Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter: a four-day culture shock

One of the most frequent subjects in question on our baker’s hotline is sourdough starter. How do I start my own? How often do I need to feed it? How can I travel and still maintain it? What if it dies on me? What other ways are there to use my starter and the discard?

The great news is that other than using different flours, starter care is the same for both gluten-free and wheat-based starters!

With gluten-free baking on the continual rise, we’re always looking to improve your baking experience. I’ve found that using a gluten-free sourdough starter can lend flavor to many different gluten-free recipes. It’s not just for yeast breads anymore!

Here’s a long-awaited story of creation: my quest to build a gluten-free sourdough starter.

It began in my kitchen at home after I had developed a gluten-free English muffin recipe and was intrigued by the thought of using sourdough starter.

This is my sourdough starter after weeks of sitting in the refrigerator, feeling neglected. As you can see, it has one lonely bubble and a lot of hooch or alcohol on top. It’s like wet clay at the beach. I’ll have it active again in no time!

The truth is, sourdough starters are hard to kill. Lack of maintenance can lead to a reduction of lactic acid and wild yeast – the two main components of a starter that, when drastically reduced, cause the potency of the culture as a yeast and its sour quality to be compromised. However, after waking it up with a few feeding cycles, you should see a happy starter that’s ready for work!

I always stir the hooch into the starter rather than pouring it off (which is also an option). Our dough whisk is invaluable for this task, among many others.

I discard about a cup (about 1/2 the volume), then feed with 1 cup King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup cool water.

Within a few hours, it should look something like this.

When I began my gluten-free starter project, my expectations were low, to say the least. I had visions of  a somewhat runny, barely-daring-to become-sour papier-mâché-like substance wearing maybe a bubble or two on the surface.

After countless calls on our baker’s hotline, both requesting and sharing personal experiences of failed gluten-free pre-ferments, I knew it was time to get to work on this one.

My first starter took off like a horse in the starting gate. Within just an hour of mixing, it was already fattening and bubbly.

The first thing I took note of was that although it lacked the elasticity of wheat-based starter, it was quite similar in appearance. I figured this was a pretty good start already, and let it sleep on the counter.

Like a kid at Christmas the next morning, I went to look under the lid of the jar. The mass had risen almost to the top and was covered in ripe, sour bubbles that were popping and hissing to greet me.

This is the dry starter that I used to begin my culture. Follow along as I create a gluten-free sourdough starter.

Whisk 1/4 teaspoon French sourdough starter into…

1 cup Ancient Grains Flour Blend.

Stir in 1/2 cup cool water.

Ancient Grains Flour Blend, a whole-grain, gluten-free mixture of amaranth, millet, quinoa, and sorghum, will increase enzymatic action during fermentation, much like whole wheat flour would. It’s a great choice to feed to your starter with occasionally, to maintain a good pH balance.

Blend this mixture together evenly, and allow it to sit at room temperature overnight.

You should begin to see results within hours.

The following day, you can discard half the starter and feed it again with the same amounts of Ancient Grains Flour Blend and water. Repeat this process for one more day; then, on the fourth day, switch to feeding with gluten-free multi-purpose flour, which I recommend you use as a regular meal for the starter.

When the starter becomes active following this feeding, you’ll finally be able to use it in your first recipe.

I substituted 1/2 cup starter for 1/2 cup of the flour and 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of the liquid in our gluten-free blueberry muffin recipe. The resulting muffins were tangy, tender, and high-rising. I would suggest this substitution amount for any quick bread recipe- waffles, pancakes, muffins, banana bread, etc.

For yeast breads and cakes, I suggest using 1 cup starter in place of 1/2 cup of water/liquid and 1 cup of flour.


For unbelievable sourdough pancakes or waffles, try this substitution in our well-loved gluten-free recipe. You may never make them without it again! Sure, go ahead and make the chocolate version!


Looking to put a tangy twist into that gluten-free chocolate cake? I dare you!

Store your starter in a stoneware crock such as the one pictured, or in a glass jar with a loose-fitting lid to allow for air flow; starter is best stored in the refrigerator.

I’ve found this culture to be as forgiving as a wheat-based starter, and the same rules apply for care and maintenance. If it gets left behind for a week or two, it will still love you when you return; though for an extended vacation, you may consider hiring a sourdough sitter.

It would make me happy to have a blog-fan suggested name for my starter, since it will be used in future blog recipes. So if you could post your suggestions along with questions and comments, I would be so grateful. I’m working on developing some more recipes to use with your starter, but that’s another blog.

Please read, rate and review this recipe for Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter.

Print just the recipe.

Amy Trage

Amy Trage is a native of Vermont where she spent much of her childhood skiing and training for the equestrian event circuit. With a strong desire to pursue food writing, Amy took her English degree from Saint Anselm College to the New England Culinary Institute ...


    1. Pat

      I’m confused by the description of the KAF French sourdough starter as making 12 loaves versus this article’s description of nurturing a starter as a member of the family. Do you add more starter powder from the little packet every time you feed what’s in the crock?
      Many thanks

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello Pat – You only add 1/4 t. of the French SD Starter in the beginning when making the GF SD Starter. That is the only time you will use the French SD Starter. Have fun! Elisabeth@KAF

  1. Alice

    What about naming your starter Willy, after the doctor (Dr. Willem Karel Dicke) who pioneered the gluten-free diet?

  2. Nicky

    Hi there, thanks for the recipe. I’m wondering though, why to discard half the starter on days 2 and 3?
    Just as with a wheat-based starter, you will need to always discard half before feeding. Discarding helps to maintain the PH balance so that the starter can be viable by introducing new enzymes. ~Amy

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, though keep in mind that the longer you have the starter, the more flavor the discard will have. Jon@KAF

  3. jenaij

    I’ve not really worked with a starter before. When you take some out for a recipe, do you need to put the same amount of flour (and some water) back into the starter? How do you know how much to replenish when you’ve taken some out?
    Usually just a normal 4 oz of flour and 4 oz. water feeding should do. If you use your starter in large quantities, you may need to increase the feeding. ~Amy

  4. lynnmpaul

    I used 1 C ancient grains and 1/2 C water, no go. I added another 1/2 C water to make it liquid, we’ll see if that works. Was hoping someone had actually tried it and commented here, but (sigh) alas, no. Wish me luck!
    I am sorry for the trouble. The ratio should work, but be sure that you are not measuring a heavy cup of flour. See our recommendation for measuring flour by volume here. ~Amy

    1. Stacie

      I tried several times with failure and upon reading about traditional wheat starters I found that temperature is a big factor. I keep my house cool all year around so I moved my starter to the water heater as recommended on another site and it took off.

  5. beemon

    Am I missing something here? I used the proportions suggested in the recipe and what I got was a stiff sludge that became stiffer with each feeding. No way could yeast spores survive under such weight. I gave up and tossed the lot.
    Sorry for the trouble. I’m wondering if you may have measured too heavy on the flour. We recommend the same method for measuring gluten free flour as for wheat flour as you can see here. You can always add more water to loosen the mixture if it seems stiff. Flour holds very little moisture in the dry winter air , so you may need to compensate with more liquid. The mixture should resemble a thick waffle batter. ~Amy

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Cindy, baking a gluten free sourdough baguette is a little more complicated than just substituting in the gluten-free sourdough starter to a regular baguette recipe. The best way to accomplish this would be to find a gluten-free sourdough baguette recipe. Unfortunately we haven’t developed such a bread recipe yet. I will suggest it though! Barb@KAF

    2. Bonnie Fritz

      Just go up a few lines to Lanette S comment she shared a link for gf bagettes. You might like to incorporate in your recip3s.

  6. JDizz

    Amy I am excited to try this. I LOVE,LOVE,LOVE sourdough bread. I have not found anything gluten free that comes close to tasting like the real thing.
    I was wondering when you discard could you use the discard to make another batch lets say for another celiac or gluten intolerant person that would like to try it?
    Yes, of course you could use the discard, but it is best to use it when it is fed and active rather than when it has been sitting in the fridge, unfed. The discard from the fridge can also be fed and used as a separate starter. ~Amy

  7. skthibault

    I am in the process of making my first ever batch of starter. Recently became aware that I can’t tolerate gluten or dairy. Your recipe calls for discarding half of the starter the first few days and that seems like quite a waste.. What else can be done with it???

    Make sourdough pancakes, popovers or even pizza crust – these recipes can be made with unfed (or discard) starter. If you can’t tolerate gluten, you may want to look for a GF starter (check the website for a GF sourdough starter). Happy GF Baking! Irene @ KAF

  8. JDizz

    I am so glad others had the same experience as I did. Back to the drawing board. Just watched the video you suggested on measuring a cup….oooops should have known that right? Guess I did not watch my mom as closely as I should have 🙂 Getting back in the saddle and getting excited again.
    Thank you Amy.

  9. JDizz

    One more question: In the pictures you have mixed it in a bowl then you say store it in a crock. I did the crock the first time this time I am doing a bowl. Do I leave it uncovered in the bowl overnight? Should I leave the starter in the bowl until it is ready (the fourth day)? Or after the first feed should I put it in the crock.
    I think I asked many questions here
    Thank you,
    Hi Lisa! You should give the bowl a cover with plastic or a loose-fitting lid- sot hat it can still breathe. You can do the first four days in the bowl and then move it to the crock when you are ready to store it. ~Amy

  10. JDizz

    Hissing is not happening 🙁
    putting it in the fridge does it stop the process?
    When it is ready to use in a recipe do you need to have it at room temp?

    Putting it in the fridge slows the process almost to a stop. And yes, it’s better to have at room temperature if you’re going to use the starter to help leaven, as in yeast bread. If you’re just using it for flavor (as in, say, chocolate cake), then no need to have it at room temperature. If you want to discuss sourdough further, please call our hotline: 802-649-3717. Good luck! PJH

  11. msquared2

    first time I tried it i had no bubbles after the fourth day. Looked at other sour dough starters on the web and discovered what might have caused the failure. I used tap water. It contains chlorine which kills stuff. Second time I used distilled water (I am sure bottled water will work) and the bubbling action is fantastic. Now I can get on with the sour dough english muffin recipe. You might mention the water problem.

    Thank you so much for your testament about using bottled/distilled water instead of tap water. You might also consider drawing off some tap water and letting it sit at room temp for 24 hours to dissipate any chemicals that may interfere with the starter. We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to note this so we can all learn from it. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    1. Anna

      I’ve been a gluten-free baker for over fifteen years and I have successfully made two types of gluten free starters – one using 1/2 c. plain kefir and 1/2 spring water to one cup of gluten-free flour and the other putting organic grapes into a 1:1 mixture of flour and spring water like the French do. When I started them, I fed each batch 1/4 c gluten-free flour plus 1/4 c. spring water each day for four days and both bubbled like mad and smell delicious. I have been feeding the two batches as described in this blog once a week and they have done very well over time.

      One does need to add regular yeast to make the bread dough rise properly – unlike ordinary sourdough, you can’t get the gluten free dough to rise properly by simply using starter. as the rising agent.

  12. Kathleen

    My husband was recently told he has to give up gluten so I was very interested in seeing this recipe. Now I need a gluten free sourdough bread recipe to try it with. Would love to see you post one.

    I would like to see one as well! I will send your request along and hopefully we can work on a recipe for one.-Jon
    Stay tuned for a new flatbread recipe coming in March and check out this recipe for gluten-free sourdough English muffins. If you want to use the starter in any of your favorite bread recipes, feel free! Just use 1 cup of starter in place of a cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water. ~Amy

  13. lisajoyofthelord

    I’m very excited to say that I followed the directions and this morning (the 5th) I was greeted with wonderful popping bubbling starter.
    Now, I’m ready to bake. Anyone have a recipe for GF sourdough bread?? I have a bread machine or can bake in the oven. It doesn’t matter which as long as it’s a reliable recipe. I know I can bake other GF sourdough products, but what I’ve REALLY missed is a sandwich on fresh sourdough bread.

    We have a gluten free sourdough english muffin recipe. Red Star Yeast has a nice collection of GF yeast bread recipes. Happy GF Baking! Irene @ KAF

  14. jmeknits

    I have a question about the use of metal utensils with the starter. I had always been told this would interfere with the fermentation process. Could there be a problem with this? I have both sizes of your dough whisks and love to use them but have not used them on my starter for this reason . Metal is okay as long as it’s stainless steal. Aluminum, not good. The high acidity in the the starter can eat away at the aluminum. Betsy@KAF

  15. Silvana Nardone

    Is the Florapan culture certified gluten free? Thanks!

    Yes, the french sourdough starter is indeed gluten free.-Jon

  16. Seth Sakamoto

    I have a typical wheat-flour based sourdough starter that I started keeping (obtained from a co-worker) that is awesome. My brother-in-law has a gluten allergy and has difficulty finding good bread. If I send him my sourdough starter, can he just start feeding it gluten-free flour and turn it into a gluten-free starter for his own use?

    No, that will not work at all. Your starter still contains wheat and gluten that will still leave trace amounts of gluten behind, even when feeding with gluten free flours for a longer period of time. However, he can certainly make his own from our blog!-Jon

  17. Janice Isley

    What can be used in place of Ancient Grain Flour Blend? I don’t care for the taste of Sorghum Flour. When I’m making regular GF bread, I use a combination of brown rice, white rice, amaranth and oat flour. Can I substitute this flour for the Ancient Grain Flour Blend? Thank you.

    Absolutly, that blend will work just fine. Betsy@KAF

  18. Michael Nicholas

    Can you clarify sourdough recipe conversion to gluten free? You wrote ” I suggest using 1 cup starter in place of 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour.” Is that for each cup of flour in the recipe? Or after replacing the 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour with my gluten free starter do I simply replace the balance of flour in the recipe for King Arthur gluten free multipurpose flour? Or something else?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I think Amy’s suggestion was intended to use sourdough in a yeasted gluten-free bread recipe. One could replace 1 cup of the recipe’s flour and 1/2 cup of the recipe’s water with 1 cup of the gluten-free sourdough starter. Does that help? ~Jaydl@KAF

    2. Michael Nicholas

      It does clarify her statement that I quoted. However, I am looking for some guidance in converting a “normal” sourdough recipe to a gluten free sourdough. Any suggestions??

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Converting a wheat based recipe to a gluten free recipe is a challenge and often takes brave willpower and experimentation. Amy suggests starting this process by using equal flour amounts and 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum for each cup of flour in the recipe as note in The Gluten Free Conversion Conundrum blog. We hope you’ll post your results along the way – happy baking! Irene@KAF

  19. Kevin

    So I read this “Ancient Grains Flour Blend, a whole-grain, gluten-free mixture of amaranth, millet, quinoa, and sorghum, will increase enzymatic action during fermentation, much like whole wheat flour would. It’s a great choice to feed to your starter with occasionally, to maintain a good pH balance.” Is this a recommendation to add to your “gluten” starter once in awhile?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I would actually suggest to use either a whole wheat or rye flour if you can. Yeast certainly prefer these flours, even over the ancient grains. Jon@KAF

  20. Michele Garcia

    Just for clarification; a gluten-based starter (the Florapan) was used to cultivate a gluten-free starter, is that correct? I have two gluten-based starters that I have been keeping for quite awhile, one cultured with wheat and the other cultured with spelt. Is it possible to use a small amount of one of the gluten-based starters and feed it with the gluten-free ancient grains flour to cultivate a new gluten-free starter, following the four-day process you have posted above?

    1. Amy Trage , post author

      Unfortunately even a small amount would cause your starter to not be gluten-free. If this is suitable for your dietary needs, then you certainly may go ahead and incorporate the other starters, but you should keep in mind that it will not be ok for those who need to be strictly gluten-free. ~Amy

  21. Cheryl

    I plan on keeping the discard starter to create a second starter. When I do the first division of the starter, can I feed the one as in recipe, but use regular flour for the other starter?


  22. Joy

    The directions say to let the starter sit out overnight at room temperature the first night. How long do you keep the starter at room temp? When do I place the starter in the fridge? My first attempt at making a sourdough starter turned into a moldy mess. Perhaps this is why? I left it at room temperature the entire week of feeding.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Room temp = Four days – after you’ve fed the starter the GF multipurpose flour on day four and it gets bubbly – then it’s ready to use in baking or to stir down and store in the refrigerator. We’re sad your first test drive of this process wasn’t successful and hope you try again. Irene@KAF

  23. Joy

    I started a new GF starter last night. Fingers crossed that it works! I also had to add a bit more water…even after following the measuring tip for the flour. How watery should the starter be? I only added approx a quarter cup more water because I didn’t want it too watery

  24. Ann

    I’ve seen a number of GF sourdough starter recipes for starting one’s own chef from scratch (no commercial culture) that use only brown rice flour and water. Would the Ancient Grains flour blend be preferable over only brown rice flour for beginning a starter (capturing wild yeast) or does brown rice flour do this job better?

    Any chance you might be able to provide a recipe in the future for making a GF sourdough starter from scratch with captured wild yeast? Many thanks!

    1. Amy Trage , post author

      Hi Ann, the starter would benefit from the enzymes provided by the ancient grains. I will keep the wild yeast starter recipe in mind for the future- thanks for the suggestion! ~Amy

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You may use 1 cup of starter in place of 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water in your bread recipe.~Jaydl@KAF

  25. Richard

    A little late to the party, but I’d like to weigh in on the name for your sourdough starter.
    You can’t go wrong with one of these: Excalibur, Camelot, The Grail, Merlin’s, Pendragon’s, Round Table, and Percival’s.

  26. Ed Ellickson

    Hi –

    Just started my first batch of gluten-free sourdough starter. Text above indicates that I’ll end up with about 1-1/2 cups of starter after 4 days. My first recipe (the gluten-free English muffins) says I’ll need about one cup of the starter, leaving me with 1/2 cup.

    What do I do next with the starter? A 4-oz flour and 4-oz water feeding? Do I split the last 4 oz of starter first? Or…?

    Forgive me, I’ve never used any kind of sourdough starter before. Thanks.

    Nothing to forgive, Ed. The only unwise question is the one not asked. Your instincts are correct, that you’ll feed the starter you have left once you’ve taken out what you need for the recipe. How much depends on how soon you plan on using it again, frankly. If you think you’ll be using it sooner than later, keep the remaining half cup and go with the 4 ounce feeding of flour and water. If you’re looking to go into a holding pattern, discard half the leftover starter and keep things small with a 2 ounce feeding of flour and water, each. That way you’re not going through as much product as you keep your starter healthy between baking episodes. Hope this helps. Susan

  27. Jennifer Yeh

    Hi, can I substitute brown rice flour mix (from KAF GF sandwich bread recipe) to maintain the starter? It is not feasible for me to get KAF’s GF flour mix from where I live ;-(

    Yes, the brown rice flour mixture will work just fine. Susan

  28. member-ritacdm

    I’m a little confused, you say to discard half the started on days 2 and 3, could you use these and add to them for more starters?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You could, but then you will have three starters you will need to feed on a daily/weekly basis! If discarding is an issue, you may want to try some of our recipes calling for unfed discard. Jon@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Kirsten-

      The specific flavor of San Francisco sourdough is actually a characteristics of the wild yeast and bacteria in that area that make up their natural sourdough starters. However, you can make a tangier version of your sourdough in a few ways. The first is to use a higher proportion of old starter to new flour/water when you feed your starter. You can also leave your doughs to ferment and rise over a longer period of time in the fridge, and this will promote a stronger and tangier flavor development. There are two additives you can use as well. Sour salt (citric acid), gives your bread an extra touch of “sour,” but you don’t want to exceed 1/8 teaspoon sour salt for each cup of flour used. There is also instant sourdough flavor which you can add 2 to 3 teaspoons instant sourdough flavor for each cup of flour in your recipe for pancakes, waffles etc. or add 1 to 2 tablespoons to your sourdough bread recipe to give it an extra zing (Note: these items are not certified gluten-free, and the sourdough flavor does contain gluten). I hope one or more of those suggestions can help you to achieve the tangy bread you are looking for and happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  29. Dana

    Hi! I’m having a really tough time with my gluten-free sourdough baking. I’ve tried several recipes, made 3 loaves of bread and dinner rolls with my starter. I’ve used different techniques each time (since I’ve not found one gluten-free sourdough recipe to be the same). Each time, no matter what I do differently, my bread does not rise in the oven (last night it even shrank!). It gets a tough, break your teeth crust, and remains gooey in the center. I left one loaf in the oven for 2 hours just to see if it would cook through–no such luck. The only thing I can guess is that my starter is inactive. But the one I have now I’ve been very meticulous about, and I’ve been feeding it for 2 weeks. Please say you can help me!! Thanks 🙂

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s difficult to say exactly what is going wrong with your bread, Dana. If you are getting a good rise before the dough goes in the oven, it could be that you are letting it go too long before baking. This will cause the loaf to fall and the interior crumb will likely be dense and wet. It is also possible that your starter is not giving you enough rising power. Are you seeing good activity after you feed your starter? Does it rise in the container and get very bubbly? We can give you more help with this issue if you give the Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-2253. Barb@KAF

  30. Eileen

    My apologies for such a long post, but I wanted to give you the background and specifics for my starter, in hopes for an answer so I don’t end up wasting precious materials. I live in Colorado at an elevation of 7200′. I was excited to try the gluten free sourdough starter, as my brother in NY bakes his own bread using his starter with KAF. I am gluten intolerant and have a deadly soy allergy. Most commercial breads are made with soybean oil and/or soy flour. I spent the money for the pricey Ancient Grains flour and French Sourdough Starter, along with the Xanthan Gum and GF Cake Enhancer to help with the baking process. I am a long time baker and have always measured my flour using the same method as in your video. Here are the details of the last 4 days:
    Day 1: Mixed according to recipe. Looked a little dry but went along. Although our tap water is pretty pure, I went ahead and put out some tap water in a container to let sit 24 hours.
    Day 2: Sent picture to my brother. Informed me that his starter looks like porridge and mine looks very dry. So, added 1/2 cup + 2 T. of water.
    Day 3: Still looked a little dry, but certainly moister.
    Day 4: Let the mixture go a little longer before adding my GF KAF. Once I added, the texture changed immediately. Very smooth and moist, looks like a real batter. In the last 2 hours, it has risen about 2″ . I still have it out at room temperature.

    I have not had the experience that the writer did: “The mass had risen almost to the top and was covered in ripe, sour bubbles that were popping and hissing to greet me”. No popping bubble and hissing, although it has doubled in size each time I took out 1/2 and added the flour and water.

    Since it has continued to rise a bit everyday do you think it will be okay to use in my GF bread recipes? The KAF and other brands of GF flour are very expensive. I have always only used KAF in my gluten bread recipes over the years, but the GF is 5.5 times the cost of the KAF bread flour ($0.33/oz vs. $0.06/oz), and it comes in smaller quantities, so certainly not packaged for the baker who would bake 2-3 times per week.

    Thank you in advance for any advice you can give.

    1. Susan Reid

      Hi, Eileen. It looks like you’re on the right track. As long as your starter is vigorous enough to double in 8 hours or less, you’re ready to bake with it. 7200 feet is almost always pretty dry, and all the baking I’ve done at that altitude and higher (I have a brother at 8300 in Evergreen) needed significantly more water. I think it’s time to get those loaves going! Susan

  31. Cindy

    Hello! I just added the flour for the 4th day. It says “When the starter becomes active following this feeding, it’s ready to use in your first recipe.”
    How do I know when it is active? Also at this point, do I put it in the KAF Container and in the fridge?
    One more question..when I use an amount of the starter, do I replace it with the amount that I used with 1/2 cup water?
    Thank you!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Cindy, you want to make sure your starter is rising in the container and looking nice and bubbly to consider it “active.” You can store your starter in the refrigerator for up to a week, but we do recommend you feed it at least once a week. When you use a portion of starter for a recipe you will want to feed the remaining starter as you usually do–with flour and water. For more sourdough help please give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-2253. Barb@KAF

  32. Hannah

    I used this article about a year ago to make a GF sourdough starter because my mom had gone GF, and the muffins are FANTASTIC. They are even my dad’s favorite, whose comment after three was “Oh, these are gluten free?!” We make double batches and then freeze them in 3-4 quantities. However, I just wanted to let everyone know that unlike regular flour sourdough starters, GF starters are not overly forgiving of neglect. I moved this past month, and unfortunately neglected my starter for about a month and a half and instead of souring and needing lots of attention, it molded. 🙁 So I will need to start over. So learn from my mistake everyone! Don’t neglect. Pay attention to your baby! But this recipe is a big favorite among my family. Hope everyone enjoys it as much as we did.

  33. Hendrik Eduard Kuiper

    We made our starter using gram (chickpea) flour and water. it works well and seems to have a deeper sour flavor than brown rice.

    How is the depth of flavor of your ancient grains starter??

  34. Maraleta

    Can I use regular starter with non-gluten flour!

    Since starter is sometimes difficult to create, could I “seed” the non-gluten starter with my regular starter?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      “Regular starter” (classic fresh sourdough starter, item 1522) begins with wheat flour, so you’ll want to seek a Gluten Free starter that’s GF from start to finish! There is a recipe available on our website for a GF starter or you might try . Best wishes with your GF starter journey. Happy Baking – Irene@KAF

  35. Michelle

    I apologize if this has been asked before, but my husband cannot have wheat and also cannot have potato or tapioca. Is it possible to do this starter with just the ancient grain product without the gluten free multi purpose flour?

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Michelle,
      We haven’t tried the starter with just the Ancient Grains, but it should work out if you feed it with the blend instead of the GF Multi blend. If you do give it a try, we’d love to hear your results. ~ MJ

  36. hap NJ

    Day 1 of gluten free sour dough starter. got my Florapan today so started right out on the starter. Looks a bit thick. Anyway can’t wait to see what it looks like by day 4.

  37. Alyson

    Glad I read the comments: I got my Florapan yesterday and started, but it didn’t look like the photos, so I just gave it about 2T of water and it looks great. It started bubbling up once it was wetter!

  38. Joan

    So once your starter is established and in the refrigerator, as you use it you replace with flour and water right? Do you have to let it sit out again or can you just always leave it in the refrigerator? And can you just feed it the gluten free flour or does it need ancient grains once in awhile?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We suggest feeding the starter occasionally with the ancient grains, since the grains are a good source of food for the yeast. Once the starter is fully established, you’ll store it in the fridge. Once a week or so, pull it out, feed it, leave it on the counter and let it get bubbly again before using or refrigerating. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

    2. joan

      Can you also remind me of the water/flour ratio for weekly feeding or if replacing what you have used?

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      It is always equal parts by weight, Joan. We use 4 ounces of gluten free flour and 4 ounces of water. Jon@KAF

  39. Padmani

    Do you know where you can get the florapan culture in Canada? Your site says it cant ship there. If not is there a substitute for it?

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi there,
      I would say check out their website ( to see if they offer distribution in Canada. Good luck!~ MJ

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Tammy, giving away the discard is a wonderful way to perpetuate the joy of baking with sourdough! Just be sure to give you friends the proper feeding instructions and let them know that for best results they should start as soon as possible (within 24 hours). Happy sourdough baking! Kye@KAF

  40. Don

    What is the explanation or the reason for doing the GF sour dough starter over 4 days? Why do you need to “discard” half the starter? Why not use it? I’ve been doing gluten sourdough for about 15 years and I never did it that way. Is the GF different? I never used a “starter culture”, I made my own outdoors when I needed to. Since I was baking every week I just continued feeding what I had. I guess that’s a lot of questions but I need help since this gluten free bread is really hard. Thanks.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Developing the culture takes some time so the 4 day preparation is the bare minimum to get the pH in balance. Certainly you may use the discard in a recipe calling for unfed starter or in a recipe not calling for any starter at all. There are many different types of sourdough starters and theories behind them. It can get confusing! Here are some reasons for discarding: If you don’t discard, eventually you’ll end up with way too much starter. Keeping the starter volume the same helps balance the pH. Keeping the volume down offers the yeast more food to eat each time you feed it. Please read on about Sourdough in general. Elisabeth@KAF

  41. Greg Neff

    I use a sourdough starter that is already gluten free. A simple yeast based starter kept in the fridge and fed a couple times a week. It’s one of those “shared” starters, however the recipe is online as well.
    How well with this work with your gluten free flour?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Our GF starter works well with our GF flour, but we do recommend using a tested GF recipe. You’ll want to be sure that your proportions of flour and water correspond with what we use so the final dough is the correct consistency. Here’s an English muffin recipe to get you started: Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  42. Greg Neff

    Wow. That starter is nothing like what I currently use. The original starter is water, sugar, potato flakes and some yeast. Fed regularly with just water, potato flakes and sugar. I need to just order some flour and start playing with it before I change a system that I finally have working how I like it.

    Thanks for your reply!

  43. Sara

    I’m a little confused about how to maintain the starter. Do I throw away 4 oz starter when I do my weekly feed? How do I use the starter? Do I need to feed it a certain amount of time before use in a recipe? Let it sit at room temperature? Feed extra for the recipe? Thanks!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sara, every time you feed your starter you will need to discard about half and feed the remaining starter 1 cup of GF flour and 1/2 cup of water. You should feed it at least once a week and store it in the refrigerator when not using it. Before adding your starter to a recipe you may want to give it a few reviving feedings at room temperature, once in the morning and once in the evening, until it is looking nice and healthy and bubbly a few hours after you feed it (note how the blog photo of the final starter looks after it has been fed and risen for a few hours). You’ll want to add your starter to a recipe when it looks like this photo. If you need more starter for your recipe than you normally maintain, you can save twice as much starter and feed it twice as much flour and twice as much water. This will double the normal size of your starter and give you plenty for your recipe as well as enough left over to feed and perpetuate. For more help with your GF sourdough starter, please give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-2253(BAKE). Barb@KAF

  44. Jeanne

    I have purchased your gluten free starter and have been feeding it for a week, anticipating that I would want to make gluten free sourdough bread out of it but just realized you don’t have a recipe for gluten free sourdough bread? Can you give me some ideas for how to just make simple sourdough bread from the starter?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jeanne, you can try substituting 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of water from one of our gluten-free bread recipes with 8 ounces of your fed sourdough starter. If you want to eliminate the yeast, be aware that the bread will take much longer to rise. Or you might want to try this recipe written for your starter. You might also like this Gluten-Free Sourdough English Muffin Recipe. Barb@KAF

  45. Marci Hilliker

    How about…


    I’ve been looking for a short dough starter for a while now. The only recipes I could find were the wheat ones… Till now. Thank you for posting this. I desperately want to try it in sir dough bread! Please continue to post!

  46. Kim Leon-Guerrero

    Thank you, thank you, thank you !!! For developing this starter, I can’t wait to try it. As for a name I suggest, Free Start !

  47. Gail Coom

    Thanks for all the information. I’ve been making GF sourdough starter with teff and sorghum. When I stop adding sorghum and add only a GF flour blend with distilled water, the mixture stops bubbling and growing and hooch forms on the top. What should I try? I appreciate your help and am looking forward to some great bread.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re so happy you’re eager to bake with your gluten-free sourdough, Gail! The good news is that if your starter is producing hooch, it is still alive, just not as active. Assuming you’re using whole grain teff and sorghum, this change in performance makes some sense, as converting from whole grain to white flour will alter the activity of the starter. In fact, we see something similar, though to a slightly lesser degree, when we switch from feeding a wheat-based starter with whole wheat to white. There are a number of other factors that could also be at play here, and to fully answer, we’d need a little more info. What kind of gluten-free flour blend are you using? Our recipe is written with ours in mind, and using a different blend could produce different results due to differing levels of available minerals. We’d also need to know a little more about your feeding schedule and where you store your starter (on the counter or in the fridge?), as these factors too can affect the activity level of your starter. Hope this helps to get you thinking in the right direction. If you’d like to talk this over more, please give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE, and we’ll see what we can do to help! Mollie@KAF

  48. Carol Doeringer

    I bake often with wheat sourdough starter, and I find that it really extends the keeping qualities of even a lean wheat loaf. I’m experimenting with GF breads to help friends out, and I’m intrigued by the idea of GF sourdough. Before I invest in the ingredients, though, one question: In your experience, do breads made with GF sourdough starter similarly have longer shelf life? My GF breads seem to stale within 24 hours, and if incorporating sourdough in the dough extends the tasty period, I’ll embark on a GF starter project.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Carol, we haven’t tested our GF sourdough recipes in this way, but I would think that the keeping quality that the acidic nature of sourdough provides would have some influence on GF baked goods as well. I doubt it would extend their shelf life as much as regular sourdough baked goods, but I imagine they will keep a bit longer. Please let us know how your sourdough project goes! Barb@KAF

  49. Rachel

    I have a sourdough starter I made with all-purpose flour. Can I switch it to gluten free flour with it being acceptable by gluten free people? Sorry for the wording, it’s not very clear. 😉 I mean, if i switched it to gluten free flour, can it be eaten by gluten free people, or would I have to make a starter purely from gluten free flour? Thanks.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Rachel, in order to have a sourdough starter that’s entirely gluten-free, you’ll want to start from scratch using certified gluten-free ingredients. We recommend checking with those you’ll be feeding about their sensitives and consulting a doctor for advice as well, if necessary. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  50. Lenne

    The recommendation to discard 1/2 the total starter assumes that one does not plan to USE the starter. If you have two cups of starter, or even three, and plan to make a recipe that uses one or one and one half cups, you don’t have to discard anything, just use it and feed it.

    Also, I use about 1/2 cup each Sunday and feed normally, not experiencing any shift in the overall ph of the starter. I keep it far more wet than you suggest. easily mixed with an ordinary whisk. It’s wonderfully tart and healthy.

  51. Jeana Small

    Do I have to use the Florapan? Non-Gluten free recipes don’t use this. Is it because of the non-wheat flours?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question, Jeana. This was something new for many of us bakers to ponder. We asked longtime baker and blogger PJ Hamel to take her best guess at why gluten-free flours needed this culture in order to be successful. She said, “…I’d imagine that the gluten-free starter, without wheat, isn’t able to develop the lactic and organic acids that a wheat-based starter gets from yeast feeding on the wheat, and therefore is missing those flavors. Florapan adds the flavor. And I’d guess sure, you can make gluten-free starter without it; it will just be lacking those sourdough flavors.” We hope that helps you make an informed decision about how to go forward. Kye@KAF

  52. Steven K Murray

    I grew up eating Sour Dough pancakes. I lost the recipe & touch when my mom passed on. You don’t know how excited I was to see your sour dough recipe. Becoming gluten intolerant recently, I am doubly glad to see your recipe.
    Have a great day!
    One happy baker,


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