Why is My Sourdough Starter Runny?

Why is My Sourdough Starter Runny?

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If youve ventured into the world of sourdough starters, youll notice one thing right off the bat: its not as easy as it looks. There are many issues you can run into, from liquid on top of the starter to a problem with the proper rising. But what if your sourdough starter is exceptionally runny?

Runniness is a common problem when it comes to sourdough starters. It is most often caused by inappropriate feeding ratios. However, it can also occur from a too-warm kitchen, using flour that doesnt need as much hydration or lack of feeding.

The good news is that there are many simple solutions regardless of whats causing your runny sourdough starter. That is what this essay discusses.

Hey! Im Shea, and my family and I are big sourdough bread fanatics. So much so that we almost never have leftovers! With that said, its unsurprising that Ive made a few loaves in my lifetime, and it all starts with a top-notch sourdough starter.

Keep reading to discover why your sourdough starter is runny and how to fix it.

4 Reasons Why Sourdough is Runny

Why is My Sourdough Starter Runny?

There are four main problems that will cause a runny sourdough starter.

1. Improper feeding ratio

Proper ratios are vital to the success of your sourdough starter. If youre using an improper ratio, the likely outcome is runniness. This can be caused by careless and inaccurate feeding or not weighing your ingredients for accuracy.

2. Kitchen is too warm or cold

Sourdough starter works best at room temperature (70 to 80F). It does not work well in high temperatures (which is why some bakers even place their sourdough starter in the fridge). If your kitchen is above 80F, the starter will overwork, causing runniness.

3. Wrong flour

Some flour, such as white and bread flour, doesnt absorb water as readily as others (rye and whole grain). While its perfectly fine to use these flours to make sourdough starters, you will have runniness if you dont adjust the hydration.

4. Not feeding regularly enough

The sourdough starter becomes hungry. If you dont feed it enough, its going to get upset or hangry, as some might say. Sourdough starter that doesnt get adequately fed can lead to many issues, and one of the main ones is runniness.

4 Ways to Fix Runny Sourdough Starter

Why is My Sourdough Starter Runny?

You dont have to settle for an unsightly runny sourdough starter. With these four simple solutions, you can get your sourdough starter back on track and ready for baking with a Dutch oven or without!

1. Feed the correct ratio

As I said earlier, ratios are important, people! An improper ratio can cause devastating effects, like runniness. So, what are your options? Begin by selecting a 1:1:1 ratio. I.e., use 10 grams of starter, 10 grams of water, and 10 grams of flour.

If that doesnt work, consider swapping for a 1:2:2 ratio. You will double the flour and water in this recipe. So, if youre using 10 grams of starter, you will opt for 20 grams of flour and 20 grams of water.

Oh, and by the way, for accuracy, you should use a kitchen scale. Using cups and spoons is not as precise, leading to improper ratios. Kitchen scales are cheap and the easiest and best way to ensure you have the right measurements.

2. Keep the temperature at 70F to 80F

Sourdough starters work best at room temperature, which can hover anywhere between 70F and 80F. Luckily, most kitchens stay at room temp. If your temperature is too high or low, you will need to adjust accordingly (turn on the air conditioner or heater, for example).

Tip: If youre struggling to maintain a consistent temperature, you can place your sourdough starter in a bread-proofing box.

3. Use less water or add different flour

Some flour doesnt absorb water, so you dont need to use as much of it. Reduce the amount of water by half. For instance, use 5 grams of water instead of 10 grams. See if this works to fix your runny starter.

50 ratio. So, half white flour, half rye flour.If it doesnt, you might consider switching things up a bit. If youre dead set on white or bread flour, consider adding rye or whole grain in a 50

4. Feed more often

Sourdough starters should be fed at least once a day, although twice daily (every 12 hours) is recommended. This is especially important during the first two weeks of starting your sourdough starter.

Can You Use Runny Sourdough Starter?

You can use a runny sourdough starter as long as it is active. Signs of activeness include doubling in size, emitting a yeasty aroma, forming bubbles on the top layer, and passing the float test. However, keep in mind that your sourdough loaf may be less sour than desired.

When using a runny sourdough starter for baking bread, cut down on some of the water in the recipe. For example, if it calls for 180 grams of water, use 160 grams instead. This will prevent you from having an excessively moist dough.


As you can see, fixing a runny sourdough starter is a cinch. It almost always has to do with hydration, so ensure youre using the correct ratios and not overdoing it, especially when using certain flours! If you want to keep learning, here are a few more questions to check out.

Should a sourdough starter be runny?

A sourdough starter should not be runny. In fact, it should be relatively thick, almost like a cake batter. That said, it shouldnt be too dense and easily pour when you need to use it.

How do I thicken my sourdough starter?

Adding more flour is the best and most straightforward way to thicken the sourdough starter. So, instead of using a 1:1:1 ratio, you will want to use a 1:2:1 ratio.

What happens if you overfeed your sourdough starter?

Not feeding enough can cause problems for your sourdough starter, but so can overfeeding. Overfeeding will halt the process, leading to a sourdough starter that doesnt grow or bubble, meaning it is less active and undesirable to use in your sourdough loaf.

Sourdough Starter Can Easily Become Runny!

Sourdough starters are notorious for becoming runny, but there are many ways to stop this from occurring. The best thing to do is make sure youre feeding the correct ratio by weighing your ingredients. Feed your starting once every 12 hours and keep it at room temperature.

Have you ever dealt with runny sourdough starters? What steps did you take to resolve the issue? Please comment below!


How do you fix a watery starter?

While your starter may seem too dry or too wet, and may not rise the way you expect, no permanent damage has been done. You can correct its consistency by adding a little more flour or water, and then being more careful the next time you feed it.

Is sourdough starter supposed to be liquidy?

Is it normal for a sourdough starter to be liquid (or runny)? It’s not a problem if a starter has a loose and runny consistency, as this texture is a byproduct of a starter’s hydration and the flour used for feedings.

Why does my sourdough starter seem watery?

Your sourdough starter can be runny because:

You’re not weighing your ingredients accurately or measuring by volume. Your kitchen is much too warm. The flour you’re using needs less hydration. You’re not feeding your starter regularly enough.

How do I thicken my sourdough starter?

If your starter is too watery, add more flour when you do your next feeding. If it becomes too thick, add extra water with the next meal. Keep trying and experimenting until you get that perfect sourdough starter texture and thickness (which, for me, is the consistency of pancake batter).

How do I know if I ruined my sourdough starter?

How do you know if sourdough starter has spoiled or gone bad? The main indicator if a sourdough starter is still good or not is if it will still rise and fall after feeding it fresh flour and water. If it does, that means it’s still alive!

Can you overfeed a sourdough starter?

Yes, you can overfeed your sourdough starter. Audrey explains: “Every time you add more flour and water, you are depleting the existing population of natural bacteria and yeast.” If you keep adding more and more, eventually you’ll dilute the starter so much that you’ll just have flour and water.

Do you stir sourdough starter before using?

Do you stir sourdough starter before using? It really doesn’t matter whether you stir your sourdough starter before you use it. Because ingredients are measured in grams, your sourdough starter will weigh the same whether it’s been stirred or not.

What does a healthy sourdough starter look like?

There are bubbles on the surface and sides of the jar

You’ll know the starter is active if you see plenty of bubbles on the surface and on the sides of the jar. If you see a small number of bubbles, it means that there is some activity but not enough to bake with.

What consistency should sourdough starter be?

On average a sourdough starter should have a thin consistency, similar to that of a pancake batter. The factors that influence the consistency of a starter are the type of flour used, the amount of flour used, and the amount of water used.

How long can you neglect sourdough starter?

A starter stored in the fridge can be fed once a week. If you plan to use it often, you can store it for up to two months without feeding. When you want to use the starter again, remove it from the fridge for a few hours, then feed it every 12 hours for 36 hours before you make bread with it. Do you need a lengthy break?

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