I have a nice, healthy Type 110 wheat-based sourdough starter that I use to make bread and pancakes.

I've recently discovered that it may be possible to feed the starter with milk instead of water. Is this true? I'm a bit paranoid that rotting milk will introduce unwanted bugs that rotting flour won't. How would it affect my starter? Or should I just stick to water in the starter, but add milk to the bread, instead?

4 Answers 4


Adding milk works because milk is mostly water. It might even work better, as it also contains sugar (lactose) which will be eaten by your starter's yeasts and bacteria.

But it also contains other stuff, such as fats. And fats, after some time, get rancid. You probably won't want that taste in bread or pancakes. I would stick to water (which quite probably you'll find cheaper than milk).

Don't worry about rotten milk: your starter is already rotten. And it's a hostile environment for most microbes. It's very very improbable new microbes would survive there. But if they do, they'll be quite similar to the already existing ones.

  • 5
    You can also feed your ongoing starter water, and then when you remove some for a recipe, feed that milk while strengthening it.
    – SourDoh
    Sep 19, 2013 at 15:08

I have always fed my sourdough starters milk and flour. I have tried it with water, but I feel it was not as tangy as the milk started bread. As far as the dough goes, I usually use water or milk, depending on what I have on hand. That doesn't make nearly as big a difference.


I agree, milk makes a better starter - much more sour. If you want you can use nonfat milk, too! I use 1% - have done so ever since I started -- 10 or more years -- I tried switching to water, just didn't work well.


I use curdled milk and cream for my bread and pancake recipes. The thing you want to watch out for is mold. Watch out for Google images of moldy starter, because many of them are showing normal starter that has gotten bubbly, has alcohol floating on top, or just has a dark grey color. All these are normal for mother. Whether you use milk or water with your starter, just check for black or green spots to know if there is a problem. Remember, you are not supposed to eat raw bread dough (although I do every time), and certainly do not eat your starter unless it has been cooked first. The easiest thing to do is have a water/flour starter. Now when you want a different effect, you just propagate your starter by mixing a different flour/liquid combination and then let it set until the mix becomes bubbly. There is not one better than the other, it's just what you want for the particular recipe. On the other hand, if I do a milk bread recipe using 90% milk and 10% water from my water/flour starter, does the final bread really know the difference. You'll need to experiment to find out.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.