Want to make your own gluten-free kombucha sourdough starter? Sourdough is the traditional way to make bread. You just leave some flour and water in a jar at room temperature and wild yeast will eat the flour up and produce carbon dioxide bubbles that will make your bread dough rise.
The process of sourdough fermentation also makes the flour grains more digestible.
I never tried making sourdough before until I took the Gluten Free Baking Academy course. While I have been brewing kombucha for years, I read about using kombucha to make a sourdough starter in The Big Book of Kombucha.1
Being the curious person I am, I wanted to see if I can make my own gluten-free sourdough starter using kombucha! This experiment took a few weeks in the making, but hey, fermentation is an exercise in patience, right?
Collecting the Kombucha Yeast
If you brew your own kombucha at home, you might be familiar with those brown yeasty bits. I usually discard those when bottling kombucha, but since I wanted to make the sourdough starter, I collected all those yeasty bits with each brew.
Here are some pictures of the brown yeast, the red brew was just a hibiscus tea experimental batch. Save those brown yeasty bits in a glass jar until you have like ½ cup full. This may take a while, but keep at it!
Getting the Sourdough Starter Started
Once you have ½ cup of kombucha yeast, you can start the sourdough starter. Since I wanted to make gluten-free sourdough, I used brown rice flour. (Sorghum flour should also work.)
In a glass jar, place ½ cup of brown rice flour, ½ cup of kombucha yeast and ½ cup of plain kombucha. Stir everything using a wooden spoon. Cover with a tight-weave dishcloth and use an elastic to keep it in place.
Place this jar on your kitchen counter away from direct sunlight and let our microbe friends do their magic. The yeast in the starter will eat the flour and produce bubbles.
This process took a few days. It won't look so bubbly right away. Maybe it was cold when I started and sometimes I forgot to feed the starter too. It took a while for me to see bubbles, until one day, there were there! My sourdough starter was alive!
Feeding the Kombucha Sourdough Starter
You'll have to "feed" your sourdough starter every day. This means you have to give it more fresh brown rice flour.
Remove about ½ cup of starter and place it in another jar. This is the discard starter that you can use to make sourdough pancakes or these gluten-free blueberry banana sourdough muffins. Cover with a lid and keep this discard starter jar in the refrigerator.
To your sourdough starter jar, add ½ cup of brown rice flour and ½ cup filtered water or ½ cup plain kombucha. You may want to add kombucha in the beginning until your starter is established. Stir until thoroughly mixed and cover with the tight-weave dishcloth. Do this at least once a day until you see more bubbles.
Making Gluten-free Sourdough
When it looks pretty bubbly and you are ready to make some bread, you will need to feed the starter every 8 hours or less.
I used the sourdough recipe from the Gluten Free Baking Academy. You can use whatever gluten-free sourdough recipe you would like. Try this Buckwheat Sourdough Loaf from Fresh is Real.
Typically, you'll need to let your sourdough rise for at least 2 hours. The first time I made sourdough though, it wasn't rising as much as I thought it would after 2 hours. Not like the dough made with dry active yeast. So I let the sourdough rise for 24 hours. 🙂
I have since let it rise for less time with great results too. I find that around 6 hours yields good results.
Maintaining the Sourdough Starter
When not actively using the starter, I keep the jar in the fridge and just feed it every 3-6 days.
When you are ready to make some bread again, just take the sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it every 8 hours or less to make it active again. Once it gets bubbly, use it to make some more bread!
Have you tried making your own gluten-free sourdough starter? Let me know in the comments below!
For more information and resources about kombucha, please go to my kombucha resources page.
Try my other fermented food recipes too!
- Pineapple Kombucha Green Smoothie
- SCOBY Fruit Leather
- The SCOBY Hotel Guide
- Watermelon Kombucha Shake
- Fermented Salsa
- Gluten-Free Blueberry Banana Sourdough Muffins
Kombucha Sourdough Starter
- ½ cup brown rice flour
- ½ cup kombucha yeast
- ½ cup plain kombucha
- ½ cup brown rice flour
- ½ cup filtered water or plain kombucha
- In a clean glass jar, add flour, kombucha yeast and kombucha. Mix together. Cover with a tight-weave dishcloth and use an elastic to keep it in place. Keep away from direct sunlight at room temperature.
Feeding your starter:
- Discard ½ cup starter, then add ½ cup brown rice flour and ½ cup water or plain kombucha everyday to feed it.
Using your starter:
- When the starter is bubbly and lively, use it with your favourite gluten-free sourdough recipe.
- You can substitute with sorghum flour.
Hello! I am currently trying to make a kombucha starter for the first time but it looks like it split? Is that normal? Thanks!!
You mean there is liquid at the top of your starter? Just mix it all together before discarding/feeding the starter.
Hi Melissa. I have very small amount of the floating yeasty articles but I do have quite a few “spare” scoby’s. Do you think I could just blitz one of those instead of collecting those tiny bits for ages? Thank you. Mario
Hi Mario, I've never tried using the actual SCOBY. You can just use the few yeasty bits that you have, that should be fine. This just helps to jumpstart the starter. Let me know how it turns out!
What is the recipe for the sourdough bread, once you have made the starter?
You can try this one - https://www.freshisreal.com/buckwheat-sourdough-loaf-gluten-free-vegan/
Thanks! I was hoping for the fluffy white one in the picture 🙂
That's a Gluten Free Baking Academy recipe. 🙂 There are couple of great sourdough recipes in this post - 20 Best Gluten-Free Bread Recipes
Is this something that I can use with regular wheat flour? Or as someone else mentioned bread flour. I am not opposed to using white, whole wheat, or bread flour. Whichever would provide the healthiest result
I've never tried it but you could use wheat flour. Check out this website for more information: https://zerowastechef.com/2015/03/01/how-to-make-a-sourdough-starter-in-stick-drawings/ Good luck!
Did you learn any Kombucha recipes that are grain free for sourdough bread? I typically eat Paleo as a lot of grains cause inflammation for me.
While I have made bread with cassava flour, I haven't tried any grain-free sourdough recipes yet. There are a few grain-free bread recipes here you can check out --> 20 Best Gluten-Free Bread Recipes.
Hello. How should I store the yeast as I’m collecting them? Out in room temperature or in the fridge?
Hi Karen, out in room temperature should be fine. Unless you're collecting yeast for a longer period of time, say more than a month, then you can store the yeast jar in the fridge.
Thanks for the reply! I only managed to get a tiny amount of yeast that was stuck to my scoby and it barely covered the bottom on my glass cup. I’ll be brewing again in a few days time so I guess I’ll leave it out for now.
If you have a SCOBY hotel, you can also just collect the yeast in there too. Keep me posted, would love to hear how your sourdough adventure goes!
oh yes i do have a scoby hotel. I found on another website stating that we could use the booch from the scoby hotel. So what I did was use that tiny amount of yeast + 1cup hotel booch and 1cup bread flour (this was a mistake as I thought I was using plain flour). Its been 4hours now and I took a quick peek and saw some bubbles forming already!
Yay for bubbles!
Hi Melissa. Do you know if this would work with Cassava flour? Thanks!
Hi Tammy, I've never tried using cassava flour for the sourdough starter. I have used buckwheat flour successfully though, so maybe using cassava flour is worth a try too? I do love baking with cassava flour, I will let you know if I try to make the sourdough starter with it too!
What a fantastic post. Just what I was looking for! I have started an alcoholic 2nd ferment with sloe berries and sugar, and 12 days on I see tge sloes have a lot of yeast stuck to them. Coukd I add this yeast to the collecting jar of the yeadt from 1st ferment? Would be most grateful for a reply please.
Hi Antoinette, I'm glad this post was helpful. I don't know why you can't add the yeast from your 2nd ferment to your jar. I would say try it and see how it goes! Good luck!