Sourdough Starter


Once you see how easy it can be to make gluten-free bread, you’ll be craving sourdough bread and wishing you had some Sourdough Starter in your refrigerator. Yes, it takes some time and a bit of advanced planning to make sourdough bread but--believe us!--it’s so worth it. And it’s easy.

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup whole milk or lite coconut milk, room temperature
1 cup white rice flour
1 teaspoon sugar

1. In a 1- to 2-quart glass jar (not plastic or metal), dissolve the yeast in the milk by stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the rice flour and sugar and mix to combine well. Cover the jar loosely and allow it to sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Remember that the milk must be at room temperature for it to activate the yeast.

2. The mixture should bubble and appear pockmarked on the surface. It will also likely develop a thin liquid along the top. Stir to incorporate that back into the mixture. Cover the jar again loosely and allow it to sit out on the counter overnight.

3. Repeat the procedure in Step 2 for the next two days, stirring to combine, loosely covering, and then stirring again the next day, all the while leaving the jar of starter out on the counter at room temperature.

4. If you do not plan to use the starter soon, place it, loosely covered, in the refrigerator. You will need to “feed” it before you use it.

How to “Feed” Your Sourdough Starter

When you know that you want to use your sourdough starter, you will need to plan at least 4 hours ahead.

1. Remove the starter from the refrigerator, uncover it, and stir it until smooth with a wooden spoon. Remove one cup of the starter and discard it (or donate it to a friend to create another starter).

2. Add ˝ cup warm water (about 100°F) and 1 cup white rice flour to the starter. Stir to combine. Allow the starter to sit out at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or overnight, loosely covered. The starter should be bubbling and thick. It is now “fed.”

3. Use the amount of starter your recipe calls for. Then replenish the starter by feeding it again with ˝ cup warm water and 1 cup white rice flour, stirring to combine, cover again loosely, and return it to the refrigerator.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn.  Reprinted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2011. To buy this book, click here.

Comments (11)

Must rice flour be used? Could sorghum, millet, GF oat, or quinoa flour be substituted?

Posted by: Lara Pizzorno | June 20, 2016 3:01 PM    Report this comment

when I got to "sour dough" starter I deleted the Rx as It's not worth all that time/energy.
The grocery store has good enough stuff.NOTHING can replace real bread !

Posted by: Jan Lovern | November 3, 2015 6:52 PM    Report this comment

I followedyour recipe and directions to the letter, it wo 't stop rising. I haven't even fed it. What have I done wrong. What must I do to refrigerate it. You don't say anything to do for after the 2 days?

Posted by: | August 25, 2014 9:41 AM    Report this comment

I have tried to make this starter 3 times now and I have failed each time. I have tried using room temperature milk and heating the milk in the microwave. The yeast does not dissolve it just clumps up no matter how long I stir it. I even used a whisk last night. After the flour and sugar are added I just have a clump of very thick dough. It doesn't bubble or rise or do anything. Any suggestions?

Posted by: SmokeyHill1959 | May 6, 2013 11:13 AM    Report this comment

I tried making your Sourdogh Starter and Bread. The starter looked like it didn't have enough liquid. I used to make Gluten Sourdough and my starter was always had little more liquid.

Posted by: Joyce P | April 27, 2012 2:47 PM    Report this comment

where's the bread recipe?

Posted by: Unknown | March 18, 2012 2:35 PM    Report this comment

I was very excited to see both the starter and bread recipe. For years I made sourdough bread, pancakes, waffles and more. I had a wonderful wheat starter and am looking forward to using this in baking. On day one my starter kinda sat without much activity. On day 2 it was still hanging around not doing much. I fed it with about 1/4 cup warm milk and a 2 tablespoons white rice flour and it took off. Today it smells wonderfully sour and I'm looking forward to baking sourdough bread again.

Posted by: PaulaG | October 21, 2011 6:31 AM    Report this comment

I have a potatoe starter in my freezer its made using yeast ,sugar,water and potatoe flakes.
I use to make sourdough bread a couple times a week with this starter, before going gluten free.
Could I use this starter.for this bread?

Posted by: Mary A. M | October 14, 2011 8:17 PM    Report this comment

How long can the starter stay in fridge?

Posted by: Nosheen K | October 14, 2011 1:34 AM    Report this comment

can you use brown rice flour instead of white rice flour? Thanks

Posted by: Unknown | October 13, 2011 6:26 PM    Report this comment

I began making sourdough starter in 1977 and used it nearly every week until I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 4 1/2 years ago. I was devastated that I wasn't going to be able to eat anything sourdough ever again. I tried experimenting with rice flour, yeast and water but the starter always turned out to be a very gritty flat nothing.
I am very surprised that the yeast doesn't require warm coconut milk to begin with. I am so thankful that someone has finally come up with something that works. I have an old Sunset Book that is nothing but sourdough recipes. Perhaps I can use them again. Just this week I was thinking of e-mailing Beth to ask if she was able to get a sourdough starter recipe when she was at the CIA a couple of years ago. She brought back a donut recipe and spoke about tasting sourdough but didn't talk about a starter recipe.
I even have a rye sourdough starter. Both the wheat and rye starters are still sitting in my refrigerator.
I am going to make some of your bread. I can hardly wait to have a starter again.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Posted by: Current Bread | October 13, 2011 5:26 PM    Report this comment

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