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.

{ 1345 comments… read them below or add one }

kelly February 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm

when i mixed up my started with 3 1/2 table spoons flour and the 1/4 cup pineapple juice it was still thick is it ok to add more juice or will it be ok thick

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Breadtopia February 9, 2013 at 9:43 am

It’s ok thick. Might even be better.

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Stu Borken February 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I feed my starter either every 12 hours or every 24 hours. I use alternating 1/4 cup APF +1/4 spring water and then only 1/4 cup flour. That keeps it bubbly, but, it never gets too sour. If I let it sit for a couple days, unfed, the hooch smells more strong, sour like. I used this to make my breads. I found that if I did not have a lot of time to make a bread and let a levain sit for a couple days and then mixed up a dough and got busy and retarded it in the cold garage for a day then shaped it and let it rise in a warming oven I got really sour and nicely textured breads.

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Erin February 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Thank you!

So do you think I can use it once it seems bubbly and thriving?

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Anita February 8, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Erin, before making bread with your starter, it should at least double in volume after feeding. Put it in a measuring cup or mark the level in a glass jar right after you mix it up. When it rises fully and then starts to deflate- lose volume- then it is ready to use in a recipe (if it rose at least double), or ready to feed again. Unless it doubles in volume, it is not considered a strong, active , mature starter. Once it achieves this, then you can refrigerate it and not have to feed it so often. If you keep it at room temperature, then you must feed it about every 12 hours to keep it healthy.

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Erin February 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm

My starter is beginning to smell yeasty and bubble! Yay! Once I’ve finished it (only on day 4) Id like to bake pretty regularly over the next few weeks.

My questions are
1. How long do I wait to use my new starter for the first time?
2. Should I leave it out on the counter? I plan on putting it in the fridge when I slow down baking.
3. How often do I feed it if I’m cooking every day or very couple of days?

Thank you!

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Anita February 8, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Hi Erin, I forgot to say that using your active starter in a recipe is the same as ‘feeding’ it. Any leftover starter can be refrigerated without feeding again, or , if it is left out on the counter, then continue to feed it or use it within those 12 hour intervals.

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Erin February 9, 2013 at 6:08 am

Thank you! I need goo details like that, I really appreciate it.

One more question, if I do refrigerate it, then when I take
It out how long does it need to be at room
Temp before I use it?

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Anita February 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Assuming your starter is fresh and active, and only refigerated a few days , then you could use it in a recipe right away, without feeding again. However, if it is cold when mixed into a doigh recipe, the longer it will take for the dough to rise double. And there may be some overall benefit in allowing the starter to reach close to room temp first before making the dough. How long depends on how warm your room is- maybe 2 or more hours. Also, you will see more activity as it gets warmer. If not, it probably is a sign it needs to be fed. I usually refrigerate my bread dough overnight before baking anyway, but if I have time, I will let it sit out for awhile first and begin its rise. You will only know what works for you after trying different methods. I have tried a lot of shortcuts, but the bread always seems better when I have more patience and don’t try to rush it. :)

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Mark H. February 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm

BTW I had success using unbleached white flour.

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Stu Borken February 3, 2013 at 8:29 am

To Ian; We have a wonderful bakery in our city called Turtle Bakery. A friend of mine started it. She gave me some of her starter. She told me that the breads she makes take so long to rise, and that is why she named the bakery, “Turtle”. You too probably did not wait long enough. Sourdough loaves don’t poof up like the doughs you are used to. Have you or any one else thought of using diastatic malt powder in the preferment or in the dough?

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Iain February 3, 2013 at 6:15 am

Hi, hope you can help me with this query. I made a sour dough starter fed it for 2 days before I needed it, it doubled in size both times that I fed it. When I used it to make my dough it does not rise at all, I used 3oog for 1.5 kilos of flour! Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong and why my dough will not rise, much appreciated.
Best regards
Iain

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Kaye February 3, 2013 at 8:21 am

Iain, If my conversions are correct you are using aprox. 1 3/8 cup of starter to 6 cups of flour. That seems like an awfully lot first of all.
Several things come to mind. Was your starter bubbling and very active before you started your bread dough??
How long a proofing time are you giving your dough? Sourdough bread takes a lot longer to proof than do breads using commercial yeast. 12 or more hours..I always figure on my bread proofing at least over night.
Could you have proofed your dough to long? If it reaches it’s peak and isn’t used, I believe it can deflate again.
Temperature where you are proofing your bread dough. If it is too chilly the proofing could take a lot longer.
I usually take out the amount of starter I will be using early in the day, give it a good big meal and then leave it covered on the counter all day (sometimes less). Once the starter is bubbling and active I make up my dough. put it into my proofing bowl cover and usually leave it sitting over night before forming my loaves. I could be wrong or have left something out. Someone will be along I’m sure to add to this :-)
Hope this helps.

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Anita February 3, 2013 at 9:37 am

Hi Iain, You didn’t say if you had refrigerated the dough or left it out at room temperature. Sometimes my dough rises like crazy in the refrigerator, and other times it barely rises at all. When I take it out and let it sit in a warm spot, then it will rise. The length of time it takes depends on the temperature of the room or area it is in. If I want to encourage it along, I make sure I cover it well (with plastic film and a towel) and put it in an 82-85 degree spot, usually a warmed-up microwave or small oven. Also, I routinely use a large quantity of starter, as you did, and the dough always performs well. Sometimes my dough rises in 3-4 hours, sometimes it may take most of the day, but it definitely depends on the temperature. I hope it works out for you!

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Gary February 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Hi I would cut back to 120g of starter seems like you have a problem with the math or I do. I am figuring that 1.5 kilo’s equals to three pounds.

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Lee January 31, 2013 at 6:05 am

Hi there! I Am new to breadbaking, and have recently created a wholemeal spelt starter, and have since made 3 loaves of bread over the last week or so. I have to say they have been delicious! Thanks to your video, I found the process very easy. Now, I am just a bit uncertain as to how to manage the starter. I intend to bake at least twice a week, and the recipe I am using only needs 1/4 cup of starter. I have too much in my fridge now, so I’m being wasteful, but wanted to make sure I had backup if my starter died (it took 3 goes to get this starter happening). Would I ideally keep 1/4 cup in the fridge, take it out in the morning, wait a couple of hrs for it to reach room temp, feed it (so that it becomes 1/2 cup approx), then give it a good few hrs to feed, then use 1/4 cup for my dough (leaving 1/4 cup), then put it back in the fridge? Or do I feed it again before refrigerating? But then it will be 1/2 cup… Just a bit confused. Thanks! Lee

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Emma January 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Could you please let me have the adress for getting the free Oregon Trail Starter. I want to get back into sourdough baking . It has been 10 years sense I made sourdough bread and I would like to began again. Thank You Emma

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dennis January 30, 2013 at 8:24 am

Just getting back to baking with Sourdough after a couple of years of not feeling very well. I ordered starter from you and it has taken off great . My question is that after feeding and leaving it out about 24 hours it develops a thick scum on top that can be removed by simply lifting it out with the wooden spoon that I use. It does not seem to affect the way the starter works but I have never before had this happen. I have always started mine from scratch before. Is this “scum” normal for your starter?

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Breadtopia January 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Hi Dennis,

In general, scum forming on starter is definitely not something you want to see. It might simply have something to do with leaving it out for 24 hours. Why do you leave it out that long?

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Lovely January 17, 2013 at 7:18 am

I have a rye sourdough and I want to make a splet bread. Can I use my rye starter? I would also like to try a braided version of a sourdough, perferable splet, rye or whole wheat and Ideas? THanK YOU!

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Anita January 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm

That’s a great idea. I have read that others like to use their rye starter for all types of bread. I have used it for rye and multigrain, but always used a white starter with spelt. Now I will try the rye/spelt combination too, and get more use out of my rye starter. The multi- braid sounds cool.

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Deb January 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Hi,

I am useing bread flour for the starter as well as for the baking process. Will there be a big difference between a good bread flour and an unbleached flour.

Thanks for any input

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Cooper January 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Eric, i just received your live sourdough starter and am on my second day of feeding it. Do you have any free Classic sourdough recipes. I am using 00 antimo caputo flour. Let me know if you think there is a better flour for sourdough.
thanks,

cooper

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Shelley January 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I am just gathering information about sourdough and wondered if keeping it at room temperature is warm enough. Ed Wood says it needs to be above 80 degrees. It is winter in here in Indiana and our house is no 80 degrees. Do I need some type of incubater or proofer? Thanks, Eric.

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Breadtopia January 5, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Hi Shelley,

I almost never have my starter above 80 degrees. I store it in the fridge between use and prefer to proof my bread dough in very cool conditions to prolong fermentation. Winter is the best time in the midwest for bread baking. In the summer, it’s difficult to find cool places for proofing and usually the fridge is too cold.

If you’re simply wishing to build up your starter as fast as possible or in a big hurry to proof your bread, then 80+ is great. But normally it’s undesirable in my opinion.

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Shelley January 7, 2013 at 7:14 am

Thank you! What a relief! Then I have everything I need to get started!

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Shelley January 8, 2013 at 8:55 pm

I’m a bit overwhelmed. I received my starter from you in the mail Saturday. Since then, this is Tuesday, I’ve been feeding it. I think I have about 3 cups worth now and think I need to do something with it. What’s next? Do you have a video that uses the sourdough I’ve been cultivating?And what do I do with the remaining dough? How long can it sit out? I don’t mind making several loaves–assuming my first one turns out–and giving it away. I’d rather do that than refrigerate it or throw any away. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Christine Hunt January 9, 2013 at 10:25 am

Hi Shelly,
You can refrigerate it, freeze it or dry some of it if you are worried about losing it.
If you’ve got 3 cups or more I would put it in the frig and take out as much as you need to do your baking, feed it (allow a few hours for it to consume it’s meal) and bake.
You can do that until you get down to a manageable quantity.

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Shelley January 9, 2013 at 11:31 am

Christine,
So, I take out 1/2 cup, feed it 1/2 cup (I need 1 cup for the recipe), wait for it to double in size, and mix all the remainder ingredients in. Then, do I let it grow for 8-12 hours? This is my first time through and I’m really trying to get it right! ONE last question, every day that it sits out I must feed it, right? And when I feed it I always double the amount. Right?
THANKS!!!!!
Shelley

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Ken B. January 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm

I was wondering if rye starter is thinner than wheat or reg. bread flour. I did a rye and it is doubling, but seems a lot thinner than yours on the video. It’s been about 6 days and it seems to be doing well, just not sure about the consistency.

Thanks for your time!

Ken

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Anita January 3, 2013 at 11:11 am

Hi Ken- Yes, my first rye starter was thicker also. I found some info online that explained it. With AP flour starter, I feed with approximately equal weights of flour and water, or almost double the volume of flour to water . For the rye starter, I add a little less rye flour or a little more water when I feed it to get the consistency that I want. The rising and doubling of the starter seems to be more predictable when I maintain a certain thickness/consistency, like a brownie-batter.

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Michael A. Brennan December 31, 2012 at 10:27 am

I hear everybody on the starter not being active enough when it comes to the final proof of bread. It dogged me over and over again when I used my starter alone to make panettone. I just bit the bullet and fed it every 4 hours for two days and I got the rise I needed with only one gram of yeast on the first dough and no more yeast on the final dough 12 hours later. I also noticed that my starter held its rise much longer as well. So, maybe you don’t need more yeast but just a greater frequency of feeding before using the starter in your bread.

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ec December 31, 2012 at 10:55 am

do you think there would be any down side to adding a few grams of the dried Oregon trail sourdough starter to mine when it gets here? Itried feeding mine 3 times a day for a week and still no rising but a great flavor…,

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Christine Hunt December 31, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I agree with you Michael. More feeding and a good healthy feeding will tip the scale. I leave my starter in the frig and when I’m getting ready to bake I beef it up just the way you described.

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Kathy December 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I think adding yeast to the starter kind of defeats the purpose of starter. I leave mine in the fridge. Once a week I feed it whether I plan on baking or not. Usually I am baking, though, so I feed it the day before I plan on putting together my dough. I feed my starter with unbleached bread flour from King Arthur. And I didn’t use pineapple juice in the beginning, I used water. I got my recipe from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Hope this helps!

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Barbara January 9, 2013 at 9:09 am

I have had my starter on the counter for a couple weeks now and feeding it twice daily… And baking a lot! I’m ready to slow things down and put it in the fridge, but I still want to bake 1-3 times a week and some times large amounts (pizza parties!). Can you ‘beef it up’ while it is in the fridge? In other words, can I double its size with each feeding and feed twice a day while it is in the fridge? Or do I bring it out of the fridge when trying to increase volume quickly? If so, can the starter go in and out of the fridge like that, a couple times a week?

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Christine Hunt January 9, 2013 at 10:34 am

Yes, your starter will continue to grow if it’s in the frig, just more slowly. It will develop a really great “sour” there too.
But you don’t have to feed so often while in the frig so if you want to slow down a little just take out what you need to bake with, feed it and do your baking.
To keep the volume of your starter up and tolerable, feed it occasionally too and put it back in the frig.
Your house sounds like a great place with all that pizza! yum…

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cecilia December 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

i have some starter that looks active but when i use it my bread is not rising. pls someone contact me, this has never happened to me, ive always made bread this is not my first time. but it is my first time where my starter is not working.

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Christine Hunt December 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Hi Cecilia, Have you tried taking out 1/3 cup or so of your starter and giving it a vigorous feeding before making bread? I keep about 2-3 cups of starter on hand as I have lots of family and bake a lot or share it. I have found that sometimes I need to take out what I am going to use and give it some special treatment before baking bread. I don’t know why. I’m sure someone who understands the science behind it would be able to enlighten us. I’m an old fashioned baker and just do what works. Probably understanding the science behind it would make me a better baker but I’m too lazy at this point and seem to just have good intuition.
Hope this is helpful.
Christine

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Cecilia Hill December 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm

yesChristine I did that today the starter looks good.I’ll find out tomorrow if it rises. I poured some out put water and sugarandflour and potato flakes as per my recipe. thestarter is room temp and ready to mix up for its first rising. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. if this time it doesn’t work I’m throwing it away and starting over. I’ve had 1 batch out of 3 rise in the last 2 weeks. each batch makes about 3 Loaves. so I had to throw away most of it but I use on it came out a little bit smaller still taste good

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Christine Hunt December 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Before you give up on it entirely give it a little kick with some yeast. Try making a batch and adding 1/4 teaspoon per loaf to the water you put into your mixture. If it works you could add a little to your starter, as long as your not a purist, that is. It may do the trick and you won’t have to start all over. A shame if your starter has the “sour” you like in your bread. I’m interested in your results.

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ec December 31, 2012 at 9:47 am

I am glad to hear you say that because I have taken to adding 1/4 tsp of yeast to the bread I am making with the sourdough and it is working OK. I had not thought of adding it directly to the sourdough itself – but I have ordered some free sourdough starter from the 1847 Oregon Trail people, maybe I will add that to my glob when it gets here. Is there an amount that you would recommend?

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Christine Hunt December 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm

ec, Every starter is different. I wouldn’t mess with the Oregon Trail starter. Revive and see what you’ve got before mixing the two up.
As for your original starter…read the comments from Michael Brennan. He’s doing the same thing I do. My starter is left in the frig so when I am ready to bake I feed generously for a day or so before making my dough.

mary December 31, 2012 at 9:27 am

I agree with Christine. I have had my starter for two years and it is getting a great flavor. I am not patient enough to wait for it to rise without yeast so when I make bread, I add a tsp or so of yeast to my recipes and it works great! It just frustrates me if I spend all of the time making a bread or roll recipe only to have them be thick and dense. I also am going for the final results and if adding a little yeast to the mix helps, so be it :)

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Stu Borken December 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Yes, I clean my jar every month.

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Ingrid December 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Hi,

I’ve been making sourdough bread for awhile but I am concerned about food poisoning. Do you change the pot the sourdough plant or starter is in at all? The edges start looking so terrible and smelly. I have been changing pots every 2 weeks but is it necessary? Does anyone else change the pot that their sourdough starter is in?

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Breadtopia December 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Anything potentially harmful would be killed in the high baking temperatures.

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Kathy December 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

The jar I keep my starter in I wash once a week when I feed the starter. I use a cast-iron dutch oven for baking and they never need washing.

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Ingrid December 23, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Thanks… I’ll keep changing pots. I realize that anything baked at high temperatures will be killed but still… it just looks so old and scummy after awhile. By the looks of things it probably wouldn’t matter if you changed pots or not but I wonder how those old starters went? After so many years, surely they must change the pot or jar the starter is in.

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ec December 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

OK I have now been feeding the starter twice a day for about a week and it is remaining stable and bubbling a little bit every 12 hours when I feed it. I would say that there are about 20 bubbles on the surface and it tastes good because I have added it to the no knead bread and it gives a good sourdough flavor but it is not doubling in size and if I had not also added 1/4 tsp of yeast to the no knead bread it would have been like a brick. Any suggestions?

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ec December 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm

One more thing I started this sourdough from scratch using the pineapple juice Dec 2nd so it has been a total of about 18 days now I have been trying to get it to become a starter that I will love….

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Tom December 21, 2012 at 9:04 am

Hi ec,
I would suggest getting a digital scale if you do not already have one. I weigh my starter and add that same weight equally of both water and flour. For example, If I have 5o grams of starter, I add 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water. This will give you a 100% hydration of starter. I have a KD8000 scale from Amazon. Under 40 bucks.
Tom

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ec December 21, 2012 at 9:10 am

I have a scale and did use it for the first few weeks but in the interest of time I have recently saved 1/3 a cup of starter from the batch, and I add 1/3 a cup of water and 1/2 a cup of KA all purpose flour and mix vigorously every 12 hours or so. It is staying the same consistency. Do you think if I used a little rye or whole wheat flour it would cause the starter to get more active?

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Tom December 21, 2012 at 9:51 am

I just weighed 1/2 cup KA bread flour adn 1/3 cup water. Water = 80g and flour (though different from yours) weighed 86g. The math came to 107% hyrdration which should be fine.

What is the temperature of the room you have the starter setting out at? I have found that my starter goes crazy when I place it in the oven with just the lights on. It gets to 78 F in there after a while.
Tom

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Tom December 21, 2012 at 9:55 am

OH! Forgot! At 107% hydration, over time, your starter will eventually get more hydrated so it is best to always weigh your flour/water for 100% hydration.

For instance, if you are hydrating at 107% consistently twice a day, over a few days there is going to be an increase in the hydration of the starter.

Try saving less than 1/3 cup starter if you are going to continue to feed these amounts by *not* weighing.

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ec December 21, 2012 at 11:16 am

wow that is interesting – I will weigh it out and get the exact right amounts by weight. The temp varies btw 65 and 72 in the room BUT, accidently I left it on our masonry heater bench and it shot up to 105 and started bubbling like crazy. So heat did make a big difference that one day.

Kathy December 21, 2012 at 9:59 am

Okay, I’ve been baking the no knead sourdough for over and year and it is fabulous! But I just found out I’ve been feeding it incorrectly. If I keep 12 ounces of starter (I use a digital scale), I’ve been adding 6 ounces of flour and 6 ounces of water. How is it that the bread is turning out okay?

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Kathy December 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

And I haven’t been weighing the water, just the flour. I don’t know how to calculate hydration. Maybe that’s my problem.

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Kathy December 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Okay, I just double-checked The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which is where I got my original recipe for starter. He calls it barm. Under the section, refreshing your barm, Reinhart states: “If you plan to refresh one pound of barm, you can build it to two pounds by adding 8 ounces each of flour (1 3/4 cups) and water (1 cup).” Then he goes on to describe how to triple or quadruple. This is what I’ve been following and, so far, so good. I have a very active starter. I’ve shared with a lot of folks and they have had good luck too.

Tom December 22, 2012 at 10:35 am

Kathy,
8 ounces of flour (1 3/4c) and 1 cup water (8 ounces) is 100% hydration.

To calculate hydration, divide total of flour by the total of water. In your case 8 ounces/8 ounces = 100%
Tom

wendy December 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Hi. On Friday I picked up a sourdough starter and was meant to deliver it to a friend at work tomorrow.
The problem is that I forgot it in my car over the weekend and 2/3 of it blew out of the jar.
I put the remaining bit in the jar in my refrigerator. How do I replenish it? I’m new to this.
Please help.
Ps. I went to a baker today who gave me a cup or two of more starter. What do I do with that.

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Christine Hunt December 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

hello there! You don’t say how much starter you have left of the original. If you have a cup or so just add about 2/3 c. flour and almost but not quite that much water. Then! take it to your friend! If you can’t get it your friend right away – allow about 3 or 4 hours for the starter to “eat” what you just fed it (make sure you have room in the container for it to double in size) and then refrigerate until your friend can take delivery.
As for the starter you just received from the baker….is it the same place the first starter came from? If so just add them together. If not, refrigerate it until you can get it to your friend. If you plan to keep it then you need to read up on this site and you’ll find out how easy sourdough can be!
Don’t forget to go back through the comment section. You may find many answers to your questions there.

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Jaime December 14, 2012 at 10:33 am

I recently bought a dry sourdough starter kit at whole foods. It required that I feed it every 4 hours for the first 8 hours and then once a day for 7 days. I am on day 3 and it looks great. Very bubbly and doubling in size. However, the smell is very very sour and pungent already. Is this normal? My family is really excited for me to make sourdough bread, I am just worries something went wrong. Help!

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SixBalloons December 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I think it is okay, the bread will have a way softer taste to it.

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ec December 9, 2012 at 8:50 am

OK I followed to the letter your sourdough starter last week with the pineapple juice and on day 3 it was bubbling like crazy. Then it seemed to slow down with bubbling. Now I have fed it twice and doubled the volume in the last 24 hours. It has a good consistency – kinda gluey and smells good, but very little bubbling. I guess I will try making a loaf this afternoon but have my doubts. Should I have added flour when it was bubbling a lot ? Do you think there is any hope for this starter?

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Christine Hunt December 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

You must have a lot of starter by now! I am a big believer in refrigerating starter to get a more full flavor and activity.
Try removing a portion of the starter (1/2 cup or so) feed it another 1/3 cup of flour and 1/4 cup water , let it sit and devour it’s meal (3 or 4 hours) then bake.
Put the rest of your starter in the frig and leave it there for a week or so, feed it and put it back in the frig. If you have to do more baking follow the above instructions. Obviously this will only work if you have a lot of starter as you will be removing some of the main “pot” of it to do your baking. As long as you have a little to feed and build back up you’ll be fine.
This method requires a little advance thinking before baking as you will need to let the starter warm back up to room temp before feeding it when you take it out of the frig.
I also recommend going back through the comment section to read what others have done. Lot’s of good suggestions and information there!

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ec December 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Thanks so much for the suggestion — I did peel some off and refrigerate, will follow your suggestion to see if anything happens after a week in the fridge.

I have read just about every recipe and every blog comment on this website — I am obsessed…..

and I tried making up some dough for no knead bread which I can bake tomorrow and I made up a small batch of the sourdough waffle recipe to try and make some sourdough dinner rolls, but much to my disappointment the dough for the rolls has been sitting on a warm place in the house and it looks totally flat — one bubble — after 3 hours….darn not a good sign….

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ec December 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm

dinner rolls – tasted good but did not rise much — I may try feeding it twice a day for a while 1:2:2. Take out 4 oz of starter, add 8 oz of water and 8 oz of ww flour every 12 hours see what happens.

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Christine Hunt December 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Keep in mind the more you dilute your starter the less sour you will have. I would stick with the additions at half the amount of starter you have, feed daily for a few days then put into frig for a few days, take it back out and do more feeding etc. until you have what you want.

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ec December 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm

did not know that — the rolls were quite sour but I liked them – even though they did not rise they were still kind of light…..
I will play with it next week and let you know what happens thanks!!

Christine Hunt December 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Don’t underestimate you or your starter. Once in the oven it takes on a life of it’s own. You may be surprised!

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Ocean Mike December 4, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Hi, I’ve been sourdough-ing for about a year. I have a whole wheat starter that I started myself that I’d like to convert to a white all purpose flour sour for a while. I’m hoping this will give a lighter, flakier taste and make the bread a little more sour.

I tried to do this once before by gradually adding all purpose flour to my whole wheat starter, but my starter (and any bread I made from it) reeked like yogurt. Any ideas why that happened?

Now I have a much older and stronger whole wheat starter, but I’m afraid to feed it all purpose flour at the risk of suffering the yogurt fate again.

Has this happened to anyone else?

I made this starter in Tallahassee, FL. Maybe the heat has to do with it?

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Ocean Mike December 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Sorry, I meant convert to all-purpose flour starter not “all purpose flour sour”

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Christine December 4, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Hi Mike,
I would remove a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your wheat starter and begin adding the white flour to that. It will make the switch faster and you will still have your whole wheat starter if you don’t like the results. Remember you can freeze the whole wheat starter too, if you don’t want to take the chance of having to start over from scratch. Be sure to put the starter in the frig now and then and let it sit for a few days to a week in between feedings. You’ll get a better “sour” out of it.

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Tom November 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Starter is in refrigerator after sucess using unbleached white bread flour/pineapple juice. I have no clue what to do now.

I want to make pizza crust Saturday afternoon with rising time so that I can bake the pizzas around 7PM.

I have a little over 1 cup of starter and need 1 1/2 cups for the crusts.

When do I feed and how often/much?

Do I need to take out of refrigerator, bring to room temperature and then feed?

Leave the starter out for say, how long, after feeding?

How long do I need to wait to use after feeding(s) to use?

I am so new at this whole making bread. Please help!
Tom
Hurdle Mills, NC

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Kaye November 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Hi Tom, I am FAR from expert at this but maybe I can help. If I tell you wrong surely someone will be around to correct me, LOL
If it were me, I would take out all but maybe 1/4 cup of your starter. Feed the quarter cup that is left about 1/2 cup of flour and enough water to get to about brownie batter thickness stir it good and return that to the fridge.
Measure what you have left then add enough flour/water to bring it up to the 1 1/2 cup (or even a little more) that you need for your pizza dough. Let that sit out for several hours before you start your dough. You could do this over night or start early the morning before you want to make your dough.
It should become very active if it is fairly warm in your kitchen. Just cover it lightly with a towel and leave it sitting on the counter. Once it’s active and bubbly, you can start your dough.
I think this will work and what you have left will double each time you feed it so soon you’ll have plenty to work with for your next batch of pizza dough.
I keep my starter in the fridge. If I am not going to bake I feed it, usually a cup to cup and a half of flour (depending on how much I have) with enough water to hydrate it. Stir it well and put it right back in the fridge. If I’m going to bake, I stir my starter down good, measure out what I will need for baking and return the rest to the fridge. I usually put my starter out the night before I bake. I feed it some of the flour that I’ve measured out for my bread that night, cover and leave it to “perk” over night. If it’s quite active the next morning I start my dough, if it needs a little more time and food, I add a little more flour/water and let it sit another couple of hours and then bake.
I hope I’m not giving you mis-information, but this has worked well for me.
I LOVE my sourdough!!
:-) Kaye

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mary November 29, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Hi Tom,

Don’t be too afraid of your starter. It is not as delicate as most people usually think it is. Once you get use to using/feeding it, it will be easy! I have had mine going for a little over two years and have been able to share it with lots of people.

I also store mine in the fridge and if I haven’t used it, I feed it about every two weeks by stirring it up to mix the hooch back in. I don’t leave a lot of starter when I am going to store it, maybe a cup or so. I pull it out when I am going to use it, add my flour/water, usually equal amounts (I just eyeball it) to make brownie type thickness of batter. It does tend to bubble better when the starter is thicker rather then thinner. I typically try to feed it a 3-8 hours before I am going to use it and let it sit on the counter, lightly covered so it can breathe. After I pour out what I need for my recipe, I just cover and put the rest back in the fridge until next time. I usually don’t keep more then about 1 c. in the fridge between uses and feedings. If I do end up with to much starter in the fridge, I put out the word to friends to see who wants some, divide it up and feed both then take the one to a friend. I bought a bunch of large mason jars at Goodwill for about .50 to $1 each and just put plastic and a rubber band on the top and give them to my friends. As I said before, don’t over think this! :)

BTW, here is my favorite pizza crust for a thin crust pizza. It doesn’t need rising time, just needs to sit for about 30 mins before shaping. It is delicious and so easy I don’t have to look up the recipe! I use my KitchenAid and the bread hook to mix it and let it just sit in there until I am ready to make the pizza. I add enough flour until it isn’t too sticky although it is still a very soft dough.

1 1/2 sourdough starter
1 1/2 c. white flour (3/4 c. whole wheat flour + 3/4 c. white flour works also)
1 tsp salt
2-3 TB olive oil

Mix until dough forms then knead for 5 minutes or so until smooth. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before using but longer is fine also.
I spread mine with my pizza roller onto my oiled pizza pan and if I have time, let sit 10-15 minutes again before topping as crust will rise a little, but this step is optional. Top with yummy ingredients.

Bake at 400 degrees for approx 15-20 minutes. I then slide my pizza off the pan and onto the rack for an additional 5 minutes to crisp up the bottom of the crust then slide the pizza pan back under pizza to pull out of oven. Yum, yum, yum.

One last trick I have learned with my sourdough starter and recipes. I am not a big fan of rolls or breads that don’t call for yeast, just sourdough, as I haven’t had much luck with them and some take 1 – 2 days to make with risings. I have experimented with adding yeast to the recipes that don’t call for yeast with great success. This past weekend I made sweet rolls that didn’t call for yeast, only sourdough starter, so I added 2 1/2 tsp yeast to 6 1/2 c. flour. Worked great! So I would probably add 1/2 tsp yeast for every 1 c. flour or there about. Just thought I would share :) Best of luck to you, your pizza and your starter!

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Bubba Pfahler November 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I bought the jar and sourdough starter recently. Am in process of getting the starter going and it seems to going well.

When storing in the refrigerator do I lock down the lid or leave it slightly propped open?

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Breadtopia November 27, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hi Bubba,

Go ahead and lock it but don’t use the rubber gasket.

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Kaye November 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Hi Bubba. I got the jar as well. I took the gasket off as instructed. When I wash my jar and refresh my starter, I leave mine unlatched for a few hours then latch it again. Probably not necessary, but I figured better safe than sorry ;-)
Once you take the gasket off, the starter is able to breathe even with the jar locked.
Have fun, I love taking care of my starter and the wonderful bread, biscuits and pancakes we enjoy using it.

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Janet November 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Just received my starter today but first question before I begin, what type of ‘flour’ am I supposed to use? Bread Flour, All Purpose, or Self Rising? Someone has probably already asked this question but I’m in a hurry! Thanks!!

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Breadtopia November 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Bread flour or all purpose. Definitely not self rising.

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Kaye November 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Hi Janet, I used all purpose to feed mine and bread flour when I bake bread or all purpose for pancakes and biscuits.
Have fun!!

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Janet November 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Thanks for the quick responses ! I did use all-purpose with my brand-new starter…with a little common sense. I’m SO excited about this. I’ve tried to make my own starter off and on for several years. It never dawned on me to just purchase one…watch out family – hopefully we’ll all have delicious bread soon! I’m sure I’ll have more questions and this site is great.

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Elizabeth Jane Layman November 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Hi Eric,

First, thank you for the live starter, I got it Friday, it is thriving. I like my bread very sour and tangy, I am wondering if you can provide hints to achieve this.

FYI, my history, I am from Brekeley California, moved east in ’64, and was deprived of commercial sourdough bread until the late 70′s. My mother kept a starter for years, got it from Sourdough Jack. It is my turn to bake.

Jane

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christine November 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

Hello Jane,
Welcome to the world of sourdough. This website has been very helpful to me. You might want to read back through some of the comments. Lot’s of your questions will be answered there.
As for getting the extra sour and tangy flavor. My tip would be to allow your starter the full time to bloom initially. Then between baking leave it in the frig. Or you could remove a portion of your starter and put that in the frig. You will develop a mature, flavorful starter by letting it “concentrate” in that way.
I only bake once a week, so my starter is refrigerated between baking. I take it out, let it come to room temp (about 1 1/2 hr) feed it and allow it time to consume it’s meal (about 3 hrs) and bake.
Lot’s of good recipes have been shared on this website. I especially love the No Knead Sourdough. In fact I have some sitting on my counter waiting for me to fold and get ready for the oven for Thanksgiving dinner.
You can refrigerate and feed, freeze, dry and give away starter too. I keep an “insurance” starter in the freezer just in case I lose the one I’m working with! lol
Have fun, experiment and enjoy the breads!

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Kaye November 26, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Hi Jane, I was looking on the King Arthur site and there was a recipe for a sourdough loaf and a notation that if you wanted it more sour tasting to add a bit of Sour Salt to the flour.
Think I might get myself some. Should be able to find it at the grocery or Pharmacy.
:-) Kaye

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Kim Peel November 8, 2012 at 10:29 am

My sour dough starter recipe called for 2 cups bread flour, 1/4 t salt, 1 T sugar & 1T dry yeast with 2 cups warm water. To feed: add 3/4 c sugar, 3 T potato flakes, 1 c bread flour & 1 c very warm water. I put the starter in the fridge and feed every 5 days or so and either throw a cup away or bake bread.
I made the starter the end of September and all went well while the weather was warm. The dough rose well, punched it down & let it rise again up above the baking pans, bread was delicious.
Problem is for the past 3 weeks or so (cooler weather) there is a dark layer of liquid on top of my starter (in fridge) and when I feed the starter, it does NOT bubble. I continue making the bread & it has a good taste, it just isn’t rising as well. The dough takes much longer to rise in the cooler weather. (my house is 70*inside though)
Should I feed my starter with FLOUR & WATER ONLY (per your instructions) or do I keep following my recipe adding potato flakes, sugar, water & flour? I made sour dough in years past and never had trouble with my starter, so this is all new to me! Thank you for any helpful hints! Kim

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Linda November 8, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Hi Kim,
I hope I can help with some of your questions. The dark liquid is hooch. Some people (including me) mix any back into my starter, but I know some people pour it off. Also, If it is too cool where you are letting your dough rise you can try putting it into the oven and letting it rise that way. Just leaving the oven light on usually works for me. As for feeding your starter. I can’t help with that…sorry…

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Kim November 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

Linda,
Thank you and I will mix up the “hooch” and feed with my recipe , pop it in the oven and see if that will do the trick. However, does the starter need to “bubble” for it to work?
Kim

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Kaye November 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Hi Kim, When you feed your starter to you stir it good and then put it right back into the fridge? I do mine that way and it doesn’t really bubble up much. It does increase over the next few days, but not as much action as I would see if I left it outside of the fridge at room temperature.

When I get ready to make bread, the night before, I stir my starter good, then measure out the amount I will need for the bread. I usually feed the remaining starter in the jar, stir it good and return it to the fridge. Then I feed the starter cover it with plastic wrap (with a few holes poked in it so the starter can breathe). I leave this overnight on the counter to get active. Usually by the next morning, it is bubbling away and ready to use. I then make my bread and go ahead as usual. During the kneading time, adding a little flour to be kneaded in will help your starter as well.
About the hootch, I usually just stir it back into the starter and return it to the fridge. I have poured it off a couple of times and I don’t really notice any difference in the performance of the starter either way.
I hope this will help. Good luck I think you’ll be just fine. If your rooms are a lot cooler than before, putting the bread into a warmer spot will certainly help.

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SixBalloons November 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Is it a bad idea to use up so much of your starter that you are left with say 1/4 cup before feeding? Is there an optimal amount to retain to ensure the good qualities of a more “mature” starter?

Just trying to avoid starter dumping, but not at the risk of killing off the culture.

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Kaye November 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Hi, No problem with leaving 1/4 cup before feeding. Just feed the 1/4 cup about 1/2 cup of flour and enough water to make it about “Brownie Batter” thick. Leave it out, covered with cheese cloth or other material that “breathes”. Stir it a couple of time a day, once it begins to bubble you can feed it to double it again. Once you get it to a good amount, you can continue to feed it on the counter every day or every other day..or put the container in the fridge and feed it once a week, more or less.
To avoid dumping any of mine, I do make waffles or biscuits maybe once or twice a week. I use about a cup for either of these. When my jar gets to looking to ucky, I dump it all out in a big bowl, clean the jar and replace my starter and back into the fridge.
I do loose some in the transfer from jar to bowl and back to teh jar, so it keeps it under control.
Hope this helps!!

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SixBalloons November 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Hi Kaye, thanks for the response! I fed it this afternoon with 1/4c flour and an “eyeballed” amount of water to get it to a good consistency. It bubbled up after a few hours on the counter so it appears all is well.

I am not a waffle / pancake / scone fan so I think I will stick to Eric’s sourdough pizza recipes which use up a good amount of starter… I mixed up a half batch today, hope it’s as good as I imagine it to be!

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Linda November 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I make crumpets with my starter to avoid dumping, especially during hot weather here. It uses very few ingredients other than starter and is done on my griddle. I have also done pancakes at times.

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SixBalloons November 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Thanks Linda, I have seen the crumpets idea too but it seems to be going well with one or two NK sourdoughs a week so far.

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Anita November 1, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Keeping a small amount is fine, I think, just store it in a smaller container. As long as it’s healthy and active to begin with, it shouldn’t die for that reason. Rather than throwing any away, I use more in my recipes, but it’s hard to get down to 1/4 cup! I just can’t bake that often, so I don’t feed every week either

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SixBalloons November 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Thanks Anita, yeah I got a bit excited today and wanted to mix up a NKB and pizza crust, without really planning ahead.

Seems like I will get into a rhythm the more I bake with the starter.

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Malka October 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I’d never made sourdough, but I started a culture, and on my own I added ground Japanese potatoe. It’s been in the fridge for a few months, has no smell. I only had it covered with cheesecloth. Is it safe to feed this and use it? Should it have been covered with glass, as I saw in your video? It had some hoche on it, and I’ve just poured it off now for the first time.

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Malka February 1, 2013 at 7:59 am

Anyone know the limit for sourdough starter to be in fridge?

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Ken October 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm

If I am attempting to make spelt sourdough bread do I use spelt flour when managing the starter? Thanks, Ken.

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Mike afonso October 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Can you over feed your starter?

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Kaye October 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Hmm, I don’t think so :-) However, it just keeps getting bigger. I usually feed mine after I use a bit and add about the same amount of flour/water to double the amount again. Sometimes not so much. About once or twice a month, I dump all of it into a bowl (when it’s low in the jar), feed it, wash the jar and then put it back in the jar and into the fridge.
I keep my starter in the fridge unless I am baking and usually only feed it maybe every couple of weeks.
Hope this helps…

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Kathy King October 14, 2012 at 11:43 am

I have a question. My starter is super-active, my crust and crumb are awesome. But what do I do with my leftover bread???? If I store it in plastic, yuck, it gets rubbery. If I store it in a paper bag, it gets hard. We rarely eat a whole loaf in one sitting and I need your advice. Thank you!

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Anita October 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm

We don’t eat a lot of bread either, so I make small loaves and freeze them; sometimes I cut them in half before freezing to have smaller servings. Often I par- bake them before freezing, so they can be finished in the oven and be really fresh. I usually heat up leftover bread anyway, in foil, with steam, so it will be warm and soft. The bread keeps ok for a few days in ziplock bags, but I am in the process of making linen bread bags, which are supposed to be a better method.

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Kathy King October 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Good idea! I can probably purchase some since I no longer have a sewing machine. I like my crust good and crunchy. I do usually end up toasting my bread after the first day, or warming in the oven, but I’ve been keeping it in plastic bread bags and it’s even difficult to slice from being rubbery. Thanks, Anita! I’ll see if Eric has fabric bags!

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Christine Hunt October 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

Hello Kathy and Anita,
Think outside the bag! You don’t need a bag. Just a piece of muslin (well floured or oiled) will do. It’s like a pastry cloth. The longer you use it the better “seasoned” it gets and the better it keeps the bread. I’ve even put mine into a plastic bag after wrapping it and left the bag open so as not to get flour from the cloth everywhere.
Christine

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Kathy King October 18, 2012 at 11:09 am

I love it! Thank you, Christine. As it turns out, for lack of anything better, I used a kitchen towel – the kind made from a flour sack and it worked great. The bread this morning had a wonderful crust. I love improvising and I love that everyone on this blog helps each other out.

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Anita October 18, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Yes, tea towels do work fine. I’m making linen bags for holiday gifts anyway, but you make an interesting point about the fabric being oiled or floured – hadn’t thought of that :)

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Kaye October 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm

When I just have a little left, not really enough for a meal, I cut it into cubes and store all my cubes in a big bag in the freezer. When I get enough it makes an awesome bread pudding.

Charlie October 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Just a quick question to throw out there. Does anyone have some good detailed instructions on making Bagels? I’ve been trying for a while and they always fall flat.

Thanks

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Anita October 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I used to make bagels with packaged yeast and they were great. The key step was to simmer them in a water bath before baking. I do plan to experiment with sourdough starter sometime, but I don’t know how I will like the results. for example, no matter how many ways I make sourdough pizza crust, it will never be as light and crispy as the yeasted version, not to mention, as fast. I like not having to rely on commercial yeast anymore, but I’m learning to appreciate the sourdough versions for themselves, because they are definitely different than what I am used to.

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Catherine October 26, 2012 at 11:41 am

This is where I learned about sourdough and I love ALL of her recipes

http://ruralspin.com/2012/04/29/using-wild-yeast-sourdough-makin-bagels/

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Kathy King October 6, 2012 at 8:26 am

I have been baking my sourdough on the bread stone I purchased from Eric, but I decided to buy an enamel-covered, cast iron Dutch oven. That will create steam without having to throw ice cubes into a pan like I’ve been doing. However, from what I read on the directions, it is not intended for “dry” use. Do I preheat the dutch oven like I did the bread stone to 450? Do I needed to grease the bread to prevent it from sticking? We just moved from California to New Hampshire and I’m dying to make some bread!!!

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Kaye October 6, 2012 at 10:08 am

I have one of those Lodge porcelain enamel covered dutch oven, but have never tried bread in it. Seems like somewhere I heard someone say they greased the pan lightly and then before putting the bread dough inside cut a couple of strips of oven-proof paper to go under the bread. Because these pots are so very heavy, it makes it easier to get the bread out of the pot once it’s done. Now on the preheating, I could be wrong and hopefully someone will be along to correct me if I am, but I don’t think you really have to reheat the pot. Seems like someone said easier to allow your loaf to do it’s last proof inside the pot, then preheat your oven and slide the pot in when the loaf was ready to bake?
About the “dry” statement. I think they mean really dry, as in empty. The bread itself will make steam as it bakes so it should be just fine. I know there are some that use this type of pot and don’t have issues with it. Just remember, the coating can crack, so use caution handling the pot.
Hope this helps. My coated CI pot was to large for bread baking so I got a smaller uncoated one. It is simply tempered and have had no issues with the bread sticking in the pot. Sure does make an awesome crust tho :-)

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Kaye October 6, 2012 at 10:11 am

‘Scuse me, that is PREheat not REheat the pot before baking..oops sorry!!

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Kathy King October 7, 2012 at 11:09 am

Kaye: you are a HUGE help! I have not used the enamel-coated pot yet, it’s 6 quart, and I think I will return it and buy the 5 quart, pre-seasoned Lodge instead. I know that can take high temperatures and there won’t be issues with the finish. Now, do you pre-heat the cast iron in your oven, then put the bread in? Thank you so much!!!

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John October 7, 2012 at 11:50 am

You can go either way. Go with cold start where you put bread in pot then put in over. Do a test to find out how long it takes to get to disired cooking temp then add that to baking time. Or you can pre heat pan and just place in over and check bread interior temp when when taken out. I think you’ll want to spray some pam on pan if you go with cold start so it doesn’t stick.

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Kaye October 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hi Kathy, I kept my big pot, I love it for making big roasts for holiday dinners or when there is company in the house. I did however decide it was to large for baking bread.
My Lodge “Dutch Oven” is a four quart. It’s a “Lodge Logic” with a cover and I think I got mine from J.E.S. Resturant Supply online.
I’ve added a photo of my first Dutch Oven loaf of bread. This pot is great for other things as well. Since it’s just my hubby and myself for meals now, I use it often for things like small roasts, stews and soup. It’s a little more trouble to care for (can’t put it in the dishwasher), but it’s worth it. It’s easier to pick up and move too. Also, I have a glass top stove and it works fine, you just have to raise it to move it off the burner if you need to move it….no sliding it :-)

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Kaye October 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Oh and I did preheat the pot for this loaf, but you can put your bread into it for the last rise and just transfer it to your preheated oven. It heats pretty fast.
I did add a little more oil wiped on the inside of the pot before pre-heating it. Didn’t use the paper under the bread to lift it and it came out just fine.
The reason you see so much pale color on this loaf is because I over floured my proofing basket ;-) It was YUMMY even so.

Leamlass October 19, 2012 at 4:33 am

Myself, I use a Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven as I have read that the plastic knob on the enamel coated Dutch Oven will not take the heat of an oven over 400 F. So I use a plain Cast Iron Pot and it works great.

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John October 6, 2012 at 7:32 am

Mike,
followed you instructions and let starter proof. After 18 hrs i added cup of flour and 3/4 cup of water and it sproofing at room temp. However I now have 1/2 of hooch on bottom of starter. What does that mean??

Thanks, new guy here!!

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Kaye October 6, 2012 at 10:10 am

Wow never have seen that before! Looking forward to seeing the answer to this one too. Usually when my starter forms hootch it is on the top of the starter. Just poured a bit off of mine yesterday and fed it again. Haven’t had time to bake and it needed some TLC :-)

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John October 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

Kaye,

It started to smell funky. So, I Washed it as outlined in the Classic Sourgoughs. Then started feeding it again. I guess i’ll just wait and see what takes place.
Thanks

John

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Kaye October 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

I usually just stir the hootch back into mine, but yesterday I did dump it off in the sink. Mine smells sort of “Beer-y” when there is hootch on top. Let me know how yours works out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen hootch anywhere but on the top of my starter.
Good luck!! :-)

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John October 6, 2012 at 11:00 am

This starter was just started yesterday. So it hasn’t been in the fridg as yet.. have it proofing at 70 and will see what happens.

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Anita October 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Hi John,
I’ve always had the impression that if the starter is sitting out at room temperature, it should be fed at least every 12 hours; perhaps it separated because it was starving after 18 hours. My starter forms a ‘hooch’ (on top) after being refrigerated and not fed for 2 weeks or more. I usually stir it back in. But once I leave it out on the counter for feeding and using, I make sure I feed it every 8-12 hours.

John October 7, 2012 at 11:51 am

looks like everything is Ok now. Lets hope.

Jane September 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Suggestions and tips, please, for the best way to store this wonderful bread we all are making…

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Lenobabe September 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Simple, Just cover it with a T Towel and leave it on your counter. I put a small piece of cling film on the end of the bread. Sourdough bread freezes very well so bake a few loaves at at time.

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tony September 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

how long must my starter stand after I have fed it. I bake 14 breads. I take out of fridge !kg of starter and feed it with 500g four and 500g water and stands for 12hour I use 2 kg of starter

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Rich September 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I recently made my first sourdough loaf after being given some starter from the local baker. The bread turned out well and had that beautiful sour flavour which I love. A couple of weeks on I have just made my second loaf from the same starter and although the loaf has risen really well the sour flavour is not as strong. Is there a reason for this.

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Mike September 14, 2012 at 3:43 am

Hi Christine – well success of sorts. We baked our first loaf – it looked great and tastes great but it didn’t rise much and is very heavy. (Reminds me of Scandinavian Bread!) So going to double feed for 48 hours see if that helps, any other suggestions would be most welcome! Thanks – Mike

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Christine Hunt October 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Hello there Mike,
Sourdough bread has a longer proof than regular bread. Are you letting it proof long enough? I had one loaf proof for 6 hours! Also helps (in my opinion) to tease it a little and refrigerate the dough before proofing. Experiment and go with your instincts.

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Sandie P September 9, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I have made two starters one from pineappple juice ad one from potato water. This has been about 10ndays now. I feed them but they just do not grow. One time 2 nites ago my pineappple one grew and i tested to see if it floated in water and it did I was so excited then it fell again. Are they bad? I live in California so it has been warm enough. Help! ty

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Sandie P October 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

found out the area I live in Northen Ca takes about 10 days to start a starter because of the bateria in our area. Now I hace made two great starters. I just had to be more patient.

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Mike September 9, 2012 at 7:30 am

Hi Christine – we have lift off!!!!! Starter bubbling along nicely, looking to make the dough tonight – baking tomorrow!!! Many thanks – (fingers crossed!)

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stephanie September 8, 2012 at 10:28 am

Im loving the spelt sourdough so much – being vegan and not having had cheese in years the taste resembles it astonishingly! Im wandering if i can make sourdough with bean flours….like gramflour? After all, its not the rising that im after anymore since the taste is just to die for!

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Breadtopia September 14, 2012 at 3:39 am

Sourdough culture can subsist on a wide range of food sources. It’s not that picky. I don’t know why bean flour would be any different from, say, rice flour which is used. You can certainly try it and see how it goes. One issue with gluten free food based starters is the gas from fermentation is not easily trapped so the starter doesn’t rise which can make it difficult to judge whether or not the starter is healthy. But since flavor, and not leavening, is your main goal then you might be in good shape.

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Richard September 8, 2012 at 5:33 am

Must say, am impressed with the scratch starter made with Pinneapple juice and Wheat Flour – following your instructions to the letter, the results were as advertised. In fact, the starter is very acidic and very sour – this method out performs white flour starters which beve used for years. Thank You for a new scratch starter.

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Gloria September 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

My breadmaker machine finally broke down.
Can you recommend a breadmaker for sour dough bread????

Thanks so much,
Gloria

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Mary September 9, 2012 at 9:48 am

Hi Gloria,
Highly recommend the Zojurshi from KAF. KAF also has excellent mixes for the machine. Have had my Zo for almost 4 years, using it mainly to make dough, yes it makes great sour dough too. It does a super job with dough but I prefer the option of shaping a loaf and baking it in the oven. Over the years have had several other brands, Williams Sonoma, Breadman and Cuisinart but the Zo is far superior.

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Sandie P September 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I gave my bread machine away as i dont like the loaf’s it makes. When i go to make bread sour dough or reg. I just put in my mixer with the bread attachment. This kneads the bread great. Then I use regular bread pans. Makes larger loafs of bread. sandie

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Kaye October 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Hi Gloria, I’ve been using a Breadman Ultimate (I don’t think they make this one anymore, boo hoo). I’ve had mine for many years and it works great. I would love to have a Zojurshi, I don’t think there is a question that this is the “cadillac” of bread makers, but it was a little to pricy for me.
My main complaint about almost any of them is they leave a hole in the loaf where the paddle bakes into the bread.
I have been using my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook to make my bread lately…but if I’m in a rush, I always fall back on my Breadman bread machine.

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Mike September 3, 2012 at 7:28 am

Hi Christine – been feeding as you suggested but the starter has not bubbled again, I stir 3 times a day and there are plenty of air bubbles after stirring, but there is no sign of life, is it supposed to ‘ferment’ as such or does it just stay as a flat liquid? Many thanks – Mike

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christine September 3, 2012 at 7:38 am

Hey Mike, my starter is flat when it’s resting. The only time it bubbles is when I feed it! Then it’s very active. Are you fedding enough? If so, it should really be working at feeding time. I keep my starter refrigerated between baking. When I bake I feed almost as much as I have starter, so if there’s a lot of starter I may remove a few cups and feed it a few cups, let it work for 8 hours or so and bake. Hope this helps.

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Moshe M Friedman September 3, 2012 at 6:17 am

HELP !!!, My starter bubles and seems to make a bread, but doesnt really rise either in the starter ofr in the bread, it just seems to bubble alt and make air pckets and rises very slightly! I am using freshly groung Spelt flour – unsifted.
Thank you

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christine September 3, 2012 at 7:25 am

Moshe, breads made w/starter take a long time to rise. How much time are you giving it? My breads proof for hours before baking. Anybody else?

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Moshe M Friedman September 3, 2012 at 7:30 am

I leave it to proof for about 6 hours, but it gets sort of soft but doesnt rise much. It tastes pretty good but is very dense !

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stephanie September 3, 2012 at 7:38 am

Yes Yes…..i know exactly what you mean – mine aswell tastes amazing but just dense and flat :(

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Sandie P October 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

My starter takes 1-2 hrs to proof. I put in 1 tea salt and 2 tea sugar to two cups proofed starter then add slowly 3 more cups flour. I knead for about 10 in the mixer which causes my bread to rise alot faster.

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Mike August 29, 2012 at 4:34 am

Thanks Christine – I was following a recipe from Hugh F. Whittingstall a well known chef in the UK!!! Will follow your instructions to the letter! Many thanks – Mike

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Mike August 28, 2012 at 5:14 am

Hi _ I’m a first timer so go gentle please. Made the first starter and it began bubbling lovely. But when I fed it for the first time (Removed half then reloaded with 100gms flour and water) the bubbling has stopped and my bowl of starter has split into solids and liquids – what did I do wrong?

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Christine Hunt August 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

Mike…your starter should be okay. Try less water than flour. Why did you take out starter? When I started I fed until I was ready to bake without removing starter. It may take a little while for it to balance itself out, just keep feeding. I don’t know how much 100 gms is in cups but when I started I used about 1/2 cup flour to 1/3 cup water and increased as my starter grew. Then I did a lot of experimental baking and had plenty of starter to do it with. After a while your relationship with your starter will grow and you will just know how much flour and water to add for your baking needs and to keep the consistency of the starter at a nice “brownie batter” thickness. Hope this is helpful and things go well. Oh! stir your starter a few times a day too. It likes the attention.

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Sandie P October 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I dont removed any starter for the first three days just keep adding for there days. then next day i remove 1/2 the starter until I have a true mother. I agree you must stir your flour a few times a day. This will make your starter fall but it is still good sarter.

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stephanie August 21, 2012 at 8:16 am

Hi, im new to all this but i need a hand….im on day 4 of my started spelt dough and its bubbling nicely. Now can i use all the starter to make the loaf? Or would this be too much yeast? Is it good bacteria though – it wouldnt be harmful to use the whole lot would it? Another question – can you freeze the starter dough or will this kill the whole process? See i only bake once in a blue moon then freeze the baked bread in slices so thats why id be looking at using the whole batch of starter,
Thanks guys,
Stephanie

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Christine Hunt August 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

Stephanie, Why would you make a starter and then use it all in the first baking? You’re cheating yourself out of some really good bread in the future and your starter isn’t so needy as to require all your attention….
Usually about 1 cup of starter is good for a loaf or two of bread. the rest can be put into the frig for a week or two at a time without feeding. Just remove it, pour of the hooch (or not) feed it, let sit for a day and then bake again.
Your starter will improve in flavor as it ages making better bread. You can even freeze or dry the starter and revive it, if you are not going to bake for a while.
I’m encouraging you to save out a little for later…

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stephanie August 30, 2012 at 1:43 am

Dearest Christine, thanks so much for getting back to me – to be honest i didnt expect a reply at all but just put the question out there along with my glimpse of optimism! The real reason i wanted to use the whole lot of starter was well….im a calorie counter (not that im pleased to admit it) – and by using the whole lot, it was easier to calculate the whole loaf. But really, thats a stupid reason as just like you say, im depriving myself of the delightful maturity of the starter and dismissing its potential. And what’s calories when nature is concerned anyway???
So Christine, would you mind saying again – if im making a 1/2lb loaf…..do i use about 1 cup of starter in that? And then i can freeze the remaining starter and when i come to need to use it again i can bring it to room temp and then feed it and make another 1/2lb loaf ?(do i only use a cup of this second starter as well then?). Ive been making it with spelt flour. Can i try it with rye do you think? And why am i finding it simply doesnt rise? Am i knocking it back too much? Because its big when it rises, and then i knock it back and it never seems to rise to what it was?
Thanks so very much.
Stephanie

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