ diameter glass bowl as I don’t have a jar large enough. It’s only about half full.

    7:53 pm  Sep 25th, 2016
  19. Annie

    Brian, try keeping a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) draped over the bowl to help keep the surface of the starter from drying out. Or slip your bowl into a plastic bag that you don’t seal; just let it hang a little loose near its opening so that your starter can “breathe”

    Also, try to find a jar. Any well-washed quart (or close to a quart) jar will do.

    When it does dry out you can just stir that “skin” into the starter–it will soften up.

    12:01 pm  Sep 28th, 2016
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