Making a gluten free sourdough starter couldn’t be easier. Start with a few simple ingredients, a little time and patience, soon you’ll be making delicious homemade gluten free sourdough bread, pizza, pancakes, and waffles! This recipe is vegetarian and vegan.
A Gluten Free Journey
I started my gluten free sourdough journey in the summer of 2018. At the time I had just recently become proficient at sourdough bread when my doctor declared she wanted me to give a gluten free trial a go. And so the journey began.
I am eating gluten again, but through the development of this gluten free starter, and consequently gluten free multigrain sourdough bread recipe and gluten free sourdough pizza, the Vanilla And Bean community has shown interest. Also, I’ve created gluten free sourdough pancakes recipe and waffles with this sourdough starter, using whole grain flours, that taste over the top!
Gluten free sourdough starter is simple to make, but it took a bit of trial and error for me to get me to this point. While it’s similar to developing a glutenous sourdough starter, I found some gluten free flours to be more reliable than others in producing a consistent result.
How to Make a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
This simple recipe generally takes about 5-7 days to complete, but it could take longer. You’ll think about it more than the time it takes to make it: checking on it periodically, looking for bubbles, taking a whiff for a bit of that sweet and sour aroma we’re after. The key is patience and consistency (see recipe card below for details).
- Day 1: In a medium glass bowl or jar, whisk buckwheat or brown rice flour with sweet rice flour and water. Lid or cover with a damp tea towel and set aside at room temperature 24 hours.
- Day 2: Take a portion of the previous days mix (discard the leftover), and in a clean jar or bowl whisk in previous days mix, water and buckwheat and sweet rice flour. Lid or cover with a damp tea towel and set aside at room temperature for 24 hours.
at about day three or four, your starter will begin to smell unpleasant, like sweaty socks. keep going… it will change for the better!
- Day 3 through 6…or 7 (or beyond): Repeat day two until the mixture becomes puffy, has a pleasant sweet-sour aroma and bubbles begin to form under the surface. How many days it takes to complete to get to this point depends on ambient temperature and available, naturally occurring yeast and bacteria. Six to seven days has been my experience.
- Note: Time mentioned here is a guide rather than a determining factor for when the starter is ready. Use the cues and your senses to determine when it’s ready. It may take longer than seven days.
It’s ready when it’s ready.
- Once the starter is puffy, has a sweet-sour aroma and bubbles are present under the surface (see pictures below), your initial starter is ripe or ready.
- Last, to keep your starter healthy and strong, you’ll need to refresh it, or feed it before using it in a recipe.
How to Refresh a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
Refreshing a gluten free starter keeps it healthy and strong. I refresh mine at least every other week, once a week if I remember, when stored in the fridge, but always 8-12 hours before I’m ready to mix the sourdough. Also, I keep the starter in a glass jar with a rubber band around the starting level (after I refresh it) so I can track its progress as it develops.
To refresh your gluten free starter:
- First, in a clear jar you’ll add part of your sourdough starter (throw out or save the leftover to make gluten free sourdough pancakes or sourdough waffles using your discard). Then you’ll whisk in the water and add the flours. Mix well until the flours are hydrated.
- Next, loosely lid and wrap a rubber band around the jar at the height of the starter. This will give you a visual indication of how much the starter has grown as it grows to double in size.
- Last, allow the starter to develop at room temperature for about 8-12 hours. The time will vary due to ambient temperature.
How do I Know When My Gluten Free Starter is Ready
Once the starter has doubled in size, is bubbly and has a sweet-sour aroma, it’s ready to use in your gluten free sourdough bread recipe. After measuring out the portion needed for your recipe, refresh the starter, as indicated above and store in the fridge until your next feeding.
The starter will not stay in this doubled in size state for long. At some point after doubling in size, it will begin to lose its strength and fall. The exact amount of time will vary from starter to starter but I’ve typically observed a few hours window, at room temperature, where the starter will remain doubled in size. On warm days, it’s shorter. But in the refrigerator, it’ll hold for quite a while. I’ve observed at least over eight hours! Once it starts falling back down after doubling in size, you’ll need to refresh (or feed) it and allow it to double in size again before using it in a sourdough bread recipe.
If your starter is struggling to double in size, you’ll need to go through a few cycles of refreshment to build strength in the starter. You can even refresh twice within a 12 hour period if needed. Doing this builds flavor and will help later in the development of your gluten free sourdough bread. I do a series of refreshments after freezer storage or a long period of neglect in the refrigerator before using it in a recipe.
How Do I Maintain my Gluten Free Sourdough Starter?
Think of your sourdough starter as a refrigerator pet that needs regular attention. There’s yeast and bacteria that make up the starter so it needs to be fed (refreshed) on a regular basis. Your starter can be stored at room temperature if you’re baking daily.
However, I use mine about once every two weeks, so I store my starter in the refrigerator. I’ve gotten away with refreshing it only before and after I bake and this system of an every other week feeding/baking schedule works well for me. In a perfect world, it should be fed weekly.
What is That Layer of Liquid?
After your starter is established, you may notice a layer of liquid that forms on the surface. This liquid is called hooch, a naturally occurring alcohol which indicates your starter is hungry, that it’s a little past time to feed your starter and is an indication of a weak (hungry) starter. Hooch should have a pleasant sweet-sour aroma. You can pour it off or stir it into your starter and carry on with refreshment.
If you notice hooch after refreshing your starter, and you’ve missed the doubled in size bake window, you’ll need to feed your starter twice a day, which will remedy hooch and build strength in your starter. Putting your starter in a cooler area of the house should help too. This will slow down the fermentation process.
If you’ll be away from baking for a while and need to store your starter longer than a few weeks, it can go in the freezer. When ready to use it again, thaw it out in the refrigerator and refresh it a few times prior to baking with it.
Remember, your starter is ready when it doubles in size, is bubbly and has a pleasant sweet-sour aroma.
A Few Gluten Free Sourdough Starter Notes
- Time is a guide rather than a determining factor for when the starter is ready. Use the cues and your senses to determine when it’s ready. It may take longer than seven days. It’s ready when it’s ready.
- For leftover sourdough starter (discard), you can keep it in a jar for use in other recipes, give some away or throw it out. It can be used in gluten free sourdough pancakes, sourdough waffles or my gluten free sourdough pizza crust recipe without having to double it in size… and it’s absolutely delicious! I keep a jar in my refrigerator and refill it as I discard the leftover starter at refreshment time. The discard can be frozen too.
- If you see any mold or a layer of pinkish/orange/white slimy color on the top of your starter, throw it out and make a new starter. This can be avoided simply keeping your starter happy and well fed, refreshing it weekly in the fridge or daily at room temperature.
- Through testing this recipe, I found sweet white rice flour or AP 1-1 gluten free baking flour to be an essential component in developing a strong and consistent gluten free sourdough starter. Mixed with another whole grain flour such as buckwheat or brown rice flour yields consistent results. These are the only two whole grain flours I’ve tried when making this starter. If you use something different, please let us know how it goes in the comments!
- Float Test: If you’re a glutenous sourdough baker and have used the float test in the past to observe when your sourdough starter is ready, the same idea doesn’t work for gluten free sourdough starter. So, you’ll need to go on observation alone. Remember: the starter doubles in size, smells of a sweet-sour aroma and has air pockets within the starter (or is bubbly).
RELATED: Once your gluten free starter is going, check out my Seeded Multigrain Gluten Free Sourdough Bread. Use your discard in these GF Sourdough Pancakes, GF Sourdough Pizza Crust and in GF Sourdough Waffles!
UPDATE (2/20): If you’re on Instagram, I’ve recorded a day by day video so you can see how the starter progresses over time! Link to my profile on Instagram, then look for GF SD Start… in Highlights!
Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
- Buckwheat Flour or Brown Rice Flour
- Sweet White Rice Flour or AP 1-1 gluten free baking flour
- Water room temperature **see note
- Day One: In a medium glass bowl or jar, whisk together 2 T (20g) buckwheat or brown rice flour, 2 T (20g) sweet rice flour and 1/4 C (60g) of water. Cover with a damp tea towel and rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Day Two: In a clean medium glass bowl or jar, whisk 2 T (40g) of mixture you made yesterday (throw out the leftovers), 2 T (20g) buckwheat or brown rice flour, 2 T (20g) sweet rice flour and 1/4 C (60g) of water. Cover with a damp towel or loose fitting lid and rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Day Three Through Day Six or Seven (or beyond): Repeat step two using the previous days starter until the mixture becomes puffy, has a pleasant sweet-sour aroma and bubbles begin or air pockets are visible under the surface. This process takes about six to seven days (as this has been my experience) - but it may take longer. Time is not a determining factor for when the starter is ready, it's simply a guide. It's ready when it's ready. Use the cues and your senses to determine when your starter is ready. This is the nature of sourdough. Before using your new starter in a recipe, you'll need to refresh (feed) it.
How to Refresh your Gluten Free Sourdough Starter:
- Once you have an established starter, you'll need to feed it.In a clean lidded jar, add 1/4C (60g) of sourdough starter (throw out or save the leftover 'discard'). To the starter, mix in 1/3 C (80g) room temperature water. Add 3 T (30g) buckwheat flour and 3 T (30g) sweet white rice flour to the water mixture. Mix well until the flours are hydrated. Wrap a rubber band around the jar at the height of the starter. This will give you a visual indication of how much the starter has grown. Put a lid on the jar (it doesn't need to be loose - just regular) and allow the starter to develop at room temperature for about 8-12 hours* or until it doubles in size. The time will vary due to ambient temperature.If your starter is struggling to double, place it somewhere warm, like inside a turned off oven with a light on. You can also try feeding twice a day to nudge the starter along.Once the starter has doubled in size, is bubbly, and has a sweet-sour aroma, it's ready to use in your gluten free sourdough bread recipe.After measuring out the portion needed for your recipe, refresh the starter, as indicated above and store it until ready to use again.
How to Store Your Starter:
- Room Temperature: The starter can be stored at room temperature if you bake daily, which also means it will be need to be refreshed daily. Store it in a glass jar with a lid. Refrigerator: Ideally, you'll want to refresh your starter (feed it) each week if stored in the refrigerator. When preparing for mixing, and after pulling the starter from the fridge, you may need to refresh it twice within a 12 hour period to get it going again. This is not always the case, but sometimes the starter can be sluggish. Store it in a glass jar with a lid. Freezer: For longer storage, place your starter in the freezer. It will revive after it thaws in the refrigerator and goes through a few refreshments. Store it in a glass jar with a lid.
How to Store Your Discard if Saving:
- Once you have an established starter, your sourdough discard can be used for bread, pancakes, waffles, pizza and other recipes to add that tangy sourdough flavor. Store it in the fridge, in a lidded glass jar, for up to two weeks. You may see a layer of hooch, and this is not unusual. You can pour it off or stir it in. If you see any white, orange or pink film or mold, toss it. You can also store your discard in the freezer for longer storage. Thaw it in the fridge before using in a recipe.
Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe. It’s truly the best gluten free bread and pizza I’ve ever eaten!
The one thing I have missed on my gluten free journey is the crunch and crispy texture of bread. Now I have found the answer to my quest for crispy pizza and soft delicious tasty bread again.
I made a loaf of bread and two pies at the same time by doubling my starter. I refrigerated two starters and shared a starter jar with a friend.
Thank you again for sharing this amazing recipe!
Hii Valarie! Thank you for coming back and sharing your experience with us. Super pleased to read your note and your success with the starter, pizza and sourdough bread! A Triumph! What a sweet gift for your friend :D
Can regular white rice flour be used instead of sweet white rice flour.. I’m new to all of this and am having a hard finding all the correct flours in a timely fashion
Hi Bridget! You can give it a go, but I found through my trials the combinations suggested work best. Sweet white rice flour (or BRM AP gluten free flour) was the game changer for me.
I have a starter made with only brown rice flour, and I’m going away for 2 months. I want to try your idea to freeze the mother starter, do you freeze it directly in the glass jar after you feed it and let it ferment at room temperature, when it’s at its peak?
Hi Sophie! That’s a good time to freeze your starter, when it’s at its peak. When you return, simply thaw in the fridge overnight, then feed it and allow it to ferment until doubled in size. I hope this helps, and you have a good trip!
thank you so much Traci, I hope it will work, my starter is only 2 months old ! I don’t want to loose it after putting so much time, effort, and money into it, so I’m glad I found your freezer idea . take care.
If I need more starter for a recipe (for example, 250 grams) and need to bulk up my starter, what ratios should I use to do so? I’ve been using 20 grams of each flour, 60g water, and 40g discard to continue feeding. The starter looks fantastic so far! Thanks so much for the recipe!
Hi Amy! Thank you for your note. To keep it simple, I double or triple the feeding, using a 4 cup Mason jar. So excited the starter is working for you!
Thank you! So, if doubling, you would do 40g of each flour, 120g water and 80g starter?
Since you’re refreshing your starter after it’s established, you’ll double what’s in the recipe for How to Refresh your Gluten Free Sourdough Starter: “In a clean lidded jar, add 1/4C (60g) of sourdough starter. To the starter, mix in 1/3 C (80g) room temperature water. Add 3 T (30g) buckwheat flour and 3 T (30g) sweet white rice flour to the water mixture.” So you’ll mix, 120g of starter, 160g water, 60g buckwheat and 60g white rice flour to double your starter. Keep us posted Amy!
When you do the feed is it always just taking out 40g and disgarding everything else. So day 3-6 so every feed you start with just 40g of the previous fed starter?
Hi Courtney! You got it. Every feed you start with just 40g of the previous fed starter and discard the rest. Once you have an established starter, you can start saving that flavorful discard to use in sourdough discard recipes!
Thank you so much!!!!
Keep us posted, Courtney!
I plan to experiment a little, as I already have a teff starter going. I wonder if you have any thoughts regarding varying the flours used in both the starter and bread.
Thanks for the recipe. I am new to gluten free and appreciate the time you take.
Hi Patricia! Through testing this recipe, I found sweet white rice flour or AP 1-1 gluten free baking flour to be an essential component in developing a strong and consistent gluten free sourdough starter. Mixed with another whole grain flour such as buckwheat or brown rice flour yields consistent results. These are the only two whole grain flours I’ve tried when making this starter. As far as the bread recipe, I’ve included flours I tested/tried as well as “makers notes” who have had success with other flours in the blog post. Please keep us posted on if you give the recipe(s) a go!
this sourdough starter guide is great! Mine is on its fourth day and has been aromatic and bubble for at least 48 hours. So excited to use it!
Hi Megan! So happy to hear! Please keep us posted!
When/how will you know if it’s working and at what point do you know it’s been too long without seeing any bubbles or doubling?
Hi Audra! I share lots of tips and what to look for in the blog post… which, I’m thinking will answer your questions. Please let me know if I can help futher.
Will the started be “sour” enough when making it the first time? Does it need to be aged to be really fermented?
Hi Danielle, this depends on your preference. As the starter ages, it will develop a unique flavor profile. However, once your starter is ready, you can use it in sourdough recipes. There’s no need to wait unless you just want to see for yourself. The flavor really comes from the long fermentation process as your dough rises.
Hi! Loving this resource for GF baking.
My niece has celiac, and because I’m the ‘sourdough person’ in the family, she’s asked me to see if I can make something similar for her. I’m excited about the challenge and have gotten the flours for the starter.
I’m wondering if there are any issues letting my GF starter sit next to my gluten-based starter when I feed it? I thought I might have an easier time getting things going with my current bacteria floating around the GF starter. Anything I should be concerned with?
Hi Per! Thank you for your note. What a kind gesture for your niece! I’m not an expert in celiac disease, but from the little reading I’ve done on it, it’s not something I would do. I wouldn’t want to risk contamination.
Traci: Wanted to thank you for the recipe! I took the risk and left the gluten-based starter next to the gluten-free starter for 2 days. The yeast migrated from one to the other, and after 5 more careful feedings of the gluten-free starter, I had a lively starter and was pretty sure that there was no gluten flour in the starter.
The bread was a big hit, not only with my niece but also with her family. Thank you for putting together what seems to be a difficult recipe to come up with. So many moving parts! And so darn tasty!!!
Hi Per! Thank you for your update. Hooray for success! So happy to hear your starter and the bread was a hit. Your note makes my day!
I’m 65 and was diagnosed with Celiac 4 years ago. I LOVE sourdough bread and miss it terribly, so I am super pumped to try your recipes. My questions:
1. If I can’t source sweet white rice flour, what can I use as a substitute?
2. I live at 3000′ elevation and it’s super dry here, only about 15% humidity. What adjustments should I consider to compensate for the elevation and low humidity? More water?
Hi Traci! Thanks for this amazing recipe! I started my starter 3 days ago and it doubled already today.
1) Can the starer be ready so soon?
2) When you take 2 tbsp out of the developing started to feed it after 24 hours, do you whisk it before?
Hi Olena! So happy to help…. The starter is most likely too young to use in a recipe. It’s not uncommon for it to double after the first few days, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready. Over the 7-8 days it takes to get the starter’s yeast and bacteria in balance, it also is building strength. How does the starter smell? Over time it will develop a more fragrant aroma. If it’s unpleasant, it’s not ready. Do whisk the starter before taking the 2 Tbs out to feed. I hope this helps, Olena! Please keep me posted!
Can this be dried out to store long term like regular sourdough starter?
Hi there Ashley! I’ve not tried it, so I’m not sure. If you give it a go, please let us know how it goes!
Looking forward to my first loaf! Its fermenting now. I want to do the fridge method… do you need to leave it at room temperature until it doubles and then refrigerate or will it do its thing in the fridge? Thanks!!
Hi Wendy! So excited for you! You’ll want the starter to double in size whether it’s in the fridge or room temp, either will work. The fridge will take longer, and you’ll need to keep an eye on it. If it peaks then falls, you’ll need to feed it again and allow it to double in size again. Please keep in touch and let me know if you have any more questions!
Hi Traci, I’m up to day twelve and am not sure whether my starter is still viable. There are hardly any bubbles and it isn’t expanding. The first five days the starter looked great, it was bubbly and had air pockets. Day 6 I discovered it tipped over during the night (with a wet cloth on top secured by a rubber band), and since then it hasn’t been the same! It has a sweet-sour smell, slightly vinegary. I’ve tried feeding it every twelve hours (nothing). There was a layer of water on top which I tipped off and thickened it up with extra flour. What would you recommend – is there a way to save it or should I throw it and start again? It’s been cold overnight here so I’ve been keeping it in the oven with the light on. Is it possible that it was ready before day seven and now I’ve missed that window? Thanks in advance for your help, Mel
Hi Mel! Oh goodness… I’d try to rescue what’s left. Try feeding the starter twice a day instead of once and watch how it changes in between feedings (so, perhaps feed once in the morning and once before bedtime. The hooch on top tells me the starter is hungry, so it’s gobbling up the food fast. It is possible that the starter could have been ready before day seven… but it’s hard to say without seeing exactly what it was doing. I hope this helps, Mel… please keep in touch and let me know how it’s going.
I started my GF starter today and am v excited to see how it looks tomorrow. This is my 4th attempt, but 1st using your recipe! Question. I like in the West Indies and it’s always hot and pretty humid. The temperature at night right now is about 80F
Is this going to be too warm for my starter? If so, what should I do? Am pretty sure the fridge is too cold. I know I can keep it in there with my regular sd starter once it’s up and running. Any advice would be soooo welcome. I’m a micro baker and am very familiar with sourdough, but I’ve been wanting to make gf sourdough for ages. Your seeded loaf looks amazing!
Hi Gilly! Thank you for your note and giving the recipe a go! As for a warm temperature, you may need to build your starter with twice daily discards. I’m thinking you’ll start seeing activity sooner than later. Another option would be to set the jar in a 70F water bath, although that would be high maintenance! Please keep us posted!!
On the second day, when I take out 1/2 of the sour dough starter from the first day it says “discard leftover”. I assume you want me to throw out 1/2 of the first days sour dough. Is this true? Can I use that 1st day starter for anything or should I just throw it out (day 2-8 or when ever).
Hi Pat! Yes, you need to discard, throw out 1/2 until your starter is vibrant and ready for bread baking. When you start maintaining your established starter, this is when you can use the discard in pancakes or waffles or other recipes. I hope this helps!
Hey Traci! I’m on day 8 of my starter and I have great activity, bubbles, a good smell, but my starter is refusing to double in size. Is there something I can do to help this? I’ve also tried putting it in the oven with just the oven light on and i’m not having any luck with that. Thanks!
Hi Mackenzie! Try feeding it twice in one day allowing it to almost double in size before feeding again. Like you’re already doing, put it in the oven with light on. I hope this helps. Please keep in touch!
Hi! I’m on day 6 of making my buckwheat starter. This is my first buckwheat starter, but I’m very familiar with the glutenous sourdough starter process. I’m on day 6 now and the past couple of days, there is a layer of mold growing on the surface of my starter. It’s a very fine layer of “white fur” looking mold that seems to grow overnight. I’ve been using a damp tea towel and will try using a lid today. I can very easily take the top layer of mold off and use a little starter from the bottom of the jar. The starter seems to be almost ready to use as it’s very bubbly and doubling in size, but I’m concerned about the mold that grows every night? Would really appreciate your thoughts as I’m not sure whether to throw it out or not.
Hi Alexandra! Oh noooo… I’m sorry to hear you have a layer of white fur… or mold. Since I don’t know what that is, it’s safer to start fresh. I’m curious if you’re using a new container each day while building your starter. I found through my trials that doing this will help prevent mold formation. I hope this helps.
Most efficient and clear instructions for making gluten-free sourdough starter I have found! Thank you! I’ve been making the multigrain bread since March.
The starter is feed sorghum and brown rice flours and seems to thrive. I have also feed it teff and sorghum.
I have been making the multigrain bread recipe since March as well. I’ve reduced the sweetener to 2 tbsp and I’ve been able to use potato starch instead of tapioca with good results. I sometimes substitute sorghum flour for the oat flour (but bread is a bit drier) or use 1/2 and 1/2. I have reduced water to 550g consistently. May work better as I live in north central Florida and it is quite humid here.
I have tried a variety of soaker combinations (e.g., pumpkin seeds, hemp kernels), but always using the flax seed and oats.
Question: Do you have a recipe for gluten-free sourdough dinner rolls?
Hi Eleanor! Thank you for your note and sharing your tips/results. It’s super helpful to the community! Agreed about reducing water and humidity. I love your soaker suggestions… pumpkin seeds sound so delicious and I’m a fan of hemp seeds! I don’t have a recipe for gf sourdough dinner rolls, unfortunately. It sounds like I need to work on one! Thank you again for your note and sending a smile :D
YAY! It worked! It took 12 days but I have gluten free sourdough starter that is doubling when fed. Next step, try a recipe. FYI I used the buckwheat and sweet white rice flours from Bob’s Mill.
Hooray, Marjorie! SO happy to hear! I hope you enjoy the sourdough journey!
I have refreshed my starter and want to store it for a week. After adding the flour and water and mixed it together do I let it sit on the counter to double and then put it in the fridge? or do I put it in the fridge right after I have mixed the flour water and starter together?
Hi Catherine! Put it in the fridge.. it will continue to develop but at a slower rate. Take a peak at it every day to watch how it changes. I hope this helps!
Hi Traci – thank you for your recipe tips and support. My starter was slow to take off, so I increased to 12-hourly feeds and made additional efforts to keep it warm, and eventually on day 12 it rose to double in size … so exciting! But it hasn’t done the same since. It still rises a little each day, and has a pleasant yeasty smell – I’m just not getting that full rise and have not attempted bread with it yet. Any thoughts on what is happening? On the plus side I’ve used discard to make some fabulous pancakes and muffins. Thanks.
Hi Judith! Ah, finally, you got it to double. Hooray! Okay on not getting a full rise. I’d feed it twice a day and put it in a turned off oven with the light on until you get what you’re after. Yessss to pancakes (and I’d love to hear more about those muffins!). Keep in touch!
You may be sorry you asked about the muffins :) … it’s a bit of a long story as they were a rather imprecise version of the Apple & Cinnamon Muffins on lowtoxlife.com, making it up as I went along and without exact measurements for converting to adding the starter. I used a few tablespoons of starter mixed with the melted butter, rice malt syrup & egg (I only used 1 egg), then added sufficient buckwheat/brown rice flour mix (and coconut flour reduced proportionately) and a little milk until I had a muffin batter consistency. Except I ran out of the flour, which I normally grind up in the Thermomix but this was now full of batter, so I topped up with a little millet flour. Didn’t include the coconut. Doubled the cinnamon. And used pear instead of apple. Turned out really well!
You mention about keeping the discard to use in sourdough pancake and the like. Is the discard a) the leftover developing starter when you actually progress to the starter stage and/or b) the discarded starter that you have to refresh if it wont double in size?
Hi Elizabeth… the developing starter is thrown out. A discarded starter that has doubled in size and removed to refresh the starter can be used to enjoy in pancakes. LMK if you have any more questions!
Hi I’m just attempting my first starter…and I have a few questions. Firstly when you’re feeding it everyday should just keep 40g from the previous days mix and disgard the rest? Secondly, my jar is a 2ltr jar and I’m wondering is that too big as it seems the mixture is just spread across the bottom of the jar. Would it better in a smaller jar where it’s more condensed into a smaller area if that makes sense? And thirdly should I store it on a window so that it gets direct sunlight or is that bad for it? Thanks
Hi Aodhan… First – yes, keep 40g and discard the rest. Second – I would use a smaller jar. Third – I would store it in a turned off oven with the light on. I hope this helps!
This is my second time attempting this starter. The first time was a major fail, and I know why. I used the same large glass pyrex container and never moved to a clean dish. I had a lot of hooch each day and shortly after grew mold. Yuck. I made some other minor mistakes along the way that I thought I could fix – I should have just started over. I also couldn’t find Sweet Rice Flour so I used my normal go-to homemade GF flour blend plus more Brown Rice Flour
This second attempt has been much better. I’ve followed the instructions exactly – start each day with 2T starter, 1/4C water, 2T each Sweet Rice Flour and Brown Rice Flour in a clean glass jar. My starter was doing AMAZING for days 1-4, bubbly, would double in size, smelled sour, etc. However, day 5 brought no bubbles, no rising, and a thick layer of slimy hooch. I’ve continued on each day since with the normal routine, but still no bubbles or rising and has the layer of slimy hooch which I’ve been pouring off. I started double feeding. We were having some hot days but the weather has cooled off. I live on the Central Coast of California – our weather doesn’t change much here but +/- about 10 degrees.
So my questions:
Do I mix up the starter with the water and then add the addition flour? Does it matter?
Should I store it in the window/somewhere else to get some good warmth?
Should I just keep plugging away with the regular routine and hope the bubbles/rise comes back?
Anything else I should try? I’ve read through the comments and am just not sure.
When double feeding, I’ve been following the same instructions, just doing it both in the am and pm – is that right? Or do I only add more flour in one and discard the rest in another? So basically the whole process for one feeding, and only add flours to the second feeding.
Thanks for the recipe and instructions – I know I’ll get there soon!
Oh also, I watched your GF SD Starter highlight on instagram – it would be super helpful to see all of the days 1-7 (I only saw from day 3 or 4 onward I think).
Hi Lindsay… patience is key. It takes time to develop a starter, even after you’ve seen it bubble and it falls flat again. Keep going! One thing you can do is place the starter in a turned off oven with the light on. This will help things get moving. It doesn’t matter how you add the flour, starter and water – just mix it up! I hope this helps. Keep in touch!
I’ve been making this recipe for several monthes now and I love it! I’m wondering if anyone can tell me what I could use in the place of the millet? I’ve tried an all-purpose gf flour but it doesn’t rise as well when I do. Any ideas? Thanks
Hi Carol! So happy to hear you’re enjoying the recipe! Can you tell me, are you referring to the GF Sourdough Bread? If so, have a look at what other makers used in the “Maker’s Notes” section above the recipe card on the Sourdough Recipe. One maker used teff instead of millet. In my trials, I found millet really helps the bread rise higher and it has a more neutral flavor than many other GF flours. I hope this helps! Please keep in touch!
Thanks for getting back to me. Will try the suggestions, and get back to you.
I have tried to produce the stater for 3 weeks. Started with sweet rice four and brown rice flour. Got little bubbles after a week, but no rise in volume. then substituted buckwheat flour. A few bubbles, but no rise. Kitchen temp is in the 70’s. Not sure how to proceed. Wanted to make the multigrain loaf for my son, but can’t move forward. I have been using tap water. Should I be using unchlorinated bottled water? Help! Any help appreciated.
Hi Neal… I’m sorry to hear your starter is struggling. There’s a few things you can try. First, try filtered water. I use tap, always, and it’s never been an issue, but water quality varies widely, so start there. Next, try putting your starter in a turned off oven with the light on. This will really warm things up. Last, you can try feeding twice a day, but I’d start with the first two strategies before this one. I hope this helps. Please keep in touch!
Just Wow! My starter has just taken off! It’s doubled in size and has soooo many bubbles!
I’ve used it to make bread today. It’s in the “proving” stages I just don’t know what to expect with the bread. Should it rise, double in size? I’ve never made bread before but was so excited when my starter worked! Do you have a recipe for bread to follow?
Hi Rachel! So happy to hear your starter has taken off! I do have a few sourdough recipes: Seeded Multigrain Gluten Free Sourdough Bread. Use your discard in these Gluten Free Sourdough Pancakes! I hope this helps and you enjoy the recipes!
Thank you for this recipe, and your guidance! I tried making the starter with buckwheat flour and BRM 1-to-1, and it didn’t grow happily. I switched to rice flour and 1-to-1, and it took OFF!! Just made my first loaf of bread and first round of pancakes today, and they’re all delicious. This is so cool and exciting. Thanks again.
Thank you for your note, Monica! Hooray for a starter taking OFF! So happy to hear you’re enjoying the bread and pancakes – a win-win(!!).
I have been trying to establish a starter. I have been feeding it for 6 days now but it is quite liquidy..is it normal? what can I be doing wrong please? thanks for your time.
Hi Kirsi! Can you tell me a bit more about your starter? How does it smell? Are there any air pockets or bubbles when you pull back the surface?
Hi Traci – Thanks for your hard work and patience in testing this and letting us into your secret! You mentioned that any discard starter can be put into a jar and kept for pancakes and waffles. I have only managed to find the gf sourdough pancake recipe. Do you use the same for waffles?
Hi Elizabeth! Thank you for your note. Indeed, the GF Sourdough Pancakes are on the blog, but I’ve yet to blog about the waffles. It’s definitely on my list. The recipe is different than the pancakes, although I’ve not tried the pancake recipe in a waffle iron. :D Stay tuned!
Hello! So I’ve been working on 2 starters (using Almond Flour and GF AP Flour) for about the last 11 days (I’m losing track of time), and about 6 days in, I started doing twice a day feedings. Both starters are bubbly below the surface and a little on the surface. The smell is right. But they have never doubled yet. They grow about 1/4-1/2 the size but that’s it. There’s never any hooch on top. I’ve got them sitting in the same place in my kitchen, near a window. Do you think I should go ahead and try to make a loaf with one of them? Or just keep going with trying to build the starters? This is my first time making bread but since going GF in Oct, I’ve been desperate for sourdough bread since it’s my fave. I appreciate any advice in advance!!
Hi Darcy! Thank you for your note and giving the recipe a go! Can you clarify for me…. two starters? Does one contain Almond and GF AP, together? If so, what is the other one? I’ve never tried Almond and AP, so I’m unable to speak say what’s going on there. But, what I would do, since you’re seeing some activity, is put it in a turned off oven with the light on and watch it closely for doubling in size. I’d wait until your starter is strong enough to raise the bread (double in size, bubbly) before mixing. Please keep in touch!
Sorry, I should’ve been more clear-I have 2 separate starters I’m trying and they both have the same mix. Just in case one dies or something I guess? lol I’m just nervous I suppose and trying to give myself the best chance of making this work so I won’t give up on it too easy…
Thank you for the suggestion, I will try that! I think it’s so close, it’s just not getting there for some reason.
I have tried making the starter several times but after 5 to 6 days it is close to doubling in size and I think it’s just about ready, so I give it one more day but then it won’t rise again… Even if I try to feed it it won’t rise again, it stays flat. I think there is a layer of hooch on top and it smells sour, but I just can’t get past the 5 to 6 day mark… Any thoughts on what night be going wrong?
Hi Greg… thank you for your note! Since hooch is appearing on top, it sounds like your starter is hungry, which means it’s struggling. Try feeding it twice per day instead of once. Also, for some makers, it takes longer for their starter to develop. This isn’t uncommon. One maker, a month! Instead of starting again after day 5 or 6, keep going! Since your starter smells sour, there’s something good going on! Patience, and double up on feeding …. please keep in touch!
I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but it is amazing bread! It only took a few days for my starter and used white rice and buckwheat flour. At the same time, I tried a starter using buckwheat and 1-1 GF flour. They both worked perfectly. I must say the timing of when they rise, when they fall, etc takes a lot of patience and trial, but bread is worth the wait! For the actual bread, I used the 1-1/ buckwheat starter. For the bread, I skipped the soaker and used 1-1 flour, oats, and half buckwheat & half white rice. Once dough was made, it didn’t quite rise as much as I thought overnight, but baked it anyways. So yummy! My son and husband can’t even tell it’s GF. Pancakes are delicious too! I’m sharing my starter with a neighbor and she’s going to try using glutinous flour, so we’ll see. Thanks for this recipe and great directions. It did take serious patience, but well worth it…got my second bread process starting already!
Hi Christine! Thank you for your note and sharing your tips! So happy to hear you’re enjoying the GF sourdough recipes – that’s amazing your son and hubs couldn’t tell otherwise! Indeed, serious patience, but so glad the wait and effort is worth it :D Hooray!
Hi there. I have been religiously clean with My jars and have swapped the sourdough starter daily when feeding it and it still grew mold! Do you think it’s just too humid in my house perhaps? I live in Virginia and summer here is brutally humid. I can’t think of any other reason for the mold? It was doing so beautiful and I had hit day six!
Hi Rose… thank you for your note. I’m sorry to hear you’re having difficulty with mold. I’m stumped but think that humidity could be playing a role. You could try placing the jar in the fridge and build it every other day, but it will take longer for the starter to develop. I hope this helps! Please keep us posted.
Success! My starter worked great (as mentioned earlier) and I made a loaf. Had a few issues as I couldn’t find all the flours you used so improvised. Batter was runny to added more flour. Took about 16 hours to rise to the right amount but it baked up quite nicely. My quesiton is with feeding my starter. I fed it as suggested right after making my loaf and then popped it in the fridge. It hasn’t risen which I guess is understandable. However, when I go to feed it in a week, what proportions to I mix if it hasn’t doubled in size? Did I do something wrong? Maybe this is a dumb question. Help.
Hi Launa! So happy happy to hear you improvised and it work! Yay! Not a dumb question… To feed your starter next week, you use the same process/proportions, even if it hasn’t doubled in size. Save the discard for pancakes!
Thanks Traci! Pancakes are on the menu for this weekend.
I started a jar using sprouted buckwheat and sweet rice, and a jar using brown rice and sweet rice.
After the first 24 hours, the sb/sr jar doubled and had all the indicators you say to look for when it’s ready to use… is that even possible?? Four days in, I’m still following the recipe as you described but it always looks the same the next morning; doubled, bubbly, sweet-sour smell…should I be looking for something else or more specific??
Hi Natasha! Wow! That’s amazing! I’ve not heard of this before nor do I experience with sprouted buckwheat… so I’m not sure about there being anything in addition to the cues that the starter is ready. Maybe give it a few more days, just to continue building strength in the starter before you use it in a bread recipe. Hows the br/sr jar doing? Sounds like you’re off to a great start!
Hi! Just curious, what do I need to make my loaf after this starter? You don’t have a full GF sourdough recipe. Just wondering how what to mix in with my starter.
I’m also wondering this????
Hi Jami and Carlos! My GF sourdough recipe is here (linked in the blog post) and there are other GF Sourdough bread recipes to explore online through Google. I hope this helps!
I’ve seen a lot of starter guides that promote a 1:1:1 mass ratio (e.g. 100 g starter from previous day + 100 g flour + 100 g warer). Is there generally a need for more water mass with GF flours? You seem to need 50% more water than these other recipes that use wheat-based flours.
Hi Zac! Through my testing I found when working with gluten free flours, higher hydration allows for improved sourdough activity (and better rise). For my glutenous sourdough I use 1:1:1, but with GF it didn’t work for me after much testing. I don’t know of there’s a general need, but this is what works for me consistently. I hope this helps!
Ashley N Reardon
Hi Traci. My starter is going along well — despite the fact that I realized (in reading another comment) that I’m using White Rice Flour and not Sweet White Rice Flour. In any case, I think it’s looking good and I’m on day 4. My question is this — it doesn’t seem to be a ton of starter. I know when I do the leaven it may get to be more, but I have some recipes I want to try that call for more starter. How can I bulk this up if I wanted to?
Hi Ashley! Simply increase your feedings by quarter or double. That’ll bulk it up!
Hi! Super excited to try this – I’m on day 2 now! Can you clarify, on days 3+ do I continue to only keep 2 TBS of the starter or do I keep half? Thanks :)
Hi Jax… you got it. Use 2 Tbs of what you made the day before and toss the rest. Then add your water and flours. I hope this helps!
You’re a genius! LOL But seriously….the thought of sourdough always intimidated me. I LOVE to bake, and have been making gluten free bread for the last 2 years. This worked beautifully with your bread recipe; hands down, most delicious GF bread I’ve ever had. There’s no going back to. my old recipes (and those were pretty tasty too).
Anyway, a little tip for anyone having trouble getting their starter to double. After 8 days of feeding and establishing the starter, it appeared it was ready to use, so I was refreshing and waiting for that double. I was leaving it on the counter in the kitchen. Our kitchen can be pretty frosty, especially at night. I was not getting the rise needed. On a whim, I decided to house the starter in the microwave overnight, and BOOM, just like that, we got our double rise. So, if you know that your starter is ready but are having trouble with the rise, consider placing it in a warmer, more humid spot in your house. You will not regret being patient :).
Side note that the sourdough pancakes are delicious as well, and so happy not to have to throw away the discard. Planning to try your biscuit next.
Hehe! Hi R! Thank you for coming back, leaving a note and sharing your starter tips (I’ll add a note)! SO happy to hear you’re enjoying the bread and those pancakes! Here’s to good bread! :D
Hi! I am new to Gf baking. I started the starter ten days ago now but mistakenly used white rice flour instead of sweet rice flour. My started is smelling sour but isn’t getting puffy at all and is separating with liquid on top. Do I need to just discard this starter and start from scratch with sweet rice flour or can I save it somehow and convert feedings? Thanks so much!!
Hi Katy… Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with white rice flour in making this starter. What day are you on? You should be able to convert feedings just fine! I hope this helps!
Ok, thank you! I will try converting it. I am on day 10 but haven’t had any rise yet which made me think something was up.