Mother Yeast Recipe (or Sourdough Starter)

mother yeast pasta madre natural leavening sourdough lievito For better understanding the recipe written below, please read at first the page What’s Mother Yeast.

I tried to create a liquid mother yeast three times with no success… it lasted one day and then it spoiled and for me was a bit tricky to understand its actual state of life, so, sadly, I gave up.
After that, I remembered when my grandparents told me how they made bread, saving a little piece of dough for the next batch adding sometimes honey to reinforce it…. I tried to do this….. and here is my 2 years old mother yeast!

So, let’s begin!

Ingredients are the most important part of cooking, so be sure to choose quality food, use bottled water and use a no additive unbleached flour (organic).

Mother Yeast Recipe

Difficulty: easy
Preparation: 5 minutes Cooking Time: none
Yield: none

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup (200 grams – 8 ounces) bread flour or all-purpose flour sifted
  • 1/2 cup (90/100 grams – 3.5/4 ounces) spring water (45%-50% of flour weight)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • love…give love to your dough (I’m not talking nonsense, it’s true, I was sceptical untill I proved, try to curse it and it will gone bad, so treat it well, be positive! – read Before start cooking page for more info).

28/11/2014 Update: do not use tap water because the chlorine contained in it will kill microorganisms, thus preventing yeast from being created.

Instrucions:

Mix all the ingredient to form a soft, smooth and no-sticky dough (like pizza dough). If it’s too sticky add a little flour otherwise add more water.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a glass bowl (do not use metal, wood or plastic bowl to avoid materials contamination, use just a glass one).
Cover with the lid or a plate (do not seal up, just put it on with no pressure), the dough has to breath but not dry out.

Let it rest in a warm place (75-77°F/24-25°C) for 48 hours (usually in my house it’s 68°F/20°C so I pre-heated oven to 100°F/38°C, switched it off and turned the light just for few hours – in summer you can leave it at room temperature).
If you put the dough in the oven, put inside some ripe fruit (I prefer an apple, that also gives good aroma to the dough). This is important to give the dough a lot of yeasts to help the rising process. But if you’ve just baked something you can skip this passage because the air has still a lots of new yeasts.

After 2 days the dough should be rose and full of little air bubbles, if so congratulation, your mother yeast is born!

(If nothing occurs, refresh it as written below, let rest in a warm place for 48 hours and if nothing happens you have to throw it away – try to read this recipe very carefully and repeat the procedure step by step, don’t give up! – slow and steady wins the race!)

Refresh as written below, put it in a glass jar, close it, put in the refrigerator or leave at room temperature.

How to refresh Mother Yeast

If refrigerated, keep mother yeast at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 100°F-38°C  (you can skip that passage if your room temperature is high enough).
Take a piece of mother yeast (1/2 cup – 100 grams – 4 ounces) and put it in a bowl.
Add 45%-50% of water (less than 1/4 cup – 45/50 grams – 1.5/2 ounces) and keep in mind to change water temperature at every refresh you do, first warm next time cold and so on… it helps balance acidity.

Stir until dough is quite melted.

Add flour (all-purpose or bread flour) in the same weight of the piece of mother yeast (3/4 cup -100 grams – 4 ounces) and form the new dough (it has to be soft, smooth and no sticky, help you with more flour or water to adjust).

                             ..

Put it in a jar glass, place the lid on but do not close it (let it breath).

Switch off the oven and leave the light on.
Put inside the oven some ripe fruit (ex. apple).

Put the jar with mother yeast inside the oven and:

  • if your mother yeast has less than 6 months, let rest 3 hours, then pull out the jar and leave 1 hour at room temperature;
  • if your mother yeast has more than 6 months, let rest 1 1/2 hours, then pull out the jar (even if it’s not triple).

Close the jar, put in the refrigerator or leave at room temperature.

How often do you have to refresh it?

  • If you keep it at room temperature (65°/77°F-18°/25°C) you have to refresh it every 2 days
  • If you keep it in the fridge (40°/43°F-4°/6°C) you have to refresh it every 5-7 days
  • If you make a big batch over 1.8 lb-800 grams you can refresh it even after 10 days

If you notice, after resting the first hours, the dough rises in the jar until tripled.
A simple way to know that you should refresh it is when it gets back down.
If the dough doesn’t rise until tripled, you have to revitalized it by doing the refresh 2 times consecutively (refresh, let rest 4 hours as written above and re-refresh).

Useful and important info to know

Keep in mind that before you can use mother yeast to make recipes you have to wait at least one month to obtain some good results, in the mean time you can mix unused mother yeast in dough using a buy yeast to make your bread.

After 6 refreshing months your yeast will be stabilized and the final products will taste and look better.
During this 6 months yeast could be too much acidic (you can smell it), so you can balance it by putting a very little pinch of salt and mix it.

That’s all!

Related posts:

  • read this page if you want to know how to use mother yeast;
  • read this page if you want some tips on mother yeast when you go on holiday;
  • read this page if you want to know what’s mother yeast;
  • read this page if you want to know the advantages and disadvantages about mother yeast.

Remember… “home-made strikes back!“.


Mother Yeast Recipe (or Sourdough Starter)
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup (200 grams - 8 ounces) bread flour or all-purpose flour sifted
  • ½ cup (90/100 grams - 3.5/4 ounces) spring water (45%-50% of flour weight)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Love... give love to your dough :-)
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredient to form a soft, smooth and no-sticky dough (like pizza dough). If it's too sticky add a little flour otherwise add more water.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a glass bowl (do not use metal, wood or plastic bowl to avoid materials contamination, use just a glass one).
  3. Cover with the lid or a plate (do not seal up, just put it on with no pressure), the dough has to breath but not dry out.
  4. Let it rest in a warm place (75-77°F/24-25°C) for 48 hours (usually in my house it's 68°F/20°C so I pre-heated oven to 100°F/38°C, switched it off and turned the light just for few hours - in summer you can leave it at room temperature).
  5. If you put the dough in the oven, put inside some ripe fruit (I prefer an apple, that also gives good aroma to the dough). This is important to give the dough a lot of yeasts to help the rising process.
  6. But if you've just baked something you can skip this passage because the air has still a lots of new yeasts.
  7. After 2 days the dough should be rose and full of little air bubbles, if so congratulation, your mother yeast is born! (If nothing occurs, refresh it as written below, let rest in a warm place for 48 hours and if nothing happens you have to throw it away - try to read this recipe very carefully and repeat the procedure step by step, don't give up! - slow and steady wins the race!)
  8. Refresh as written in the post, put it in a glass jar, close it, put in the refrigerator or leave at room temperature.

26 thoughts on “Mother Yeast Recipe (or Sourdough Starter)

  1. You can just use it directly out of the fridge? That is very different from 100% hydration starter that you have to refresh first then use in recipes. Can you elaborate on how to use the madre if you put it in the fridge after refreshing it. In other words if I fed it Monday and put it in the fridge and I took it out Thursday, can I bake with it directly or do I need to refresh it wait 4 hours and then use it?

    • Hi, for great results it’s always better to refresh the yeast before using it, but if it’s very active and has strength you can use it straight forward (you know that when it rises in 2 hours after the refresh).
      If you use it without refreshing, keep in mind that the dough will take a bit longer to rise.

  2. thank you for your recipe. please, tell, if the mother dough is young – does it mean it will be sour taste of the bread? and one more question, when I start developing the starter, how many days will it take to be mature? some people say it will take about 15 days. what do you think?

  3. Hi, I have got my mother up and going and going really well. So now it is just 3 days old and I can’t quite understand refreshing it? I did feed it today but I just added the same amount to it as the original recipe. So now I have twice as much. My question is do I have to add the same amount every time as it will just keep getting bigger? And also can I use it straight away? Adam

    • Hi Adam,
      when you have to refresh it (or feed it if you like to call it that way) you need to take the amount of dough that you want, I usually take 100grams and then add 50% of bottled water (45-50grams) and then add 100% of all purpose flour (100grams) and mix. This is your renewed mother yeast!

      The dough that remains and that you don’t refresh can be used in bread recipes (along with store brought yeast for the first month to help the rising) or just discard it.

      Bye!

  4. Thank you for the step by step passages Ilaria!
    I can’t believe I finally succeed in creating my own natural yeast after trying so many recipes!! I’m so so happy!
    It’s just 1 months old but my family love my bread anyway, so it’s a win win!

  5. Hello. Thanks for the information. I’m a culinary student that found your post to be very informative (I’m currently studying abroad and all my recipes are in italian so sometimes they are very hard to decipher). I was just wondering after you have refreshed your mother yeast how do you store it in the fridge? In the jar sealed? or should I have the lid loose like in the photos?

    Thanks again for your post!

    • Hello Gaisone,
      I’m glad you found my post useful!
      About mother yeast, when you store it in the fridge you need to seal the lid, so it does not dry out.
      Good luck for your culinary career and if sometimes you need some help to decipher your recipes just write me, I’m happy to help!

  6. hello! looks like my yeast has come to life!| now do i wait another 5 days to refresh if put in the fridge?” I was a little confused about the refresh when you say to take a piece of the mother yeast….what do you do with the rest that-s in the jar? thanks for your helpful hints! i can’t wait to start using it…

    • Yes, if it’s in the fridge, you can wait 5 days before refreshing it, or at least when you see that the dough has returned down to the first level.
      The old the mother yeast is, the longer you could leave it in the fridge (mine has almost 4 years old and I leave it in the fridge more than a week).
      With the remaining piece of dough (that you don’t refresh) you can use it in other recipes along with normal yeast until you can see that your Mother Yeast has enough strength to be used alone in recipes.

  7. My first attempt at making mother yeast and after two days it has mold starting to cover it on the outside. I used unbleached flour and had it in the oven in a glass bowel with the lid slightly open and an apple. What happened? What should I do with it at this stage?

  8. I am thinking of trying to make your mother yeast recipe ,,, never tried it before ..
    after being refreshed on a weekly basis for 6 months in the fridge , once it is matured , how often do you have to refresh it after that ? do you keep on refreshing it forever ? or after the 6 months it is only refreshed once in a while ?
    thx
    cristian

    • Hi Cristian,
      refreshing mother yeast is important because you have to feed the yeasts to keep them alive so they can do their job on rising the dough.
      Mine is 3 years old and I don’t use it so often and it is in a kind of a sleep mode in the fridge at 4ºC, so I have to refresh it just every 10-15 days (you know when you have to refresh it when it’s returned to the lowest level).
      When I have to use it to make bread or pizza, I refresh it 3 times in one day so it returns to be active (you know when it’s active when it triples in 2-3 hours).

      I can’t tell you how much times in a month you would have to refresh it, it depends on many things such as fridge temperature, amount and age of mother yeast…

      If you don’t want to use it for some time therefore you don’t want to refresh it anymore you can always freeze it.
      When you need it, just thaw it out and make several refreshing.

      But when you have your mother yeast, trust me that you will not want to lose it!

      • thank you for your response and lots of valuable information…
        I just started my mother yeast for the first time ever and I have a quick question… I just placed the dough in a jar in the oven with an apple beside it as per your instructions… since I have to leave it in there for 48 hours , do I have to close the jar after a few hours ? or do I leave it a bit open for the entire 2 days ? will that dry the dough ?
        grazie mille
        cristian

        • The dough has to breath, so put the lid on but don’t screw it, so little air can pass through. The oven door is closed so there’s not so much air circulating.
          But if you notice that the surface of the dough is a little dry just discard the surface when you refresh it.

          Fingers crossed! 😉

          • i have been trying 3 times now to make my mother yeast and am getting quite frustrated as it is not rising properly… I do not know what I am doing wrong… it seems that after the 48 hours of resting , the dough barely rises… it seems to become softer and more liquid than be stiff and rise like a normal dough..
            thanks for your suggestions..
            cristian

          • It’s ok if the dough barely rises, if you look at the pictures above you can see a slight difference. Can you see some little bubbles? If yes, that’s ok, you can refresh it.

            Note that before being able to create my mother yeast I tried 2 kind of flour.
            At first I used a too refine flour so it didn’t have enough “life” to be eaten by the yeasts.
            So choose an organic and unbleached flour.

            But from what you have written I think that it’s ok with that. At first it’s not an explosion of life so the rise cannot be doubled or tripled. It’s the time that will do that.

            Thanks for trying and don’t give up! 😉

Have you tried my recipe? Please leave a comment!