Let’s continue our discussion about methods for making healthy bread by talking about how to make your own sourdough start. A handy thing to know if you want to make your own healthy einkorn bread.
As you may know, sourdough bread rises without the use of packaged yeast. The bread dough undergoes a fermentation that causes it to rise.
But about how does one get a sourdough start to begin with?
You can either get one from someone you know or make one yourself. Even if you are making einkorn sourdough bread, you can get a small sourdough start from a friend – it does not have to be einkorn – and use that to begin your einkorn sourdough start by simply feeding it einkorn flour.
But today, I want to share how to create your own sourdough or natural leavening start.
The make-it-yourself process was something new for me. We got ours from a friend. However, so many people were asking about it that I decided to try it. I adapted Dr. Price’s sourdough method for Einkorn.
This took a couple of tries. The first couple of attempts just didn’t work at all. I was tempted to tell everyone to figure it out themselves. I watched some less-than-helpful youtube tutorials with complex recipes and procedures that just didn’t work for me. Then I found Dr. Price’s recommendation. I didn’t follow it exactly but it helped give me an idea.
Even using his method, the first couple attempts were failures. My guess is that the temperature was not right. It should be about 60°-65°. I got it to work placing it in the oven with the light off. Another mistake I made was covering it too tightly. I just used the lid that goes with the bowl, but that stifled the growth. In this case, I used Dr. Price’s recommendation – covering it with parchment and a damp towel.
The start that finally ended up working is pictured below. It smelled really horrible for the first few days, and I contemplated throwing it away because it did not smell like sourdough to me. However, after a few days it began to smell like sourdough and worked successfully in a recipe. So, don’t despair. It does take a few days to complete.
Day 1: Measure 120 grams of Einkorn flour and 120 grams of lukewarm tap water into a glass bowl. The mixture should be thick and pasty. Loosely cover (I took Dr. Price’s advice and covered it with parchment and a damp towel) and place in oven with the light off (The temperature is important. I found that, for where I live, that was the best place to keep the temperature right. You may need to experiment).
Day 3: Discard half of the start and feed it again with 120 grams of flour and 120 grams of water. (The discard process is to keep you from ending up with more start than you know what to do with.)
Day 4: Repeat process from day 3.
Day 5: Repeat process from day 3 and 4. Keep doing this every morning until it has that bubbly root beer float texture and smells slightly sour. I can’t give you an exact day count. It just depends. Below is a picture of how it should look. (I switched bowls part way through the process just for cleanliness, but this is the same start pictured above)
I have seen many things on the internet about how to make a sourdough start. You are welcome to try any method you choose. I am not suggesting that this is the only way to make it work, but this is how I got it to work. Good luck!
I took a recipe from The HealthyHomeEconomist, taken from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for a sourdough starter using rye flour. She never removed any starter but just kept adding l cup of fresh flour plus 1 cup of cold water or a bit more each day for 7 days until the frothy stage begins to subside and the sourdough is ready for making bread. Will this start work with your sourdough einkorn bread recipe using 18 cups of flour? Appreciate your input. Anxious to try my hand at Einkorn bread after being gluten free for several years now. Blessings!
Marie, your rye start should be just fine in the recipe. The only reason for discarding half the start is so that you don’t end up with a massive amount of start. But, pretty much any sourdough start should be fine in the bread recipe.
I started a new start and mine has a more liquid consistency. I have try starting before with different grains and it was not like this. It seems like with Einkorn you need to use less water or a lot more flour when baking too. Have you experienced this? Should my ratio of flour to water be different so I can get a thicker start?
Ashley, as a general rule when baking with Einkorn, we recommend that you use about half the liquid you normally would. However, with the start, we go by weight to remove the guesswork. The reason it may turn out more liquid is because Einkorn is more easily digested – both in our bodies and in the start. The start matures more quickly. So, my advice would be to continue feeding it and just make sure you catch it earlier when you’re actually ready to start using it.
Would it work to halve the recipe at the beginning and then not have to throw out half the recipe for the remaining days?
yes, that should work! Or you can freeze the loaves
Freeze the loaves… Are you talking about using the starter to make bread and then freezing that or freezing the starter?
Stephanie, yes I meant make more bread than you need in order not to waste start and then freeze loaves until you’re ready to use them. I apologize if that wasn’t completely clear.
The temperature you suggest of 60-65 degrees. Is that C of F? It seems too hot for C and too cold for F. Also, can you offer some guidelines for refreshing the start.
The temp is 60-65 F. To refresh, scoop some of the start and place it with water an a few tablespoons in a new bowl, then leave on counter for 6-12 hours at room temp.
There is no need to discard any starter. What a waste, and expensive. There are many recipes on the internet and in books for making pancakes and even muffins with starter, fed within the last 12 hours. I make lots of pancakes which freeze well, and often use them like sandwich bread.
Do you have einkorn pancake and muffin recipes using starter that you could share? Thanks!
I just made my very first sourdough starter using whole grain einkorn flour. My recipe says to add 2 tablespoons water and 48 grams flour each time I feed my starter. This is for ten days. Then it says to add the same amounts to refresh it each week. That amount for refreshing is for making three loaves a week. There is also a refresher recipe for 5-6 loaves a week. I feel like this is a huge waste of flour. Especially in the first ten days when I add 48 grams of flour daily. Is there a way to make the amounts much smaller if I only plan on making one loaf a week, or maybe none. I want my starter to stay successful, but I know there will be some weeks that I won’t bake any bread at all. Thank you!
I was wondering this exact thing. How unfortunate your Q was never addressed. 🙁 … Being a newbie at making a sourdough starter (using Einkorn or any other flour), I feel SO confused. The idea of discarding half the starter seems so wasteful to me (glad to hear another suggested simply halving the recipe from the start. This makes more sense), but e-gads, what DOES one do with ALL of that starter if they’re only planning on making recipes (breads, waffles, pancakes, muffins) every now and then?
Dana and Andrea, as I mentioned, I adapted Dr. Price’s method, so I’m not sure all of the methods out there. I’m sure there are other ways. I don’t see why you couldn’t just make it smaller to begin with, but sourdough is not an exact science. The smaller the amounts, the faster it ferments, so the timing may be different if you choose to do that. You’ll just have to watch it. But you can always store a start in the fridge between uses and revive it when you’re ready to use it again.
I see. I believe it’s beginning to make sense. 🙂 Thanks so much.
I would like someone too help me make sour dough bread. I bought the starder now what? They said there would be directions here have not found any help
Hi Flo, thank you for your question. I’d be happy to help you. Do you have any specific questions?
What do you recommend for maintaining the starter? Feeding it the same amounts? Do you feed every 12 or 24 hours when not in the refrigerator?
Janet, the maintenance of the start depends on how often you plan on using it. You could feed it every 12 or 24 hours if you’re leaving it on the counter, but that means it will need to be used a lot. We feed ours a couple of times a week and keep it in the refrigerator to slow it down because we don’t need it everyday. As for what you feed it, that depends on how fast you want it to process. We do two cups of flour and one cup of water every time. The more you feed it, the longer it takes to process.
I’ve purchased the book and the flour but keep growing fuzzy mold in my first 48 hours following the instructions. The first time the air conditioner was on and the ceiling fan was on and I don’t remember how sterilized my hands or other kitchen surfaces were but this second time the air in the house and been still for 24 hours and all surfaces and containers had been freshly cleaned with hot water and soap. I suppose for my next attempt I will be boiling my water and sterilizing all surfaces with vinegar.
Any input or suggestions?
Jon, I’m sorry that is happening. First of all, what book are you referring to? Are you following instructions from a book or from this post? It depends on a lot of factors. I don’t know where you live, but the climate might have something to do with it. The start should be kept in a dry place at about 60-65 degrees. That’s why I kept it in a dark oven. I found that the counter didn’t really work for me, but like I said, there are a lot of factors. I would need to know more specifics about the procedure you are using.
I’m using a Pyrex dish and I’m on day 6… Is this the same dish you were using? Am I stifling the growth too? Should I remove the lid and try the parchment or start over? Are you supposed to keep feeding it daily until it sours? If so, how much? Also, I was trying a different method and it said that you have to refrigerate it once it sours. What if I want to make sourdough once every 24 hours? Thank you!!
Stephanie, any glass bowl will work for sourdough. I don’t know what your starter looks like so I don’t know if the growth is being stifled. If it’s molding or not doing anything, you may want to consider trying the parchment method. At this point you should be feeding it daily. For this method, you should be feeding it 120 grams of flour and 120 grams of water. The Price method encourages discarding half the start when you do this until the start is established. This is to keep you from ending up with an enormous amount of start. Some worry that this is wasteful, so it depends on if you feel you can use that much start. Once it sours, you can refrigerate it if you don’t want to use it right away. Refrigerating it slows down the process. However, if you have enough sourdough needs to use it every day, you don’t need to refrigerate it. Just feed it after every use.
I tried a eikorn starter recipe from the internet with using 1/2 cup flour with 2 tbs water. It would form a round dough ball, and it did. Then added the same amounts 48hrs later then every 24 hts for 10 days.
I ‘m in the 3 day now but it seems like it’s not enough water. Everytime I add the flour and water it has makes a larger and harder dough ball. Shouldn’t it have the consistency of pancake mix? I improvised and added more water to make it more liquity. Do you think that’s ok?
Hi Ivan, creating a sourdough starter is definitely not an exact science and, if you felt like it needed a little more water, it’s probably ok. However, when you first mix the flour and water it will be stiffer. I wouldn’t say a hard dough ball, but it won’t be the consistency it’s going to be after it ferments. It loosens as it sits. So you don’t want the pancake batter consistency at the very beginning. I hope that helps!
My starter is ready, Do I just us it as indicated in the recipe I want to use. I only want to bake one or two loaves a week. ( sometimes none). Do I store it In the refridgrator and just refresh once a week? Thanks
Hi Eileen. If you don’t plan to use your starter every day, you can store it in the refrigerator. Take it out the night before you want to use it and feed it. It should be ready in the morning. If you have just created your starter, you may want to use it in a couple recipes like pancakes or quickbreads first. The older they are, the more powerful the starters become. So you may want to use it in a few other things before trying bread.
Hi! I have frozen Einkorn berries in my freezer that I want to grind into flour to use for making sourdough starter. Will that work? Or does freezing the berries hurt any yeast on the berries?
Hi Sharon, I don’t see that being a problem because the natural yeast is in the air. However, you may want to let them thaw before using them as temperature can make a difference.
Thank you so much 🙂
Hello, I’m on my sixth days of feeding my starter. I tried the starter recipe on Jovial but found it to be too dry to form the ferment bubbles. I am having success using your method but I’m almost out of the all purpose flour. Can I substitute the whole wheat flour to continue the feeding?
Thanks for this website it has been very helpful!
Hi Vivian, yes, whole wheat flour works just fine. All we ever use is whole grain einkorn flour for our sourdough starter. I am glad you are seeing success!
I am on the day 7 of making my starter and i was feeding 2 times a day with all grain einkorn flour at an interval of 5 hrs
Unfortunally for personal teasoni had to be away for the day and was not able ti do the 2 feeding is it ok to skip or will it ruin the sourdough. Would it be ok to feed it when i get home once tonight ,and continue again with the routine tomorrow?
Hi Lola, it will probably be fine. It’s not an exact science. Just make sure it looks normal. When we created the sourdough start in this post, we only fed it once a day, so yours should be just fine.
Thank you for your reply. ok I am completely confused on how to continue to keep the sourdough. This has been my first attempt I finished the Einkorn sourdough starter even baked a nice loaf of bread. I want to continue to bake for at least 3 times a week. I have at list 400 grams of sourdough starter left how do I refresh it to keep it going. The einkorn book that I bought gives a receipe
for refreshing the starter . 2 tsp of Einkorn sourdough starter, 2Tbs. of warm water , 1/2 a cup of Einkorn all purpose flour.
Does not make sense to me what about the rest of the sour dough. Do I take that mixture and add it to the rest of the sour dough? Sorry I am not getting it. I have in the fridge for now but I do not know how to continue. Very grateful for you help .
Hi Lola, the cookbook you’re referring to isn’t ours, so I don’t know what their method is. For us, it’s pretty simple. When we aren’t baking with sourdough, we keep a pretty small amount in a jar in the refrigerator. The night before we want to use it, we take it out and put it in a bowl and feed it (Usually with 2 cups of einkorn flour and 1 cup of water). Then, in the morning, it is ready to use and we just save a little bit of it to put back in the fridge until we want to use it again.
I apologize for not mentioning the name of the book.
The book I have is einkorn from Cara Bartolucci founder of jovial. I find it hard to understand the directions.
I have been using einkorn whole grain flour, the sourdough is dense not bubbly
I will take your advise and continue by feeding it the night before I need it .
any other advise will be welcome . Thank you
Hi again, yeah I’m not familiar with their method. We adapted ours from Dr. Price’s method, so it may not be exactly the same, but I’m sure there are multiple ways to get it to work. Let me know if any other questions come up as you are going along and I will do my best to answer them.
So appreciative of your blog and all the info. Like Iola I have had a hard time understanding the directions from that particular recipe book. It seems as tho your directions are not quite as rigid and much easier to understand. A million thanks. Roberta
Hi Roberta, thank you for the feedback. Yes, sourdough is not an exact science and there are multiple ways to do it. This is what we’ve found works for us. I hope it’s helpful to you, too.
Hi! I had been using another brand of Einkorn flour to make sourdough bread (I have a successful starter made with the whole grain version of that brand), and it has baked up wonderfully. I ordered your flour recently and am using it to bake my first batch of bread. What I notice is that after the overnight rise, the dough rises well, but when I turned it onto a floured board for shaping before the final rise (using a dough scraper and the “folding in thirds” method) it was much looser and stickier than I am used to, even when dusted with additional flour. I used the same recipe as with the other brand.
Do brands of Einkorn flour differ in properties? The other brand is grown in Italy.
Hi Rose, yes, different brands of einkorn will behave slightly differently. They’ll both be einkorn and be essentially the same but they will be slightly different strains. For this reason, I suggest that you not become too attached to exact measurements, but pay more attention to consistency. For einkorn dough to be a little sticky is actually ok. Sometimes, if it’s not sticky at all, the bread will come out very dense. It’s difficult to work with when it’s sticky but can still bake beautiful bread. Sometimes, we’ll just put a little oil on our hands to help with that.
have only glanced at this thread, but surprised at some of the basic rules. closed plastic container in fridge is best for long-term keeping of any grain starter. of course there’s a foul smell in the first 3 or 4 days making new starter . . . it’s the bad bacteria dominating, but eventually killed off by the more acid friendly bacteria which start to dominate. for the same reason it isn’t at all necessary to keep everything sterile. in fact quite the opposite. just read some of the scientific articles on starters and sourdough in general. actually, for long-term keeping, it’s best to mix up stiff mix with a narrow tool (skewer?) so that the gluten isn’t developed. then that horrid brown liquid shouldn’t appear.
Flour water salt let it sit and ferment. It will sour more or less depending on the amount of water and salt you use. You can really change the flavor up by changing the salt or the kind of salt you use. I go through a huge bowl everyday and replace. By the next day it has finished. Bread will rise off of mine in a few hours and much faster if put in dehydrator around 90 degrees covered. Never throw any away. We go through 50 pounds of wheat in about 4 months. Amazing how easy this process all is and how lazy the rest of the world has become.
Do you have the recipe to make the actual sourdough bread after making the starter? I have always wanted to try a starter, but do not know how to use it once it is finished.
Hi Samantha, we do have sourdough recipes. Go here to see our sourdough bread recipe and here for more cool things you can do with that same recipe!
I too was using the recipe from Carla Bartolucci to make Einkorn sourdough starter and became confused. My starter is a week old, has never been refrigerated, and I have continued to feed it, therefore, it is a large quantity. Is it still good to use since I have just continued to feed it up to three times per day?
Thank you for your help! 🙂
Hi Kathy, It is probably fine to use. I’m not very familiar with her method for making a sourdough starter, so I don’t know what to tell you about the feeding. We don’t feed ours that often. When I was creating a starter from the ground up, I fed it once a day. Once a start is established, we keep a very small amount in the refrigerator and only feed it when we want to use it the next day. So, we feed it at night and it’s read to work with in the morning. I hope that helps.
Why oven light off vs on? I’ve heard advice to keep the light on. I’m not challenging your advice, just trying to understand it so that I do the right thing.
Also, the WAP foundation web info doesn’t talk about the parchment and damp towel. can you please explain this and does the parchment go underneath the towel or on top of it? I’m assuming on top so that it doesn’t dry out? And you do this between feedings until the starter is ready to use for bread?
Hi Susan, it may work fine with the light on. I found that my counter was slightly too cold and I thought it would get a little too warm with the oven light on. You’ll have to see what works best in your kitchen. You can look at this article for where I obtained the parchment and damp towel idea. Scroll down to where it says “Making your Starter.” Yes, the parchment will go under the towel. I kept it covered that way after every stage, yes. Once the start is going, I don’t store it that way. We just keep it in a small jar in the refrigerator until the night before we want to use it. Then, we remove it and feed it with flour and water and let it sit with just a towel over it until the morning when we’re ready to use it in a recipe. I hope that helps.
I am new to Einkorn flour and excited to try it. Would a sour dough starter that has been made from instant potatoes, sugar and water work with this recipe? Thanks so much.
Hi Brenda, any viable sourdough starter can be fed with einkorn flour and used in any of our sourdough recipes.
When feeding the viable starter I have, should I use half the amount of water that is originally called for in that recipe to feed the starter since Einkorn flour doesn’t absorb water like other wheat? Also, would it be necessary to add the potato flakes since the starter is viable? Thank you so much for your help.
Hi Brenda, when feeding a sourdough start with einkorn, we recommend twice as much flour as water (we usually do 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of water) The potato flakes will not be necessary in a viable starter.
So I accidentally ordered whole wheat einkorn flour and now I have 3 bags of it and want to start a starter. Newbie, here. If I do a starter with this, can I use it o ly with whole wheat flour recipes or can I use it with ap flour recipes and refresh it with ap once I have it?
Hi Kristen, you can feed a sourdough starter with any flour as long as you use the correct ratio of flour to liquid for that flour (all-purpose and whole grain einkorn flour would be about the same). So, yes, you can create the starter with whole grain and feed it with AP later.
Just wondering…what happened to Day 2
and after all the questions and answers I am now totally confused
Hi Petra, there is nothing to do on Day 2. The fermentation takes longer at the beginning, so you don’t touch it until Day 3. What are you confused about? I’d be happy to help.
Hi, I want to buy Einkhorn and would love to make sourdough bread. Problem, I think, I live in the Caribbean, so there is no 60-65 weather. Always above 80-90+- depending on the time of year. Would I be able to make a starter and bread in those temps?
Hi Cathy, I have no doubt it’s possible to make sourdough and bread there. You’ll just want to watch timing as it might vary in different climates. The warmer the ambient temperature, the quicker sourdough will ferment the dough, so just be aware of that.
You can fed the starter and freeze until needed then thaw and feed again. Have froze a starter for about eight months without any problems.
If the starter is too dry, the mold will take over. Have some starter working that has whole wheat, corn meal, oat meal and nine grain cracked cereal.
is it worth or can you switch an established rye starter to einkorn or do you think i should just start a fresh einkorn?
Hi David, yes it’s super easy to switch an sourdough starter to einkorn. You just start feeding it with einkorn.
Thank you so much!! i have a simple method. what ever the weight of the remaining starter is i add that much flour and that much water. would or could i do the same with the einkorn?
i appreciate your help!!
Hi David, We don’t do the same volume of water and einkorn flour because it’s a wetter grain already. We do about a 1.5:1 flour to water ratio. So we usually feed it with 1950g of einkorn flour and 1250g of water. Hopefully that gives you an idea.
it does thank you very much for all the help!! this is a great resource you have here!! keep up the great work
I just keep adding to my starter never throwing any away. The reason for throwing some away is to keep the water to flour the ratio the same, but that doesn’t make sense to me. Just add the same amount of flour and water. I have been even just eyeballing the flour and and water ratio. If miners in AK could plug holes in their cabins and then revive their starters to make bread it is so much stronger than we give it credit for. Anyway, I’m new at this too, no expert. I’ve read so much and watched so many videos and am more confused than before. Grandmas kept their starters right in their 50lb flour sacks. Is all this complication just frightening people away from even trying? Baking is a science and some can get really into that aspect of it, but it can be easy too.
I do a stiff EInkorn starter (Jovial Foods). It is awesome, not all the waste, stays forever in the fridge once mature. Glad I started that way
We are starting our starter for the second time. We are using Einkorn all purpose flour. The first time it turned sour, and I mean sour. It didn’t rise it just sat there and smelled really bad. Our second starter is stinking really bad. It is doubling ok and we are feeding it now every day (120g flour and 120 g water) . I mean it is gross smelling. Is this normal?
Hi John, it will definitely smell sour. I don’t think I’d describe it as a gross smell. What does it look like? Does it have a lot of liquid on top?