Why My Sourdough Starter Is Not Rising (helpful tips) 

If you’re here, you probably wonder, “Why is my sourdough starter not rising?” That’s why I’m sharing helpful tips to help you troubleshoot, fix, and maintain your starter so you can get back to baking with it. Let’s get to the bottom of it!

sourdough starter in a jar
Source: Plum Branch Home

Disclaimer: The content I share is based on personal experience and opinions. Some links may be affiliates like Amazon, but I only recommend what I find valuable. I’m not responsible for linked products/services, allergies, or dietary upsets. Consult a professional for any medical advice. Read our full privacy policy here.

Troubleshooting Why My Sourdough Starter Is Not Rising

There are a few different reasons why your sourdough starter may not be rising. Below, you’ll find seven troubleshooting tips to help you get to the bottom of the issue. As well as an FAQ section to answer your questions. 

Reasons Your Sourdough Starter isn’t Rising

1 – Temperature

The temperature inside and outside your house affects your sourdough starter’s activity. The warmer it is, the faster the cultures ferment. The colder it is, the slower they ferment.

If your starter is not rising and it’s warm outside (70 degrees +), it may be because it’s fermenting the flour and water too fast. In this case, use cold water to feed it and double the feeding amount, still using a 2:1 ratio.

If your starter is not rising and it’s cold inside or outside (68 degrees or less), your starter may be taking a lot longer to ferment. In this case, you can either leave it on the counter and feed it every 24 hours instead of every 12 hours, or you can place it in a warm, non-drafty space after you take it out of the fridge and feed it.

2 – Type of Flour You’re Using

If you’re using bleached all-purpose flour, this may be why your starter isn’t rising after you feed it. The bleached flour goes through a chemical process, compared to unbleached flour, which naturally becomes white over a period of time.

The chemical bleaching process of the flour can cause weak starter cultures. It’s always best to use unbleached all-purpose flour for feeding your starter to keep it happy and healthy.

3 – Type of Water You’re Using

If you’re using unfiltered tap water, you may be harming your sourdough starter cultures. The chlorine and chemicals used to treat water can kill a sourdough starter. It’s important to always use filtered water for feedings. 

4 – Length of Time Between Feedings

If you leave your sourdough starter on the counter, you should be feeding it every 12–24 hours. If you leave it in the fridge, it should be fed every 5–7 days. If you’re feeding it less than this, that’s probably why your starter is not rising.

In the summer months, you’ll need to feed it every 12 hours if it’s on the counter. In the winter months, you’ll need to feed it about every 24 hours when it’s stored on the counter. The temperature outside or inside the house speeds up or slows down the fermentation process.

5 – Feeding Ratio

The best sourdough starter feeding ratio is 2:1, flour to water. Not the 1:1 ratio most of the internet says to do. If you’re feeding your starter a 1:1 ratio that’s probably why it’s not rising.

After running into many issues, I started feeding my starter a 2:1 ratio, and I’ve not had issues since in the past year and a half. If you’re struggling with your sourdough starter not rising, start feeding it 2:1 flour to water.

6 – Amount Fed

Your sourdough starter may not be rising due to not having enough food (flour and water). For example, using the 2:1 ratio, instead of feeding it 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water, you will want to increase it to 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. If you have to take some unfed starter (discard) out before feeding it this much, go ahead and do that. 

7 – Over Cleaning

If you’re over-cleaning your starter jar and transferring your starter from jar to jar often, you’re causing it to weaken the cultures. Even though your starter jar looks a bit messy, that doesn’t mean it’s unclean. The cultures that make up an active sourdough starter thrive in their established environment.

If you’re transferring your starter from jar to jar more than a few times a year, you’re making it weak. Remember, a sourdough starter jar does not need to be cleaned unless it becomes moldy (looks black or pink and smells like mold). Otherwise, you don’t need to worry about it. Just scrape down the sides and wipe off the outside.

What To Do if Your Sourdough Starter is Not Rising

Along with the tips above, feed your starter a 2:1 ratio of flour to water every 12 hours for 1-2 days. Keep your starter out on the counter during this time. Also, before you feed it, take out enough discard (unfed starter) so your jar is only 1/2 of the way full. This way, it’ll have room to rise. 

Starter Not Rising FAQ

My sourdough starter is not rising after feeding, what do I do?

You will want to give it 4–12 hours to ferment after you’ve fed it. If your starter still isn’t rising after this time, you may need to increase the feeding size. For example, using the 2:1 ratio, instead of feeding it 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water, you will want to increase it to 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Make sure it’s also sitting in a non-drafty space. 

What’s the best flour to feed a sourdough starter?

The best flour is an unbleached all-purpose flour. If you’re using bleached flour, it can weaken your starter, which causes it to not rise or double in size after each feeding. 

Does it really matter if I use unbleached flour?

Yes, it does. Don’t get me wrong, you can use bleached flour, but the process it goes through using chemicals can weaken your starter when it’s fed bleached flour. This is why starters fed with bleached flour are usually weaker than ones fed with unbleached. 

What’s the best water for feeding a sourdough starter?

The best water for feeding your starter is filtered water. Tap water can kill the cultures in your sourdough starter, so make sure you’re using a filter. I have a Lifestraw Home Water Filter Pitcher and love how it filters our tap water. 

How do I fix my sourdough stater not rising?

As I shared above, feed your starter a 2:1 ratio of flour to water every 12 hours for 1-2 days. Keep your starter out on the counter during this time. Also, before you feed it, take out enough discard (unfed starter) so your jar is only 1/2 of the way full. This way, it’ll have room to rise. 

My sourdough starter is not doubling in size, does this matter?

A strong, mature starter should double in size 4–12 hours after it’s been fed. If it isn’t exactly doubled but has risen and you can see bubbles, it’s active and ready to be used!

Should I feed my sourdough starter if it isn’t rising?

That depends; if it’s already been 12 hours after you’ve fed it and it’s not rising, I would feed it again. You can feed your starter every 12 hours until it’s active and doubling in size 4–12 hours after each feeding. 

My sourdough starter gets bubbly and rises but then it goes away, what do I do?

This means the active starter is hungry again. This usually happens after 12-24 hours if your starter is at room temperature or after 6-7 days in the fridge. If the temperature in your house is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, your starter may get hungry faster. 

Read These Helpful Sourdough Posts to Learn More

Leave a Reply

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