Troubleshooting Sourdough Starter

A healthy starter at it’s peak

Getting a sourdough starter going is a labour of love and maintaining it too! You have to take care of it like you would a plant, it needs to be fed, and has some other things that it benefits from too! Here you will find some tips on what to do if….

There is liquid on the top of the starter

Your starter is hungry! You can stir the liquid in or pour it out, but feed the poor wee thing! It’s hungry!

Nothing is happening post feed

No bubbles?

Check the temperature with a thermometer. It should ideally be between 22-24 degrees Celsius. If your room temp is a bit lower than this it will take longer to bubble. In winter months, I sometimes put mine in the oven over night with the light on. Don’t put it right next to the light, it might get too warm. In the middle of the middle or lower rack is fine.

Did you over feed it? It will get slow and sluggish if it gets fed before it is hungry. Just skip a feeding and leave it in it’s warm place. Make sure the consistency is more liquid than paste before feeding again.

Liquid consistency means it’s hungry, thick and paste like: its feeding.

Too much is happening, it overflowed!

Overflowing starter!

You have some options, bigger jar, slightly less flour and water, or a slightly cooler spot. Ideally go with finding a slightly cooler place for it to feed, that way you can keep your measurements consistent.

It stinks!

Your sourdough starter should have a smell, it will smell sour, but it shouldn’t smell bad. A vinegar or tangy kind of smell is normal. Mouldy or like nail polish is not normal and you might have to start over.

TIP: Keep a half cup of starter frozen in the freezer so if you lose your primary starter you have a backup!

You have to go away for a bit

Don’t worry, you can put your starter in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freeze some if you’re going to be away longer. It should be fine. I give mine a rest in the fridge a day a week for good measure.


Have you encountered other problems that aren’t on here? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. You can also email me at moonsnailmicrostead@gmail.com of you have a question.

Remember: Grow – Eat – Repeat! Happy baking sourdough lovers!

Published by looprice

Priest, artist, writer, accidental comedian!

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