If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you may want to try creating your own sourdough starter from scratch. Baking bread from scratch is satisfying in its own right, but when you’ve also had a hand in the creation of one of the most fundamental components, the leavening agent itself, you’ll feel an even greater satisfaction and connectedness to the process.

Are there kids in your house? This little science project is ideally suited to sharing with any children you can convince to join in. Culture their budding scientific minds while creating your own bread culture.

This video outlines one simple method that worked for me the first time I tried it. In the video, I give credit for this technique to Peter Reinhart. It has since come to my attention that Debra Wink, a chemist and accomplished baker, is the mastermind and author of this Pineapple Juice Technique. A lot of research and testing went into developing and refining the technique. The choice of pineapple juice over other juices is from much trial and error. Debra was kind enough to email her essay on the Pineapple Juice Technique. Click here for a printable copy of it.

As I mention in the video, the wild yeast spores and lactic-acid bacteria that give your starter its leaving properties are all around you. You are simply creating the conditions ideally suited for them to thrive and multiply. I used whole wheat flour in this recipe because fresh whole wheat flour may harbor greater numbers of yeast spores than ordinary all-purpose flour and so increase your likelihood for success. It worked for me, so you might try the same. If, at any time, you wish to transition your whole wheat sourdough starter to a regular white flour starter, it’s super easy to do so.

I’ve listed the ingredients and approximate steps here to save you the note taking.

  • Step 1. Mix 3 ½ tbs. whole wheat flour with ¼ cup unsweetened pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for 48 hours at room temperature. Stir vigorously 2-3x/day. (“Unsweetened” in this case simply means no extra sugar added).
  • Step 2. Add to the above 2 tbs. whole wheat flour and 2 tbs. pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for a day or two. Stir vigorously 2-3x/day. You should see some activity of fermentation within 48 hours. If you don’t, you may want to toss this and start over (or go buy some!)
  • Step 3. Add to the above 5 ¼ tbs. whole wheat flour and 3 tbs. purified water. Cover and set aside for 24 hours.
  • Step 4. Add ½ cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 to 1/3 cup purified water. You should have a very healthy sourdough starter by now.

Notes: I do wonder if the fact that I bake all the time with a sourdough starter (and so theoretically have wild yeast floating around our house by the gazillions and covering everything we own) would increase the likelihood that I would have success creating my own sourdough culture from scratch. So I anxiously await feedback from anyone who attempts this process at home. (You’ll see a nifty little form below for comments and feedback. If you’re shy; you can use the Contact link at the top of the page. While I may report your (mis)adventures, I’ll keep your identity anonymous ;).

2,040 thoughts on “Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

  1. Brenda Boldt

    This is my very first attempt at sour dough starter, I am so happy to have come across your method of making it!
    I am only at the first 48 hours and just gave the baby her next feed. I just know this is going to be a complete success as it is already on it’s way to a good fermentation, lots of bubbles, and a pleasant sour odour ;) Will keep you posted, but so far so good! Wheeee :D

  2. Hi! I made a sourdough starter by accident. Just mixed crushed pineapple with hazelnuts. It smelt yeast after 2 days and looks like an ideal leaven. I’m new in baking using sourdough and I wonder if it’s safe to try this mixture of mine. Tell me please what You think about it. I’m glutenfree and like experimenting as long as it doesn’t make me vomit :-)

  3. Wendy

    Hi Eric,
    Nice video. Very informative.
    One question: Can I use fresh pineapple juice?
    Thanks,
    Wendy

    • Thanks!

      Sure, fresh is fine.

  4. It worked like a charm! After 72 hours the pineapple smell was replaced with a yeasty fermentation smell and the change was visible. I’m going to start a loaf for this weekend so I can have some good bread to serve with my scrambled eggs.

  5. I have been trying for several months, without success, to create a Sourdough Starter. I had all but given up when I came across your website and video. I am now into the 5th day and I have a great looking starter, which I intend to look after like a baby. I now look forward to baking my favourite breads. Thank you for the video and digging me out of the frustrating depths I had plummeted to :-)

    Regards
    Barrie

  6. chris

    After many unsuccessful attempts I almost gave up on my own starter until I came across this “pineapple juice” recipe you adopted.
    There was a link to a doctors scientific experiment explaining the reason citric acid works so well by inhibiting unwanted bacteria. Very interesting.
    Anyway, using your recipe I FINALLY made a great starter, one wheat flower and the other white.
    By the way, your video and written instructions are clear, concise, brief and easily understandable, even by me.

    • Thanks Chris. I’m glad you’ve got a good starter going.

  7. Yi

    Just started the starter today, the video is extremely helpful and I enjoyed reading the science behind the use of pineapple juice. It makes so much sense and actually explained why my first starter died so pathetically. Fingers crossed this batch will come out fine! PS: I used orange juice (freshly squeezed) as I have no idea how to juice a pineapple without a juicer and it is near impossible to get unsweetened pineapple juice where I stay.

  8. Gina Benavente

    Hi, I was just given a sourdough starter. It is a very small amount so I really can’t do anything with it until I expand it, I think… I am wondering what I do now. How do I feed it? How do I store it? fridge? airtight container? I’m really confused… thanks

  9. Nikos

    Thank you so much for your wonderful whole wheat starter and the
    fantastic Rye/Wholewheat bread I made.
    My starter (thanks to your advice) was as it was expect it and the
    bread making experience was just perfect.
    I follow your instructions to exact with the exception that I added
    a teaspoon of local honey.
    The bread was a dream of the act of bread making from scratch.
    Thank you again so much.
    Best regards
    Nikos

  10. Michelle

    Thanks for your video! I’m in step 3 today and my starter is going well with moderate bubbling and a mild smell of alcohol.

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