Kombucha Sourdough Starter

Kombucha Sourdough Starter

This has been on my list of things to try for a while now.  Kombucha is rich in beneficial yeasts and bacteria so I’ve been fairly certain it would make an excellent sourdough starter.  Score!  It does indeed make an excellent sourdough starter.

I’ve made native sourdough starter using organic grapes, pineapple juice or even nothing but a good stir and yeast from the air.  These methods worked great, they just took a good week to establish a bubbly starter.  But I want sourdough now!  Using kombucha in place of water kick starts things so you have a bubbly starter usually ready within a day.  Awesome for when I’m impatient.

The best part about this method is how easy it is to restart it.  I’m notorious for forgetting about my starter and letting it die.  This can be pretty horrible when I spent $13 or so on that starter.  But if I let my kombucha sourdough kick it, it’s no trouble to just start a new one.

For the flour, you can use your favorite flour, gluten free or gluten full.  I use an inexpensive rice flour for the starter part and a I save my more expensive gluten free mix for the rest of the flour in a recipe.

To make the starter simply take an equal part flour to kombucha and mix them together.  Let set in a warm place until nice and bubbly, which for me was about 12 hours near my crock pot.

Kombucha Sourdough

The bubbles are just starting to form in this batch.

I will be posting a few sourdough recipes in the coming weeks but if you are antsy to try it out, here are a few recipes:

**Just a side note, I don’t have any experience with wheat flour sourdough bread making.  While I know this works with wheat, all of my sourdough advice comes from a gluten free stand point.

Kombucha Sourdough Starter

  • 1/2 cup strong kombucha (strong but not too strong)
  • 1/2 cup flour (I use white rice flour)

In a jar, blend kombucha and flour well.  I let mine rise in a Pickl-it jar but it’s not totally necessary.  If you live in a warm place prone to mold, a Pickl-it would be helpful.  A loose covered jar is fine.

Set in a warm place to rise for about 24 hours.  You can use it at this point or you can feed it to give it a stronger sourdough flavor.

To feed your starter, mix 1/2 cup starter, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 water.  You can build your starter by mixing an equal amount of starter, flour and water.  If you need 2 cups of starter for your recipe, you’ll want to combine at least 1 cup starter, 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Make sure your container is large to handle expansion.  It can double in size or more, pretty quickly (check out this sourdough explosion).

You can either keep your starter on the counter and feed daily (twice daily for wheat starters) or you can take a break and place it in the fridge.  It’ll keep refrigerated for a week.  Longer than that and you’ll want to feed it.  To get it active after refrigeration, just feed and keep warm for 12-24 hours.


Don’t have kombucha but do have water kefir?  Water kefir works just as well.  KerryAnn from Cooking Traditional Foods shows how to do it here: How to Make a Sourdough Starter



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49 comments to Kombucha Sourdough Starter

  • I have been meaning to try it with kombucha! I make mine with milk kefir whey (half whole wheat white and half bread flour) and it tastes great. Has a great, not too heavy, texture. It’s spongy, moist and keeps so much longer than regular homemade wheat bread. Don’t think I’ll ever go back to regular bread again. I have read that the yeasts eat up most of the gluten and even gluten intolerant people can sometimes eat it.

  • Sourdough can be tricky for gluten intolerant peeps. Personally I don’t recommend it at all unless someone has done a good 2 years on the GAPS diet or similar gut healing protocol. Someone with Celiac disease should never try it. The gluten is still present but supposedly it’s more easily digestible. I’ve tried it myself and it’s a definite no go for us, at least at this time. Boo! Good news though, GF sourdough is infinitely better than any other GF bread I’ve made. Yay!

  • Bonny

    Thank you! Have been wanting to do sourdough bread but have no starter! this makes life easy!!

  • Lani

    Thanks for this. It is exactly what I have been looking for…. when you say you let yours rise in a Pickl-it jar do you mean with the air lock etc in it or just the rubber bung?

  • This is awesome! I have an abundance of kombucha, but haven’t tackled sourdough yet. I’m also impatient when it comes to waiting! Thanks!

  • Dr. Rebekah

    I’m brewing my first couple of batches of kombucha now…how do I know if it’s “strong, but not too strong”???!?!? New to this world, LOL…

  • Shelby

    Hey if you have an extra SCOBY you could send my way it would be awesome! I am anxious to try brewing Kombucha. We are out at Holloman AFB and I cannot source one here anywhere.


    • Alice

      You can make your own SCOBY. If you get some raw Kombucha and put a bout a cup in a jar and allow to sit out on cupboard, covered with a cloth. In a week or so you will see one forming on the top. When it is about 1?4 inch thick you can remove it and start brewing. I made mine this way.

    • Deb

      Hi Shelby,

      I’m just reading this now. Did you ever find a scoby? Isn’t Holloman AFB in Clovis? I am in the East Mtn.s from Albuquerque. Let me know if you still need a scoby and if you ever get to ABQ.

      Deb Casey
      Edgewood, NM

  • Before I started using the Pick-it jar for my sourdough starter I was able to ward off mold by using water kefir instead of plain water. I would imagine that kombucha works the in the same way by providing useful bacteria to get the ferment moving along quicker.

  • Kat


    I made my starter and it was going great guns – bubbly and thick. I fed it and now it’s just a big gloopy wet flour mix.
    The feeding is what is confusing to me. In your instructions you say to feed it using 1/2 cup of starter plus 1/2 cup each of flour and water. Does that then turn into 1 cup of starter?
    And if I already have a cup of starter – to feed it do I need to add 1 cup each of flour and water to the cup of starter and mix? Or do I need to throw some of the starter away and then feed it? I’m really new to this whole thing and I’m confused. Sorry if I’m being a bit slow. It just seems that when I add food to a good starter it sort of goes flat.

    • Hi Kat, I answered this in your email but I’ll answer it here too in case anyone else is confused. Just use 1/2 cup of the starter and either throw out or save the remaining starter. You want to use an equal amount of starter, flour and water. If you don’t throw out any, it’ll take over the house very quickly, lol! The left over starter makes a great pancake.

  • Rebecca

    When you substitute Pamela’s bread mix for all the flours on the cultures for health website, did you include the sweetener in the recipe or leave it out b/c of all the sugar in Pamela’s mix?

  • S.L.Lockhart

    OK, I am lost. Just what is Kombucha????
    I know I don’t know everything but have never heard of Kombucha.
    Can anyone enlighten me????

  • Penny

    The first time I did this with wheat flour, it worked like a charm,and that is the starter I still use for SD bread. Now, one of my children (returning from college) has become gluten-intolerant, so I’m trying again with gluten-free flour…nothing is happening. There are no bubbles or sour smell. I’m tempted to try a little bit of my regular starter to jump start the glutenless batch, but then it wouldn’t be gluten-free. I’m wondering is my kombucha is not so good since I haven’t used my SCOBY as much lately.

  • Alice

    Hi there,

    I am based in the UK and its cold over here – is it still possible to make sourdough starter?

    What temperature does the starter need to work?

    And how can I maintain that temperature?


  • Alice

    Hi there,

    I am thinking to buy Pickle-it jars from the US and have them delivered to the UK.

    What size Pickle-it jars would you recommend to make gluten free sourdough starter (the aim being to making gluten free sourdough)?


  • Tony Kramer

    I make kombucha with an assortment of teas. Recently I have used black tea. My wife really likes the idea of using the kombucha as a starter for sourdough, but she is hung up on the word “tea”. She does not like tea and is worried that the sourdough bread will taste like tea. Is this a problem? Is there a way to make kombucha without tea…..basically just the sugar water, a little kombucha, and the SCOBY?

    • It’s not something you would want to do all the time but brewing with just sugar water instead of tea would be ok to do occasionally. If you have water kefir grains, water kefir works great as a sourdough starter as well.

  • […] Kombucha Sourdough Starter from Pickle Me too […]

  • Gen

    Can kombucha sourdough be made with coconut flour? Im wheat intolerant.

  • Tina

    Hi! Quick question about the kombucha sourdough… I know you make the starter with the rice flour, and then use a GF mix to make the bread, but do you also feed the starter with rice flour every time, or do you need to use the flour mix to feed it?
    Thanks so much for this recipe, can’t wait to try it!

  • How long to ferment Kombucha to make vinegar?


  • Wow, This is such an amazing concept! I would have never thought of using Kombucha to create a sourdough starter. Its brilliant! I can never keep my sourdough starters alive either, but i always seem to have kombucha on hand. I can’t wait to try this out!

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  • Jennifer

    I’m curious as to how much starter is needed for an average loaf of bread? Is it used similar to dried yeast ? Just beginning to keep water kefir and thinking about making a starter for bread baking.

  • Sandi

    I was just reading through all of these and wanted to offer a trick for those of you in cold climates. I use a seed starter mat wrapped around my 1 gallon container that holds my fermenting kombucha. That has really saved me in the winters when my home is about 5 degrees lower than the optimal fermenting temperature. This will also help with the sourdough starter for the same reasons. You can get seed-starter mats from most seed companies or greenhouse supply companies. the ones I use are about 8 inches by 15 inches but they come in all sizes. Hope this will help those of you living in cold climates. It really has helped take the angst out of my kombucha fermentation.

  • June

    I live in New Zealand and have not heard of kombucha. Can I make it if so how? It sounds fantastic.
    Thank you.

    • Jo

      We can get kombucha in New Zealand. There are SCOBY’s on trademe and you can buy kombucha ready made in shops such as Health2000, Wise Cicada (no sure where in NZ you are). There is also a great FB page called Fermenting Freaks Forever where you can put your name down as people have excess SCOBY’s available. Hope this helps. Jo

  • […] 4. Experiment with sourdough. Purchase a gluten-free sourdough starter or start your own (you can even give it a head-start with a little kombucha). […]

  • Kristi

    I mixed my starter yesterday evening, covered with a towel and placed in the oven with the light on, since it was cool in the house. It has started to bubble some, and smells good, but looks as if it has risen very little at this point. It also looks as if it has dried out on the surface. Is this normal? What should I do? Thanks!

  • Joni

    Hi there, I’m trying this for the first time and not getting a ton of activity, despite having a pretty strong kombucha. My first one failed completely, maybe because I didn’t keep it warm enough? My second one is growing but not what I would consider bubbly. It looks like the top got dry, then cracked when the stuff underneath grew a little. I’m in a dry, high altitude environment. Instead of starting over, I tried feeding it (but with kombucha instead of water), putting a moist towel over the top, and placing it in the oven with the light on, for hopefully a more uniform temperature experience.

    Any other things I should think about or try? If this round doesn’t take I might just spring for a starter.

  • Rina

    My Kombucha grows SCOBYs like crazy. If I attempt a starter this way do I have to worry about it trying to grow as SCOBY as it sits there?

  • I have always wanted to make sourdough bread how many time do you need to feed before making the actual bread and do you have a recipe for kombucha?

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  • […] Amp up the good-for-you quotient with this Soaked-Flour Whole Wheat Bread recipe and think out of the (bread)box by using kombucha instead of a traditional sourdough starter. […]

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