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.

{ 1423 comments… read them below or add one }

Frankie April 24, 2011 at 11:08 am

Thanks Keith. My starters are doing much better, they are jusssst doubling, but no more than that. I am so jealous of these starters I see bubbling over the tops of containers. I am attempting to do my first sourdough with one starter that has been predictably doubling for about 3 days now. I mixed the starter with flour and water and set it out overnight. Great bubbling action to be sure, but it will not pass the float test which means it’s not ready. I just put it in a warmer place to see if that would kick up the activity a notch. Now is the time I wish I had a bread partner nearby! Thanks for the encouragement! – Frankie

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keith April 24, 2011 at 2:40 am

Frankie,

I had the selfsame problem with the starter I recently, well, started. It would bubble a bit and smell good but never come close to doubling. used it to bake some bread and waffles and it worked ok but not spectacular.

Unwilling to pitch and start over, I just continued to feed it daily. After another week or so, the thing just popped, and I realized people weren’t exaggerating when they said it would double. At this point it could nearly double in about 6 hours.

So, my scantily informed advice is to keep feeding it for another week, from the smell you can tell that its ok and on its way, just needs to get over that hump.

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Kelley April 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Try a larger bowl with more surface area. Warmer area may help too. I get the best rise when it’s around 75°.

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Frankie April 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Hey there. I have several starters:
2 I began 10 days ago. They both have lovely bubble action, but never ever rising more than 1/4″. I do everything right, weighing out all of my ingredients, using bottled water. Covering with plastic. Putting it in a dark corner. The temp here has been moderate. 70s or so (los angeles)

I began another starter (rye) 4 days ago. Same thing, good sour smell and taste, but never this dramatic rising. What is going on? Everyone seems to be having this rising thing happening. Can you give me any suggestions? Thanks.

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Nikki April 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Hi gary! I’ve been watching your videos for a while now, and i think I’m almost ready to start trying. I am allergic to wheat, bakers yeast, pineapple, potato, milk, eggs, corn, and buckwheat.
And my body has to have rice rotated.
suffice to say, I’ve done research till I am BLUE in the face, but since nobody has my exact allergies, its hard to find recipes… even techniques.

I love millet, and amaranth, i’m playing with coconut flour, maybe barley can help me…..for starch I have arrowroot powder and tapioca powder, and am trying to avoid the sweet rice
but….theres only so much I can do :)
Could you help me create an idea of a starter? I have pineapple juice (and I am willing to use it, its an allergy, but once i get my starter GOING…) I’d love to use some millet, maybe play with teff and sorghum (im new to those), and have SOME bread. even if its crumbly, that would be a nice treat!
thanks for taking the time to read this, hope we can possibly brainstorm!

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Breadtopia April 9, 2011 at 4:37 am

Hi Gary,

If there’s a formula for translating regular yeast to sourdough, I don’t know it. I wing it. For example, when converting the no knead recipe to sourdough, I tried a 1/4 cup of starter and that worked pretty well. I think it’s mostly a matter of playing around to see what works.

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Gary April 8, 2011 at 8:05 am

Linda
Thanks for that info I might try the sundried tomatoe and herb that sounds delightful. For now though I will stick to good old Irish soda bread trying to master the taste my grandmother made of which I only have a memory and no reciepe. I am pretty good at figuring them out. Thanks again for your help.

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judithmcginn April 8, 2011 at 7:38 am

Can you mix the hooch and use it in breadmaking?

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Breadtopia April 9, 2011 at 4:24 am

Hi Judith,

Some people mix in the hooch, some pour it off. Hooch is formed when the starter is less than optimally healthy, so that’s something you might want to look at.

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Linda April 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm

All you starter experts……….HELP !!

I am on the 5th day of making my first ever starter Its a water and bread flour only sourdough starter. There are loads of bubbles and it was literally moving while i watched it. Smells a wee bit vinegary but not yeasty. Its very very runny. After I discard halve tomorrow should I just use less water to flour ratio to try to thicked it ? What is the best consistency for the final outcome. ? I have been told to feed the starter for 14 days. Is my starter going to be tasteless because its just bread flour and water only ? thanks in advance for your help Linda :-)

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Breadtopia April 9, 2011 at 4:21 am

Hi Linda,

Yes, just add more flour (or use less water) to thicken it up. For future feedings, if you use approximately equal weights (not equal volume) of flour and water, you’ll have a pretty good consistency. Starter is almost always just flour and water anyway. The microorganisms in the starter provide some flavor qualities and then of course there’s the bread recipe itself.

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Linda April 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Gary
Oops sorry !! Standard sieve 8 inch in diameter approx 3 and half inch deep. Just realised can you get soda bread flour in USA/Canada ? I am from Scotland and we buy it ready mixed with the raising agents. Neils Self Raising Soda Bread flour in the make I use. If you cant get it ready mixed I would just use a basic soda bread recipe and remember to add the egg and ground ginger as an extra. Depending on the size of your egg you would then have to reduce the buttermilk slightly in the basic recipe. Hope this hasn’t confused the matter and it still works for you. As i said once this method is mastered you can rustle up a soda bread in 25 mins. For a sweet soda reduce the salt and add sugar and sultanas to taste. Or for a more exotic soda bread a little olives, fresh herbs and sun dried tomatos. regards Linda

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Gary April 7, 2011 at 11:28 am

Eric
What is the conversion ratio’s for starter vs. dry yeast?

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Gary April 7, 2011 at 11:24 am

Linda
Thanks for that reicepe, how big is a standard sieve?

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Linda April 7, 2011 at 5:59 am

To Gary post 6th April youre looking for a soad bread recipe, well heres one that came straight from the mouth of a lovely irish lady, hence why there are no weights or measures. When she taught me it was all ” alitle bit o dis and a litle bit of dat”
REAL IRISH SODA BREAD

half to 3/4 fill a standard sieve with soda bread flour.
add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon ground ginger
stir in 1 egg
then stir in enough buttermilk to make a dough
bring together gently, like an Irish women it doesnt like rough handling. put contents into a preheated 8 inch frying pan and press gently into the shape of the pan and to the sides.
Cook on top of stove for approx 10 minutes each side till done and sounds hollow when tapped. Once perfected this recipe is the best, it looks a bit rustic in shape but thats part of its charm, Good luck Linda Hone xx

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Gary April 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Eric

Just completed making the sour dough Rye bread and I probably should have waited a little longer before cutting into it but, I couldn’t contain my self. The crust was a bit thick but the inside was moist and fluffy smeared with butter it was so delightful. Had to have another slice then head back to my office, I hope the kids didn’t eat the hole thing already. I am anxious to find another reciepe for the sour dough wheat.

I failed to mention that I started an all purpose starter dough using the pineapple reciepe tonight will be the first 48 hours and time to add additional ingredients, I am doing this from request from my kids to have white flour pancakes. My pantry is slowly building up with more and more ingredients.

I am hooked on this web site. Now looking for an Irish Soda Bread any suggestions?

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Gary April 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Eric

Just completed making the sour dough Rye bread and I probably should have waited a little longer before cutting into it but, I couldn’t contain my self. The crust was a bit thick but the inside was moist and fluffy smeared with butter it was so delightful. Had to have another slice then head back to my office, I hope the kids didn’t eat the hole thing already. I am anxious to find another reciepe for the sour dough wheat.

I failed to mention that I started an all purpose starter dough using the pineapple reciepe tonight will be the first 48 hours and time to add additional ingredients, I am doing this from request from my kids to have white flour pancakes. My pantry is slowly building up with more and more ingredients.

I am hooked on this web site.l Now looking for an Irish Soda Bread any suggestions?

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Breadtopia April 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Hi Renee,

Since your bread rose, your starter must be ok. Your starter would probably rise too if it were thicker. Stiffen it up with more flour.

It’s normal for starter to rise and then fall as the yeast consumes its food supply.

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Renee April 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Hi,

I am just starting my sourdough baking. I bought my culture. It rasied to double of the volum and then collapsed. Is this right? After that, evey time I fed it, the starter produced lots bobble and get very foamy, but not really grew in volum. However, I did use the start to bake, The bread did rise as per receips. Is this right? What is the effect of baking with starter not at its optimum health? Is my starter OK to use even its volum did not rise to double? (PS my room is rather cold, it is around 60 F and lower.
Thanks for your help.

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Gary April 3, 2011 at 8:10 am

Eric
After recieving your email last night I decided to add a full cup of flour to get at least a 2 cup yeild so I can make my pancakes. The reciepe calls for 2 cups of starter, would that be 2 cups dry or wet measurement?

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Julie April 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Great post, Eric. So what do you guys think about starting with a cold oven vs. super-hot in the dutch oven?

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eric williams April 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm

i just wanted to share some of my experiences with the ‘alaskas golden spoon’ sourdough starter. i purchased it here and got it going according to directions and had no problems. in fact, it was excelling right away.

i bake no knead loafs with SAF yeast in my clay baker every other day or even more often. however my initial experiments with my starter were nowhere near as successful.

i initially followed a recipe that called for 1 cup starter and 3 cups flour. i baked this a few times….it would rise but not much and the bread was quite heavy. not good. i made a pizza once that looked, smelled and even tasted pretty good. but it was so heavy it felt like i ate bricks, and this is coming from a guy that eats pizza by the yard, no problem.

so i started scaling back the amount of starter i used. i jumped to just a quarter cup. end result was just about the same as before. i started monitoring the initial fermentation time so that i could pull the plug if it looked proofed to me. didnt help.

today after having my started in the fridge for a few weeks and temporarily ‘giving up’, last night i pulled it out and when it warmed i used just a spoonful of starter. i didnt even use a measuring spoon, just a regular spoonful. after a 17 hour ferment i knew i was in good shape, the dough was sticky but not over proofed as it was turning out in the past (thin, wet and unmanageable). the bench proof (1 hour) was really telling though, i never had such healthy looking dough, it was smooth and tight like i had kneaded it for hours. when i put it into my clay baker, i barely had to spread it to get it to fill the bottom (as i usually do with my SAF yeast bread @ 3 cups flour)…it was HUGE.

started it in a cold oven set to 450. it stayed in about 20-25 minutes after it came up to temp and it is a BEAUTY! it is easily the same size as my SAF loaves and looks and smells wonderful! to anyone having trouble with sourdough – less is more, give it a try!

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Gary April 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Eric,
What is the yeild on the Pineapple starter dough reciepe?

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Breadtopia April 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I don’t really know. But keep feeding it for a while and it will quickly become whatever you want it to be.

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Breadtopia April 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Hi Charlie,

Sure, a glazed pottery crock is great for storing starter.

You can try this for making sourdough starter.

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Gary Rocks April 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Today was my final day for the pineapple starter dough and it seemed to work well. Now all I have to do is find a reciepe I want to use. I am looking first for a good sourdough pancake receipe for Sundays breakfeast so if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them. Thanks

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Breadtopia April 2, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Hi Gary,

That’s great your starter is doing well already. It will likely get a lot more robust after several more feedings.

I love this sourdough pancake and waffle recipe. I use it whenever I make ‘em.

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Margaret E E April 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I am 75 yrs and this is my first time with making starter although am a good bread baker. I’ve tried 3 recipies, with cornmeal, with mashed potatoe and with raw potatoe, none worked. So now I’m going to try your pineapple one. I’ve learned several things from your vidieo and have one question; Does the temperature matter when sitting at “room temperature” Some of the other starters said to keep at 82-85 degrees and one even said 92 degrees. My house is cool at about 64 degrees so I set the starter jar in a pan of water on very low on the stove. Please advise and thank you. Margaret

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Breadtopia April 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Hi Margaret,

I don’t think it’s at all necessary to be particular about looking for just the “right” temperature. Yeast does fine at 64 degrees, it just multiplies a little slower than at higher temps. I like slow and steady. All you’re doing is looking to capture a little yeast, which can be anywhere, and nurse it along with regular feedings until it’s going strong. Sometimes it just takes a few attempts to be successful.

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Charlie April 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Thank You for that video. I’ve been attempting to play with starter for years, make it once and then it gets ucky and I’ve never been sure what to do, now I think I have an idea.

Does pottery work as a container, I do a lot of work on the wheel so I can knock out a jar with lid fairly quick.

Somehow I’ve managed to collect a number of starter recipes. Some start with yeast and milk some just flour and water and wait for the wild yeast, what is your basic recipe?

Thanks again

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BECKY BRYANT April 1, 2011 at 7:19 am

I am new to sourdough starter, and used the hooch as well when adding to my starter. Will that harm my bread and starter? It is now very liquid, and not many bubbles.
Becky

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Breadtopia April 1, 2011 at 8:10 am

Some people mix in the hooch, some pour it off. It’s not that the hootch itself is so bad, but what its presence is telling you – that the starter isn’t very healthy. A healthy starter won’t produce hooch. You need to refresh it a few times, meaning feed it well several times over 2 or 3 days. Start by tossing all but maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your starter and feed it a cup of flour and 2/3 cup of water. You’ll have a much stiffer starter. Wait several hours to most of a day if necessary and hopefully you’ll see bubbly action and the starter will rise some. Repeat this a few times and your starter should be in pretty decent shape.

Once a starter is very healthy and vibrant it’s much easier to keep it that way. The more often you feed it, the better it gets. Approximately weekly feeding is nice as a minimum to keep it in “ready to use” mode.

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Heather March 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I’ve neglected my starter for a month or so and it’s formed about an inch of dark brown liquid. I know you talked about a clearish alcohol forming and it being okay to pour it off and continue using the starter; However, is it still okay if the liquid is a dark brown? Thanks!

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Ashma March 26, 2011 at 8:43 am

I used your receipe with pineapple juice to make my starter. It came out great the first time I ever tried it. Then I proceeded to use it to make various types of bread. They all came out great. I suppose beginners luck or something!!! I use all whole wheat flours and grind my own. For couple of receipes I used gluten since I was not using any white or bread flour. Those were amazingly good also. My husband loves the pumpernickel bread and I have made various versions of them including modifying them to use 100% whole wheat. Now I even like pumpernickel bread. All my breads seem to mellow in flavor and taste better as they age.
Now we eat whole wheat bread (100%) daily. (Sometimes I add gluten sometimes I do not.)
You are a great teacher. Keep up the super job. Thanks a million.
Ashma

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Ginger March 20, 2011 at 9:33 pm

My friend gave me some starter. It calls for instant potatoe flakes to feed it along with other ingredients. Is there an adequate sub for the potato flakes. I don’t keep these on hand.

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Breadtopia March 20, 2011 at 5:59 am

Hi Valerie,

Any time you go about a week or more between baking, you’re probably going to get much better results if you feed your starter the day before baking. Or if your starting your recipe at night, you could feed your starter that morning. After you feed it, let it sit out to “buff” up a bit.

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Breadtopia March 20, 2011 at 5:56 am

Hi Gina,

Once you have a functional mature starter, you can easily store it in the fridge for a week at a time. It’s good to feed it about weekly, so just feed it when you get back. It’s probably better to store it in a lidded container but not an air tight one. Under a kitchen towel might dry it out too much.

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valerie March 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I’m afraid of my starter.

I made one sourdough whole-grain loaf, which took a long time. Now, I’ve had the starter in the frig. for a little over a week. I think it’s time to feed it again. I’m going to give it one cup of whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup of water AFTER I take out one cup to either use today or throw away. Therein lies the rub. If I use a cup of it today, can I just throw it in a recipe, or do I have to buff it up a bit. Do I let it sit out for a while and see if it does something…?

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Gina March 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Hello….just came across this site and had a quick question. I just began a starter 4 days ago using a recipe from the Tartine Bread book. It is not really a traditional sourdough but I’m assuming they all pretty much work the same way. I travel for work, however, and I was wondering if I left it in the fridge under a kitchen towel for up to 7 days at a time how this would impact it. I don’t believe I have fully “trained” it yet, so I’m not sure what to do with it. Do I need to give it to my neighbor to feed for the next week and then once it’s matured keep it refrigerated? (I want to be able to keep it in the fridge so I don’t have to start over every time I return home). I appreciate any advice you may have…it is a difficult situation!

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Valerie March 12, 2011 at 10:12 am

You are TOO funny, Eric!

Okay – so if I have a little under a cup of sourdough and want to build it up (but not bake with it today), should I give it a cup of flour and 2/3 cup of water and leave it sitting out (or should I put in frig).

Also, I get it about shortening the times involved in proofing…if I shorten those times, will my final rise in the oven be impacted by making it a smaller loaf? Thanks for all your patience (and humor…I’m still laughing!)

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Valerie March 12, 2011 at 9:14 am

I am frustrated with the sourdough experience. I don’t know what I do wrong, but something always goes wrong with my starter. This time, I got a starter from Breadtopia. I think I fed it correctly, but it never looked exactly like Eric’s on the video.

I made the whole-grain sourdough, but it was just too sour. How do I correct my starter? The bread itself had a nice crumb and good rise. I want to make the bread again but hate to invest three days and end up with another too sour, sourdough.

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Breadtopia March 12, 2011 at 9:39 am

I’m thinking that Valerie and Ken should get together and combine their bread dough, so that Valerie’s will be less sour and Ken’s will be more sour.

Ok, joking aside, getting the degree of sour just to your liking can be very challenging. Most people have trouble trying to get their bread sour enough. But reducing the degree of sour should be fairly easy. What I would do, Valerie, is feed my starter really well the day before baking, or if you’re baking at night, feed it really well that morning. By really well I mean at least double or triple your starter. For example, take a half cup of starter and feed it at least a cup of flour and 2/3 cup of water. At the point where the starter has risen well is when it’s at its freshest and least likely to be very sour. Fresh starter is less sour that older starter. But even fresh starter can make a sour bread if the dough ferments long enough. So see if you can shorten your fermentation times considerably. If your long rise was 18 hours, cut it to 10-12. If your second rise was 2 hours, cut it to 1-1 1/2. Times can always vary depending on room temp and humidity, but this is what I would be thinking to do to get a more mild flavor.

For more sour, I’d do whatever I could do to lengthen the fermentation times.

Hope you stick with it long enough to get it to your liking.

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Ken March 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Hello…my sourdough starter has maintained its vigor through consistent feedings, but, unfortunately, most of the “sourness” of the bread has disappeared. When I bake a loaf of bread using the no-knead method and clay baker, I get a fine loaf of bread; however, it tastes like bread and not sourdough bread. Any suggestions for getting the traditional sourdough taste back?

thanks…Ken

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Jean February 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I watched your video on maintaining a starter, but am still confused. If my starter has been used and fed within the past week should I feed it and let the whole amount sit out overnight, or just feed it, take out what the recipe calls for and let the recipe amount sit out? You were clear on bringing back the “old” starter but I’m not clear on using the current starter; How long should it sit out before I use it in your “no knead sourdough bread?”

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Wendy February 20, 2011 at 7:23 am

I began a whole wheat starter about 3 weeks ago and have been feeding it daily while it sits on my counter. It now has an alcohol smell to it. Is that bad? If so, is there any way to “save” it?

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Norman Fennell February 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Can I use a mixer with dough hooks instead of kneading when making sourdough bread?

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Breadtopia February 18, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Sure.

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Shelley February 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Elaine – you have too many starters going. Pick one. Pour OFF the liquid that rises to the top. Add a teaspoon of Braggs Orgainic Apple Cider Vinegar to your starter. This will wake up the good yeasts! Leave starter out of fridge – feed it several times a day – 2-3 hours apart – but feed it not more than it already is – and keep this up for 2-3 weeks. You must have patience. And in a few weeks, let us know what happens.

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Elaine1809 February 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Hi! Iam so frustrated with my starters! i have been doing exactly what all of you experts advise, but this is my problem, it shows bubbles and a tiny rise , then i feed it water and flour,{i!am trying to revive my starter from being in fridge a couple of months], but then the next day the bubbles are gone and there is that brown liquid on top, then i remix it back and add more flour and nonclorine water about same amounts, and later that day, it shows a little bubbles, then i get excited, but later that day or next day the liquid again on top and no bubbles. i have been doin this for a week now9i am trying to revive these starters] when i first try to make a starter a few months ago, i was able to bake one bread and it rose, but after that one, my starters[ i started several of them, tryin to find the one that works) i havent been able to make my bread rise.the finish product is a very good sourdough tasting bread but it didnt rise the dough. : ( what in the world did i do wrong?? please help me, i have about 7 starters in my fridge and counters trying to make this work. Thank you for all your help and videos, Elaine

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Breadtopia February 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Hi Dillon,

It may be too young. The only good test of its readiness before actually baking with it, is to see if the starter itself rises well after feeding it well. Feeding well means feeding it at least as much flour and water as there is starter. If you starter rises and your bread doesn’t, at least you know it’s not the starter that’s the problem.

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Dillon February 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Hello,
I just recently made my own starter and tried baking my first loaf of sourdough. The starter seemed to work great. Had lots of bubbles and frothy on day six. But the loaf that I used it in did no rise. I’m wondering if perhaps my starter was too young? Also, I realized that I placed my starter in the refrigerator (day six) then the next day took it out, made a sponge and let it proof before making the actual sourdough. Do i need to take it out and feed it one or two times at room temperature before I make a sponge with it?

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Michael M February 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Hello Tom,

Thanks for the info. If I was to use my current starter (fed on all purpose flour) and I wanted to make your spelt recipe. Would it work to:
1- take out 1/2 cup of current starter
2- feed it 1/2 cup spelt and equal weight water at night
3- bake with it the next day..

cheers! M

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david heeren February 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

I dried some starter for backup but I did not freeze or refrigerate it for 2 weeks. Will it still be O.K.?

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Breadtopia February 5, 2011 at 8:55 am

Yes. I’m not sure it really needs to be refrigerated or frozen once it’s dried.

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Wendy February 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I’ve just gone through the 6 day process of creating starter and still have a couple of questions about managing it. While it’s sitting on my counter, how often should I feed my starter? Would once daily be enough? Is there a minimum feeding that you should not go below?

Your video was very helpful. Thank you for all the info.

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Shelley January 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Hi Eric & All,–yes the longer cooler fermentation really does seem to make the bread more sour. I made 2 more loaves this way this past week and the results were the same.

The rise is pretty decent – yes — and yes I am pleased with the oven spring.
I’ve been using this recipe that I sort of made up :

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 spelt flour
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup 10 grain cereal
3/4 cup sourdough starter
1 – 1 1/2 cups water

I mix up this into a shaggy dough sponge. Cover it with plastic and
let sit 18-24 hours. Then I put this sponge into my wine cooler– which has a temp of 48 degrees– for 2 days. Then I take this out and knead it about 10-12 times on a floured board.
Then I form it into a ball – spray the top with olive oil & cover with plastic. I let it rise for
2 1/2 hours. That’s it. Then you are ready to bake. I will bake again this week I think and will keep you posted about continuing results.

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Victoria January 30, 2011 at 11:55 am

Hello. Thank you for this super-helpful website!
2 questions, and forgive me if they have been asked many times already:
1. In one video I see you stirring the starter with a metal spoon- is metal ok?
2. If I am baking several times a week, should I still bother to put the starter in the fridge on the in between days?

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Breadtopia January 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Hi Victoria,

Using metal utensils is fine. I just wouldn’t store starter in a metal container.

I would keep starter in the fridge unless I was baking every day.

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Breadtopia January 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Hi Kristi,

The changes you suggest really make it an entirely different recipe. I suggest looking for whole grain sourdough recipes and start from there. Otherwise it’s an experiment, which is fine of course, but it might take you longer to get results you’re happy with. Or maybe not.

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Kristi January 29, 2011 at 4:57 am

Hi! I have a recipe I want to try that calls for both sourdough starter and instant yeast. I would like to convert this to sourdough only without the instant yeast. The recipe calls for :
3/4 cup rye sourdough starter
1 1/4 cups water
1 tsp instant yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup white rye flour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

I also want to use freshly ground whole wheat flour instead of bread flour and whole grain rye flour instead of white. What would you recommend? Thanks!!

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