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  • Michelle

Sourdough mother - step by step.

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

I have been posting a lot of beautiful things on my instagram made with a grain free sourdough mother (irrepressible enthusiast that she is) and have had a lot of interest in how she was started, so I offered to step through a day by day “in the making” sort of thing.

I am not going to promise you a fizzy new companion to make rude noises on your bench like I have, but I will show you how it is done and give any pointers and do as much trouble shooting as I can for you.

To begin with, I wish to acknowledge Australian baker Dan Lepard and his book The Handmade Loaf, which is where I first discovered how to make a live sourdough mother, and this is the recipe I adapted to make my present grain free version.

Let’s have a look first at some of the things I have been making with her for those of you who do not have an instagram account.

Beautiful grain free breads and crumpets.

Absolutely scrumptious crackers.

And yes, different types of grain free sourdough breads.

And here she is, this picture was taken a few hours after her breakfast, she trebled in size, quite often she will pop off her lid and ooze all over my bench.

Just a little bit of a sideways insert here, this recipe I will be making is grain free, and I mill my own pseudo grains, I have also made this exact same recipe with a wheaten flour and a rye flour, or you can start it off with a grain free flour like me and convert it later on, it is up to you what you use here.

A quick word about cleanliness, we are trying to capture and harness wild yeasts, if your jar is full of pathogens or antimicrobial disinfectants, your yeasts will not thrive or will simply die. So let’s start there.




Jars. I use a small jar to start with and then progress on day 4 to one of two large jars (one litre). You will also need lids that fit these jars.

If you are very pedantic about having these sterilised, you can go into my blog and look up the post on preserves - getting ready, that will step you through a full sterilisation of jars for preserves. For me, for this, I wash my jars and lids in hot soapy water and then scald them. That is, I pour in a bit of boiling water, swirl it around, careful, glass jars get very hot and can break, so use hand protection, then pour the boiling water out and let the jar sit until it cools down. If you put yeast in a jar that hot it will die, be it a wild yeast or a commercial list.

So, scald, boil, or wash and then pop into a 100 degree C oven to sterilise your jars, let them cool, run some boiling water over your lids, and we are good to go.

I also (because I am pedantic about cleanliness) run boiling water over my spoon each time before I use it, again, this is about not introducing undesirables to our baby mix.

Still with me? Okay, let’s look at our ingredients.

Into your small sterilised and then cooled jar, place,

50g (or ml) warm water, you want it just a little cooler than you are.

10g quinoa flour or buckwheat flour (I tend to start with quinoa flour, it is easier for the yeasts to digest)

12g natural yogurt (look, honestly, all we are looking for here is a live yogurt, for the mad mother on the bench all I had was a passion fruit coconut (dairy free) yogurt, that was fine, for this one I have used a vanilla coconut (dairy free) yogurt. We are just using the live yogurt cultures to give us a bit of a head start).

Give that a good stir with your sterilised and cooled spoon, pop the lid on, put it in the corner of your bench, we will come back tomorrow and do some more.

This is what she looks like, see now why I start with a small jar? This is a 150ml jar, in a one litre jar, which is what she will need eventually, she would barely cover the bottom.

This is the yogurt I used, I have no affiliations, just want to show you that you don’t need to buy something special, this is just the yogurt I like to have on my breakfast.

Now, before I let you go, I want to talk about temperature. Our water temperature as we go forward in this experiment, Dan Lepard specifies that the water should be at 20 degrees C, for me, I just make sure it is a little colder than I am, that has worked fine for me, if you want to be more specific, 20 degrees is a good target.

As to temperature in your room where it will be held, I have heard of these being kept in yogurt makers, in ovens on a low heat, all sorts of things. Mine lives on my bench in my kitchen, if I can manage the temperature in my house, so too should this mother be able to, we do not want a starter that is so fragile that it must be kept between 24 and 25 degrees. If you are not shivering in your house and wearing three jumpers, that sounds fine to me.

Another thing I want to have a quick word about is water. I have tank water, harvested from the roof of my house, which is probably why my Mothers are such joyful things, if you are on town water and your water is chlorinated or treated at all it will have things in it that kills microorganisms - like yeasts! So, at these early stages at least, I would use a filtered or a bottled spring water, let’s not put too many hurdles in front of those baby yeasts!

Thank you for your company. I hope to see you tomorrow.


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