activate and maintain dried sourdough starter
Making A Sourdough Starter | Sourdough

Activating A Dried Sourdough Starter: Purchasing A Sourdough Starter

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Sourdough starters are often gifted, as well as purchased in a dried form. A question I get asked a lot in our Facebook Group is – “my friend gave me some of their sourdough starter – now what do I do with it” and “how do I go about activating a dried sourdough starter“?

I’ve Been Gifted A Sourdough Starter – Now What?

If you’ve been gifted a starter from a friend, or purchased a sourdough starter online {affiliate link} or from your local bakery, you might wander what to do with it. There are two ways that you could receive your starter – it can be hydrated (wet) or dried.

If you are receiving a wet starter, it’s always good to ask the person giving you the starter some questions:

  • How old is the sourdough starter?
  • How often have they been feeding it and with what ratio?
  • What flour have they been feeding it?

It’s not essential, but if you know how, when and what they have been feeding the starter, you can continue on with the same routine.

Sourdough starters are very resilient and can cope with change, so if you do change the type of flour or how often you feed it, it should be fine. It will go through a small adjustment period where it may show less activity, but with perseverance and consistency it will recover.If you’re gifted a sourdough starter you might wander what to do with it?

“Wet” Sourdough Starter

If you receive a jar of “wet starter” and you’re not sure how it’s been fed in the past, you can just start with your own routine:

  • Take 50g (1/2 cup) of starter out of the jar and place it into a clean jar
  • Feed it with 50g of flour and 50g of water.

To be honest, the amounts don’t matter in this case, you just want to feed it with the 1:1:1 ratio – so it could be any amount you choose. Rye flour is a great choice for feeding your sourdough starter as it contains loads of naturally occurring bacteria which act like a superfood for your starter.

ACTIVATING sourdough starter that has been gifted or purchased.

If you are going to leave the sourdough starter out on the counter, continue to feed it in this way, twice a day until it’s consistently doubling. Once it’s active and consistently doubling, you could drop back to 1 feed a day or put it in the fridge until you want to bake with it.

If you purchase a starter from a local bakery, you can pretty much guarantee that it will be active so you could just place it straight in the fridge if you aren’t going to use it straight away.

If your sourdough starter fails to start consistently doubling, you’ll need to check out troubleshooting guide for assistance. If you want to adjust the flavor of your sourdough starter, you can try these ideas.

Activating A Dried Sourdough Starter

If you’re given a starter that has been dried, you’ll need to rehydrate the starter and get it bubbling & doubling so it’s ready to use. This is not as hard as it sounds, it just requires a little patience.

Activating a dried starter from powder
You can activate a starter you’ve dried yourself, or one you’ve purchased or been gifted.

The following instructions can be used for any sourdough starter that has been dried.

Activating a Dried Sourdough Starter Recipe Image

Activating A Dried Sourdough Starter

Instructions for activating a dried sourdough starter to get it ready for baking simple sourdough bread. These instructions for activating a dried sourdough starter will work whether you're using sourdough starter you've dried yourself, from a friend or purchased.
5 from 1 vote
Servings 1 Jar of Starter


  • 20 g Dried Sourdough Starter
  • 300 g Flour of your choice (enough for around 6 feeds of 50g)
  • 300 g Warm Water (enough for around 6 feeds of 50g)


  • Starting with a clean jar, add 20g of dried sourdough starter. Add 50g of warm water and stir it together until the starter is completely covered and coated by the water.
    Now add 50g of flour and stir in well, ensuring that you get plenty of oxygen into the mixture.
    Cover with a paper towel or coffee filter secured with an elastic band and leave for approximately 12 hours.
  • After 12 hours, feed the starter with 50g of warm water and 50g of flour.
    Mix it really well, getting plenty of oxygen into the mixture.
    Cover with a paper towel or coffee filter secured with an elastic band and leave for approximately 12 hours.
  • After 12 hours, discard all but 50g of your starter (you could just place 50g of the starter into a clean jar and get rid of the rest).
    Add 50g of water and 50g of flour to your mixture.
    Give it a really good stir to get plenty of oxygen into the mix.
    Cover with a paper towel or coffee filter secured with an elastic band and leave for approximately 12 hours.
  • You'll need to repeat step 3 above every 12 hours for around 3-7 days. You want your starter to become bubbly and consistently doubling after each feed.
    Once it is doing this consistently, it will be ready to bake with.


Depending on the type of flour you use, the initial mixture will seem quite dry – don’t worry it will thin out as the starter begins to activate. If you’re really worried, spray a little water onto the top of the mixture.
Keyword Sourdough Starter
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If you’re interested in starting your own sourdough starter from scratch, you’ll find easy step by step instructions here.

When your sourdough starter is ready to make bread, you’ll find an easy recipe to bake simple sourdough bread here.

This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.

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  1. When making starter and you remove half of it, do you just discard this or is it mixed in again? Seems wasteful to throw out half a starter for a few days.

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