Managing Your Sourdough Starter

(chelimon) #61

Thank you, I really appreciate the link and advice. I did leave it on the counter last night and it seems to be much slower going. I’ve been baking almost daily just to get the hang of things, proofing, kneading, shaping and the bake. Thanks again!

(Melissa) #62

You’re welcome. I can totally relate to the constant baking. :slight_smile:

(RonKhare) #63

That’s a really nice tutorial on starters, Fermentada! Do you think it’s too long, or is that much text and pictures a good amount for, say, a new baker?

(Melissa) #64

I’m a bit of a compulsive reader when I start something new, so this tutorial worked for me…along with maybe five others!

Now, I’m trying a new flour, and I think I’ve read just about everything the internet has on Emmer bread, the most helpful being a forum thread from 2012 that blew up my phone with ads (not breadtopia) lol

(Paul) #65

I’m forever amazed at how complicated and mystified people are around sourdough starter. In my experience it is super-simple to use and maintain it.

Keep a small jar of starter in the fridge (loosely covered). Every couple weeks, discard 90% of it (or use to make pancakes or whatever) and then stir into the jar (with the remaining 10% of old starter) about 2/3 to 1 cup of fresh flour and about an equal weight of dechlorinated water. Leave that on the counter at room temp for a few hours (3, 4, 5?) to let things get going and then pop it back in the fridge and forget about it for another couple weeks.

The night before you are going to bake, put enough fresh flour (of whatever variety you like; no need to be the same as what is in your jar in the fridge) to make the amount of starter you need for the baking you plan to do the next day into a jar, add an equal by weight amount of dechlorinated water, and then thoroughly stir in about a teaspoon to tablespoon of the starter from your jar in the fridge. Cover it loosely and leave it on the kitchen counter overnight at room temp. When you wake up the next day you should have a bubbly vigorous jar of starter that is ready for baking action.

That routine works for me baking once or twice a week. If you are baking every day, you’d want to modify that routine some by making your refrigerator jar somewhat bigger and instead of doing 2/3 - 1 cup when you feed it, you could do something like 2 cups of fresh flour.

(Melissa) #66

Interesting and efficient :slight_smile: My system is totally different, but also easy I like to think.

I have a jar of starter in the fridge, usually with 0.5-1.5 cups of starter in it. When I want to bake, I take it out, stir it and see what happens over the next few hrs. Sometimes it has had so little time and temp to eat in the fridge that it rises within 2-4 hrs without being fed and i use it. Then I feed it and stick it back in the fridge after about 30 min.

Sometimes out of the fridge, it kinda sits there looking flat for several hours, so I feed it. Then I wait 4-8 hrs, use it, feed it, wait about 30 min then return it to the fridge.

I almost never discard. When I find it’s too big, I transfer some to another jar and save it for weekend pancakes, which use 3 cups in my house/recipe.

Funny how different the starter management can be!

(Paul) #68

Here’s my pre-baking routine in pictures.

  1. Evening before, small jar

  2. Put a few teaspoons of flour into it

  3. Put a teaspoon of mature (fridge) starter in

  4. Add some dechlorinated water (I like to use spring water because I think the microbes like the minerals), and stir well

  5. Loosely cover and leave on the counter overnight

  6. Next morning, get baking man; this starter is ready for action

Starter rising too fast
(Melissa) #69


Here’s a pic of my “lab.” Starter, cultured buttermilk from making kefir butter, lime pickle, fermented veggies, kimchi from the store :open_mouth:

(mike395) #70

Hello I received my starter the other day and I have followed the first few days of feeding instructions.
A few questions.

The instructions sort of leave you hanging after day two. How much should I feed it on day three.

I purchased this because I’d like to introduce some sourdough to my Neapolitan pizza but I am unsure how much to add. Hoping you can help.

My current recipe is as follows for one batch of 8 - 200 gram balls.

1000g Caputo 00 Flour
650g water
6g yeast
20g of salt

Thanks for your time and expertise.

(Eric) #71

Which starter did you get, dried or live?

(mike395) #72

I got the live starter

(Eric) #73

Once your starter is lively, bubbly, spongy, there’s a wide range of options for ongoing feeding that can work. In general you want to feed it roughly equal weights of flour and water. Enough (as a percentage of the amount of starter you’re feeding) to allow it to rise and continue to look lively and spongy. Once you have a healthy starter, the amount you feed it also depends in part on your baking schedule and volume. There’s more detailed info here:

Regarding amount to use in pizza or anything else, where you’re subbing for commercial yeast: give it a good guess and keep an eye on it. There are no rules of thumb that I know of for this.

(juergen) #74

Got my live starter a few weeks ago and I’ve been feeding it, every second day since I bake every second day.
It smells very nicely acidic and tastes nice. It is very slow, bubbles very gently.

I’m using it in my bread maker machine using the either french mode (4h kneading) or with super rapid mode (15min pre-dough and 15min kneading).
I have great experience with the super rapid mode and commercial dry yeast.

My question is, why does the sour starter not replace the commercial yeast? I have to use literally the same amount of yeast to get the bread fluffy. I also noticed that with a bit too much whole grain flour, the yeast is not strong enough.

My recipe:
Predough: set sit for 15 min
1/4 cup bread flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp gluten
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water
now adding 1/4 cup sourdough starter.

pour into bread machine and add
1.5 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
and let the machine combine it to a dough ball I can form with hand for 15 min

form a nice shape and put back into machine for 15min rising and 1h baking
I use a 10% sodium hydroxide solution to brush on cold before rising for a very nice bretzel crust.

Don’t get me wrong, the bread comes out with a super taste. But there is always room for improvement.
I love to hear your comments.

(trillium) #75

How do you decide what hydration %age to use for maintaining your culture(s)? Some baking books mention using a ‘liquid’ levain, others specify refreshing/maintaining the stock culture as a kneaded ball of flour + water+ starter.

I’ve been baking whole grain sourdough bread for about 12 years and have always used equal quantities by weight of flour and well water to refresh my culture. Am I missing anything important?

Thanks for any shared words of wisdom.

(Melissa) #76


I have zero experience with bread machines, but reading your question, I thought of two things.

One is basic: is your starter floating (not only bubbly) when you go to use it?

More complicated: how long are you giving the starter to ferment the dough? Sourdough takes longer than yeast, as you’re probably well aware. Unless you eliminate the yeast and give the starter many times more minutes/hours than you would have the commercial yeast, you won’t know what it’s capable of. I couldn’t tell from your recipe description how long your process is with the machine so I may be off base…

(juergen) #77

Thanks for your insight.
What do you mean with “floating”? The starter shows bubbles only after a day of not stirring. It’s pretty liquidy.

See picture.
New photo by Dr. Juergen Kienhoefer

When I mix it, it takes a day before I see bubbles again. Right, it’s pretty slow.
I also noticed, when I don’t feed it for 2 days, it creates a skin over it. Is that usable? What do I do with that?

I’ll give is a try, create a dough and let it ferment for a full day.

(Melissa) #78

If you’re keeping your starter at room temp, you may need to feed it 1-2 times every 24 hrs. This will result in a huge vat of starter very quickly which is why many people refrigerate between uses, to slow the yeast-bacteria from eating all the food too fast. (You can also make lots and lots of sourdough pancakes.)

I don’t know about a hard film – maybe someone else can chime in and speak to that.

The float test is when you take a teaspoon or so of starter and drop it in water. If it floats, it means it’s ready – with a large amount of bacteria and yeast – to dive into your dough and ferment it.

A while back I posted this link. It’s a guide to sourdough maintenance. Nothing can be applied to everyone though. I :green_heart: my starter and how it performs, yet it does not double like the one in this blog. Nonetheless I learned from reading it and looking at the pictures.

Let me know how your longer fermentation time goes. Good luck!

(juergen) #79

Hi Melissa,

Thanks for your link to the starter maintenance. I put it into a jar as you did and it’s performing as you describe. Feeding as required. Very good, it does it. I feel more comfortable using it for bread now.
starter growing:

The first bread I did, with 48h dough fermentation and no commercial yeast did not turn out super well. A bit too dense though, but the taste is incredible. Great crust. You see I used a stainless pot with large lid to bake it. Worked pretty well. But I will get a dutch oven to contain it better.

This was with the first bread, with the slow starter. I will try again.


(Melissa) #80


Congratulations on your sourdough bread! The crust looks like a nice golden brown. I’m curious if some of your 48 hr fermentation was cold/in the fridge?

I’m glad the starter tutorial was helpful. I feel like there is always more to learn about sourdough and fermentation. The research and experimenting is so fun and rewarding.



(juergen) #81

I’m still working on it. The 48h was done at room temp, around 68F. This one and the next came out nice. Still not perfect. What I don’t know is how you get those HUGE bubbles in your bread. To me it looks like the yeast does not have enough power to “blow it up”. My bubbles stay small.

I’m experimenting with the starter. Your rubber band idea is quite helpful. Now I basically add everything (water, bread flour, a bit of gluten) to the starter and keep it pretty “dry”, doughy not liquidy. Then I use most of the starter to make bread, only adding little flower and water to create the required volume. This way I can get away without much fermentation time of the bread dough. That’s my goal, as little work as possible. Let the starter do the work.

I have one right now,