Managing Your Sourdough Starter

Before you watch this video on sourdough starter maintenance, please know that it really isn’t a big deal to keep your sourdough culture alive and healthy. A good starter is naturally very hearty and robust. If I were as strong as my starter is, I’d be competing in Iron Man competitions. At a minimum, all you have to do is throw some flour and water in once in a while to keep it alive during periods when you’re baking infrequently. To keep it near optimum health, feed it once a week or so and keep it refrigerated.

If you’re baking regularly, say weekly or bi-weekly, it’s easy enough just to feed it after using the amount called for in your recipe before returning it to your refrigerator. If you really want to be sure your starter is in optimum shape, feed it once or twice the day before baking or the two days prior to baking day. In addition, here are a few points that are worth noting…

  • When you feed your starter, feed it with approximately equal weights of flour and water. That equates to about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of water for every cup of flour.
  • As a general rule of thumb, the amount you feed your sourdough starter depends on how much of it you have to start with. When practical, you want to approximately double the amount of starter you have each time you feed it. However, if you already have a couple cups of starter on hand and typically only use a cup of starter in your recipe, it doesn’t make sense to have to double the existing two cups of starter. In this case just dispose of a cup or more of the starter and then double what remains.
  • If it’s been a long time since you’ve fed your starter and you don’t plan on baking for a while, don’t feel like you have to go through a big rigamarole to keep it happy, just stir in a 1/2 cup of flour and about the same amount of water and forget about it. That will at least buy you a few more weeks before you have to worry about it again.
  • If you really don’t think you’re going to use your starter at all for a very long time, (some people don’t bake during the summer months, for example), you could dry some starter and freeze it. It will store this way indefinitely. Then revive it in the fall. See the videos on drying starter and reviving dried starter.
  • If you need a whole wheat or rye starter, it’s easy to convert your white flour starter by just a few successive feedings with the flour you want. You may have to adjust the water as some flours are thirstier than others.
  • Be sure to store your starter in a container that’s not air tight. This comment from Madelyn dramatically (and humorously) illustrates why.

I’m really belaboring this subject. Once you’ve played around with sourdough starters for a while and baked some with it, you’ll know all you need to know and develop a sense for what works best. If your bread is not rising as much as you think it should (you’re not getting the desired oven spring) then try what I said about feeding your starter a couple of times in the 12-24 hours before starting your recipe.

As with anything on this web site, if you have any questions or comments about anything please ask in the space below.

Jan 13, 2011 Update: In this video I mention a favorite recipe of mine that calls for 2 cups of sourdough starter. It’s been so long since I shot the video (and many favorite recipes ago), that I’ve forgotten exactly which recipe I was referring to. I do know it was in Ed Wood’s book, Classic Sourdoughs. He has many recipes in there that call for 2 cups of starter.

{ 1344 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Sue November 4, 2010 at 5:56 am

Thanks, Eric. You’re right, I’m not baking daily, so I’ll put them in the fridge. Would you recommend a short stint of frequent feedings (2or 3/day) to revive them? Or should I do something else?

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Breadtopia November 3, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Hi Mary Sue,

Unless you’re baking every day, you’re probably better off keeping your starter in fridge and taking it out to feed at least once a week. It’s good to feed it within a day of baking too. When you leave it out all the time, you have to feed it a lot more than you are now so basically it’s not getting enough to eat which is why it’s declining.

Ideally, when you do feed your starter, it’s nice to be able to double or triple the amount of starter you’re feeding and let it sit out until it’s risen some. If you’re not baking frequently or routinely, it can be challenging trying to keep your starter optimally healthy so that it’s ready to go when you need it. Shelley’s post (just above yours) is classic case where she had to make adjustments to suit her particular baking routine to make it all work for her.

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Shelley November 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Back in July I began a starter from scratch. It took 13 days to really get going. I baked bout twice a week with it for awhile, then once a week.
All was good. Then I began baking less – once every other week – but I still took my starter out of the fridge once
a week, let it come to room temp, poured some out, fed it and them put it back. I noticed about 3 weeks ago that i was getting a layer of “hooch”
on the top so I began feeding it more and more often as well and it’s ok now.

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Mary Sue November 3, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Hi, Eric. I received your live starter several weeks ago now; woke it up according to your directions, and it seemed very nice, active, and bubbly. So I wouldn’t forget about it, I decided to keep it on the counter. I’ve been feeding it anywhere between a couple of tablespoons to 1/3 cup of flour every 24-36 hours, and enough water to keep it like thick pancake batter. I’m noticing that the amount of bubbling I see in the started is getting less and less, and the bubbles themselves are becoming much smaller than at the start. Is this normal? Would I be better off refrigerating it? Our house is pretty cool, usually between 65-69 degrees.

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Pepper October 29, 2010 at 2:05 pm

My starter is years old and was given to me a couple months ago. I bake with it usually once a week and have recently been getting disappointing results. I use about two cups of starter for my bread and save the other two cups for next week. Each week I feed the starter with 1.5 cups ap flour and 1.5 cups warm water. Would you be able to offer some advice or guidance towards the chewy, airy, crusty bread I know I can bake? My sourdough routine:

Feed 2 cups starter with equal 1.5 cups flour and water. Pour off half into a mason jar and cover with plastic with a hole. This lives in the fridge until next time.
The other 2 cups sits on the counter overnight, in the morning it is bubbly and foaming.
I use 32.5 oz ap flour, 14 oz water and starter to make the dough in a kitchen aid. After the frist mixing, it sits for 15 or so minutes. I mix salt, and knead again.
The dough rises 5 hours or possibly all day. Sometimes the rise is very slow.
After it doubles I gently separarte the dough into two loaves. This is when it stops rising. It never gets to that airy constancy I am looking for.

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Breadtopia October 26, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Hi Al,

The separating alcohol is more a byproduct of a starter that’s not in good shape, probably from just not feeding enough and regularly enough. Once you see the starter separating, it probably doesn’t matter all that much whether you pour off the liquid or stir it back in. It needs help.

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Al October 26, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Hi Eric,

In your latest video on managing starter you mentioned that the liquid that forms on top of the starter is alcohol and should be poured off. I thought that this was just separated water and kept stirring it back into the starter. Do you think that might account for why my starter seemed to lose is potency over time?

Love this site!

Al

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Breadtopia October 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Hi Marcy,

You can try that. Feeding daily is pretty ideal if it works for you. The part that’s hard to advise on is how much to feed it and what temp to keep it at. If you don’t feed it enough in relation to how much there is to begin with and/or if the temperature is too warm, then your starter gets over ripe, too vinegary and loses its vigor. So it’s all a play of time, temp and quantities. And it helps most if you know how a healthy starter should look, smell and behave so you know what you’re shooting for.

Most people don’t bake often enough and don’t want to have to feed their starters daily. If you leave your starter at room temperature and are not baking all the time, you have to dispose of a lot of starter or you’ll end up with tons of it. So it’s probably more common to feed occasionally and refrigerate between use. Managing starter this way isn’t going to result in a starter that’s as vigorous as it could be with daily feedings at room temperature, but it’s more practical for most people and can still work very well. Have I been long winded enough?

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Marcy October 24, 2010 at 6:23 am

THANK YOU for this wonderful information! I do have a question. A friend of mine gave me some sourdough starter that he’s had going for about 8 years. He gave me about 1/2 to 3/4 cup in a pint glass jar and told me to feed it appx 2 tbsp of flour twice a day for a few days before taking the 1 cup out to bake with it. Should I just go ahead and feed it the way he suggests? I would want to bake the bread weekly. And should I refrigerate it between or just leave it on the counter? It’s my guess he just leaves it out. Personally, it would probably be best for me to feed it daily so I can stay on a routine.

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Breadtopia October 23, 2010 at 6:03 am

Hi Lisa,

I can’t tell if your starter is dead or not. Probably not totally dead so should be able to be revived.

But I definitely wouldn’t use sugar (especially that much) and warm water is not necessary. The reason being both of those things speed up the fermentation process a lot. So it’s possible your starter is metabolizing its available nutrients too fast and is actually starving itself by the time you get around to feeding it again. Not healthy for it.

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Lisa October 22, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I have starter that is only a three of weeks old. The problem is when I use the starter my bread no longer rises. I make sourdough every Friday. My first batch rose great, same with the second. The third and fourth have been flops. This week the alcohol formed on top I drained it off and then used a cup then feed it again. I was also was told the starter needed 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup of warm water to replenish after each use. Is this corrrect and is my starter dead?

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Breadtopia October 22, 2010 at 5:17 am

Hi Susie,

Managing sourdough baking to get the degree of sour you want is, in my opinion and experience, very challenging. Prolonging the rising times by proofing at lower temps is supposed to help and often does. Proofing in the fridge for several hours or overnight and then resuming at room temp may work. Or, now that colder weather is upon us, just keep it in a cool room.

Additionally, or alternately, you can use smaller portions of starter in the recipe which prolongs the time it takes until it’s ready for baking.

Some people use a pinch of ascorbic acid (vitamin c powder available in many health food stores), to increase the sour taste. I’ve never tired this.

I suppose the strain of bacteria in the starter plays a role too but I’ve not heard much definitive info on the subject.

Hopefully, we’ll get some feedback from others on this.

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irene October 20, 2010 at 8:02 am

Hi again.
To improve my knowledge i want to ask you about some of the type of starter…
Old time…when there was no commercial yeast people use anything to make wild yeast…
I see so many recipe with flour,which is sourdough starter. But what i do not want my bread to be sour?
I hear from old people that they use hops-Humulus lupulus(i guess it should be fresh).Is that make any different in a taste result?

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irene October 20, 2010 at 7:49 am

Hi there.
I started bake my own bread about 2 mount ago. I’ve been making my own starter by using rye flour and water
I love it and also i love not to use commercial yeast! Still there is so much to learn and I’m learn something new with every time i made my bread..
there is question which i would like to ask:let’s say i have very busy schedule and i need to have 2-3 whole bread for a week…Can i after i made my dough just keep it in the refrigerator inside of the big glass jar with lid? And every time,when i need it just grab certain amount?

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Susie October 17, 2010 at 8:38 pm

My sourdough starter worked fabulously throughout the spring. During the summer, I stopped using it for about six weeks, but fed it occassionally. Recently, I started baking again. The starter is working great. The bread is turning out beautifully, but it isn’t sour. It just tastes like regular bread not sourdough. About a month ago, when I was getting my starter ready for baking, I poured off the houch, fed it, then used it for baking. For the last three weeks, the bread is turning out great, but not sour. Any advice?

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Scott October 13, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Hello ~ I have just started my starter about 3 or 4 days ago from dry starter… I was hoping to get your advice on exactly what I am looking for as i feed it so that I know that I am doing the correct thing and what I could/should change if need be. Also how much I need to use for say backing a loaf of bread. Thank you for your help

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Wil October 2, 2010 at 8:49 am

Hi Ted, I’m with you re pouring off the hooch. As one gains experience with sourdough starters, they will usually just stir in what little hooch they do get. My starter does not and has not developed any “standing” hooch for years now.

Wil

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Ted October 1, 2010 at 7:33 pm

why are some of the bloggers pouring off the hooch before feeding. I never pour off my hooch. Is there a technical or practical reason for pouring off the hooch? Please advise.

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Breadtopia October 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Hi Anna,

It usually takes at least a week and more like two to develop a starter that’s ready to use for baking. So even in the best of cases, you’ve got a ways to go yet.

Pour off the hooch that forms and keep feeding it. Add more flour than water so it stiffens up some. And give it a few more days. It doesn’t always work out the first time so if it’s not obviously looking lively in another few days, you may have to give it another try.

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Anna Perretta October 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Hi ,
I ve started to make the sourdough starter three days ago, on the second day there were lots of bubbles and volume in it, I don’t know if I did the right think, I feed it again with one half cup of flour and one half cup of water. On the third day which is today it has developed a hooch with no bubbles in it. I don’t know what to do now, if I should continue to feed it or it is ready to bake with it. If you can send me an email as soon as possible I will really appeciate it.
Thank you
Anna

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Holly October 1, 2010 at 6:34 am

I have a new starter, made with dried starter. It will get bubbly and smells wonderful but it isn’t rising? Last time I used a starter it would rise but not this time. I’m’ feeding it once a day and its kept on the counter in a mason jar. Dumped it once and restarted it and the same thing is happening, it’s about a week old now.

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Janet H. September 30, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Thanks for the comments on how to keep my starter alive. I am finding out that it is indeed sturdy stuff as I get used to working with it more.

Your comments help alleviate any feelings I may have that I am being neglectful of my ‘pet’ due to over or underfeedings. :-)

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Madelyn September 30, 2010 at 6:39 pm

P.S I make sourdough rye bread with my starter. I had little to no experience with yeast breads prior to birthing my starter in December following the Breadtopia instructions. I have managed to keep a thriving colony without giving it much thought at all. Most times I thrown in rye flour. Sometimes I throw in white bread flour – excess from forming my loaves. I concur with Butch… don’t overstress over percentages and “am I gonna do something wrong”. I honestly don’t see how you can and if you do, the restart costs are minimal. I do not measure anything. I throw in flour, filtered water just to keep it a nice stirrably thick consistency. I make sure I feed it once a week. Transfer to a clean container from time to time. I probably average 3 minutes a month tending my yeast farm.

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Madelyn September 30, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I have a funny story I’d like to share with all my fellow yeast farmers so you can all learn from this!

I keep my starter in a mason jar. It was born in December 2009 (pineapple juice recipe I got here). Every once in a while I transfer it to a clean jar. I feed it at least once every week – throw some flour in and some filtered water if it’s too thick. I don’t measure anything. I also don’t throw any away. I was baking very week, but the past few weeks I’ve have just been feeding it as I have not had a lot of time for baking.

Well, this AM I thought, hmmm haven’t fed you guys in a week. There was only about an inch of air space at the top of the jar. I fed the farm, placed it on the counter and thought, “hope that’s not a problem” then forgot about it and went to work. I also forgot to tell my husband to keep an eye on it.

My husband said that he started hearing funny inhuman sounds from the kitchen and thought it was an insect or even an animal. He cautiously approached the kitchen and finally saw the yeasts escaping the jar. He touched the jar and it hissed at him. The top was bulging. There was starter creeping over the counter. So he put the jar in a plastic container and put it in the fridge. (Yes, he cleaned up the counter, but left the jar as he found it – a bit of a mess!)

When I came home he showed me the mess in the fridge. The top was bulging. I insisted we had to open the jar and transfer them all to a larger container. Luckily I left the kitchen. He pried the jar open and it exploded. The lid ended up on the other side of the kitchen. The starter in the jar was actively expanding out of the open jar as we watched, like the pudding in Sleeper (Woody Allen movie).

Moral of the story : Don’t feed a starter container that is already 80% full!!!
They need some headroom. My jar never got so full because I was baking regularly.

Well at least I know I have a very active starter even without regular baking.

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Jan September 24, 2010 at 10:15 am

What is the temperature of the water I should use to feed my starter?

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Breadtopia September 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Hi Jan. I just use what comes out of the cold water tap (it goes through a carbon filter).

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Breadtopia September 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Hi Janet,

A bit late here in replying. There’s a huge degree of flexibility in how you manage your starter. I don’t even think about hydration levels or anything any more. I just toss in some flour and water now and then and keep a fairly stiff consistency. If your starter seems healthy and works, then it’s good. If not, then it needs more attention.

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butch August 29, 2010 at 12:15 am

Sorry ’bout the excessive punctuation,I’m kinda punchy after a long day.

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Butch August 29, 2010 at 12:10 am

Hey folks,I wanted to say something to all the beginners re:sourdough :go for it….sourdough is incredibly easy and forgiving,I’ve been playing with it for decades,when I started I was worried I’d “get it wrong”.The truth is ,it’s hard to do it “wrong”.If I manage to kill a starter by neglect,or just get bored with one,I just start another by mixing a cup of flour(any kind) with a cup(scant) of water,leave it out over night and Voila! sourdough!,using this method it takes a couple of weeks to get a really sour loaf,but it’s good right from the start.I like to compare the results from week to week,as it develops.When icky stuff builds up on your jar,just scrape it off and toss it.
As Eric has hinted at:sourdough is incredibly robust,it works if you have it wet or dry as Erics’ ,So,in conclusion:play with it,it won’t break.
I love this method of making bread,my bread machine is now relegated to making dog biscuits,and my wife thinks I’m a genius….what’s not to love??!!!

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Janet H. August 20, 2010 at 8:48 am

Just need to clarify how I am doing this. I have watched your sourdough maintenance video several times and I still end up a bit confused between
‘cup’ measurements and weights when tending my sourdough. Your instruction is to double your starter with each refreshment.

I am about to embark on your sourdough rye so I am refreshing my starter that hasn’t been fed in about 3 weeks. I took 20g and added 20g water and 20g rye flour. All equal weights BUT not in volume….Next feed I tossed a bit and did the equal weight thing again. I will give it one more feed prior to baking with it.

Your instructions say to double your starter – I think you used 1/2 cup and added 1/2 cup flour and a bit less water. No weights given. Well, as you can see, by measuring by weight, I am tripling my starter with every feed…

Hence my confusion…..I notice in other books I have referenced that they suggest a % – ie. Peter Reinhart suggests 33.3% so his refreshment regime that would start with 10g of starter would get 30g of flour and 22.5 g water (75% hydration….)

I am looking for a simple way to care for my dough and don’t want to be doing this ‘wrong’ and ending up with useless starter….

So….will using 20/20/20 be okay or should I be using volume….

Thanks for your help :-)

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Rasmus August 18, 2010 at 8:04 am

Hi Dianna…
Try this: http://www.breadtopia.com/whole-grain-sourdough/

A very tasty “yes-knead” SD bread.

With regard to the sourdough: I’d keep feeding it a couple of weeks before making too many breads with it to give the culture time to build strength. You can of course try to use it earlier, I did, but the bread may turn out quite dense, like mine the first time I used my starter.

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Dianna August 18, 2010 at 7:23 am

I’ve started the starter, followed all directions and am about 56 hours in – I did the second feeding last night. My starter is already super bubbly and foamy. I’m wondering if I should go ahead and skip to the third feeding without waiting the full 48 hours. Also, I am wondering if you have a yes-knead sourdough recipe. Yeah, I know, I’m weird – I like kneading and think the bread turns out better. Although I haven’t tried your no-knead recipe yet.

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Becki August 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Thanks for the video! Thought mine had passed away… Yay for Lazarus starters!

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Steve Shantz August 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I had an old jar of a ‘San Francisco’ sourdough culture sitting unused in my fridge and I decided to see if it could be revived. Mind you, this jar has been sitting in my fridge for at least 3, more likely 5 or 6 years, unfed and untended. There were several colors of mold growing on the side, and a green mat of mold covered about 1/4 of the surface. I used a spoon to dig up several tablespoons of bottom ‘stuff’, and I put it in a new jar and fed it flour and water, to see what would happen.

Small bubbles formed within hours, and it revived just wonderfully . Today I made a most wonderful NK loaf that was devoured in short order. I let it sit for only 11 hours, as the house is about 80 right now, and the rising went for 1 hour 45 minutes.

I’m not going to say that all cultures will be this robust, but it does suggest that a culture will last much longer than expected if ignored in the back of the fridge. It is worthwhile trying to revive an old culture, don’t just assume it is dead. The micro-organisms seem well adapted to ‘lean times’!

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shelley August 11, 2010 at 1:26 pm

On the bakingbites website I read about using unfed starter for making sourdough crumpets….and I tried it – they came out pretty good. Below is what the bakingbites site says.

When I did it, I added a little flour as well. I made several and froze some and they actually freeze well.

…………………………………………………………….

from:

http://bakingbites.com/2005/06/sunday-brunch-sourdough-crumpets/

All you do is add a bit of sugar, salt and baking soda to the starter and toss it in a dry frying pan to cook like a pancake. The baking soda neutralises the acidity of the starter and, in the process, creates lots of air bubbles, which are perfect for filling with butter, honey or lemon curd. The crumpets are best fresh and crisp off the grill, so eat them as you make them. If you make more than you can eat in one sitting, just pop the leftover crumpets in the toaster to crisp them up again.

KA’s recipe is great and super easy. Once you’ve made these, you won’t even need a recipe! It calls for the use of a 4 inch crumpet ring (or other circular, hollow tin), but it works just fine if you don’t use one. I don’t have a crumpet ring, so I did mine free-form. They’re a bit thinner this way, but no less tasty.

Sourdough Crumpets
Place 1 cup of (unfed) starter in a 4-cup measuring cup, or a medium bowl. Stir in 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and baking soda. Whisk together.

Grease 4-inch crumpet rings (or eyeball the crumpt size) and place on a griddle/skillet on low/medium heat. Fill the rings with about 1/4-inch of batter (don’t overfill). Cook over low heat until the tops are set and full of holes and start to loose their shine. Remove the rings and flip the crumpets and cook the other side until lightly browned.
Cool on a rack and toast before serving to brown further and crisp. Eat with butter and jam.
Makes about 8

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Joni Huber August 11, 2010 at 9:57 am

I was wondering if I use my sourdough every 3-4 days if I have to keep it in the frig.

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Breadtopia August 11, 2010 at 10:20 am

Hi Joni,

I think you pretty much have to use it daily to not have to refrigerate it.

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susan August 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I love this website! My friend introduced me to it and taught me how to make bread when I was visiting her in Israel. I carried a cast iron pot home on the airplane and packed some of her starter in my suitcase! I enjoy baking bread so much and so do all of “my eaters”! I come back to the site to refresh my memory and for tips. I tried the babana bread recipe recently and it was a hit!

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Bill Heffron August 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

How tight should the cover be for starter in frig. Can it be air tight? Do you have a recommendation for cover.

Bill

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Breadtopia August 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Polox – just take a portion of the starter that’s not moldy and feed that in a clean container. Dispose of the rest.

Bill – the container should not be air tight. Anything non metallic that’s not air tight should do.

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susan March 26, 2014 at 8:29 am

I was wondering if you can feed the starter everyday, because each time I want to use my starter I barely have enough to make the bread. Also, I can’t seem to find the perfect top for my jar of starter. I have been using a plastic elastic cover with holes punched in it for air and get some crusty top on the starter. These questions have probably been answered, but I don’t get on here that often. Thanks for any help.

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Polox August 8, 2010 at 7:34 am

Hi,

I have a whole wheat starter that grew a white skin. It looks like mold but it’s not think or hairy. The starter still works great, doesn’t have a bad smell or taste. Does anybody know what is it and if I can still use this starter for baking?
Thanks.

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Shelley August 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Thanks to Dave the novice and Eric for your help.
The other day I baked my first loaf of almost no-knead bread using Eric’s method – except instead of yeast I used about 1/4 cup of
sourdough starter from the starter I began 13 days prior. It was a success for the
most part –great crust and spongy, chewy interior – but not that many irregular holes and not that
sour. Also, I’m thinking that maybe my dough was a little dry –??– and
I thought that may be why I did not have that many irregular holes.
I think I read someplace that the bread will get more sour as the starter matures.
I emailed Eric off this board and he replied to me & said getting the degree of sour you want is one of the trickier things in bread baking.
He also said that generally, the longer your dough ferments the more sour it becomes.
So things like putting the dough in a cool place (or the fridge) to slow it down and lengthen the proofing time can help.
And he also said another general principal is the wetter the dough, the larger the holes.

Anyway, I am happy that it came out as well as it idid and I am inspired to keep on baking no-knead sourdough bread!
I have a wine cooler that has a temp of 49-50 degrees and so I am going to try experimenting with putting
the dough in there for 18–or perhaps 24 hours.

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oliver hagans August 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I followed all the steps, and my sour dough does not taste sour. What am I doing wrong? thank you for all your help.

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Breadtopia August 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm

If you’re going to bake with it after feeding then you’ll want to wait at least a few hours before you use it, and refrigerate the remainder. If you’re not going to bake with it, then you can leave it out for a while or put it in the fridge straight away. It’s not that big a deal either way.

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Dave The Novice August 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Hi, Shelley,

Mike, over at the website, http://www.sourdoughhome.com, says to refrigerate immediately after feeding. He really seems to know his sourdough, so that’s what I do.

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Shelley July 31, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I have a starter that I began 11 days ago and it seems to be doing well. I have been feeding it 3x a day. I may try to use it for baking in the next fe days. It has not ever been refrigerated so should I feed it–wait a few hours then use a cup or so to make the “sponge” for the bread I wish to bake? And then refrigerate the rest?

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Breadtopia July 28, 2010 at 7:33 am

Hi Myron,

Not every attempt to make starter is successful no matter how precisely a starter recipe is followed. So sometimes it’s just a matter of multiple tries. And sometimes it simply takes longer than expected for it to take. You might want to give it a couple more days before you start over.

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Myron July 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I watched your video on making sourdough starter. I began a starter with the required wholewheat flour and pinapple juice. After 48 hrs I fed the starter as per your instructions. Then 48 hrs later I fed the starter with flour and water, however after 24 hrs I see no activity in my starter. How do I make the starter come to life? Or do I just start over?

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Reg, Johannesburg, South Africa July 27, 2010 at 4:38 am

Hi Breadtopia,
Your site is superb but a pity you are not decimalised in the US as I have to recalculate everything. I bake sandwich bread every day and knead the dough in the food processor. My hydration % is 66% and I slow ferment and fold like you do and bake everything in a bread form. Second rise is done in Microwave oven on the 10% power setting. 3 minutes on, 3 minutes rest, 3 minutes on, 3 minutes rest. Bread has now risen to rim of pan. I now score lengthwise with a razor blade and I bake without preheating in 950w combination convection / microwave oven for 16 minutes. Regards Reg

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Heather July 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Nice videos. Where are you in Iowa? I have a home in Clarion(Wright county) but live near SF, California. Thank you so much for this great site on Bread especially the sourdough. I am just getting a starter going again, my Mom had one for years and I do a lot of home baking and wanted to let my kids have the experience of great homemade sourdough. Her sourdough cinnamon rolls were much sought after.

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Julie Powell July 26, 2010 at 11:14 am

Hi Eric: I have been making no-knead sourdough 3-4 times a week since January (I have 2 teenage athlete boys). Recently l have noticed that, every now and then I allow the dough to overrise. I think it might have to do with the heat and the summer, but it seems that anything past 18 hours is really taking my chances. It seems like the dough rises well, collapses, and never bounces back again. It has no oven spring and sometimes comes out of the oven like a brick. This is after dozens and dozens of times of making loaves that are light, chewy, lofty and sour. Any thoughts about over rising?

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Tim July 26, 2010 at 11:07 am

Hi Eric, Thanks again for all of these videos! I have a couple of starters that I’ve had for a little over a month. They respond very well to feedings and appear to be in great health with no discoloration. Just before I feed them, when they’ve been sitting for a day or so, they smell VERY pungent. More than just sour like they smelled a week after culturing them. It’s like a sour olivey fermented alcohol smell. Have they gone bad or is this a good sign? I’m not sure how to tell if a sourdough starter has gone bad.

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KOSAN44 July 20, 2010 at 7:26 am

My question is simple,can i use bleached flour to keep my starter fed?? and also to bake with using my starter,,,thank you for your time,,

kosan44

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