Creating a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

A gluten free sourdough starter is needed to make sourdough bread. In this starter recipe there is no commercial yeast, only the wild natural yeast from the starter. Made with the basics … flour and water. It does replace commercial yeast but in a different process.

It’s easy to make a gluten free sourdough starter and similar to growing a glutenous sourdough starter. I have found that good whole grains are the best and with GF you usually need two types of flour like buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa or millet

With glutinous flour it’s whole wheat, rye, spelt and other grains.

There are theories about fermenting glutenous sourdough for 2-3 days that makes it safe for celiac diets, but this is definitely not for a celiac diet. It is hard to understand how gluten can be removed over a period of days. It is great for gluten sensitivity though.

With repeat feedings of flour and water, fermentation will take place and the natural yeast will grow to make your bread rise.

Make sure you keep your starter in a glass jar (500 ml size will work) and do not use metal, because the acidity in the starter will react with the metal. I believe stainless steel is fine. Keep your temperature constant and between 20 to 28°C and be consistent with the type of flour you use.

Ingredients:

  • 20 g brown rice flour
  • 20 g corn flour (not corn starch) or millet, quinoa or buckwheat
  • 50 mls non chlorinated water (You could substitute about 10 ml of water with kefir water or plain, raw kombucha)
  • 2-3 raisins if your starter is not becoming active. Remove them later on.

In a glass jar – vigorously mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon to aerate. Adjust the water or flour amounts if your starter is too dry or too runny. The amounts don’t have to be exact. Keep covered at room temperature, with a tight mesh cloth, or paper towel with an elastic band to keep it in place. Leave at a constant temperature at 20 to 28°C. If your house is cool you can leave the starter in your oven with the light turned on.

DO NOT TURN ON YOUR OVEN!

Make sure fruit flies can not get through the cover.

In about 12 hours (breakfast and dinner time). Discard all but 40 g of starter and feed this with 40 g of the same flour you have been using. Plus 50 ml of filtered warm water.

Put the discard into its own jar to be kept in the fridge. You can make pizza, pancakes, crackers and even cakes with it later on.

Keep feeding 40 g of the starter on a regular schedule, twice daily, until it has grown in size by 30-50% and is bubbly, with a mild yeasty smell.

When you start to see a regular rise and fall of your starter with feeding, then you know it is ready for baking. When it peaks and has a nice dome it is ready. If the starter has fallen after peaking, by an hour or two. You can still mix it into a dough, but if you go much longer than that, you will not get a good rise from your bread.

At this stage you can make some sourdough bread, or keep the starter in the fridge until you want to bake bread.

Keep the starter out of direct sunlight in a warm place. Not too hot and not too cold.

Gluten free flours are expensive so keep the discard flour and always save some of the starter. After the starter is established and active, you do not need to use huge amounts of flour to feed it. Most recipes you only need 100 to 150 g of starter. Plus the 20 g to keep your starter going.

Signs from your developing starter:

  •  Some clear liquid on the top when it requires feeding
  • A yeasty smell but not too sour
  •  Starter has a light spongy look
  • The aroma is mild and pleasant.
  •  The sound of bubbles popping and evenly distributed
  • No liquid on top when ready to use

We bake bread every 7-10 days so the starter is  kept in the fridge and taken out 1 1/2 days before baking.

Reactivate the starter by bringing it to room temperature and feeding 2 -3 times before baking bread.

Below is a guideline to feed your starter out of the fridge and to build a levain to make bread.

  • Use 20 g of starter from the fridge.
  • Weigh 20 g of brown rice flour and buckwheat or other GF flour
  • Weigh 30 mls of warm filtered water.

Add the water to the starter first to dissolve the starter, then add the flour and mix well.

Note: the starter is very forgiving so if your mixture is looking to dry … add a little more water. The same for if it is too wet and soupy … add a little more flour.

Feed again about 12 hours later with all the starter and add 60 g of brown rice flour and 60 mls of water – giving 180 g of starter. Save 20 g of starter to keep for the next bread bake.

The starter only needs feeding once a week in the fridge with 20 g of flour and 30 mls of water.

If you do not like the smell of the sourdough starter, then you will not like the taste in your bread. Discard some starter and feed again before using. You can also take a small taste test.

Once your starter shows all the promising signs of activity and it at least doubles in size …. then you are ready to mix some dough!

26 thoughts on “Creating a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

  1. Mare says:

    This looks like a lot of work. Is it truly worth it. I have tried so many bread recipes in the past and some are okay but all are labour intensive. And at the end of the day not worth all the work.

    Like

  2. acoupleofceliacs says:

    The starter is easy to maintain once established and ours has been going for a year and a half now. Recently while I was away fir a month it stayed on the fridge and I reactivated it once I returned. As to the bread itself it’s something that you fit around your own schedule and there is actually not a lot of hands on time spent working with it. The time is leaving the dough alone to do it thing. I prefer it now to bought bread.

    Like

      • acoupleofceliacs says:

        Lately Ive been using brown rice flour and millet flour which the starter seems to love. I have also used a little buckwheat as well in the past. Try what you can use and see how it reacts. Some flours are quicker acting than others.

        Like

    • acoupleofceliacs says:

      Yes about the same. The flours do absorb water a bit differently but it doesn’t have to be exact for the starter. You are looking for the consistency of a thick pancake batter and as long as you get yeast bubbling after a few days that’s the main thing

      Like

  3. Nadine says:

    Do you think we could make a starter using only a gluten free 1-1 flour? Unfortunately we don’t have brown rice flour etc in the house right now.

    Like

  4. Laura Bollinger says:

    I’m SO excited to try this! Thanks for sharing your recipe! I miss bread so much and had just gotten into making sourdough when I discovered I needed to stop having gluten.

    Can you please clarify for me- I get easily confused- so I started yesterday and put the starter ingredients in jar 1. Now this morning I removed 40g of that starter and put into jar 2, and I put the remains of jar 1 into the fridge? I added 40g of flour and 50 ml of water to my starter, now in jar 2, which sits out in a warm spot. every 12 hours I will simply add 40g flour and 50ml water to jar 2 until the total volume has doubled and it shows signs of being active. at that point I can use some of that starter for a recipe, or store in the fridge until I want to bring it out and activate it for a recipe? So the only time I removed 40g of the starter and put into a fresh jar was the very first time I went to feed it… 12 hours after I first made the starter? Is this correct?

    Like

  5. skora101 says:

    (Just tried to leave this comment and not sure if it worked so trying again!)

    I’m SO excited to try this! Thanks for sharing your recipe! I miss bread so much and had just gotten into making sourdough when I discovered I needed to stop having gluten.

    Can you please clarify for me- I get easily confused- so I started yesterday and put the starter ingredients in jar 1. Now this morning I removed 40g of that starter and put into jar 2, and I put the remains of jar 1 into the fridge? I added 40g of flour and 50 ml of water to my starter, now in jar 2, which sits out in a warm spot. every 12 hours I will simply add 40g flour and 50ml water to jar 2 until the total volume has doubled and it shows signs of being active. at that point I can use some of that starter for a recipe, or store in the fridge until I want to bring it out and activate it for a recipe? So the only time I removed 40g of the starter and put into a fresh jar was the very first time I went to feed it… 12 hours after I first made the starter? Is this correct?

    Like

  6. Kyrstin says:

    I have been using your recipes and I have made 3 loaves of sourdough! It’s amazing thank you!
    I’m a little confused with keeping the starter going. While building my starter I kept 40g, fed with 40g flour and 50ml water.
    At the end it says to save 20g to keep your starter going. How do I get this back up to the 40g of starter? Or do I feed it a smaller amount? I also wanted to share some of my starter, would I share what I would normally discard?

    Like

  7. Cassie says:

    Thanks so much for this – I now have a nice alive starter and excited to start making bread! I have one question – when you take the starter our and begin feeding it again would you still discard to the fridge? Or should I begin using a larger container?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s