Ripening Sourdough: Images at Various Stages

To make sourdough starter, all you need is equal measures of flour and water.  Stir it every day for a few days. At some point, usually after two to four days, the starter will be ready for feeding.

For more detailed instructions, see Make Your Own Sourdough Starter at Home.

When Do I Start “Feeding” My Starter?

  • When  you see tiny bubbles throughout the batter, it’s time to start feeding. You may have to enlarge this picture to see the bubbles. When you see plenty of bubbles throughout the batter, even after you stir it, discard about half of your starter. Add a cup each of flour and water. Do this every day until the starter is ripe.sourdough starter, ready

When is the Sourdough Starter Ripe and Ready to Use?

The next picture (below) was taken a few days later. The starter is now ripe, and ready to use in any recipe calling for sourdough starter. There are active bubbles of different sizes all the way through. By the way, the crust on the sides of the jar is dried batter. When I first made starter, I worried it might be mold. But it’s fine.

newly ripe sourdough starterBelow is a picture of some ripe starter that I have been using for a couple of weeks. I fed it 18 hours earlier and left it on the counter. After a few days, a layer of dark brown liquid will form on the top of the starter. You can use that liquid in your recipe or throw it out. I’ll take a picture of that too, next time I see it.

refreshed sourdough starter

More sourdough posts:

Convert Conventional Yeast Recipes to Sourdough

Make Your Own Sourdough Starter at Home

Sourdough Muffins

Sourdough Pancakes


  1. Ms. Krieger says

    The pictures are great, thank you. Must try my own sour dough starter now. Some people say it’s not worth it if you don’t have access to an ancient, handed-down-through-generations starter. This has reassured me. I’ve always wanted to bake with sour dough…better living through chemistry!

  2. Thanks, Ms. Krieger. It really is pretty easy. Even if you mess up you haven’t invested much money or time.

  3. bethami says

    can you elaborate on what you mean by “feeding”? i have always messed up bread baking and would like to do it perfectly right this time.

    • Bethami, feeding means throwing out half the starter. Then stir into the remaining starter one cup each of flour and water. Feed the starter once a day until it’s ripe.

      This link explains it in more detail: Make Your Own Sourdough Starter. Let me know if you still have questions.

  4. Bethami says

    Thanks! Looks good. Hoping to make some sourdough whole wheat challah this shabbat. Am scouring the internet for recipes (idiot proof). Do you have a good one?

  5. Bethami, I’ve never made it. This recipe looks complex:
    This one looks easier:

  6. I was given 1/2 cup 100 yr old starter. My friend helped me through feeding it. However, mine looks like dough. I just doubled it and again, dough…..did I ruin it? Can I take 1 cup of this dough, add the water/flour/sugar and keep that part? I am worried I ruined it…..

    • I don’t think you ruined it. It could be you added too much flour, but the yeast should still be in there. Yes, take a cup or a half cup and feed it again. Then add extra water, a little at a time, until you get it to the right consistency. .

  7. Hannah,thanks! I will try that and let you know what happens. Thanks!!!!!!!

  8. oh, one more question, by feeding it, you think I should do it in the true sense; not just add water to the dough I have right now?