Making a sourdough starter

Nuush always encourages people to eat real bread, but what is real bread?

It’s bread made from no more than flour, water, yeast and salt, and in the case of sourdough the yeast is naturally cultured in your kitchen!

Just 20 mins hands-on time gets you the most delicious loaf of bread which contributes to a healthy gut. Gorgeously chewy and holey, with a delicious tang, and far more filling and nutritious than the mass-produced pap that’s widely available. It’s the stuff of life!

But first you need to make a sourdough starter to use in place of dried yeast. It’s just a culture of flour and water that breeds natural yeast and gives the bread its lovely tang!

Prep time:
Cook time:


  • small bag of rye flour
  • regular bag of plain white flour
  • water


Day 1:
Mix about 2 heaped dessert spoons of rye flour and enough lukewarm water to make the consistency of tinned custard – use a large’ish tall-sided cereal bowl or a 1pt pyrex pudding bowl. Either cover with clingfilm/foil and pierce small holes, or use a wax wrap with several small holes poked through it – a little bit of air needs to get in so that airborne yeasts can gather! Leave it somewhere not too cold or too hot, a kitchen table or shelf is fine away from draughts or direct heat.

Think of a name for it 🙂

Day 2:
Add the same amounts again. Stir, cover and leave. At this stage it will look VERY boring and brown, and inactive!

Day 3:
Now add 4 heaped dessert spoons of plain white flour and enough lukewarm water to make the custard consistency again. You’ll start to see some activity in your starter after a few hours, give it a sniff and watch it start to make small bubbles! It should smell very faintly yeasty and very very slightly tangy. Stir, cover and leave for another day.

Day 4:
When you wake up the next day your starter should be a fair bit more active. Add 60g of plain white flour and lukewarm water to make THICK custard consistency – so a bit thicker than before but still able to be stirred. Stir, cover and leave for another day.

Day 5:
You’ll now have a basic starter and it will be fairly active. Now’s the time to give it a little more power for a day or five before you can use it!

Now when you feed it you need to discard some each time (or give it to a friend or keep a spare or two in a jam jar in the fridge – just a few dessert spoons of spare) The reason for throwing some away is that as the yeasts feed on the flour they produce waste in the form of lactic acid. If you didn’t get rid of some your starter would be really acidic and smell vinegary and you wouldn’t get a good bake, so:

From now on feed it it every 12hrs like this
Discard a third to a half and then add 70-80g of plain white flour and enough lukewarm water to make a thick paste. Leave for 12hrs and feed again. Do that until you have a lovely lively starter. At this stage you can use it to bake or you can ‘arrest’ it in the fridge in a lidded jar til you need to use it.

If keeping a starter in the fridge you need to get it out a couple of days before baking, throw a bit then feed it every 12hrs til it puffs up nicely again. If keeping it in there indefinitely just get it out and feed it once a week, leave on worktop 12hrs and return to fridge. If there’s a layer of brown liquid on top just stir it in. It’s called HOOCH.

Note: You may wish to swap containers along the way as it can all get very messy! I usually transfer to a clean bowl every other day. Glass is probably best for storage as nothing leaches out of glass into the food that’s inside it, unlike plastic.

Note 2: If your starter needs a bit of oomph, when you feed it add a touch of rye flour as there are more enzymes for the yeasts to eat but you don’t want a full-rye starter unless making a full-rye loaf.

Note 3: Don’t let your starter get to hot or too cold. A room temp of about 21-22C is good, away from direct hear or draught. If the room is cold use slightly warmer water at each feed, but not hot.

When you have your sourdough starter up and running you can move on to actually baking a loaf ♥

Nutrition Info

Sourdough bread

Sourdough bread is slow-fermented and kinder to your gut. It’s done alot of its partying before it gets into your stomach, so things stay much calmer. Its lack of artificial additives is good for taste and good for you!

Find your new natural

Nuush members on our healthy eating plans enjoy free online sourdough-making workshops.

Become a member today.

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter the greatest of feasts.

James Beard

Portion Guidelines

Instead of living with the bore of weighing food, counting points or calories and tapping everything you eat into a phone you can use nature’s custom-designed tool – your hands!

Share this recipe