Reviving a Dead Sourdough Starter

Even we obsessive sourdough lovers sometimes end up with a starter that seems to have gone into a coma. Never fear. Here is how to revive that dead sourdough starter!

how to revive a dead sourdough starter

Have you experienced this? We get busy and before we know it two or three weeks have gone by and no bread has been made. Or if we are lucky, we go on a long vacation, but our sourdough starter stays home alone. Don’t worry. A seemingly dead starter can be brought back to life. Below are the directions I included when teaching my “Making Rustic Breads at Home” class.

Dormant Starter

If your starter has been neglected for too long it may go dormant. It will not have any bubbling activity and may be covered in a dark liquid (alcohol from the yeast) or even a light gray mold. As long as it has been in the refrigerator, you can revive it!

  • Stir it up (you can remove the mold first if you like, but it’s not absolutely necessary)
  • Discard all but ½ cup of the starter
  • Feed it twice each day (1 cup flour, ½ cup filtered water, discarding half of the starter each day) until active again. This may take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks.
  • Note – dormant starter that has turned red or pink should be thrown out. This indicates a starter that has been over-run with bacteria and is beyond all hope!

Of course, you can always throw out your dead starter and start all over again. A mature starter though has much more complex flavor than a new starter, so I do recommend resuscitating your dead starter if at all possible.

by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at Find her professional food writing info at

March 4, 2018

You May Also Like…

Lemon Pasta with Green Veggies

Lemon Pasta with Green Veggies

Asparagus, pea pods, and other green veggies lend springtime flavor to cheesy, lemon pasta. Winter is reluctantly...

Four Bean Salad Recipe

Four Bean Salad Recipe

Combine green and yellow string beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans with a tangy dressing for a quick summertime salad.


  1. Pat Crow

    When my 17 year old sourdough gets neglected and gets grey liquid on top I pour off the liquid and add flour and bottled water and let it sit out for 24+ hours. It revives everytime. Do toss liquid into the compost bin. Can’t hurt!

    • admin

      Wow! 17 years. I am impressed. I kept a starter alive for about 5 years and then inadvertently tossed it when cleaning out the refrigerator. Now I clearly mark the container! Using bottled water or filtered water is a good idea. As is adding the liquid to the compost bin. I will be sure to do that. Thanks for the tip Pat.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *