Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (2024)

If you are gluten-free, or just want to experiment with gluten-free bread, creating a sourdough starter is the first step. I've found a few ways to do this very quickly and reliably. While no starter method can claim to be foolproof, I think this one is very reliable.

Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (1)

Ivory Teff Starter at peak

Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (2)
My starter is shown just past peak here and starting to collapse after doubling

Awhile back I posted a recipe for a gluten-free sourdough starter that is ready to use in 3-7 days. While I still like this method, I've found that it's a bit fussy and it takes some special equipment to heat the starter. This 5-day method takes no special equipment other than some bowls and jars.

My method is a modification of the technique seen in this video by Julia Child and Joe Ortiz. Here is the video that was the inspiration for this teff starter method. Caution: this video contains wheat!

Why does this starter method work?

Somehow this method of creating a starter circumvents the stage where the starter smells funky and weird. This "leuconostatic phase"is particularly problematic for teff flour which has a hard time moving past the funkiness. I think it's some combination of leaving it to ferment longer on the first step, the lower hydration, and the cumin. Here are a few discussions of this method and why it works on The Fresh Loaf:

Here I have adapted the technique specifically for teff flour. I'm finding it's ready to use for baking bread in 5-7 days. In addition to creating a starter very quickly without special equipment, this method also saves on waste as you only have to throw away a small amount of dough.

Ready to use in 5-7 days.

Day 1.

In a small bowl combine:

75g teff flour (shown is ivory teff, but brown teff is great too)

.25g or 1/8 tsp ground cumin

65g spring water

Mix these ingredients until it makes a dough. Form a ball and let sit in the bowl, covered, for about 48 hours.

Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (3)
The starter just after feeding
Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (4)
The starter after 48 hours
Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (5)
The dough is broken open to take the starter from the center

Day 3.

The outside of the ball will look a little oxidized and gray. This is fine. Break open the ball of dough and extract from the inside an amount about the size of a large nut. Combine in a small clean bowl:

50g of the original starter

50g of teff flour

40g of spring water

Mix and form a ball of dough and let it sit for 24 hours.

Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (6)
The starter just after feeding
Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (7)
The starter after 24 hours

Day 4.

Here you will mix the sourdough starter at a 1:1:1.1 ratio or a little wetter, sometimes 1:1:1.2, to transform your stiff starter into a liquid starter.

In a clean jar or plastic tub with a lid, mix:

50g starter from the previous day

50g teff flour

55g spring water

After mixing this thoroughly, add another 5-10g water if needed to make it a kind of thick pancake batter consistency.

Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (8)
The starter just after feeding
Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (9)
The starter has doubled in size

Day 5.

About 12 hours after the last mix, the starter should have peaked and fallen already, or may be just peaking (doubling in size). Do not feed the starter again until after it has peaked. If it takes longer than 12 hours, that's okay, just wait for it to rise and start falling again before feeding.

You may keep refreshing the starter on one of these schedules as it's convenient for you:

12-hour schedule

This is the most typical schedule you will see people mention with sourdough starter, called 1:1 feeding, meaning that the you feed the starter an equal weight of flour).

Every 12 hours, feed the starter:

50g starter from the previous feed

50g teff flour

55g spring water

24-hour Schedule

This is a 1:10 feeding. It's great if you don't want to feed your starter every 12 hours.

Every 24 hours, feed the starter:

10g starter from the previous day

100g teff flour

110-120g spring water as needed for consistency

When the starter is 5-7 days old, it should be ready to use in making bread. The signs that it's ready to use are:

- it smells like sourdough starter

- it is rising/peaking consistently, and almost doubling in size at peak. If feeding on the 12-hour schedule above, it should peak in about 6 hours. If feeding on the 24-hour schedule, it should peak in 10-12 hours.

Once these two criteria are met, you can use the starter in making bread.

Refrigerating the Starter

When the starter is at least a week old, and it's meeting the two criteria above, you can refrigerate the starter at its peak. I find that my starter is good to use straight from the fridge for about 5 days after I put it in there. Any longer than that and it doesn't have as much rising power and I have to refresh it and let it rise to peak again before using.

Here are some signs that the starter is not ready:

- it smells like raw dough, vinegar, or acetone at the time when it should be ready to refresh.

- it is not rising much, not doubling in size, and has few bubbles.

If these symptoms persist after a week, I usually just start over and try again. Sometimes the original batch of flour that was used to create the culture just didn't have enough microorganisms in it to ferment.

Happy fermenting!

Teff Sourdough Starter Recipe Ready in 5-7 Days (2024)


Can sourdough starter be ready before 7 days? ›

Depending on what it's fed and on ambient temperatures, a starter can be usable in as little as three days or as long as three weeks.

What does sourdough starter look like after 5 days? ›

On Day 5, your starter will usually not rise, and you should see a few more bubbles than you saw on Day 4. It will be slow and can smell foul.

Can you use 5 day old sourdough starter? ›

Remove 80-90% of your starter if it's been a few days and throw away the starter you removed. Feed the remaining 10-20% that's left in the jar. I usually feed it a maintenance feeding of 50 grams flour and 40 grams water.

Can I use teff flour for sourdough starter? ›

You can definitely make a starter with teff flour. It can be a little trickier to achieve and maintain, but it's definitely possible. A trick I suggest is to try and combine two GF flours, maybe a little sorghum with teff flour. It will work faster and be easier to maintain.

Can sourdough starter be ready in 6 days? ›

Your starter is the cornerstone of great bread—once you have it showing consistent signs of fermentation each day, which takes on average 5 to 7 days, you're ready to start baking sourdough bread!

What should my starter look like on day 5? ›

On days 4 and 5 I continued this double feeding regimen to keep my starter happy and well fed. After each feeding, the starter bubbled up then slowly formed a thin layer of sweet yet tangy smelling hooch. Bubbles were usually small and the volume of the starter never increased.

Why is my sourdough starter not bubbling after 5 days? ›

If a sourdough starter is not bubbly, it may require more frequent feedings. If feeding every 12 hours, increase to feeding every 8-10 hours, to make sure the culture is getting enough food. Check the temperature in the culturing area. Sourdough likes a temperature between 70°F and 85ºF, around the clock.

Can sourdough starter be ready in 4 days? ›

Sourdough Starter Ready to use in 3-7 Days.

What happens if you use sourdough starter too soon? ›

If you use a starter just after you've fed it, you will be using a very weak, diluted starter and then diluting it further by adding even more flour and water.

How do I know if I killed my sourdough starter? ›

Keep feeding your starter, and you'll see normal activity (bubbles) return in a few days. If your starter has a bit of dark liquid on top, it's not dead! It simply means it's hungry and that it's time to feed it. Unless your starter has a pink or orange hue or is beginning to mold, you probably haven't killed it yet.

What happens if I forgot to discard starter before feeding? ›

If you didn't discard a portion of your starter each time you feed it, two things would happen: Your starter would grow to an enormous, unmanageable size. Your starter would likely become more and more inhospitable to the bacteria and yeast we want as the mixture would become ever more acidic.

What to do on day 6 of sourdough starter? ›

Day Six: If your starter has been very active and always doubles in size (or more) between feedings, then your starter is ready to bake with. You may also choose to refrigerate your starter at this point and slow down the feedings to once a week.

How do you make a teff starter? ›

Combine 1 cup of Teff flour with 2 cups of room temperature water in a container. (See Tips & Tricks for increasing or decreasing quantity of starter). Whisk until there are no clumps of flour and ingredients are thoroughly combined. You should see a thin foam film develop on the top.

What can sourdough fermentation process do to teff flour? ›

Fermentation increases the fraction of soluble fiber in teff flour. Fermentation of teff flour decreases the content in accessible protein thiols. Addition of fermented teff flour (25%) improves the texture properties of gluten free bread.

What is the healthiest flour for sourdough starter? ›

The best flour blend for creating a new sourdough starter is 50% whole-meal flour (whole wheat or whole rye) and 50% bread flour or all-purpose flour. I recommend a 50/50 mix of whole wheat flour and bread flour.

Can sourdough starter be ready early? ›

You can try to bake with it before 14 days, but honestly, you'll be rewarded with better bread if you wait.

How soon can a sourdough starter be ready? ›

Sometimes, you just need to give your starter enough time. 5-6 weeks is a good rule of thumb if you want to bake a loaf of bread. In the meantime, you can always treat it as discard sourdough starter.

Can you use sourdough starter too early? ›

It's not a good idea to use a sourdough starter right after feeding. Ideally you should wait at least 2-4 hours. When you first feed a sourdough starter, it's at its weakest point. It has not had time to consume the sugars in the flour and is flat and inactive.

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