Is My Sourdough Starter Dead” Here’s How To Tell

Sourdough bread is a type of bread that has been traditionally produced using natural yeast and bacteria. It is also known as “wild yeast bread” because it was originally made without commercial yeast.

Today, sourdough bread is usually made with commercial yeast. However, there are still many people who prefer to use natural yeast and bacteria instead of commercial yeast. This article will help you know whether your starter is dead or not.

A sourdough starter works by combining flour with water in order for the mixture to ferment into the dough. The fermentation process releases carbon dioxide gas which makes the dough rise. When this happens, the dough becomes light and fluffy.

The most important thing about making a sourdough starter is having patience. A sourdough starter is an essential part of baking bread. It’s also a fun hobby to pursue if you’re looking for a new way to feed your family. However, sourdough starters can be tricky to keep alive. If you’ve ever had trouble keeping your starter alive, you know how frustrating it can be.

Here’s a quick guide to tell if your sourdough starter is dead.

Is My Sourdough Starter Dead?

Sourdough starters are an essential part of baking bread. They are used to create a starter culture that gives bread its unique flavor. However, sourdough starters can die off if not fed regularly.

Is My Sourdough Starter Dead?” Here's How To Tell – Food To Impress

If your sourdough starter has been sitting around for a while, it might be dead. It could also be alive and kicking, but not producing enough acidity to leaven the dough.

In this article, I will teach you how to test your sourdough starter to see if it’s alive or dead.

No Activity After Feeding

If you want to find out whether your sourdough starter is dead or not you need to feed it every day. You should do so at least once per week.

You don’t have to worry too much about feeding your sourdough starter daily. In fact, some experts recommend doing so only twice a month. But make sure you give it plenty of time between each feeding.

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It takes anywhere from 24 hours to two weeks before your sourdough starter starts showing signs of life again after being starved. So, wait until then to check on it. If there is no activity after feeding, chances are your sourdough starter isn’t going to work anymore.

A Foul Smell

Another sign that your sourdough starter may be dead is when it smells bad. Some common causes include mold growth, lack of oxygen, and improper storage conditions.

When checking your sourdough starter, look closely at any areas where mold grows. Moldy spots indicate that your sourdough needs more air circulation. Also, take note of any foul odors coming from the container. These are all warning signs that something is wrong with your sourdough starter. Your sourdough starter shouldn’t smell like rotten eggs either. That means that it doesn’t contain harmful microorganisms such as E-coli.

If it starts smelling like rotten cheese, it probably contains lactic acid bacteria. LAB produces acetic acid during the fermentation process. Acetate helps produce the tanginess found in good sourdough bread.

However, if your sourdough smells like vinegar, it likely contains acetobacter bacteria. Acetobacters produce alcohol during the fermentation process. Alcohol contributes to the alcoholic taste of beer and wine.


Your sourdough starter may start turning brownish-yellow if it hasn’t been given proper ventilation. This discoloration indicates that your sourdough is losing moisture through evaporation. The best solution here would be to add more water to your sourdough starter and let it sit overnight.

This problem usually occurs because your sourdough starter was stored improperly. Make sure that your containers aren’t leaking and that they were sealed tightly. Also, keep them away from direct sunlight. Sunlight speeds up the drying process.

Lack Of Bubbles

Bubble formation is one of the most important indicators of a healthy sourdough starter. When bubbles form, yeast cells break down sugars into carbon dioxide gas. Carbon dioxide makes up half of the volume of the dough.

The other half comes from the protein content of flour. As long as your sourdough starter still forms bubbles, it’s fine. However, if your sourdough has stopped forming bubbles, this could mean that your starter is dying.

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In addition to bubble formation, another indicator of a sickly sourdough starter is an increase in foam production. Foam can also signal problems with your sourdough starters. It happens when proteins begin breaking down due to overgrowth by yeasts.

Foaming is caused by excess sugar levels. Sugar feeds off of itself creating even more sugar.

Visible Mold

Mold is not necessarily a bad thing for your sourdough starter but you should avoid letting it grow too much. Too many molds will cause your sourdough to lose its ability to ferment properly.

Is my Sourdough Starter Dead? - Vituperio Baking Studio

Also, make sure that you don’t store your sourdough starter near food or drink items. Molds thrive in moist environments. They love warm temperatures and high humidity.

You’ll know that your sourdough has gone bad when you see visible mold growing inside the container. If you notice these symptoms, discard your sourdough starter immediately. You can use some of the liquid left behind to feed new batches of sourdough.

After Being Stored In High Heat

Sourdough starters need to stay cool so that their enzymes remain active. Store your sourdough starter in a refrigerator between 50° F and 60° F.

Store your sourdough starter on top shelves since heat rises. Avoid storing your sourdough starter next to hot appliances such as ovens or stoves.

Storing Your Sourdough Starter Correctly Is Key If you want to get started making bread at home, then you’re going to have to learn how to care for your sourdough starters correctly. There are several ways to do this. One way is to buy a good quality starter kit online. These kits come complete with everything you need to get started right out of the box.

Another option is to purchase a starter package from a local bakery. Many bakeries sell starter packages that include all the ingredients needed to create delicious homemade bread.

What Can I Do With A Dead Starter?

If you’ve noticed any signs of death in your sourdough starter, there are two things you can try:

Start Again Using Fresh Ingredients

When starting a new batch of sourdough, be careful about what kind of flours you choose. Don’t use whole wheat flour unless you plan to bake something sweet like cookies or muffins. Whole grain flours tend to produce dense loaves because they contain less gluten than white flour.

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Whole grains also take longer to cook which means that your loaf won’t rise quite as well. Instead, opt for unbleached refined flour. This type of flour contains no bran or germ. The result is a lighter-textured loaf that bakes faster.

To ensure that your dough doesn’t stick during baking, mix up a small amount of extra flour into your dough before adding the rest of the flour. Also, if you find yourself having trouble kneading your dough, consider mixing together 1/4 cup of oil and 3 tablespoons of honey. Mix them together until smooth and pour onto the surface of your dough. Knead the mixture into the dough while incorporating the remaining dry ingredients.

Add Water To Revive A Sick Starter

If you suspect that your sourdough starter isn’t healthy anymore, it’s time to give it an injection of life! Add enough water to cover the bottom of your jar by one inch. Stir thoroughly. Then place the lid back on the jar and let sit overnight. After 12 hours, check to see whether the yeast has revived. If not, repeat steps 4 through 6 above.

How Long Does It Take For Your Sourdough Starter To Die?

It takes time for a sourdough starter to become inactive. In fact, some experts say that sourdough starters should only be left alone for up to two weeks before they start dying.

However, others claim that sourdough starters need to sit idle for at least three months before they begin to show signs of death. Either way, once your sourdough starter starts showing signs of weakness, it’s best to throw away its contents and replace it with fresh ingredients.


Sourdough starters aren’t easy to maintain. However, following these tips will help keep your starter alive and kicking. Once you master the art of caring for your sourdough starter correctly, you’ll never look back.

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