How to make sourdough starter
Food,  Kitchen

How to Make Sourdough Starter Without Yeast

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Here’s your guide to all about bread sourdough starter using grapes to make homemade bread WITHOUT yeast!

In this step-by-step guide you will learn the basics to making sourdough starter. Making yeast breads with little-to-no yeast, but big flavors, is a great example of what sustainable living is all about.

I love bread! I really do. It’s soft and fluffy. I must say if I could pick my last meal on earth, it would be homemade bread hot out of the oven. Bonus of it has homemade strawberry jam. 

Bread just warms the soul.

Homemade bread is happiness. 

When I started making my own bread I found the world of sourdough. Not the store bought sourdough kind, it’s too tangy for my liking, but homemade is a different story. 

Now, having said all that, have you tried making sourdough? And making your own sourdough starter at that?

Let me tell you what! You can make sourdough starter without yeast. That’s right. No yeast! 

I know when you are thinking about baking odds are reducing doesn’t come to mind. But here me out. When you make your own bread you are A) reducing the plastic bread bag, B) reducing dependancy on retail grocery stores and C) when using this no yeast bread recipe you are reducing waste by using those grapes you were planning on throwing out!

Sounds like small changes that don’t matter?

Not quite. You see produce is one of the most expensive departments in the grocery store and one of the biggest areas for waste. Produce has such a quick expiration date it’s hard to throw out those $3.00 a pound grapes!

If you want to know more about Why Grocery Stores Throw Out So Much Produce Business Insider has a great article!

More than a recipe for sourdough starter

Most recipes recommend starting with flour, water and yeast for a quick version to use within a day. Because this option introduces yeast in a more concentrated way, the starter is able to begin the fermentation process that must faster.

In comparison, natural elements like grapes or apples that are commonly used for fermentation when making wine or apple cider vinegar, can also be used when baking.

  1. What is sourdough starter
  2. Uses for sourdough starter
  3. How to make sourdough starter
  4. No yeast recipe for sourdough
  5. Feeding/how to feed sourdough starter
  6. Look and smell like

What is the crazy bread makers dream all about?

During my culinary training, I learned you can use grapes to introduce a healthy fermentation enymce into flour and water to make the FLUFFIEST breat. This was the golden secret to breadmaking.

Grapes have a natural enzymes that introduces the presence of yeast to aid in the fermentation process that forms sourdough starter. 

This reaction causes bubbles to form, and rise, which in turn makes bread light and fluffy.

You don’t have to just use grapes to introduce the enzymes for fermentation. You can actually use grapes, apple peels or orange rinds.

The recipe we used in school was simple. One part grapes, one part water, and one part flour. 

So for example one cup of grapes, one cup of water and one cup of flour. 

Now to kickstart the process there is some prep before you can actually use the starter mixture. 

Starter is not limited to just homemade bread (even in all it’s glory) there are some other recipes!


Let me start by saying this is not a food blog. I do however, want to list a few *ideas* other than artisan breads to use your starter.

  1. Pancakes
  2. Biscuits – think buttermilk biscuits
  3. Pretzels
  4. Flatbread
  5. Quick bread + scones

Just to name a few! Pinterest has a lot of recipes to get inspired but the ones I want to try can be found on this wonderful article “Creative Sourdough Discard Recipes” from the blog FoodPrint.

Making sourdough starter is easier than you think

First you will measure the equal portions of grapes, peel and all. Water and flour. I recommend mixing the water and flour first to get lumps out since this is particularly hard when the grapes are present. 

Bubbles should start to form within a few hours to confirm the fermentation process has started.

As time passes, the mixture will increase in volume because of the rising agents, (aka) yeast forming the bubbles that cause fluffy homemade bread to be so good!

Next, place the concoction on your countertop or someone room temperature. When choosing the container make sure it is twice the size as your mixture. As the grapes introduce the yeast into the flour it will cause a byproduct of carbon dioxide and ethynyl.

So make sure any lids are kept loose to avoid exploiting lids. I recommend covering a bowl or pitcher with plastic wrap or wax wraps. 

After 1 day add 1:1 of water flour. Mix and leave out another day. 

Then on day 2 remove grapes. Add starter to fridge and voila! You have made sourdough starter from grapes!!! 

How do you feed sourdough starter? 

Glad you asked. Whenever you take out a portion, you simply replace that amount back. To do this you will add equal portions of water and flour. 

If you use 2 cups of starter replace with 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of flour that is mixed up. The starter will feed and is ready to use again in a few days. 

Fixing starter that stinks and makes you wanna throw it out!!

Do you have sourdough started that looks like this? Before you through it out keep reading to find how to feed your sourdough starter!

It’s very important you stir your starter !!

Wondering why your sourdough starter smells bad?

Seriously, you CAN NOT skip the stirring. IF you leave it in the back of the fridge until you get the wild urge to bake…it can lead to brown, muddy looking water floating on the top (ask me how I know).

This will keep the mixture from smelling bad and starting to mold. Some people complain their starter smells like alcohol or vinegar and that’s because the starter was not stirred. 

Avoid having to throw out your aged starter and aim for stirring it every few days. I am exceptionally bad at forgetting to do this. Don’t be like me.

Having more water than flour will also cause your starter to go sour…but in a bad way. Make sure you are using EQUAL (meaning the same amount) of flour and water, whatever your measuring system. Cups to cups, ounces to ounces that makes the same amounts.

Homemade bread with sourdough starter

Feeding sourdough is as simple as replenishing resources 50/50

Keeping your starter fed is critical because you don’t want to start the countertop process over again every time you want bread. I recommend making twice as much starter in the beginning to make sure a good amount of left to keep going. 

Tips: never take more than half of the starter at a time, if you have 4 cups, only use up to 2 cups. This will allow new incorporations of water and flour to be adequately fermented in a reasonable time.

The process of making a starter is pretty science-y so if you want to know more on the enzymes and how they produce carbon dioxide bubbles that make the bread rise.

Sourdough can be kept for YEARS…if done properly

A little back story, I went to a few semesters of culinary school and got to do baking 101. We learned tons and the chef had a sourdough starter that was 70 years old. Yes 70!! Like 7-0. Seventy. We called her mother. Why do you care? When you feed sourdough starter regularly, (meaning adding back the amount you take out) you can keep a constant supply of sourdough base. 

Want a secret weapon for the fluffiest, but crispy outside bread? How about learning how to make your friends ask for the recipe? Homemade sourdough bread is a simple way to elevate any meals or occasion.

Making sourdough can be tricky, I want to share some of the behind the scenes so you understand just what is going on with this kitchen science experiment.

If you have watched any type of food network show (and possibly turned into a couch critic like me), you should know cooking and baking is more than throwing random ingredients together to be successful. Instead it’s knowing the function of each ingredients, meaning what the purposed served is. Meaning what rolls it plays. (Get it rolls?…cause it’s bread)

Tips for making sourdough starter without yeast recap:

  1. Use a container 2 times bigger to allow air bubbles. 
  2. Do seal the lid, instead cover with a wax wrap or fabric bowl covers 
  3. Mix starter every few days 
  4. Feed starter every time you use any
  5. Use equal portions of flour to water for feeding 
  6. Make sure grapes are not moldy or yucky when using in phase 1 prep 
  7. Keep starter refrigerated to keep
  8. Don’t throw mother out!
  9. Day 1 is 1:1:1 ratio of grapes, water and flour
  10. Day 2 is 1:1 addition of flour or water- remove grapes
  11. Day 3 is add starter to fridge with a loose lid
  12. Never add more than flour/water that takes the mixture past twice its volume. There will not be enough yeast to accommodate the addition.
  13. Since yeast likes a wet environment you can add more flour to help the starter go “dormant” if you are going on vacation. Once you return simply add water to “wake it up”.

And Viola! You have made your first batch of sourdough starter! EEK!!!

Using sourdough starter is a great yeast replacement that makes your breads more flavorful, and fluffy.

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