Skip to Content

How To: Revive Sourdough Starter

Reviving sourdough starter doesn't have to be scary! Don't throw out that old sourdough starter just yet! Revive it with our simple step-by-step guide so you can get back to baking delicious breads and treats in no time at all.

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar...

You're cleaning the fridge mid-September and you come across the sourdough starter you haven't seen since May when the sunshine was calling and the shorts came out.

"Oh my god. FRED!"

Don't worry, you can revive a sourdough starter that's been long neglected in the fridge! Even if you neglected it as long as I did...

May 12, 2021 and September 15, 2021:

  • 126 days
  • ... or 18 weeks
  • ... or 4 months & 3 days

This guide to reviving sourdough starter is dedicated to shorts season.

Neglected sourdough in a container with a layer of black hooch, dated May 12 2021.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Jump to:

Tips + Tricks

No. 1 --> Almost any sourdough starter can be revived! Don't panic, your fermenty baby is gonna be ok, and you'll be back to sourdough bread baking in no time!

No. 2 --> Take a critical look at your neglected starter, the section below details what to look for. If you have any questions about its status as a possibly healthy starter, scrap it and start fresh!

No. 3 --> Always try to feed your starter with the flour it was raised on. For example, if you've always fed it bread flour, keep feeding it bread flour. The same goes for whole wheat, whole grain, all purpose, rye flour, or gluten-free.

Bubbly sourdough starter in a plastic container.

Moldy Sourdough Starter

While almost any starter can be revived, I don't play with mold. Fermenting foods takes a little bit of intuition and a little bit of ruthlessness. If something looks, smells, feels, or just could be bad - it finds the garbage quickly.

Look: If your old starter has any kind of mold, toss that bad boy, start fresh with my 24-hour starter recipe, and you'll be just fine! After the mold, look at the hooch - if it has grey or black-ish looking hooch, we're in business! If the starter or hooch is pink-tinged, it's gotta go!

Smell: If the starter smells tangy, like vinegar, alcohol or even nail polish remover, it's safe to use. If it has a musty or moldy smell, toss and start over!

Feel: After a long fridge nap, your starter should be thin and liquid. If it's thick or chunky, toss it and start over!

Bubbly ripe starter.

Reviving Sourdough Starter

  1. Remove the unfed sourdough starter from the fridge and allow it to rest at room temperature for 3-4 hours.
  2. Look closely at the starter, discard immediately if your starter has mold, a pink tinge, or smells musty. These are signs that bacteria have overtaken the yeasts.
  3. If the starter passes the test, stir in the hooch, or pour it off. I prefer to stir it back in to keep my hydration levels correct, but it can be poured off too.
  4. In a clean jar or container, mix 50g of the unfed starter with 50g warm water, stir until combined, then add in 50g flour.
  5. Set aside the fed starter for 12 hours, then feed it again. In a clean jar, combine 50g starter, 50g water and 50g flour. Mark the side of your jar with the height of the starter.
  6. Watch the starter for signs of activity. It may be a little bit sluggish, but you should start to see a few bubbles here and there.
  7. If the starter is close to doubling within 12 hours, wait 24 hours before feeding again. If the starter is not close to doubling by 12 hours later, feed it again - and repeat until the starter doubles within 12 hours, then reduce to a 24 hour feeding period.
  8. Once the starter is revived and doubling regularly, it should be maintained on the counter and fed every 24 hours for 4-5 days. This will help get your starter healthy again before it's placed back in the fridge.
  9. Ensure to feed your starter weekly or bi-weekly once it's in the fridge to keep it healthy and active and ready for sourdough baking!

Sourdough Starter Feeding + Maintenance

There's a lot to sourdough, but there's also not a lot to sourdough! One of the things you'll have to decide is how often you'll be baking. For me, in the fall and winter months, I bake much much more frequently. So I actually use different sourdough feeding and maintenance methods depending on the time of year.

Daily to Bi-weekly Baker

  • you'll want to keep your starter at room temperature and feed it daily. This will keep it warm and active whenever you're ready for it!
  • feed it around every 24 hours. You can play with the feeding schedule a bit, once you get to know your starter and how hungry it is. The starter should be fed after the culture doubles in size and deflates.

Weekly or Less Frequent

  • keep your sourdough in the fridge! This slows down the fermentation time considerably and allows you to feed your sourdough only once a week.
  • simply remove it from the fridge, then stir and feed, and rest for 12-24 hours before starting with your recipe.
6 sourdough brownies lined up in rows with one missing a bite.
Check out these delicious sourdough brownies!

More Awesome Sourdough Recipes To Inspire You!

Long-Term Sourdough Storage

If I had been smart, I would have used the remainder of my sourdough from the fridge and revived a backup I saved much earlier last year. But I'm always up for a challenge, so I decided to revive my starter. If that's not for you, check read my post about long-term sourdough starter storage.

Freeze it:

  • Freezing a sourdough starter is a quick and easy way to take a break from your starter.
  • It's quick and easy to do.
  • Requires no feeding until thawed.

To revive the frozen starter simply allow it to thaw at room temperature before feeding it with equal parts of starter, flour, and water.

Dry it:

  • A bit more involved than freezing, but kinder to the yeast in the starter.
  • Requires no special tools.
  • May take a bit longer to revive than a frozen starter.

To revive the dried sourdough starter, mix equal parts, by weight, of the dried starter and warm water. Allow it to completely re-hydrate the starter and then feed it with equal parts of starter, flour, and water.

LOVE THIS RECIPE?

Use the stars in the recipe card below to rate it ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

📖 Printable Recipe

Bubbly sourdough starter in a plastic container.
Yield: 1

How To: Revive Sourdough Starter

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Do you have a sourdough starter that you've been meaning to use, but it's just sitting in the back of your fridge for months? All you need to do is follow our simple instructions and before long, your forgotten sourdough starter will be revived and ready for baking delicious bread and treats in 3 days or less!

Ingredients

  • 50g unfed sourdough starter
  • 500g flour
  • 500g water

Instructions

  1. Remove the unfed sourdough starter from the fridge and allow it to rest at room temperature for 3-4 hours.
  2. Look closely at the starter, discard immediately if your starter has mold, a pink tinge, or smells musty. These are signs that bacteria have overtaken the yeasts.
  3. If the starter passes the test, stir in the hooch, or pour it off. I prefer to stir it back in to keep my hydration levels correct, but it can be poured off too.
  4. In a clean jar or container, mix 50g of the unfed starter with 50g warm water, stir until combined, then add in 50g flour.
  5. Set aside the fed starter for 12 hours, then feed it again. In a clean jar, combine 50g starter, 50g water and 50g flour. Mark the side of your jar with the height of the starter.
  6. Watch the starter for signs of activity. It may be a little bit sluggish, but you should start to see a few bubbles here and there.
  7. If the starter is close to doubling within 12 hours, wait 24 hours before feeding again. If the starter is not close to doubling within 12 hours, feed it again 12 hours after the initial feed- and repeat until the starter doubles within 12 hours, then reduce to a 24 hour feeding period. When the starter has reached the 24 hour feeding cycle, it is ready to bake with.
  8. Once the starter is revived and doubling regularly, it should be maintained on the counter and fed every 24 hours for 4-5 days. This will help get your starter healthy again before it's placed back in the fridge.
  9. Ensure to feed your starter weekly or bi-weekly once it's in the fridge to keep it healthy and active.

Notes

moldy sourdough starter

While almost any starter can be revived, I don't play with mold. Fermenting foods takes a little bit of intuition and a little bit of ruthlessness. If something looks, smells, feels, or just could be bad - it finds the garbage quickly.

Look: If your starter has any kind of mold, toss that bad boy, start fresh with my 24-HOUR STARTER RECIPE, and you'll be just fine! After the mold, look at the hooch - if it has grey or black-ish looking hooch, we're in business! If the starter or hooch is pink-tinged, it's gotta go!

Smell: If the starter smells tangy, like vinegar, alcohol or even nail polish remover, it's safe to use. If it has a musty or moldy smell, toss and start over!

Feel: After a long fridge nap, your starter should be thin and liquid. If it's thick or chunky, toss it and start over!

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

15

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 127Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 4g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Pin this guide on reviving sourdough starter!

How to revive forgotten sourdough starter pinterest graphic.

Two jars of canned cherries.
Canned Cherries
← Read Last Post
A jar of pickled jalapenos with a ring from one red jalapeno.
Pickled Jalapenos
Read Next Post →
Share Your Thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe