We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Have a Miserably Failed Sourdough Starter? Donate It to Science (No, Really!)

A sourdough starter in a glass jar.
The Pizza Bike/Flickr

Not all sourdough starters are destined for greatness. In fact, if you’re new to the sourdough game, yours might not even be fit for consumption, but take heart! You can turn it into a useful science experiment.

We’re not pulling your leg! Sourdough starters are created using natural environmental yeast that feasts on the starter. The yeast in your area is different from the yeast in my area, which is different from the yeast in San Francisco (which has long been lauded as the secret to that city’s delicious bread).

Local environmental yeasts are of great interest to researchers at The Public Science Lab at North Carolina University. They’d love to hear about your experience with sourdough starters, whether they were successful or not. In an interview with NPR, the manager of the lab’s Wild Sourdough Project explained:

“I’m really hoping that some people can give us information about the starters that do fail because we don’t hear about that enough, and we definitely don’t hear about failures enough in science, in general.”

Even better, not only does the Wild Sourdough Project detail how your data will be used (and how to collect it), there are also instructions on how to create it.

So, if you’re considering getting into the sourdough game, you’ll have guidance and something to show for your efforts—even if that isn’t some delicious homemade sourdough bread.

After a few failed first attempts, you’ll likely get a sourdough starter with which you can nurture and bake delicious loaves of bread.

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on one thing: making your life outside of work even better. Want to know more?