Gluten-Free Sourdough: Achieving an Active Starter


So, last time we had just begun to rehydrate the dried brown rice sourdough starter. That initial mixing of dried starter, flour, and water, is simply to bring the starter back to life. The activation process takes a bit more time and diligence in frequently feeding the starter.

But once I got into the swing of things, the starter became active and bubbly and we began enjoying sourdough pancakes, breads, and muffins – all gluten-free!

Let’s take a look at how we got there.


Picking up from where we left off, the instructions read:

Mix in ½ cup water and scant ½ cup flour. Be sure to incorporate a significant amount of air into the mixture. Cover and return to the warm spot for 4 – 8 hours. Be sure to use a sufficiently sized container and place a cloth or paper towel under the container as active sourdough starter may bubble over.

Discard all but ½ cup of the flour and water mixture. Mix in ½ cup water and a scant ½ cup flour. Repeat this process every 4 – 8 hours until the mixture becomes light and bubby. If the mixture is kept quite warm, this process may be concluded within the first several days. For cooler spots, it may take several more days to complete the process. It is common for sourdough starter to take 3 – 7 days to activate.

If brown or clear liquid develops on top of the starter at any point during the activation process, pour off the liquid and start feeding the sourdough starter more often (e.g. if feedings have been 8 hours apart start feeding the starter every 4 – 6 hours, etc.).
Once the starter is bubbling reliably within several hours of being fed, feed the starter for two more cycles then cover it with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake with it.


I have added emphasis by bolding some statements that I found particularly important:

Be sure to incorporate a significant amount of air. This is no joke. You need to almost whip the starter with a wooden spoon. This can cause starter to fly about, so it is important that you are using a large enough vessel to accommodate this.

It is common for sourdough to take 3-7 days to activate. Our home runs cooler than many during these colder days, which translated into the starter taking the maximum number of days and feedings to really achieve a good level of bubbly goodness.

If clear liquid appears, dump it off and feed more often. This one tip changed how I fed my starter. I thought that, because of the cold temperatures, I was feeding it frequently enough by doing a bare minimum twice a day feeding. This clear liquid was an indication that I was not, as it indicates alcohol formation. So, I dumped the liquid, fed it 3-4 times per day, and all was resolved.

Once the starter was active and bubbly it was time to start experimenting with various gluten-free sourdough recipes, including a new favorite pancake using discarded starter. We’ll get to that next time.

Have you experimented with the brown rice sourdough starter? What was your experience like?


Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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