Sourdough Starter

When you were in school didn't you just love the science experiments? Today I'm doing my own little experiment at home. I decided to try making Sourdough Starter from scratch. I read about sourdough starters in The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and looked at different recipes online. The one I decided to try is from All Recipes by Becky Richardson. I decided on this one because it uses potato flakes, and I remember a wonderful sourdough bread that a teacher friend always made when I worked with her many years ago, and that bread was made from a potato flake starter. Of course, once the starter is made, the experiment won't be complete until the bread is baked and tested.

Sourdough Starter
3 tablespoons instant mashed potato flakes
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (nonchlorinated)
Combine the instant potatoes, sugar, yeast, and warm water in a covered container. Let the starter sit on the counter for 5 days, stirring daily with a wooden spoon.

On the morning of the 5th day, feed the starter with 3 tablespoons instant potatoes, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1 cup warm water. In the evening, take out 1 cup of the starter to use in a sourdough recipe. Refrigerate the remaining starter.

Every 5 days, feed the starter 3 tablespoons instant potatoes, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1 cup warm water. If starter is to be used in a recipe, let the fed starter rest at room temperature 6 hours before use. If starter is not being used in a recipe, keep refrigerated and discard 1 cup of starter after each feeding.

The ingredients for the starter are potato flakes, sugar, yeast, and water.

Stir these ingredients together in a container that can be covered.

Leave the starter out on the counter for the next 5 days.

Day 1 - an unappealing beige liquid. I'll stir it each day as directed, and check on its progress. I'll report back with the experiment results.

I would love it if someone would try this experiment along with me, it would be lots more fun than experimenting alone. Mix up your own batch of Sourdough Starter and in 5 days we'll both be baking Sourdough Bread.


  1. Oh, I haven't made a starter in so long, but now I think that I might have to get back into it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. This is such a great blog!!! Really makes me hungry just reading and looking at the pictures : ) I recently baked my first loaf of bread and it was incredible!!! I used a starter my friend told me about. It's from Sourdough's International and now I have to spread the word! I loved it. Definitely going to order more when it comes the time.

  3. Did it work? My great grandmother had a similar recipe. It was always my favorite :)

  4. It doesnt work well. I added 2 table spoons of unbleached flour to start the initial starter with 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tblspoons of yeast. No potatoe flakes until u feed. Then feed every 12 hrs 1 cup water 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tbsp potatoes flakes. After 3 days put in fridge for 3 days then remover for 8 hrs and feed again.

  5. Hi Andrew, sorry it didn't work well for you! Mine turned out good, but I would be interested to try it by the method you described for a comparison. I'm always looking for a better way. Thank you for writing!

  6. I tried this and it worked great! The procedure for feeding and pouring off is a little different from ones I have used in the past. Previously, I would pour off a cup before feeding but this one did not have enough liquid to do it that way, so I will just continue doing it as you instructed. By the way, if you want to use bread flour, NOT to be confused with self rising flour, it tends to give a better rise than plain flour. I did use plain flour this first time, but in the next batch I will used bread flour. Thanks for the post.

  7. Ok so I have read so many techniques for so I want to make sure about the feeding. The starter that you have had in the fridge, do you bring it to room temp or do you feed right from the fridge and return it to the fridge if your not baking that time?

    1. Hi LaDonna, When feeding I do let my starter set out on the counter and come to room temperature, even if I don't plan to bake with it. I'm not an expert on sourdough though! I keep trying to learn more. I actually like the Sweet Sourdough Starter (listed in the Bread index above) somewhat better than this one. It is a nice creamy starter and makes a great tasting bread.