Herman Starter


This is a very easy starter and a strong one. It is easy to maintain and taste even more delicious the longer you have it.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope yeast (2 1/4 t.)

Mix flour, water, sugar and yeast together
in plastic or glass container and let stand
overnight, loosely covered, in a warm place.

After sitting overnight your starter will be bubbly:


I use a plastic jars and glass jars for storage. The one below is plastic and has a screw on lid. I only place the lid on the jar and barely secure it. I absolutely never screw it tight. Herman is alive and he has to breath or he will die!

Refrigerate the next day. Stir every day.


On the 5th day, add 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk,
and 1/2 cup sugar to the mixture. Stir well
and return to refrigerator, loosely covered.
Continue stirring daily.

On the 10th day, remove 1 cup of the starter and
set aside. The rest of the starter can be
used in recipes or given away.

Return the 1 cup of starter to the empty
crock. To it, add 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk and
1/2 cup sugar. Repeat feeding on the 5th day,
stir every day.

On the 10th day, you will be ready to bake again.
If you don't want to bake on the 10th day, add
1 teaspoon of sugar to the starter and repeat
every 10th day until ready to bake. Be prepared
for the starter to grown in volume.

 I now keep 6 starters going at all times. Four different ones (San Francisco, rye starter, juice starter, potato starter) and 2 Herman's.  I want a Herman ready to be used every three days at least. Once I have started one, I wait two days and start another one. This give me a Herman that is ready for use on those in between days.   I bake bread every couple of days for us and I need to always have a starter that is ready.


Starter Using Instant Potato Flakes

You want to use the flakes, not the buds so remember this when purchasing your instant potatoes. 


2 c. warm water

2/3 c. sugar

6 Tbsp instant potato flakes

1 pkg yeast

Begin with a nice clean jar. Into that jar, mix all of your ingredients. Cover loosely with waxed paper or if your jar is like mine and has a screw on plastic lid, just place the lid on the jar and turn it once.  Do not completely seal the jar or your yeast will die. You are as always when using sourdough starters dealing with a live thing and it needs to breathe. Let jar stay at room temp. for 24 hours.

Feeding the Starter

1 c. warm water

1/3 c. sugar

3 Tbsp instant potato flakes

I keep around 2 cups of starter. So when it is time to feed, I pour out one cup and feed what is left in my jar. So after pouring off half of the starter (which I always use to make a batch of something) mix in all your feeding ingredients. You should feed this starter every 10 days. If you are using it every three days to make bread, it is not necessary to do any extra feeding since you will feed  your starter each time you use it.

This starter as with all starters may be frozen if you know you will not be using it for some time. Always a good idea to freeze your starters or a portion of it if you are going away for awhile. Starters may also be dried. To freeze them, just place a small amount of your starter into a plastic container and place in the fridge. Let come to room temp when ready to use it. At that point you will want to give it a nice feeding and let it hang out for a few days in the old fridge and you are ready to bake again.


Fast Track Starter


Have on hand a 2 qt. container with a lid. (plastic or glass)

In a non-reative mixing bowl (plastic, glass, ceramic) combine 3 1/2 cups flour, 1pkg Active Dry Yeast and 2 cups warm water (105F-115F)

Using a wooden or plastic spoon, mix all ingredients well until there are no lumps.

Pour the mixture into your 2qt container and place the lid on with out sealing tightly.

Set in a warm place of your kitchen for 2-4 days. ( I stir mine once daily with a wooden spoon)

When you see the top fairly active with bubbles it is ready to use. 

When the bubbles are present, mix well with a wood or plastic spoon and cover tightly and  place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

It is ready to use this first day you have your bubble, but it will be even better if you keep it in the fridge for 2 or  3 days before using it.

One good gage is to begin your starter on a Monday and bake with it the next Monday.



Wild Yeast Rye Conversion Starter


It is about as fool-proof a recipe for starter a new starter as you will find.

The procedure is to start it with rye flour, then transform it by changing what you feed it.  The original rye will dilute to nothing over time and you'll end up with a white flour and water based starter, but it had the advantage of beginning its life from highly fermentable rye flour.  Once you have gotten it going well you can convert it to white flour or whatever other grain you choose - it could be whole wheat or pumpernickel or even spelt, or you could leave it as a rye starter. 


Phase 1 - Combine 2 oz organic rye flour (room temp) with 4 oz spring water in a clear container.  The batter should be about the consistency of very thick pancake batter, add more water or flour if necessary. Cover & let it sit for 36 - 48 hours at 75 - 77 degrees (a little cooler is okay but over 80 you will incubate the wrong kind of bacteria and your culture will have an unpleasant bitter taste).  You should start to see tiny bubbles forming after about 24 hours.  By the time it has activated, there will be a noticeable network of small bubbles throughout the batter & there may be a layer of foam or froth on top.  (If the batter has not activated within 48 hours, feed with 2 oz water & 2 oz flour (add more of either if necessary for the consistency) and let it sit another 24 hours or until you see some definite activity.)

Phase 2 - Stir the culture down, notice how soupy it's become.  The batter should have a noticeable sour smell & a mildly tangy taste at this point.  Add 2 oz water & 2 oz flour and stir vigorously until well-combined.  Let it sit for 12 hours.  It should be showing a fair amount of activity at this point.  You should see lots of foaming & bubbling through the sides as well as on the top.  Don't be concerned if the culture deflates & loses volume.  This means the yeast has exhausted its food supply, but it will continue to increase in acidity.  Don't worry if your culture isn't dramatically active yet.  As long as there is some noticeable activity going on and the mixture smells & tastes sour, you're on the right track.

Phase 3 - The culture should now have a pronounced, sour, fruity taste and smell, it should not taste musty or bitter (if it does, discard and start again, paying close attention to the temperature of the culture at all times).  Now you can start converting it into a white (or other) flour based starter.  Use 6 oz of the starter, add 3 oz water & 3 oz flour, stir vigorously.  Let it sit for 12 hrs at 75 - 77 degrees F.   Begin substituting a small amount of rye flour with the new flour you wish to use.  Each time you feed increase the amount of new flour until you are using all new flour.

Refresh it again, setting up a maintenance level of 12 oz of starter.  This will be your "mother" starter that you use to build the sourdough starters/sponges needed in individual recipes.


Each time you take part of the mother out to build a starter, refresh it with equal weights of flour and water to bring it back up to its maintenance level.

To maintain - Use 6 oz of the mother culture (discard the rest), add 3 oz water & 3 oz flour, stir vigorously, let it sit at room temp until doubled in volume.

A strong mother will double in 8-12 hours.  If yours does not do that, let it continue to sit out until it has a nice tangy taste and smell; discard all but 6 oz and repeat this procedure.  Repeat this procedure as many times as necessary until the mother doubles within 8-12 hrs.  It may take several days.  Don't get discouraged, it's worth the effort.


To use for recipes - Combine 1/2 c (5 oz) mother starter from the refrigerator with 3 oz flour and 2.5 oz warm water (85 - 90 degrees).  The mixture will be stiffer than the mother. Let it sit, covered, until doubled in volume (if it doesn't do so go back to maintenance procedure).  When the starter has doubled, it is ready to use in a recipe.  Measure the amount needed and discard any that remains. 

This is one of my favorite starter for using the instant potato flakes. You begin with flour and then you feed with the potato flakes.



This one uses yeast, water, sugar and flour to start and feeds with sugar, water and potato flakes.

Starter Ingredients:
2 Pkg active dry yeast (recipes vary in amt)
1/2 c warm water
3Tbs.. sugar ( some recipes call for more sugar )
3 Tbs Flour (not potato flakes)
Mix yeast with the 1/2 cup warm water. Combine remaining starter ingredients and add to yeast mixture.

Feeding Ingredients:
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tbs. instant potato flakes
1 cup warm water


After combining the starter ingredients let it stand at room temperature in a lightly-covered glass jar  for 3 to 5 days.  Refrigerate it and feed every 3 to 5 days.  Give it several feedings 3 to 5 days apart to age the starter before baking with it for the first time.  (Other instructions say to mix the starter and let it sit overnight, then refrigerate it, covered, for 3 to 5 days before using it to make bread.  Let it come to room temperature, feed it and let stand overnight before baking with it.  If one way doesn't work for you, try the other way.)