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5 from 19 votes

How to Make a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter From Scratch

Do you dream of baking loaves of fresh homemade sourdough bread… but can’t eat gluten? I’m here to tell you that dreams can come true! Get started on your gluten-free sourdough journey by following these easy step-by-step instructions to make your own gluten-free sourdough starter from scratch - using only three ingredients!
Prep Time30 mins
Fermenting Time7 d
Course: Sourdough
Keyword: Gluten-free baking, Gluten-free bread, Gluten-free sourdough, Gluten-free sourdough starter, Sourdough Starter
Servings: 1 sourdough starter culture
Cost: $20

Equipment

  • Large air-tight glass container (2 liter or half-gallon)
  • Kitchen scale
  • Mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • 750 grams organic brown rice flour (and/or buckwheat flour)
  • 360 mL filtered water, room-temperature
  • 1 large organic apple

Instructions

  • Wash your apple, but avoid using soaps or produce wash. Using a cheese grater, grate the organic apple into semi-fine shreds. Use the skins, but discard the core.
  • Add 500 grams of brown rice or buckwheat flour, the grated apple, and 360 mL of lukewarm un-chlorinated water (about 1.5 cups) to a mixing bowl and thoroughly combine.
  • Transfer the mixture into a large glass airtight container that has enough room for it to at least double in size, minimum. (Ours usually quadruples while fermenting) Pack the mixture down into the bottom of the container. Close the lid.
  • To monitor growth, mark the side of your container with a washable marker or rubber band at the top level of the mixture.
  • Let the mixture sit for 3 days (72 hours) at a temperature of 70-75 degrees F. It should bubble and rise during this time.
  • After approximately 72 hours, thoroughly stir the mixture and then discard half of the amount. Then, thoroughly mix in another 250 grams of flour and 180 mL of tepid filtered water (about 3/4 cup) to the remaining starter mixture. This is called "feeding" the sourdough starter. You can do this either in a separate bowl, and put it back into a now-clean ferment vessel, or like we do, mix it in place.
  • Re-mark the container to note the height of the mixture. Let sit at 70-75 degrees, for 2 days or 48 hours this time.
  • After 48 hours, repeat the same discard and feed process as done previously. Discard half, feed, mix, mark the level, and cover again. This time, make it slightly more wet - using 250 grams of flour and about 220 mL of water.
  • Allow the sourdough starter mixture to sit for a final 24 hours.
  • Once complete, you now have a happy and active gluten-free sourdough starter! Store it in the refrigerator when not in use, taking it out to warm up and be fed weekly. OR if stored at room temperature, feed it daily to keep it alive.

Notes

Troubleshooting tips, if the starter does not regain activity after feeding:
  • If there is no activity, let it sit another day or two.
  • If your starter has risen and fallen, or, if seems to not rise after the first discard and feed, and instead it has a dark liquid formed on top (called hooch), it may actually be overly active and hungry! Stir in a little more flour (and warm water as needed, if it becomes too thick and dry) and let it sit again. Wait a day or two to see if it perks up and begins to rise and bubble.
  • If your home is cold, try to find a warmer spot if possible! We've found keeping our starter (and proofing dough) inside the oven with the oven OFF but oven light ON creates a nice warm environment during cooler days. 
  • If the starter doesn’t rise at all after the first discard and feed, try opening the lid of your jar. Cover it with a coffee filter or something else that will prevent fruit flies or other debris from getting inside inside.
  • Ensure that you use an organic apple. 
  • Throughout this process, if your starter ever seems too dry or far too wet, feel free to add a splash more water or flour until the desired consistency is reached as described. The amounts I am providing are a general guide. Different flour types and brands will have slightly varying weights.