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How To Make Your Own Herman Sourdough Starter

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Last Modified: March 31, 2023
Published: March 31, 2023

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Want to make sourdough bread but don't have any sourdough starter? No worries, making your own in a two-quart glass or plastic container is easy.

fat sliced loaf of sour dough bread

Healthy Sourdough Starter Is Easy To Make At Home

Sourdough starter can be made from flour and milk or mashed potatoes left to sit out and attract wild yeast spores that occur naturally in the kitchen. That can be a little tricky.

Here's a simple sweet starter recipe for you. There are only four ingredients. Flour, sugar, yeast, and water. That's it! The starter recipe I'm sharing gets a boost from a "store-bought" yeast packet. You can use either regular or rapid-rise yeast.

I buy yeast in bulk since I bake bread often. If you use bulk yeast, measure two and one-half teaspoons for your starter.

Well, actually, there are five ingredients in the sourdough starter. The fifth one is a pinch of patience. I promise there will be rewards! I suggest you read the instructions more than once, but it's pretty simple!

buttered slice of sourdough bread
The delicious results are so worth it!

Day 1. In a plastic or glass bowl, dissolve one packet of yeast in warm water. Next, stir in flour and sugar using a wooden or plastic spoon. Keep stirring until the batter is free of lumps. NEVER use a metal spoon! Cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel and let it sit in a warm spot overnight.

On day 2, give it a good stir, cover it, and refrigerate. For the next two days, stir it daily and put it back in the refrigerator.

Every Day It's The Same Old Thing Stir Stir Stir

On day five, divide the mixture in half, discard half, or give half to a friend, along with feeding instructions and recipes like my friend Colleen did for me! Feed the remaining starter again with 1 cup of flour, one cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Once again, stir daily for the next four days.

Sourdough is a living thing full of hungry yeast that needs nourishment to stay alive. This method of leavening dates way back to ancient days when bread was one of the main staples in the human diet. A sweet sourdough starter like this is often affectionately called "Herman."

On the tenth day, feed Herman again. Give it the same feeding: 1 cup of flour, one cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Then stir daily for four more days.

On Day 15 The Fun With Sourdough Begins

Day 15 is finally here! The starter is ready to be used in baking! Yay! This is what you've been waiting for! Today, use part of your starter for baking something wonderful. Then, keep at least one cup of starter in the refrigerator and continue the stir and feed cycle. You can throw away or give away any leftover starter.

sourdough dough

From then on, your starter will be ready for baking every ten days! Here's some more good news! A well-tended starter can stay healthy and live for years and years!

Here's what I do instead of discarding the extra starter. I bake a bigger batch of bread or try one new sourdough recipe instead. And let me tell you, I have friends who can't wait until it's baking day!

Remember The Little Red Hen? Like the busy hen, I've found out most folks would rather eat the bread than bake it. They'd rather have a fresh-baked loaf than a cup of starter.

But I love making bread and how my kitchen smells while it bakes. Best of all, I love to see the grin on someone's face when I hand them a loaf of sourdough bread! So it's always a win/win.

Sourdough Bread Is Work But The Results Are Amazingly Rewarding

Like any habit, it takes a little time to establish and make it part of your daily routine. I suggest you keep your sourdough starter in a visible spot in your refrigerator so you see it daily. It takes only minutes a week to keep your Herman happy and well-fed.

Here is a recipe for San Francisco-style sourdough bread. But remember, this sweet starter is not just for bread! You can make biscuits, pancakes, donuts, or cinnamon rolls. On my next baking day, I will make some sandwich buns! I bet they will be amazing!

Happily, the art of bread baking is on the rebound, and for a good reason! Homemade bread has no preservatives, and sourdough is one of the healthiest types of bread you can eat.

The fermentation process creates probiotics that are good for gut health and makes it easier to digest. Research has also indicated that sourdough fermentation may modify carb molecule structure, lowering the bread's glycemic index.

Yield: lots of bread

Sourdough Bread Starter

sourdough starter

A Herman-style sourdough starter that can be made into bread, donuts, muffins, biscuits, pancakes and more!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 15 days
Total Time 15 days 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees, or about the temperature of warm bathwater)
  •  2 cups all purpose flour plus 2 more cups, divided, to feed starter
  •  1 packet dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup plain white sugar plus one more cup, divided, to feed starter.
  •  2 cups milk, divided, to feed starter

Instructions

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar and flour until there are no lumps. Cover lightly with a clean dish towel and leave in a warm place overnight.
  2. Day two, stir well, and refrigerate. NEVER USE A METAL SPOON!
  3. Day three and four stir well again and refrigerate.
  4. Day five, divide the batter in two. Discard or give away half. Feed remaining batter 1 cup milk, one cup flour, 1/2 cup white sugar, stir and refrigerate.
  5. Day six, seven, eight, and nine. Stir well daily and return to the refrigerator.
  6. Day ten, feed batter 1 cup milk, one cup flour, and 1/2 cup sugar.
  7. Day eleven, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen. Stir well daily and return to the refrigerator.
  8. Day fifteen. It's time to bake!

long slim loaves of sourdough bread

What To Do When You Need A Sourdough Vacation

There are many ways to pause the fermentation process and put your sourdough starter on hold. Even the most devoted baker needs a time-out at some point. My research indicates freezing the starter is a good solution. When I need to press pause in my baking schedule, I will divide my starter into one-cup portions and store it in freezer bags.

Then, when I'm ready to bake again, I can remove one or more starter bags from the freezer and return them to their home in the green plastic bowl. Once it's defrosted, I will resume the feed/stir cycle and continue baking delicious sourdough delights every ten days.

I Want To Hear Your Sourdough Starter Story

Are you intrigued to try making sourdough bread? It would be a fun project with children and a great way to spend time together in the kitchen. Have you ever made sourdough bread or used the starter to make other delicious baked goods? I'd love to hear from you!

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22 comments on “How To Make Your Own Herman Sourdough Starter”

    1. 2 cups warm water (110 degrees, or about the temperature of warm bathwater)
      2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 more cups, divided, to feed the starter
      2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 more cups, divided, to feed the starter
      1 packet dry yeast
      1/4 cup plain white sugar plus one more cup, divided, to feed the starter.
      2 cups milk, divided, to feed the starter

      Good golly, Carmella. I don't know what happened there but go back to the post, please. The recipe card is there now! Reach back to me if any questions!! So sorry!

    1. I'm so excited for you to try this! Believe me, I was challenged about the way I should write the instructions. Oh my gosh, now I totally understand why you are confused! I listed flour twice!!! I have amended that! I'm so glad you asked and made me fix my mistake!!!

      Start with 2 cups of flour on the first day you stir up your starter.

      Each time you feed the starter, day 5 and day 10, you add a cup of flour. That's why I list a total of 4 cups in the recipe. (Except I listed it twice!!)

      So thankful to you for catching this and I sure do hope you will give sourdough a try, the results are delicious! Let me know!!!

  1. The Sour dough starter 'back in the day' always sat covered on the counter - no refrigeration, what makes the difference?

    1. I'm not really sure! I am old, but I wasn't making sourdough in the olden day myself! I took a break from baking sourdough and froze my starter a while ago. I think I might take it out and try keeping it on the counter. I suspect the bread would have more of the characteristic tang if I do! I do love sourdough!! I'll post my results if it turns out that it works! Thanks for taking the time to comment! ❤

  2. I’ve made the sour dough starter and it is wonderful and easy! Now I’m back to day one with my starter. What are my ingredients?

  3. How do I bake at the end of the feeding period? Can I get recipes fir biscuits,pancakes and bread loaves? Can't wait to start it.😋
    Thank you

  4. Can you freeze the starter on day 15? I did not know I would have so much left over. I used rapid yeast in my last yeast add in. I hope rapid is ok? I don't remember what kind I started with.

    1. oh I am so sorry, it's been quite a while since I've been working with sourdough- it's on vacation in my freezer! Yes, skim milk or lowfat is fine to feed it!!

  5. I was wondering if you let it sit on your counter instead of the fridge? Also how did it go? Worry about the milk part, will it go moldy? I have a sourdough going and it doesn’t use sugar or milk. Want to try this one also. I’m a glutton for punishment 🤣. Thank you 😊

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