There are basically three ways to get your own sourdough starter.

  • From a friend. If possible, this is surely the easiest. And since most sourdough bakers take some measure of pride in their cherished starter, they will likely go out of their way to see you on a shared path to the sourdough promise land.
  • Free on-line. A Google search on “free sourdough starter” will probably turn up something. But let me save you the time. There’s a group known as “Friends of Carl” who will mail you Carl Griffith’s 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter in dried form for the cost of a self addressed stamped envelope. For all the details visit http://www.carlsfriends.org.
  • Buy it. There are any number of purveyors of sourdough starter who would be happy to exchange their product for some of your dough. One who comes immediately to mind is, well, me! Of course my sourdough starter is the best on the planet for sure and is available from the Breadtopia Marketplace, to be shipped to you dried (dormant) or in the actual living form.
Note: My sourdough starter was actually started by a friend of mine in San Francisco years ago, which I think is fitting since I was also started in San Francisco years ago. However, while you might logically think this would make it “genuine” San Francisco sourdough starter, many sourdough experts would argue that regardless of where your starter originates, sooner or later it becomes “genuine” to the locale where it resides. The theory being that the yeast spores and bacteria indigenous to your locale will infiltrate your prized culture and become its dominant strain. Others, especially the ones who sell starter from Zanzibar, Giza or wherever, hold a different opinion. Either way, my genuine SF/Iowa sourdough starter is the best on the planet for sure .

114 thoughts on “How to Acquire a Sourdough Starter

  1. Carol

    I inherited sour dough starter and had it for over 20 years and shared it with others. I fed it with sugar and potatoe flakes and only needed to feed it once a week but would keep the amount down by using or throwing out some. I made 3 loaves with the recipe every week and sometimes doubled it to make cinnamon bread to give away. Unfortunately, I used it all up in emergency and thought I could get some more from a friend I had given some to but it died with her. DIY made 3 regular size loaves and did not require much kneading. Does anyone have that kind of starter? It took 8-12 hours between each step.

  2. mimi

    I would just like to clarify: I ordered sourdough starter – both wet and dried -from you recently. I understand it comes from a wheat flour base so I guess I can’t use it for gluten-free bread now even if I add rice or another flour to grow it. Correct?

    • That’s correct if you want it 100% gluten free.

      If you start with a small amount of wheat starter and build it up over the course of several feedings with gluten free flour, only a very small amount of gluten will remain. This would be ok for some people and not ok for others.

  3. Angel

    I’m confused about the difference between the sourdough starter and the friendship starter. Initially I had just wanted a friendship starter but saw that I had to make the basic starter first. Some basic starters have milk some don’t. So which is it? And once I have made both starters does that mean I have to maintain both ? Which one can I give away. What if I don’t want to give any away? What if I don’t want to bake right away? What if I want to bake lots but don’t have enough starter? I’m extremely confused!!

  4. kerry

    nevermind I found :)

  5. kerry

    how much and where do I purchase your sour dough starter?
    Thanks

  6. alma

    these instructons works well for me, but only if I use rye flour. two times I tried using white flour and every time after third day the starter releases hooch and doesn’t double. is it possible that it’s still good but just looking different? the rye stARTEr grows grate every time, it doubles in volume and the bread dough is good.

  7. Nicky Benson

    I have had my own home grown stater working well for a while, but decided to buy some Breadtopia live sourdough starter to see if there was any difference. There definately is, your starter has a distinctly yogutry smell, and a produces a beautifully subtle sourdough flavour in the bread. After about 6 weeks the starter began to smell very acetic, much more like my homegrown starter. Luckily I had dried and frozen some of your starter a couple of feeds after receiving it, so I started a new batch with that and have that pleasant yogurty dough again. Ipresume the local micro flora took over, I think perhaps on particular day when I baked extra loaves and used almost all the starter. I have frozen more of my Breadtopia starter culture in case those pesky local bugs make another take over bid.

    Delighted with the Breadtopia starter, from Nicky, Dublin, ireland

  8. Nicky Benson

    There is a fourth way to acquire sourdough starter, just mix some flour and water and wait :) I used strong white bread flour with about 15% whole meal rye flour (any whole meal flour will increase the natural yeasts in the mix) With regular stirring and daily feeding it turned sweet and beery in 4 days, and is producing beautiful no knead sourdough loaves. Love your site, it takes the mystique out of bread baking, keep up the good work.

  9. tanya

    hi, eric–just today i made bread with the starter i bought from breadtopia last week–it tastes and smells EXACTLY like the bread i used to get in san francisco. i read some more on your site this evening, and now i know why! it IS san francisco sourdough! i tried several times over the years to make my own starter with no success, so i’m glad i finally bought one, lucky chance that i bought yours. this is the 1st time i have made sourdough, and it turned out ver-r-y well: soft fine crumb, chewy crust, and great sourdough taste. whole grain next time, and then batter bread, then rye bread, and then……cinnamon rolls! thank you.

    • That’s great, Tanya. I’m so glad it’s working out so well for you. And thanks for the nice post.

  10. I have read lots of blogs any topics but this is the blog that worth it to read, thanks for sharing this.

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