How to start a Sourdough Starter

If you read my post for the Overnight Cowboy Starter you’ll see that there are more ingredients than the two listed here. The sourdough purists would be appalled at this aberration of a starter recipe and say it’s nowhere near a true sourdough starter. When cooking from the back of a chuck wagon, and the sun hasn’t come up, I want a starter that gets the job done and helps me feed a crew of hungry cowboys. So, I call the cowboy recipe an overnight starter that works.

That said, if you’d rather create your own sourdough starter from wild yeast and bacteria, this method is a little less reliable but may also produce surprisingly delicious results. Although I rely on the cowboy recipe I also enjoy the traditional wild yeast starter. Even though creating a wild starter requires only two ingredients and the same equipment, the conditions are a more stringent and require more effort and time. 

Try it  It’s worth the experience.

Basic Wild Yeast Starter Recipe


  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water


  1. Combine ¾ cup flour and ½ cup warm water in a glass or plastic container. Make sure the container can hold about 2 quarts, to avoid overflow.
  2. Stir vigorously to incorporate air; cover with a breathable lid.
  3. Leave in a warm place, 70-85°F, for 12-24 hours. Feeding every 12 hours will increase the rate at which your sourdough starter is multiplying its organisms; feeding every 24 hours will take a bit longer, but may be more sustainable depending on your time commitment.
  4. At the 12 or 24 hour mark you may begin to see some bubbles, indicating that organisms are present. Repeat the feeding with ½ cup warm water and ¾ cup flour.
  5. Stir vigorously, cover, and wait another 12-24 hours.
  6. Repeat feedings every 12-24 hours by removing half of the starter before every feeding and discarding it. Feed with ½ cup warm water and ¾ cup flour.
  7. After about 5-7 days the sourdough starter should have enough yeasts and bacteria to be used for baking.

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