Learn how to make sourdough starter with gluten free flour. Includes tips for an easy to follow gluten free sourdough starter recipe and process.
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How to Make Sourdough Starter Gluten Free
I’ve always been intrigued by sourdough but never had the courage to start my own. Since there’s been a yeast shortage, I figured now’s as good a time as ever to dive right in.
And boy, did I dive in with this gluten free sourdough starter recipe.
The world of sourdough is a vast one. There’s so much to learn and once you start, it’s like falling into a rabbit hole. Hence, the reason why I named my very first starter Alice.
That’s right, I said first because once I started with one, I had to start others. Different flours yield different flavors and they all behave a little bit differently. See why I said it’s like falling into a rabbit hole?
You can spend hours and hours researching and reading but the best thing to do is just start making sourdough starter.
Did you make this recipe? Leave a star rating and let me know in the comments! You can also leave a photo/comment on this pin for others to see.
You’ll soon realize, once you start researching gluten-free sourdough bread recipes, that there are so, so many variations made with multiple different flours, starches, and binders.
Gums like xanthan gum or guar gum, psyllium husk powder, whole psyllium husk, etc. My head was literally spinning trying to figure it all out.
I needed to make this as easy as possible not only for you but for my own sanity.
So today, I’m sharing my recipe for a gluten-free sourdough starter made with one kind of gluten-free flour. You can choose which flour blend works best for you and I’ll go over the different flours you can use below and what flours I use in my own starters (I have multiple).
But first, we’ll go over all the basics and frequently asked questions.
What is Sourdough Starter?
A sourdough starter is what you use to make sourdough bread. It’s a mixture of water and flour that ferments and is fed regularly to cultivate wild yeast and bacteria. It’s used to leaven bread and is the natural leavening alternative to commercial yeast.
Is Sourdough Gluten Free?
As long as the starter (and bread) is made with gluten free flours, then the sourdough bread is gluten free.
I go over the flours to try and flours to avoid towards the end of this post.
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Key Ingredients for a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
- Gluten-Free Flour – I currently have 4 starters and all of them are made with different flour.
- My first one is made with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour and it’s a great starter for me. It’s thicker than my other starters and has a consistency similar to Ricotta Cheese.
- I also have starters made with Sorghum Flour, Brown Rice Flour, and my Nightshade Free Gluten-Free Flour Blend. The starter pictured in this post is made with brown rice flour.
- Your starter’s consistency and smell will depend on the flour it’s made with and your environment. Each starter will be unique.
- Keep reading below for more gluten-free flours to try.
- Water – filtered water is best
- Tap water that contains chlorine will not work with the starter – the chemicals will kill the wild yeast and good bacteria. If you only have access to tap water, you can boil it and then cool it to room temperature before using it.
That’s it, just two ingredients!
Equipment Needed to Make Sourdough Starter
- Glass Jars – I use mason jars and these Weck Jars. They’re the perfect size, there’s plenty of room for the starter to breath, remove the rubber gasket to cover without it being airtight, and the opening is wide enough for adding ingredients and stirring right in the jar.
- Digital Kitchen Scale – you’ll measure both the flour and water by weight when making your starter and feeding it. Using a digital kitchen scale is the most accurate way to do this.
- Silicone Spatula – I use a Mini Supoon to stir my starter together. I use the same spatula to scrape down the sides of the jar when I’m feeding my starter. It scrapes the sides so clean, it’s amazing. I find that being able to scrape down the sides of your jar helps eliminate any risk of mold.
How to Make Sourdough Starter
Step 1. Add 25 grams gluten-free flour and 25 grams of filtered water to a glass jar. Mix well to combine.
Step 2. Follow the daily feeding schedule below. You can also download my free printable sourdough schedule here.
Schedule for Feeding Sourdough Starter
Day 1 – Add 25 grams flour and 25 grams water to your glass jar. Mix well and scrape down the sides the best you can.
Day 2 – No discard. Add 25 grams flour and 25 grams water
Day 3 – 6 Stir the starter and discard all but 25 grams of the starter. Add 25 grams flour and 25 grams water. Mix well and scrape down the sides the best you can.
Day 7 – 10 Stir the starter and discard all but 25 grams of the starter. Add 50 grams flour and 50 grams water. Mix well and scrape down the sides the best you can.
Day 11 – 14 Stir the starter and discard all but 25 grams. Add 75 grams flour and 75 grams water. Mix well and scrape down the sides the best you can.
After day 14, you can continue to maintain this feeding schedule if you plan on baking with it soon or you can now store and maintain your starter in the refrigerator.
I covered the whole process in a Facebook Live video series in my Gluten Free Baking Club group. All videos and posts are listed in the group files as Sourdough Starter. I highly suggest watching the videos and reading the posts because I answer lots of questions and it’s a great visual tool to learn from.
Tips for Making a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
- Don’t use a metal spoon to stir your starter. I use a Mini Supoon (mentioned above in the equipment section) but you could also use a wooden skewer or small wooden spoon.
- Don’t seal your container airtight. You want air to be able to flow into your jar and you want the gases created by your bubbling starter to be able to escape. With my Weck jar, I don’t use the rubber sealing ring, I just place the glass lid on top and there’s enough gap for the lid to move slightly.
- You can also cover the jar with a coffee filter or paper towel and use a rubber band to hold it in place.
- Scrape down the sides of your jar the best you can. The cleaner the sides of the jar, the better. Doing this will reduce the chance that mold or mildew will start to grow.
- You can change flours without having to start over from day 1. If you have to switch flours, just discard as you would at a normal feeding and keep 25 grams of your starter. Then feed it with water and the new flour you’re switching to.
- Add more flour or water as needed. I like to stick to a 100% hydration starter, meaning it’s made with equal parts flour and water. However, some flours require more or less water for good consistency. If you have to add more water or more flour, always measure it by weight to see how much extra you need to add and take note of it. That way, you’ll know what % hydration your starter is and that will come in handy when you start baking with it.
- The older the starter, the better your bakes will be. Ideally, your starter should be at least 14 days old before baking a loaf of sourdough bread with it, and even longer, the better.
- An older starter will have better flavor and have a stronger rise. I noticed a change in the quality of my loaves of bread (for the better) when my starter was over a month old.
- Don’t let this information intimidate you. It’s a lot to take in, it’s a lot to read, and it’s a lot to process. I get it. But don’t let it stop you from trying. The best thing to do is just start and then figure it out as you go along.
- Pick your flour, start the feeding schedule, and then learn and read as you go.
- Slow and steady steps are all it takes. You have two weeks of developing your wild yeast cultures before trying your hand at baking bread anyways.
- Watch my Facebook Live video series in the Gluten Free Baking Club group. All videos and make-along posts are listed in the group files as Sourdough Starter. I highly suggest watching the videos and reading the posts because I answer lots of questions and it’s a great visual tool to learn from.
- You can follow the series and comment with photos of your own starter for guidance in the group. It’s designed to let anyone join the process at any time!
Other Flours To Try in your Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
- Sorghum Flour – I have a sorghum flour starter, Sulley, and it’s a great whole-grain option.
- Brown Rice Flour – one of the most popular flours for gluten-free sourdough starters.
- Buckwheat Flour
- Teff Flour
- Quinoa Flour
- Oat Flour – Use certified gluten free oats or Purity Protocol Oats if you have Celiac Disease and you can learn how to make your own oat flour here.
- Millet Flour
Flours to Avoid Using
- White Rice Flour – it’s ok if it’s in a blend you’re using but I wouldn’t recommend using it as the only flour for your starter.
- Starches – again, starches are ok if you’re using a flour blend but don’t use starch as your only flour for your starter.
- Nut Flours
- Fruit Flours – like banana flour
- Wheat Flour – any wheat-based will mean your starter isn’t gluten-free.
- Rye Flour – Rye is a popular choice for sourdough starters but it’s not gluten-free.
Your Sourdough Starter FAQ’s Answered
- Can sourdough starter go bad? Yes, it can, unfortunately. If your sourdough starter develops mold or mildew, you’ll have to throw it out and start over.
- What is the liquid on top? The liquid that separates and goes to the top of your starter is called “hooch”. You can stir it back in or pour it off. Keeping it will give your starter a more pronounced sour flavor. Hooch is a sign that your starter is hungry.
- How long does it take for a sourdough starter to mature? It really depends on your environment and the flour you’re feeding it. A warmer environment will help a starter mature faster but it’s ok if your house is on the cool side (lower than 70 degrees) and your starter takes up to two weeks to mature.
- My brown rice flour starter was ready to bake with around 7 days, my Nightshade-Free Flour starter wasn’t ready until day 18, and my Bob’s Red Mill Starter was ready in about 11-12 days.
- How do you know when the sourdough starter is ready? When a sourdough starter is ready to bake with, it will have lots of bubbles and air pockets, it will double in size after feeding it, and after feeding it will follow a relatively predictable schedule of rising and doming (peaking) before falling. The pattern of doubling, doming, and falling will happen in a short amount of time; ideally within 8 hours of feeding.
- What is a ripe sourdough starter? A ripe starter is when it’s at its peak, the height of the bacteria and yeast growth. You can visibly see this because the starter will dome a the top (as mentioned above).
- What is considered an active starter? An active starter is growing and bubbling (producing carbon dioxide) after being fed. It’s at the stage where it’s expanding but hasn’t doubled in size yet and hasn’t reached its peak and isn’t quite ripe.
- Do I have to discard? It feels like a waste. Yes, you should discard because it leads to less waste in the long run. If you don’t discard, you’ll have to feed your starter double each day. After a couple days, the amount of flour and water you’d have to add would increase considerably.
+ More About Sourdough Starters
Coming up next in the sourdough series, you’ll learn:
- How to Maintain your Sourdough Starter once it’s Mature
- recipes using sourdough starter discard
- how to make gluten free sourdough bread
Be sure to follow me on Instagram and hashtag #whattheforkfoodblog or tag @whattheforkfoodblog – I love seeing what you make!
If you love this gluten-free sourdough starter recipe, be sure to follow me on social media so you never miss a post:
How to Make a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
- 25 grams gluten-free flour
- 25 grams bottled or filtered water
- Day 1 - Add 25 grams flour and 25 grams water to your glass jar. Mix well and scrape down the sides the best you can.Day 2 - No discard. Add 25 grams flour and 25 grams waterDay 3-6 Stir the starter and discard all but 25 grams of the starter. Add 25 grams flour and 25 grams water. Mix well and scrape down the sides the best you can.Day 7 - 10 Stir the starter and discard all but 25 grams of the starter. Add 50 grams flour and 50 grams water. Mix well and scrape down the sides the best you can.Day 11 - 14 Stir the starter and discard all but 25 grams. Add 75 grams flour and 75 grams water. Mix well and scrape down the sides the best you can.
- After day 14, you can continue to maintain this feeding schedule if you plan on baking with it soon or you can now store and maintain your starter in the refrigerator.
- I have four starters and each is made with different flour. The flours I've used are Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour, Sorghum Flour, my Nightshade-Free Gluten-Free Flour Blend, and Brown Rice Flour. See the post for more flour recommendations and flours to avoid using.
- For best results, use bottled or filtered water. Tap water that has been chemically treated will prohibit the growth of (good) bacteria and wild yeast.
- Be sure to scrape the sides of your jar as cleanly as possible to prohibit the growth of mold or mildew.
- Keep your jar loosely covered. I use a Weck Jar with the rubber gasket removed. You can also cover your jar with a paper towel or cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. You don't want your jar to be airtight.
- Don't save the discard (for discard recipes) until your starter is at least 5-7 days old. It should be bubbling and almost doubling after each feeding.
- Discard from immature starters should be disposed of in the trash or composted. Do not pour it down the drain.
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Nutrition Facts are estimated and aren't always accurate. Please consult a doctor or nutritionist if you have special dietary needs.
Did you make this sourdough starter? Leave a star rating and let me know in the comments! You can also leave a photo/comment on a pin for others to see.