• You can use any flour, but organic unbleached flour is the best to use
  • Room temperature water

To begin your starter, mix equal parts of water and flour.

Let it stand for three to five days, until you see bubbles and then start feeding.

Starter after 3 days

Feed your starter with equal parts of flour and water to at least 25 percent of the mother starter (e.g. if you are going to feed your mother starter with 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water, be sure you have at least 1 cup of your mother starter).

Starter after 5 days, we had been feeding it for two days

Put your starter in a container where it can expand to at least double its size.

Water should be at room temperature.

Starter should be ready to use in your breads after 5 to 10 days.


I like to use starter for my ciabatta, and actually for all of my breads.

Starter is a simple pre-ferment consisting of flour and water.  Many recipes will call for poolish, sponge, levain, or biga; these are all starters. Most of these starters are made in the hours before making the bread. A step that you can skip when using a sour starter that you already have on hand.

Starter is a way to produce natural yeast.

Where does the yeast come from? It is in the flour, the water, the air … it is all around us.  You are breathing it now.

When you feed your starter, the yeast eats the natural sugars that are in the flour and produces carbon dioxide, which causes the bubbles you see on the top of the starter. As well, the natural holes that you see in bread are produced by carbon dioxide.

I feed the starter every day with equal parts of water and flour (organic, unbleached is the best).

You will have a usable starter in 5 to 10 days, and you can keep the starter going for many many years.

I prefer to put my starter in glass containers. However, you can also use a variety of containers from stainless steel bowls to ceramic or plastic containers (commercial bakeries often keep their starter in large plastic totes) — these will all work perfectly well.

It is good to put a top on the starter to prevent it from drying out. Make sure you leave plenty of room because it will grow as fermentation takes place.

It is best to keep the starter in the refrigerator after it has started to ferment.

This kind of starter, or pre-ferment, can be frozen. Just be sure you pull it out a day or two before feedings. The longer you have it out and the more often you feed it, the stronger it will become.

Throughout this process you will need to throw out some of the starter.  As you add flour and water it will continue to grow.