This Grain-free Sourdough Starter is AIP, paleo and vegan. It’s made using green banana flour and ready in about 7 days depending on the warmth of your environment (more on this below).
Even when following a recipe exactly, there are so many factors that can influence your starter. From the absorbency of your flour and the temperature of your environment, to the level of chlorine in your water, there are lots of things at play.
That said, you are going to have to employ a bit of intuition throughout this process while following these guidelines set out here. For example, when you begin your starter, you initially want the flour to be fully absorbed by the water into a thick, just pourable paste. Depending on the brand of green banana flour you use, you might need to add more water than I’ve recommended to achieve this consistency.
Growing your starter
While you are growing your starter, the ideal temperature is about 68°F to 80°F. If your kitchen is cooler than this, your starter will grow more slowly.
At the above temperature, your starter should be ready to use in about a week, and should have a yeasty, slightly sweet and sour smell, and be light and bubbly beneath the surface. See pictures below.
In my original recipe for this grain-free sourdough starter I only fed my starter once a day. That worked really well, but after experimenting further, I’ve found that feeding my starter twice a day (morning and night) really increases the oven spring on my bread and so I’ve updated this recipe to include feedings twice a day. Where I note Morning & Night, it means you’re going to do this step twice (e.g. at 8am and 8pm).
How to use your starter
In addition to AIP sourdough bread, you can use your starter for pancakes, donuts and anything else you might typically use yeast in. Your discarded starter also provides a wonderful flavour to other baked goods like flatbreads and brownies, without necessarily providing them with the rise.
Storing your starter
Once your starter is active and ready you have two options for storing:
- Keep it on the kitchen counter away from direct heat and maintain regular feedings.
- Keep it in the back of/ very cool part of your fridge. This option is great if you aren’t planning to use your starter every day. A starter stored in the fridge will require feedings (and discards) about once a week to maintain it. I typically discard 1/2 cup and then feed with 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water. After feeding, leave the starter out at room temperature for a few hours until it gets puffy and expands, then cover it and place back in the fridge.
What other flours can I use to make my starter?
I didn’t have luck personally with cassava flour. I haven’t tried using tigernut flour, but suspect that it might work similarly to green banana flour. Ultimately, I went with green banana flour as it’s one of the most affordable grain-free flours, and you do go through quite a lot of flour during the feeding process.
Looking for troubleshooting tips and more information on AIP Sourdough baking?
Check out my complete AIP Sourdough Baking Guide for purchase.Print
Grain-free Sourdough Starter
- Total Time: 7 days
*This recipe was updated on June 9, 2020*
Where I note Morning & Night, it means you’re going to do this step twice (e.g. at 8am and 8pm).
- 5 cups green banana flour
- 5 1/4 cups filtered water
- Day 1 (Morning & Night): Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup + 2 TBSP filtered water to mason jar and stir to combine. You want the flour to be fully absorbed by the water into a thick, just pourable paste. Depending on the brand of flour you use, you might need to add a bit more water to achieve this consistency. Loosely cover with dish towel and elastic band or non-airtight jar cover.
- Day 2 (Morning & Night): Add another 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup + 2 TBSP filtered water to mason jar, stir and cover.
- Day 3 (Morning & Night): Pour out any clear liquid that might have formed on top your starter. Stir remaining starter and then discard 1/2 cup. Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup + 2 TBSP filtered water, stir and cover.
- Day 4 (Morning & Night): Gently mix starter and discard 1/4 cup. Add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup + 1 TBSP filtered water, stir and cover.
- Day 5 (Morning & Night): Gently mix starter and discard 1/4 cup. Add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup + 1 TBSP filtered water, stir and cover.
- Day 6 (Morning & Night): Gently mix starter and discard 1/4 cup. Add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup + 1 TBSP filtered water, stir and cover.
- Day 7 (Morning & Night): Gently mix starter and discard 1/4 cup. Add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup + 1 TBSP filtered water, stir and cover.
Your starter should be ready to bake with after one week assuming you are keeping it in a relatively warm place throughout its growth process. Because this is a grain-free starter it won’t look like a typical sourdough starter, but should still have a yeasty, slightly sweet and sour smell and be light and bubbly beneath the surface. This will give you the indication that your starter is active and ready to be used. If at any point in the process you notice any indication of mold, dump and start over.
- Category: Breads
Keywords: grain-free sourdough starter, AIP sourdough starter
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If you try this recipe I would appreciate it if you would give it a star rating and short review! Also, be sure to snap a picture and share it with me on Instagram by tagging me @healmedelicious and using the hashtag #healmedelicious.
what do you make with it?
Usually my aip sourdough bread but you can use it for any number of things like pancakes, brownies, biscuits.
Hey Nicole, I’m only on day 3, but I got some liquid in day 2 and mixed it in not realizing I should’ve poured it off, is that ok should I just keep going?
Yep, keep going!
So just to double check on day 4, am I discarding everything but 1/4 cup and feeding that 1/4 cup from that point on? I have quite a bit more than 1/4 cup so I am just making sure.
No, don’t discard everything, just 1/4 cup.
Could you please repeat what brand of flour you use? The link that you have says page not found.
Heal Me Delicious Team
Hi Lisa, thanks for letting us know! We often use the Let’s Do Organic brand of Green Banana Flour.
Hi! I’ve always used a GF rice/brown rice sourdough starter kit for one of my favorite recipes for celiac friendly sourdough bread. I’d love to try this starter as it looks interesting and a but less toxin ridden. Can this starter be used in other recipes other than the ones you created? Or is the green banana starter different? I hope that question makes sense. Thanks!
Hey Cori, yes absolutely you can!
I am on my last day of making starter and have made the pancakes with the discard. So delicious! I have seen some comments about brownies but can’t find the recipe…can you give me the link?
Hi Karen, there’s no sourdough discard brownie recipe right now 🙂
If I use would 1 cup flour and one cup water for the first day of the starter
how much flour and water would be needed to feed the starter each time?
I am very excited to try this starter.
Hello, I’m on my eighth day of sourdough starter but it’s still producing quite a lot of liquid on top. What does that mean?
On my 3rd day in, it was really bubbling and rising so I had to switch containers bc there wasn’t enough space. Since I switched containers, it hasn’t risen like the way it did in the previous container. Since I switched, that’s when it started producing the liquid on top. Is that normal?
that signifies it might need feeding. it’s called “hooch”and it’s the alcohol that’s given off as wild yeast ferments
Do I Need to use filters water, I live in Sweden and we drink from the sink, and it taste great 👍🏽 we have the purest water in the world
I recommend filtered water so that nothing contaminates the starter as it ferments
I am very excited about this starter! I am on a AIP diet and need more opportunity to create good and nutritional food!
Thank you fir sharing your recipe
I am in a part of the world, where is difficult and expensive to get raw banana flour shipped. My question for you, is: can I start by useng les flour/water? So if i start with a table spoon of flour and a table spoon if water, can I then feen morning and night with the same amount?
Thank you so much!
Hi Stefania! Thanks for your question. You can definitely use less flour. I’ve halved the recipe but never used as little as a TBSP before.
Hi. I saw that you gave us 3 different options for the amount of flour to use. But no matter what option I picked ,the amount of flour to feed the started is the same. That’s how it works ?
There aren’t different options for the amount of flour to be used, rather, each day there is a different instruction with specific measurements.
I am having the same issue as above with regards to having to add SO MUCH MORE WATER and I am using the exact brand you recommend. I am trying to give this another go as it never worked and I’m at a cup now still not getting anything but a crumbling dough rather than a moving mixture.
That’s really weird that the mixture is so dry it’s crumbling! Where are you located, Faith? I’m wondering if altitude/climate is making a difference?
I also used the LIVEKUNA brand and have to add 2 to 4 times the water to get it to absorb. I’m on day 4 and have run out of room in a 64 oz mason jar. What now? Can I put it in a large bowl?
So excited to make this for my daughter who is gluten free and coming for the holidays. I bought the e book and am on day 1. It says 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. I had to add a total of 1 and 1/2 cups water to get anything close to pourable, which it isn’t. I’m not using the same green banana flour as you. I’m feeling less confident that it is going to work. I spooned the flour into the 1/2 cup measurement at the second feeding, but still needed to add so much more water than you recommend. Do I just go for the “pourable” texture and not worry about how much water goes in?
Any thoughts are appreciated.
Hi Nancy, I can only advise on the brand of flour I recommend. It’s frustrating how much different grain free flours vary from brand to brand. The mixture doesn’t have to have a pourable consistency after day 1 so my advice would be to use your discretion and add just enough water so that the flour is completely dissolved at each feeding. Good luck!
I am loving this process and tending to my sourdough starter! Now that I am one lovely loaf in, I can’t wait to make more and to experiment with scoring patterns and experiment with my enamel dutch oven v cast iron only dutch oven. So appreciative to get to bake bread thanks to you, Nicole!
Hi, have you tried using kombucha as the liquid?
Yes I have! It gives a nice boost
Is anyone willing to send me a bit of discard so that I can be part of this AIP sourdough community? Pretty please? Sourdough from an original mother is always helpful to a new starter too.
Hi Nicole, I’m on day 3 of the starter and am a bit confused when you say “discard” for day 4 do you mean throw out? I see on your biscuit recipe it says to use the “discard” so I don’t know if I’m over thinking this. Thank you!
Hi Brandy, yep! Discard means remove – you can dump it or use the discarded portion in recipes that call for sourdough discard like the biscuits. The discard won’t usually be active so in recipes that call for it, it adds flavor more than acting as a leavening agent!
I’m a first timer on sourdough anything and I advise other newbies to be patient. I was very discouraged through the first four days of starter creation and woke up the fifth day to so much activity my starter was at the top of my jar!
So now my question is about using the discard for other recipes. Is it a substitute for other ingredients, can it be used in any baked recipe?
Hi Linda, glad you’ve seen some success – patience is indeed key to this endeavour! You can use the discard in my recipe fo Sourdough Biscuits, Flatbread, and Sourdough Pancakes – all searchable on healmedelicious.com and linked to in the bread recipe post 🙂
Do you know if there is any way to use nut flour or coconut flour to make the starter? I can eat some arrowroot but not much. You are my expert! Thanks so much for your help as I can’t eat the flours on your recipe.
Hey Corrine, I’m working on it but don’t have an answer just yet!
Can I use plantain flour?
Hi Linda, I haven’t tried so don’t know if that will work.
Hi Linda and Nicole, I’ve learned there is plantain herb and plantain bananas. Two very different plants. I think plantain flour is actually green banana flour. So maybe it might be worth a try. I’m going to try it anyway. I’ll keep you posted.
Plantain flour is from plantains and green banana flour is from unripe, green bananas so the two are in fact different!
I’m excited to try this. Our house is quite drafty, especially in the Canadian winter, so I’m guessing the starter will take longer than a week to be ready.
1. If it’s not ready after 7 days, appx. how long might it take? I ask, just in case I reach the two week point and wonder if I’ve done something wrong…
2. Since I might have to store it prior to being able to attempt the actual bread on a weekend, if I finish a day of feedings at 1/4 c. flour + water and determine it’s ready, and then want to store in the fridge until I can make bread, can I give it the 1/2 cup flour & 1/2 cup water the very next day & then store until ready to use on the weekend?
3. Also, for feeding the fridge starter 1-2x weekly, is it the 1/4 c. flour amount 2x/day 1-2x a week, or is once a day fine? Or should it be a 1/2 c. flour?
Thank you! Sorry for the novel!
1. I just made a new starter and it took me 10 days (I’m in Toronto)
2. If you store in the fridge before you bake with it you’ll need to allocate enough time (maybe 1-2 days and a few feeds with 1/2 cup fl) for it to come to room temperature (Just as you would after your first bake when you’re working from a starter that’s been stored).
3. I typically feed with 1/2 cup flour
Hi Nicole – Sorry, me again! Can you elaborate on 2. above & the process for after I bake with it? Also, this seems like a LOT of starter, about four cups worth. Am I supposed to have this much? It lasts indefinitely in the fridge? Thanks again!
Hi Jill, if you aren’t planning to use your starter regularly to bake i suggest keeping it in the fridge where it will require feedings (and discards) about once a week to maintain it. I typically discard 1/2 cup and then feed with 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water. After feeding, leave the starter out at room temperature for a few hours until it gets puffy and expands, then cover it and place back in the fridge. And yes: re the amount of starter. You can use it for pancakes, flatbreads, bread and other recipes once it’s ready and it will grow much more slowly in the fridge due to the temperature so don’t worry too much about volume.
Hi! I made this starter and the bread- what incredible flavor! Thanks so much. When you feed and cover it before putting the starter in the fridge, do you cover it with the mason jar lid or keep it loose still with just a cloth and rubber band? Also, what’s the approximate nutrition info (I know it depends on the type of banana flour, but rough estimate please if possible)? Thanks again! It’s been a fun new kitchen experiment.
Hi Sara! So glad you enjoyed! I cover it with the lid in the fridge, otherwise it will dry out. Unfortunately I don’t have the nutrition info, but would suggest using a nutrition info calculator
Thanks so much!
I REALLY want to try to make your sour dough starter! Can you give me some idea how many packages of Let’s Go Organic Green Banana Flour to make a batch of starter and then make your bread recipe?
Thanks so much!
Hi Ruth! You’ll need 5 1/4 cups green banana flour total so if you purchase 14oz bags maybe 3 to be safe and have some extra?
Thanks Nicole! That helps a lot!
How do you keep / maintain the starter after the 7 days when it’s become active? In the fridge? How often should I feed it? Thanks a lot!
Hey there! Answers to all your questions are in the blog post 🙂
Oh, sorry! Somehow I missed that ?
Thank you so much!
I’m on day 3 and I’m so excited to make your sourdough bread once this starter is ready. It’s the perfect time for breads and soups here! Day 3 says to pour out any clear liquid but I did not have any and my starter is pretty runny still, should I be doing something different? Thanks!
Hi Molly! Everyone’s starter is different depending on the brand of green banana flour you’re using, the temperature and climate where you are etc. As I note in the post, you want the mixture to be pretty thick and *just pourable at first. What brand of flour are you using?
I’m having the same issue as Nicole. From the beginning my starter has been runny but no clear liquid, the liquid is brown. I’m currently on Day 5. I’m so excited, 7 days seems so far away!!
Oops…I meant having the same issues as Molly! I’m using Let’s Do Organic flour.
i thought i’d share my struggles for any readers who may have the same issues. i’ve made it to day 4 several times and mold is growing on top of my starter, so i’ve thrown it away. well, first time (1xday feeding) i scraped off the mold but it returned. second time (2xday feeding), i scooped out almost 3/4 of the starter (including the mold), and just took a small sample of the starter from the bottom to re-start from and the mold returned. third time (2xday feeding), i started from scratch and had mold grow again. So i’ve collectively thrown out about 10 cups of flour and it was so painful lol! All three times i used completely, thoroughly, sterilized jars and utensils and my kitchen temp is consistenly 70-74 degrees F, so i think it’s just that my particular brand of flour (LiveKuna) is more dense than Nicole’s recommended brand (LISTEN TO NICOLE LOL!). So now I’m on day 5 with a new batch and it’s not growing mold. I did some general sourdough starter research and subsequently added about 2 tablespoons of liquid from some home-fermented saurkraut with the liquid on the first feeding, and it seems to have sped up the fermentation process. Hope that might help someone!
Thanks for sharing Christina! Good luck with your new starter!!! I have found the experience to be very different in the summer than the winter when I first began my sourdough journey. The learning continues 🙂
While you’re doing the 7 days, do you put a top on the Mason jar to prevent mold? Thanks!
Hey Sally, you can use a tea towel and elastic band or loosely cover the jar with a non air-tight sealed lid so that there can still be some air circulation
Hey Sally, you can use a tea towel and elastic band or loosely cover the jar with a non air-tight sealed lid.
Hello there! I’m so excited to try this and am curretly on day five. I haven’t seen any activity yet, but every time I go to feed it there is a large amount of liquid that’s settled at the top. Should I discard 1/4 a cup of that, or continue to mix that in (stirring gently) before I discard? Or should I go ahead and discard all the liquid that’s separated—probably two cups at least?
Hi Melanie, that liquid on top is known as hooch and is the alcohol given off when wild yeast ferments. You’ll want to pour out any clear liquid that might have formed on top your starter, stir it up, then discard and then feed. Two cups seems like quite a lot though and typically hooch is an indication that your starter is hungry. Is this the accumulated amount you’re noticing every day twice a day?
No, the clear liquid didn’t start until about day four. Since day 3 was the only day to talk about pouring that liquid off, I assumed (incorrectly) I wasn’t supposed to do it the following days. I’ve poured it off today (day 6), and will continue to pour it off thanks to your advice. Since it hasn’t started to bubble yet, should I just continue a few extra days with day 7’s instructions? I hate to waste all this flour and start over. ?
Yep, that’s right just keep up the twice a day feeding and discarding and watch/smell for signs of activity!
Thank you, Nicole!
Can i use sweet patatoes Flavour or tiger nut Flavour ?
What do YOU think ?
Hi Samia, I haven’t tried any other substitutes besides cassava flour that didn’t work for me, so cannot say for sure.
I’ve been feeding my starter for around a week, and there’s no sign that it’s active. It’s winter here in Australia, and even though I am running my heating daily, it’s still not that warm inside. In that case, could it take longer to be ready to bake? If so, should I continue feeding it 1/4 cup twice daily?
While you are growing your starter, the ideal temperature is anywhere from 68°F to 80°F. If your kitchen is cooler than this, your starter will grow more slowly and likely take more than a week to be ready. You could try keeping it nearer to your heater. To answer your question, yes, continue feeding twice daily. You’ll know it’s ready when it has a yeasty, slightly sweet and sour smell, and is light and bubbly beneath the surface as per the pictures in the post. Hope this is helpful!
So far so good!! I’m on day 7 and definitely getting a lot of activity. I’m excited to make some bread with it! Only wish I had used a larger jar…
I am on day 6, second time around. The first batch had some mold in it( used a mason jar and lid). Second time around, just using a mason jar and tea towel as a lid. So I noticed on day 6 that the starter was too runny, bubbly but runny. I have added extra banana flour so hopefully that works?!! So far it smells yeasty with a sweet and sour smell. Wish me luck!
Hi Suzy! Adding extra flour shouldn’t hurt it at all, but I wouldn’t worry too much about consistency of the starter once you’re getting those signs of activity (which it seems that you are!) From all that I’ve read it seems that your bread won’t be affected by how runny your starter is, once it’s active. Good luck, and please do let me know how your baked goods turn out!
My starter never got bubbly and light and airy just beneath the top of the starter. I did bake 2 loaves with it. However, it did not rise after 6 hours of proofing. The taste was very good. Also, I am getting a dark color on top of starter. Help.
Heal Me Delicious Team
Hi Terry, it sounds like your starter wasn’t ready/was inactive when you began to bake with it, which is why your bread didn’t rise. Your starter must be active before you begin baking with it. The dark color could be mold, or if you’re storing it in the fridge, it could be drying out on top. Remember the ideal temperature of the environment to grow your starter is 68F-80F. We recommend checking out the Grain Free Sourdough Baking Guide for tips and help with troubleshooting your starter.
Can you think of anything that could be subbed for the green banana flour? I react to both bananas and plantains.
Hi Tiffany! As I note in the post, I haven’t tried personally but you might give tigernut flour a try!
Is there any reason I can’t halve this recipe?
Should be fine!
I’m so excited to find an AIP sourdough starter, thank you! Just a couple of questions. With Storing, I would keep mine in the fridge. When you take it out to feed it and add the 1/2 cup flour/water do you also remove 1/2 cup to discard? Or is discarding only part of the making process? Also you say that you can use the discarded parts to put in flatbread/brownies – can you use the discarded parts from the 7 days of making the starter? Or in the storing phase? Sorry I’m completely new to starters.
Hi Bec! Yep so you’d take it out the fridge, give it a stir, discard and then feed. You can use the discard throughout the process – I’d say anywhere from day 4 onward, or from once it’s begun to ferment a bit and is not just flour and water. Happy to help with any other questions – I’m no expert but have been at this consistently for the past 6 months 🙂
Thanks so much for your reply! Looking forward to giving it a go.
Oh, I’m soooo excited!!!!! I’ve been wanting a grain free, egg free sourdough recipe!! You are a genious!!!
I’m wondering what size mason jar is best for the starter: is a quart-sized jar large enough or is 1/2-gallon better for managing the process?
Hi Nancy, both would work. I prefer using a slightly larger jar though.
I’m on Day 3 & used a quart sized jar but seem to be almost out of room. Is it safe to transfer to a larger jar halfway through this process?
Also, the consistency of my starter is more ‘thick soup’ & quite pourable – Should I add more flour to thicken it up? I’m picturing ‘just pourable’ as almost bulletproof lol
Hi Jill, yes safe to transfer once you use clean utensils and a very clean jar (make sure there’s no soap residue or water residue in case there’s chlorine). The just pourable consistency is what i recommend for the very first mixture of your starter, I wouldn’t worry too much about the consistency moving forward but you could always reduce the amount of water slightly for the next few feeds.
How do I keep the starter once it’s ready? In the fridge? Thanks?
Hi Kamila, I share the various ways to store or use your starter once ready in the blog post. Happy baking!
It’s the third day and I noticed some bubbles on the top of my starter. Is this normal or is it mold? What does mold look like?
Hi Cheryl, bubbles are a good sign of fermentation! Mold is typically fuzzy/cloudy looking – a quick google search should give you an idea of what you don’t want. Best of luck and do let me know if you try baking with your starter.
Is it ok to grow the starter in the light, like on the countertop, or should it be in the dark? My husband grows his kefir in the kitchen cabinet in the dark, so I was unsure what works best. Thanks!!
Hi Kristin, yep, countertop is fine!
Thanks for the recipe! So I just poured 1/2 cup of filtered water into 1/2 c banana flour and I got a super thick paste, with at least 1/4 c of dry flour remaining. So I’m adding more water, but just thought I’d ask you if that’s the intention?
Hi Christina! Yes, you definitely want all the flour absorbed – it should be a thick, just pourable mixture. I’ve updated the post to include this notation, as well as a couple TBSP more water. What brand of green banana flour are you using?
thank you so much for you reply. I’m using the LiveKuna brand. I ended up needing at least twice as much water, but i’m on the second feeding now. I’m hopeful! 🙂
Ah okay, I use the Let’sDoOrganics brand. My fingers are crossed for you. Please do let me know how it turns out in the end!
I’m sorry I forgot to reply. You are a TREASURE! I made a delicious loaf of sourdough and pancakes from the discard and I cried tears of joy! Then I helped a family member on a cross country move and my starter died, even though I tried freezing a portion and refrigerating another portion. Starting again today and I’m so anxious for a week to pass! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!
Sorry about your starter!!! Hopefully the warmer weather will help speed it up this round. Good luck!