When I have a sourdough starter going I feel like I have so much at my fingertips. Not only can I ferment and leaven a good loaf of bread, I can also use that starter to make my morning pancakes, churn out tortillas, and even make a tasty fizzy beverage.

But I don’t always have a sourdough starter up and running. This is fine for a good half of the year when I’m not terribly interested in baking and might just soak my grains in kefir or yogurt instead.

These cold months call me back to the kitchen, though, and the desire to produce soured loaves and breads for my family. When that happens, and I’m without a trusted sourdough starter, there are a couple of stand ins for both fermenting and leavening my dough.

Milk Kefir. When I’m making milk kefir I like to utilize that as a sourdough starter. I don’t necessarily find it quite as vigorous at leavening as a trusted sourdough starter but it works well with its colony of bacteria and yeast. You can find a full article on how to use milk kefir as sourdough on the main CFH site.

Water Kefir. For those who are dairy intolerant, or simply happen to have water kefir on hand, this can also be used as a starter. Erin utilized it to create a starter which she used to make delicious soured gluten-free pancakes.

Kombucha. Since it also contains yeasts as well as bacteria, kombucha can be utilized to start a sourdough starter or ferment your grains. I wrote about that last spring when I started a sourdough starter using kombucha. That starter served me well for months.