Dear Test Kitchen

See How to Make a Sourdough Starter

We invited the ultimate expert to the test kitchen.

February 21, 2019

How do I start a sourdough? Then how do I not kill it? Do I need to use a certain kind of flour? Should I keep it at room temperature or in the fridge? Should I name it? And what if I have to go out of town? These were just a few of the questions that our team threw at Sarah Owens, who guest stars on this week’s Dear Test Kitchen. Sarah is a baker and author who won a James Beard Foundation Award for her cookbook Sourdough in 2015. Which is to say: She has all the answers and then some.

Watch the video above for how to, ahem, start your own starter—then tune in next week for how to put it to good use. P.S. If you don’t have a friend who has some starter to spare, swing by a nearby bakery and ask, pretty-pretty please, if you can snag some of theirs.

Sweet on Sourdough

Do you keep a sourdough starter? Does it have a name? Tell us in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Thomas Flinn
    Thomas Flinn
  • Wen
  • Dave Wygonowski
    Dave Wygonowski
  • Sue Skiparis
    Sue Skiparis
  • Niknud
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.


Thomas F. April 6, 2019
Hi how about giving a recipe to make the starter without someone giving you starter.
Author Comment
Emma L. April 9, 2019
Hi Thomas! Here's another starter recipe from Sarah (that starts with flour and water):
Wen February 22, 2019
I have a wild caught starter that I made with Pinot noir wine and gf flour. Her name is Babs and she is really stable on the kitchen counter, fed about every other day.
Pia M. February 24, 2019
Any recipes for gf bread?
Schenbeck July 23, 2019
Please share the starter recipe.
Dave W. February 21, 2019
The title of this is "See How to Make a Sourdough Starter". Key work is make, which to me is from the beginning. I did not think that sharing a starter is actually making one.

Mike March 20, 2019
OK, I thought I was missing something. This should have been called "Hear how to name a sourdough starter."
Sue S. February 21, 2019
I had a starter that I started with a dried starter that I bought on vacation in San Francisco. During a move it got dropped and I had to beg a friend to buy the powder for me again while she was on vacation in CA. I have had that starter for 18 years now. It has gotten better and better with age.
Niknud February 21, 2019
I have a starter - which I love. I had tried in the past to start my own (and succeeded) but the flavor was never what I wanted it to be. Then, after visiting an amazing bakery out of town and tasting the best sourdough I've ever had, I begged a bit of starter from the owner who graciously obliged the slightly crazed lady holding up his line.