Frequently Asked Questions

Alfonsina is a wild yeast culture started in the spring of 1919 by a baker in the town of Clusone in Italy. As 2020 unfolds with the biggest challenge the world has ever seen, people are making bread; from banana bread to crusty sourdough. 

Keeping a Motherdough culture is really easy and you can use her to make bread and other delicious treats for ever and ever. You can even leave her to someone in your will.

Here we answer some of the most common questions about Motherdough.

What is Motherdough?

Motherdough is a “sourdough.” Creating a sourdough is an ancient method of capturing wild yeast which is then used to to leaven baked goods. This is the way bread has been made for centuries before commercial yeast was available.

Do i need expensive equipment to bake with Motherdough?

No you don't. In fact you only need some basic items that you likely already have in your kitchen. For some of the more specialised tools there are many ways to improvise. You will probably need to invest in a baking stone or a dutch oven sometime if you don't have one. We explain what equipment you need here.

What ingredients do I need to bake with Motherdough?

Flour, water and salt is all you need to make a delicious loaf of bread. You can read about our ingredient recommendations here.

Why the name Motherdough?

Sourdough is know as pasta madre in Italy. Pasta – dough, madre – mother. So Motherdough is basically pasta madre in English.

Is an “antique” culture better than a young one?

Cultures are continually evolving. The benefit of an older culture is that its behaviour is more predictable which makes it easier to understand, use and look after. Alfonsina is 101 years old and whether there are original strains of the yeasts from a century ago still dominate, we can’t be sure. What we do know is that the fundamentals of this culture are balanced and produce amazing bread and sweet goods with a consistent flavour and aroma. 

Why should I give my Motherdough a name?

Immediately after activating your Motherdough culture she will begin to grown and evolve. In your care she will become an extension of your family, influenced by her environment. She won’t be 100% like Alfonsina; she will grow and develop into her own character, just like you are different from your mother and grandmother. Giving her a name validates that she’s alive and she just becomes cool to talk about. It's part of being a good Motherdough parent. 
Why use Motherdough instead of commercial yeast?

There are nutritional benefits, money-savings, and a range of flavours achieved when Motherdough is used. Read more about the benefits of eating proper bread. 

What is involved with caring for my Motherdough?

Motherdough should be fed with flour and filtered water either daily up to every 3rd day, depending on the frequency of use. We don’t recommend leaving your Motherdough for longer than a week without feeding. Certain circumstances may require special feeding or care to rebalance or bring you Motherdough back to peak condition. If your Motherdough seems unwell, please contact Motherdough 911. 

What ingredients does Motherdough cultures contain?

Our culture contains water, flour, and wild yeast. We also add a very small amount of dry malt extract to the starter pack you purchase. We use only the best stoneground flour and filtered water to perpetuate our Motherdough culture. 

Is Motherdough dairy-free? Vegan?

Our sourdough cultures contain no animal by-products. They are manufactured in a facility that produces products containing gluten and dairy.
Do you sell a gluten-free, Rye or any other Motherdough?

We are launching with our original wheat-fed Motherdough culture. As our community grows, we will assess the demand for a gluten free culture. We do currently have a gluten free Motherdough for testing purposes. We also have a Rye culture that we may add to the line-up in the future. 
Is Motherdough reusable?

Yes, our Motherdough culture is a traditional starter culture and is meant to be re-used indefinitely.

I found instructions online for making a sourdough starter from scratch. What are the advantages of purchasing Motherdough?

Although it is possible and easy to create a sourdough culture from scratch, using Motherdough has several advantages:

  • It is more reliable.
  • It is more stable, active, and resilient.
  • It can guarantee a more pleasantly flavoured product.
  • It is easier to bring back to health when it goes off balance
  • If you kill it in the first 60 days, we'll replace it free. 


Is Motherdough very sour?

Actually no; at most Motherdough is only very slightly sour. She has been nurtured for over a century with the aim of keeping her taste profile delicate and fragrant. In Italy, “lievito madre” is used in all types of baked products from bread and biscuits to doughnuts and panettone. 

How many sourdough cultures do I need?

You only need one culture. It is tempting to have and use multiple sourdough starters but unless you have a very specific reason for doing so, we strongly recommend sticking to just one, for simplicity. It is easy to convert a sourdough starter to work with different flour types.

I want to make things like baguettes, pizza bases, ciabatta, wholewheat bread, doughnuts etc. Do I need a separate sourdough culture for each of these things?

Motherdough is a strong, balanced and stable leavening agent so it is incredibly versatile. Motherdough can be used to make a variety of baked goods (like commercial yeast) with the only major difference being that a natural fermentation rise takes a lot longer, and the resultant product is much healthier to consume. 

How do I activate the Motherdough starter packet?

Instructions for activating the starter are included with your delivery. You just add water and mix. This is an extremely easy process and your Motherdough should be ready to use in 24-48 hours.

I activated my packet of Motherdough two days ago and have been feeding it regularly. How long before it is active?

Generally speaking your Motherdough should be ready to use after complete combining of the two packets and the first feed. Cooler temperatures will slow the process down and warmer temperatures will speed the process up. It may require a further feed or two to get her really strong. If you have any problems please contact Motherdough 911.
How often should I feed my Motherdough? 

At least every 5 days. We recommend keeping Motherdough in the fridge. However, if maintained at room temperature, the Motherdough should be fed every 12 to 24 hours, depending on room temperature.

How long will the sourdough starter culture activation pack last?

Packets of Motherdough starter culture are stable at room temperature for shipping. We recommend that you activate them as per the instructions within 2 days of delivery. For long term storage, place the starter pack freezer for up to 30 days and defrost to activate as per the instructions. 

Where should I keep my sourdough culture?

We recommend that you keep your Motherdough in a sealed container in the fridge at approx. 6 deg. C. Motherdough that is used frequently can be maintained at room temperature 20-25 deg. C but will require feeding every 12-24 hours. 

What type of water should I use when feeding my sourdough starter?

While we recommend using water that is as free of contaminants as possible, Motherdough is fairly resilient and can generally handle tap water provided it is has been passed through a domestic water filter. 
What is "refreshed Motherdough" that is called for in most recipes?

Fresh sourdough starter is a term often used in recipes to refer to recently fed, active Motherdough starter. Typically this would be a piece of Motherdough taken after about 2-4 hours after a feed when the Motherdough has doubled in size. 
How do I switch a sourdough culture from using white flour to whole wheat flour, rye flour, etc.?

Switching a sourdough starter to a new type of flour is a simple process of "weaning" from one flour to the next in 3 or 4 feeds. Always retain a portion of the original starter, just in case.

If I’m making other cultured foods (yogurt, milk kefir, kombucha, etc.), how far away should I keep my Motherdough?

Motherdough is a "person" too and so we recommend social distancing. We suggest a distance of at least 1,5 metres between cultures, to avoid cross-contamination. When stored in the refrigerator with tight-fitting lids, there is no need to keep distance between them.