I'm on Day 14 for my sourdough starter and can't get it to work. I had a half inch rise on Day 3 and nothing since then. I am using 1:1:1 with the flour component being made up of half whole wheat and half all purpose.

I leave my water out overnight in case of chlorine, and I noted that at room temperature, the batter is at about 68 degrees. In the oven with the light on, it gets up to about 82 degrees.

I had been feeding it twice a day, but was advised to back off to once a day until I see some activity. At best though, all I see are a few bubbles as shown here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/pEe3Su9dwizMnPyM9

I can't find rye flour at the moment (covid scarcity).

Any suggestions from you more experienced chefs? Or should I give up on this batch and start over? I'm wondering when to give up on this two week old potential starter.

Many thanks! Wendy

  • There are lots of sour dough starter Q&As. Did you type the phrase into the search bar?
    – moscafj
    Apr 13, 2020 at 21:02
  • I did! I don't see any reference however, to when to give up. I don't see that anywhere on the internet at all actually. Advice on abandoning the starter seems to be related to bad smells, mold, pink or orange bacteria, etc. But I don't see any advice anywhere on how long (unless it smells or looks bad) is too long to try to get it going before one tries something else. Thanks!
    – WendyN
    Apr 13, 2020 at 22:22
  • It really if hard to say give up unless there is poor smell it is still safe. In some locations and at times of year it simply takes longer to capture wild yeasts. When it is slow starting, try whole grains as part, even unground as the outer shells may have more captured yeast. When you dont see the colors of smells you typically are still safe.
    – dlb
    Apr 14, 2020 at 0:59
  • Go back to feeding it twice a day, and put it in the oven with a pan of hot water in it.
    – user29568
    Apr 14, 2020 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


Typically you can begin to give up at around day 5-7. (Especially if you've taken an aggressive feeding schedule.)

With an aggressive feeding schedule (2-3 times daily), you should begin to see bubbling and sour notes by day three (and is a good indicator for collecting the Lactobacillus bacteria).

Ref: Full Proof Baking

By Day 5, I typically give up if there's no rise or sour notes.

There's two common factors that make sourdough fermentation difficult.

  1. the Type of flour

    If you use plain/white, there's not enough nutrients - so adding rye, ground cereal, or anything with whole grains will help.

  2. The water quality

    Chlorine or other chemicals might be present in your source, so getting a tap filter and boiling/resting the water will assist.

- try increasing the feeding cycles until you get the sour notes, keep note of the water/flour until you get some smell/reaction.

  • 1
    Thank you! I was using half WW and half AP and water that had been left out overnight. I tried adding a few raisins to the sitting water and also started a separate spelt starter. I don’t know which of these encouraged they first starter but on Day 15, it suddenly sprang into action. I learned so much from this process! Thanks all for your help.
    – WendyN
    Apr 17, 2020 at 16:52

I'm hardly an expert, being only two loaves in to my sourdough journey, but a friend suggested that I toss a few raisins in to my starter and lo and behold, it went NUTS.

Instead of tossing in the raisins, I would recommend letting 10-15 raisins (more? I don't think it matters) into some water and letting that sit for a day or so, and then adding just the water - the actual raisins in my starter got funky and it was a nuisance to fish them out of the goop. Now, whenever I feed my starter, I use raisin water.

The two loaves which I've baked are STELLAR. Nice rise, beautiful sourdoughy flavor, lovely crust. I couldn't be happier.

Also, try feeding one part starter to two parts of water and two parts of flour. (1:2:2) It really gets things moving - the yeast now has so much more to eat. I learned this from the food geek on the internet and on youtube.


and "foodgeek" on youtube.

He's very informative. He also has interesting baking calculators. Check him out!

For the most part, I follow Bake With Jack (bakewithjack.co.uk, and also on youtube) I began with him, and have chosen to follow his advice until I get more understanding.

  • Thanks. I have been following those and many others! Your raisin truck seems to have done it for me. Thanks!
    – WendyN
    Apr 17, 2020 at 16:53

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