Don't Buy Sourdough Starter


Its been some time since I last wrote anything, sorry about that I’ll try harder I promise. 

Anyway, please don’t buy sourdough starter or culture, or mother or what ever people want to call it. You can have ours for free if you ask nicely, we’ll give it to you in a takeaway coffee cup. 

What I’m getting at, is the bakeries and websites that sell starter for prices like £5, £15 or £20. Usually with a list of reasons why you should, that may or may not include. 

  • It’s from France/Spain/German/San Fran/Skegness so it will taste like bread from there.
  • It’s really old like 6/35/164/8523 years old and therefore better.
  • It’s been past down from father to son since the beginning of time.
  • It has a distinctive and individual flavour and aroma.
  • It cost the baker pennies and thus is an easy way to make money.

Location isn’t important, getting a French starter will not help you make french bread, your starter changes over time depending on the flour it is fed, the schedule of the feeding and where it is fed. So any starter you pay money for will adapt and change to where you are and what you do to it. If I got any other starter from any other part of the world and used it in my standard process I doubt there would be much different to the bread.

Age isn’t important, a starter that is 200 years old is no better than one that is a month old. Ok, you may need a couple of weeks to get a starter established and settled down if you’re starting from scratch, but that’s it. The idea that a starter with greater age has more flavour or some other beneficial property are false. 

Too many myths about starters and sourdough in general allow people to make these claims, which generally aren’t true. It also allows people to try and sell starters for huge prices purely in the name of making money, which just isn’t fair. If you want people to engage with bread making it’s not right to sell them something to help that process at a 100 times mark up based on incorrect information.

Do not buy sourdough starter, find a baker that will give it away or make your own, its actually quite easy, I recommend the book Flour, Water, Salt and Yeast by Ken Forkish, it’s great and will tell you everything you need to know. Spend money on a good book not on mumbo jumbo.