The Secrets Of Sourdough

sourdough biscuitsSourdough has been around forever, and I mean that almost literally. The first record of sourdough was way back in 1500 B.C. in Egypt.

Sourdough was a staple going down the trail because of the lack of refrigeration. Usually biscuits, beans and coffee was about all those fellers were going to have back then on a wagon.

Traditionally many sourdough recipes require a lot of maintenance. You have to feed them, recharge them, refrigerate them. Why they’re like a needy horse! And you can’t ever go out of town because you’d have to find a sitter for the starter!

This starter recipe was my grandmother’s that I changed a little to suit my needs. You don’t need to wait weeks to have a biscuit because this starter is ready to use in 12 – 24 hours. You can use it once and throw it out since it’s quick and easy to start up again. You can also substitute this starter for any recipe that calls for milk of buttermilk.



Sourdough Starter


  • 4 cups warm water
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 large russet potato (peeled and quartered)


1. Add the warm water to a crock jar that is at least 1 gallon. This will prevent the starter from boiling over while it's setting up.
2. Whisk in the yeast and sugar and let set 1 minute.
3. Slowly whisk in the flour. Drop the potato pieces into the crock. Cover with a towel and let set on the counter for 12 - 24 hours, stirring halfway through.
4. Before using the starter, be sure to whisk it briskly. You may need to add a little more warm water or flour to achieve a pancake batter consistency before use.


The starter will be stoutest with it’s first use. I typically keep this starter for a week at a time, stirring at least once a day. However, you can keep it as long as the potato stays intact. I prefer to use russet because it holds up the best, but you can use any potato you have on hand. Never refrigerate the starter.

When 3 cups of starter have been used, whisk the following ingredients back into the crock jar: 1 1/2 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 cups flour. The starter is ready to use again, or you can let set for 6 to 12 hours to create a more tart, sourdough taste.

Sourdough Biscuits

Serves 16 - 20 biscuits
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 40 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 55 minutes


  • 3 cups sourdough starter
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 4 -5 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups flour


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking pan with sidewalls.
2. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast into the starter. Whisk in the sugar and let set for 1 minute.
3. Whisk in the salt, oil and baking powder. Slowly begin stirring in the flour until it forms a soft dough.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick.
5. Cut the dough out with a biscuit cutter and place on the baking pan, close together so they rise up and not out. Cover with wax paper and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size.
6. Uncover and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

17 thoughts on “The Secrets Of Sourdough

  1. David and I just attended a class yesterday in Reedsburg at Fermentation Fest on making sour dough bread. Everyone does it a little differently, and the teacher encouraged us to do it the way we wanted. He gave us the basics for making kind of a no-fuss starter. I’ve made it before and had it lose its power over time and that’s ok. You just start over. It was fun!

  2. We sampled your sourdough biscuits at your demonstration at Silver Dollar City. Boy, were they good! I,m going to try the recipe out on my family real soon-hope they turn out just like yours.

    • we are the blessed ones to have you as a friend, hopefully we get to see you down the road we be nice to share a cup of coffee and visit.

  3. Ah geez Kent, now ya got my mouth watering, and I gotta clean up my keyboard. I tried a sourdough starter a couple of times, made some good sourdough pancakes with it but, after a time, they all went bad. Guess I did something wrong after a while. I had to throw each of them out.

    My wife and I are visiting our daughter up in Idaho at the present but, when I get home I’ll be trying your recipe as soon as I can.

    Warm, buttered sourdough biscuits with some good homemade apple butter, or preserves on a cold Fall or Winter day just can’t be beat. YUMMY!

  4. So, do you throw it out when the potato starts to fall apart? How long does it usually last? I didn’t remember that from school.

  5. My mom,brother and I attended your class at Silver Dollar City on Thursday. The sour dough biscuits were great! I’m anxious to try making some and also try some recipes out of your cookbook that I bought. We so enjoyed meeting you and your lovely wife. Between your show, the mustang show, and story telling, those were the highlights of our time there. Thank you!

    • thanks so much Lynn for stopping by the wagon and glad y’all enjoyed your time. Holler anytime if you have questions. Take care

  6. Thanks for sharing these recipes! Tried the sour dough rolls. They had a good taste but we’re more dense than I expected. Thought they would be lighter. They didn’t seem to raise before baking. Could this be the reason? Not sure what to do different.

    • Hey Chris, typically this is a pretty light biscuit. The trick is to work the dough as little as possible, that goes for most biscuits. Also check to see if your baking powder/yeast are old. If I’m wanting to rise faster I place the pan over a pot of boiling water and that will help them rise. Hope this helps.

      • Have often read recipes recommending adding yeast to warm water for activation. When I made these rolls I added yeast (Active Dry Yeast) to the “room temp” starter. Is this correct?

      • yes I’ve done that before in other recipes, although I always added it to room temp. started for this. I also like to use rapid rise yeast.

  7. Is there a temperature range for the starter to set up? I want to try this on a camping trip but the temperature range is 50′s during the day and 20′s at night

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