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.

{ 1409 comments… read them below or add one }

Crabtree June 4, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Please advise- at what point is the best time to use fed starter. I think sometimes my bread fails because it was to far past proofing. Do I need to use it at the peak of proofing. Give me a clue..

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Anita June 5, 2014 at 8:01 am

Hi Crabtree- I try to use my starter in a recipe within 2-3 hours of when it doubles after feeding it. I use a measuring cup or container that I mark with tape to show how much it has risen. When it starts to fall, or collapse, I know it is ‘hungry’ and ready to ‘feed’ with the recipe ingredients. I have also used refrigerated starter that is a week or less old- it slowly rises in the refrigerator and seems to keep its potency for several days. The key, of course, is that the mother starter needs to be very strong and active to begin with.

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Crabtree June 6, 2014 at 9:47 am

Thanks Anita. I have been baking sourdough bread off and on for years. I will feed a starter for a week, twice daily and it will look, proof and smell awesome. I get good rise on my dough and have used many recipes. I just can not get a great result in finished product. I get a semi-dense bread. I want the perfect, big texture (holes). I get a little let down and try again down the road. I do have good flavor and still make some great sourdough pancakes. :)

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Anita June 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

Yes, I understand what you mean. I am very similar in my occasional baking habits, so I have to constantly check my notes from previous bakes. I also had many dense loaves from overproofing , or not being home at the right time to put it in the oven. I also don’t bake the exact recipe every time, I like to experiment, so sometimes I add wheat gluten, diastatic malt, or barley malt syrup with whole grains. I’ve also tried potato water, buttermilk, and vinegar. Most importantly, I try to let the dough only rise about 2/3 or so, while having a preheated oven so I can bake immediately and get a good oven spring. Also the wetter doughs seem to get the bigger holes, so I use the stretch and fold method in the bowl and refrigerate overnight. Rising temperature is key too. Once you have everything else under control, I think it’is mainly a ‘when-you-bake’ timing issue that affects the results. BTW, there’s a great recipe/technique that is easy, very reliable and allows you to use any amount of starter that you want. It’s called the 1-2-3 method and originated with a French woman – you can search online. I’d like to hear how your next bake goes-

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Crabtree June 6, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Thank you Anita- You have been very helpful. It is great to go over results. I will look into 1-2-3. I will let you know how I do. Have you ever had a great loaf of sourdough with chewy, sour and big hole? I can see how refrigeration and wetter dough might suspend or capture bigger holes. Thanks again.

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Anita June 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Yes, a ciabatta type in loaves and rolls a few times that was chewy, airy, big holes, but only a little sour. I would have to make it again to tell you the exact recipe. But I think that overnight refrigerator rise, using a baking stone, high temperature, steam in the oven, not overproofing, all contribute to a better result. I try to eat healthier, so don’t make white bread very much, even tho it is my favorite.

CharlieD May 26, 2014 at 8:33 pm

I’ve been working sourdough for a while, in Metro-Denver, Now live at 9,280 Feet and am wondering what I might want to do different. My current starter isn’t very active.

I know one seems to need to add more flour but not sure the proportion.

Thanks for your assistance

Charlie

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Elaine May 26, 2014 at 6:51 pm

My starter is very ‘tart’ and I can’t seem to fix it. Any suggestions?

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sandy May 9, 2014 at 4:22 am

my daughter bought the starter kit for me for my birthday. i have been feeding it for almost a week and it is bubbly but has not increased in volume. does that mean it isn’t any good? i wanted to try to bake this weekend.

thanks.

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Eric Tucker May 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm

You mention the sourdough tang would be more pronounced with a “mature” starter. How long should it take for a starter to reach maturity?

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Mary May 1, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Hi,
I am new to baking! I made Sourdough bread following the directions here. I got my starter from a friend and I have been feeding it. I also converted some of the starter into a Whole Wheat starter, so I had success there. I purchased the Romertopf Round 4 Quart Clay Baker and when I baked the bread it didn’t rise at all. When the bread was done, it was probably 1 – 1.5 inch tall. It was totally flat and hard as a rock! AGH! I feel the dough expanded too much b/c the Baker might have been too big. The bread also burned a little bit on the top. It did have the sourdough flavor, which was a plus. As you can tell on the photo, the bread was FLAT!

Do you have any ideas as to what to try next time?

Also, on the starter. Should I keep it in the fridge after I feed it, or should I keep it outside? In your video you mention to keep it tightly closed to avoid bacteria, but when I do that, it explodes. Suggestions?

Thank you.

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Denise April 29, 2014 at 12:46 am

I have been trying to perfect my sourdough for ages now – everything seems to go really well and the finished loaf (now I have treated myself to a cloche) looks fantastic. However, how do you achieve that lovely chewy and ‘holey’ texture that Eric and the Scandinavians produce? I have read that more water helps but then the dough is impossible to work with ……

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Bubba April 29, 2014 at 9:03 am

I have been making really wet NKB dough for months using parchment paper or Super Parchment Baking Liners. Since the dough is really unwieldy, I let the dough rise for 18 hours or so in any covered container, then for the second rise I line another vessel that is close to the Cloche size with the parchment liner, pour – rubber spatula the wet sticky dough into the parchment liner, cover the
dough with plastic, a lid, whatever and let it sit for about an hour. While it is sitting, I preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. and cloche, cast iron dutch oven, terra cotta tureen or whatever covered cooking vessel you are using. After about an hour I gently lift the sides of the parchment paper with wet dough into the cooking vessel. Cover vessel, set timer for 30 minutes. At end of 30 minutes I take the bread out of the vessel bake for another 5 minutes and then it is done.

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Linda April 29, 2014 at 1:34 pm

You bake it on parchment then?
Thanks

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Bubba April 29, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I actually bake it in the parchment paper. I scrunch the paper down with the lid of the baking vessel. Sometimes it sticks out a little. The main objective is to capture as much of the moisture leaving the wet dough and depositing its carmelizing effects on the outside of the dough forming the most delicious crust. The crumb structure gets nice holes and it seems to be a product of wetter dough. I baked a couple 100 loaves in the two years and it seems wetter makes for nicer open crumb structure when using the NKB approach. I don’t know if that holds true for Sourdough using starter.

The parchment paper Eric sells is great for cookie sheets and a convenient size, but it has a lower temperature rating vs. some of the paper in rolls. I actually get 2 -3 bakings out of the parchment paper. This lead me to try using the Super Parchment Baking LIners because I couldn’t stand throwing it out after a couple of usages. I love the Super parchment baking liners (Amazon) . I have used them for about 20 loaves so far with out any problems. They are rated for higher temperatures than the 475 I bake at. Maybe Eric will start selling them. They are amazing. After pulling them out of a 475 degree oven they don’t retain any heat. I can lift them out with bare hands although I can’t touch the bread.

Additionally I purchased the oblong Cloche from Breadtopia and love the size of bread it makes. It is perfect for the parchment paper approach.

I love the open crumb structure and to get it otherwise I use a french bread recipe that requires 3-4 stretches and pulls over the coarse of an afternoon. It turns out great but it doesn’t seem superior in any way to my wet NKB approach so I only do it once a month when I am feeling that I should be more of a purist but I think that is probably rediculous.

Bubba

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Denise May 1, 2014 at 6:35 am

Tried the ‘no knead’ method and have had fantastic results! Baked it on the parchment and absolutely no kneading whatsoever – thank you for your tips. The loaf is a little ‘flat’ but full of lovely holes and great chewy texture. Will try another one using some rye flour next time.

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Bubba May 1, 2014 at 6:46 am

Denise,

Let us know how the rye bread works out. Mine is always way to dense with out any crumb structure. So I am interested in how to make a lighter rye bread.

Bubba

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Denise May 11, 2014 at 1:39 am

Bubba – I made a NKB using equal amounts of rye, white and wholemeal flour and the resulting loaf is fantastic! Thank you for all your tips re. baking parchment etc – finally feel I’ve cracked it after a year! To everyone else reading Bubba’s comments – they work!!

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Melisa Nielsen April 24, 2014 at 3:32 pm

My started came today, it was not as loose as I thought it would be. Once I added flour and water, it was very dry. Should I give it more water?

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Breadtopia April 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Yes, mix in water until it’s something roughly approximating wet shaggy dough.

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craig April 24, 2014 at 12:27 pm

i plan to make my sourdough every fri morning, i know i need to prepare it on thurs and leave to prove overnight but i just need to clear up on feeding in during the week as itll just be sat there. should i fridge it for the weekend, monday and tues then take out and feed weds before i use it on thurs? also, after i used it, top it up equal amounts and fridge it again and wait until the following week and repeat? its hard to write in an email but does that make sense?

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craig April 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

also i should add, on the fri ill be using 1.600kg of the sour to make 10 loaves each time so that might make the question easier to answer regarding quantities for feeding. thankyou

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craig April 28, 2014 at 6:02 am

does my question not warrant an answer?

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Anita April 28, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I am not an expert so can only answer you based on my experience. Once my starter is robust and healthy it doubles in volume 3-4 hrs after feeding (on the counter). Then it holds steady and slowly starts to collapse. That is the time I want to make up my recipe, which is like ‘feeding it’. I use the amount I need for my recipe, then put the rest of the starter in the refrigerator until next time. I don’t need to feed it while it is refrigerated because it is chilled and dormant. If I use it within a week or so, often it is so stong that I don’t need to feed it again before making my recipe, but I may want to feed it in order to produce more. I time everything so that I can make my dough up at night, refrigerate it, then prepare my bread the next day when it is convenient for me.
Yes, when I feed the starter, I start with equal amounts by weight (not volume) of starter, water and flour. However, when I use different whole grains I often add more water so that it isn’t too thick.
So, if your starter is established and ready to use for baking, feed it on Thursday so it will have doubled by Thurs night, when you want to make up the dough. Refrigerate the dough overnight to be used the next day – Friday. Refrigerate your leftover starter to be used the next week, on Thursday. Don’t leave your starter out on the counter because it may spoil unless it is fed (about every 12 hours). And since you are only using it to make bread once a week (and it is already very strong and active), there is no reason to be feeding it and doubling the volume of it every 12 hours- These are just guidelines, not neccessarily rules. There are different variables with each person, so you need to see what works for you. Hope this is understandable :)

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Karen April 20, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I am going to follow your directions for my starter which is over 3 weeks old in the fridge. I’m brand new to this. I was just wondering if during the rejuvenation process you need to feed it everyday before using? It’s warming up here & we eat less bread can I rejuvenate it & store it in the fridge & just feed it every week from now on? Does it need to be room temperature while I rejuvenate it or can I do that in the fridge? Thank you so much for your answers!

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Robert April 10, 2014 at 12:43 pm

My starter is going to be arriving in the mail on the day I leave to go out of town for a couple days. Will my starter be okay if I put it in the fridge for 2 days and then feed it when I return?

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Breadtopia April 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Should be fine in the fridge for a couple days.

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Crabtree April 4, 2014 at 10:32 am

I received my starter and fed it. It’s alive!. Thank you for the videos. I have failed in the past from what I think was over kneading. With your video and my Dutch oven and the no knead method, my confidence level has “risen”. Thank you
Mike Crabtree

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Crabtree April 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Every single step worked on the no knead sourdough recipe. I dropped it a little going into the Dutch oven, but I didn’t think it was a big deal. Came out flat and tasteless. I have fed the starter about 8 times after I got it in the mail and it smelled and doubled great. I have no idea why this did not work. any clues? I will try again after more feedings.

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Christine Eshelman March 20, 2014 at 11:12 am

Hi all – newbie breadmaker here… I used a homemade sourdough starter and make a batch of rosemary sourdough bread that I threw in the fridge a few weeks (yes, 3+) ago, hoping to leave it in the for a few days in order to get maximum sourdoughness out of it. But for one reason or 15 I haven’t used a single bit of it to make bread. It smells fine, looks fine and is just a bit flat/dense after being in the fridge for so long and I am wondering if it would be okay to bake? This may be a silly question since I guess it would either bake or it wouldn’t and it would either taste fine or it wouldn’t; but I want to make sure that my inexperience isn’t missing anything here. Besides the obvious signs of spoiling, is there any indication I could check for that would tell me to cut my losses and just make a new batch?

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Fred McCullough March 12, 2014 at 8:01 am

I have been using Krustez Sourdough bread mix for some time now, making it in a breadmaker using the “dough” cycle, then letting the dough rise in a metal bread pan before baking. It’s okay, but I just got some starter from Breadtopia, and am building it up. I hope this isn’t heresy, but I wonder if anyone has ever used their starter in a bread machine. I like using my breadpan because it makes a perfect size loaf that is great for sandwiches.

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DeAnna G March 18, 2014 at 10:03 am

I use my bread machine for sourdough. It turned out fine. :)

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Pat March 11, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I just recieved the sour dough starter I ordered….does it matter if I feed it with regular flour or bread flour?

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Breadtopia March 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Either one is fine.

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Pat March 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

This is the end of the second day with my starter…..now the directions for feeding it get kinda vague………do I continue feeding with 1/3 c. flour 1/4 c. water….or can I use more of each to get it built up….

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Michelle March 10, 2014 at 7:34 am

Hello, I have a few questions that I’m sure you have answered already, but can’t get it straight. I plan on baking bread very sat morning. Would I take the starter out of frig on Thurs or Fri? How Many times do I feed it? Should I make the dought to night and let it rise over night? Do I feed starter again before putting back in frig? What is your favorite recipe now, and can I replace the flour to rye and spelt mixture? I know that’s a lot of questions, hopefully you can answer them all. Thank you so much for all the info and videos.

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Mary March 4, 2014 at 8:45 am

Hi, It is day 2 of my pineapple sour and I have some nice bubbles already! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I have a question about my other starter I have made about 2 month ago, with just a wee pinch of bakers yeast and flour and water, left out for a few days with stirring every day. It was nice and gelatinous and bubbly! it was so beautiful and maturing nicely. It even was developing quite a nice tang. The other day, I changed containers cause the one. I made it in was getting all gooey and crusty. And instead of filtered water, I fed it with spring water and flour and she began to “sulk”, after a few hours on the counter. Very little bubbling now, still gelatinous, but only a wee tiny bit bubbly. Nothing like before! So i panicked and began feeding her like crazy! She wont budge! help! can you feed a starter too much?

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Mae March 3, 2014 at 1:18 am

Hi I just started making sourdough starter… Just to realise on its ripen day 5 I won’t be around to feed anymore as the recipe I used suppose to feed everyday… Ill be away for a week. Can you please advice how should I keep my starter till I got home? Thank you .

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danny March 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Hi Eric got my live starter yesterday feed it once already and its doing great despite the cold weather here in minnesota.iam looking forward on making my first loaf of sourdough bread ever the culture is doing fine i think it likes it here . thanks again Eric PS will follow up in three to four weeks after it gets strong .

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Tony H February 28, 2014 at 8:15 am

Hi,
Just received my live starter in the mail. The temperature in Minnesota is well below zero so when I got the envelope out of the mail it was frozen stiff. I will go ahead and try the starter but I’m not sure if it needs any special attention since it’s been frozen. Any suggestions?

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Breadtopia February 28, 2014 at 8:25 am

Hi Tony,

You won’t need to do anything differently than if it wasn’t frozen except possibly allow an extra day for it to resuscitate. A hard freeze can kill it, so if it doesn’t come back at all shoot me an email and we’ll get some more out.

Eric

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Tony H March 3, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Hi Eric,
It may have taken a couple of extra days, but after the hard Minnesota freeze my life started came back to life. I am now about at the one cup of flour level and I see some definite activity. I will be trying this starter in recipe and a couple of days and I’ll let you know how it works. Hopefully I won’t be needing your kind offer of another batch of starter. Here’s a picture of how it looks today.
Thanks again,
Tony

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Breadtopia March 3, 2014 at 1:56 pm

It’s looking really good!

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Stu Borken February 28, 2014 at 1:58 pm

As in Mel Brooks film, “Young Frankenstein”, “It’s alive, It’s alive”. Don’t worry. Yeast is hard to kill. Just feed it and water it and don’t kill it with heat and it will be just fine.

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Anna Taylor February 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Dear bread lovers,
I want to try to buy some LIVE sourdough starter and have it shipped here to Zurich, Switzerland where I live. I bought some dried starter cultures but after months all three different attempts did not work. (I can only conclude it its the chlorine in the water?) So I’m looking for a very hearty live starter, with a very sour flavor. Can you help me? Any ideas?
Kind regards,
Anna
I adore sourdough bread!

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Stu Borken February 12, 2014 at 10:48 am

I can suggest 2 ways to make your own starter.
Boil your water to remove the chlorine, cool it and add flour and let it sit in the open air loosely covered with a thin cloth. It should come alive in a few days. Feed it with a little flour and water, daily, pouring off the same amount, before each addition.
The second way is to buy a bunch of grapes BUT NOT grapes that have been sprayed with chemicals, tie them up in a gauze cloth, but only one layer. Mix your flour and water which you boiled and cooled. It should be a little runny so the grape skins can come in contact with the flour water mixture. Lift the bag of grapes up and down a couple times a day and you should see some bubbling in a couple days. Remove the bag when and you will have the beginning of a starter. You have to feed it and mature it. We have a sourdough bakery in my town called, Turtle Bakery. They use this grape sourdough as a starter. It is a slow starter and takes a couple days to make the dough rise. Therefore it’s called Turtle Bakery, raising bread is as slow as a turtle.

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Muna February 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

Hi
I never baked soughdough bread. after watching several videos on youtube, I am kind of lost what to do with the starter that i have started 10 days ago. I am still feeding and disgarding half of it each time. Can you advise please the ratio of starter/ flour and water to refrerigerate it, ?
each site tells something different from the other. i wish to make bread but dont knp. also to refrigirate the remaining.now i have 4 jars made from the disgarded soughdough. thanks

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Tammy February 11, 2014 at 9:04 am

Hello,
I wanted to find out, if do not want sour dough but just regular pizza dough or bread dough , how long will it last in the fridge without turning? Thanks

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jen February 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I ordered a starter from you and we started it. It’s not too bubbly, does that mean it didn’t start correctly? Also, now that we have started it, how do we know when we can bake it:?:)

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Scott February 6, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I’ve been cultivating a starter culture starting with the pineapple juice method for two weeks, and its bubbling and smells great with a little tanginess. I’d like to make a leaven soon, but my starter is definitely not doubling in size in 12 or 24H as I’ve read some are. I may be doing this at too low of a temp on top of my fridge (cold Ohio winter so far!). I’ve been feeding daily (50g whole wheat, 50g unbleached AP, 100g filtered water) since day 1, and twice a day for the last two days. Should I go ahead with the leaven or keep feeding my starter and wait? This will be my first attempt at this… thanks!

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Lea February 6, 2014 at 1:09 pm

I added 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water to only 1 cup of starter then quickly realized that wasn’t right. What do I have to do to fix my starter?

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Scott February 6, 2014 at 7:01 pm

That should be OK, if you’re just keeping the starter going. The directions are to add equal parts flour and water, and you’ve done that. The directions I’m following suggest discarding 80% of the starter and adding 100g flour and 100g water each time the starter is fed. That helps keep the pH in a good range (discarding 80%) and leaves plenty of inoculant for next growth stage. Good luck.

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Susan January 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Thank you so much for all of the information!
I neglected my starter for some time and then fed it minimally before trying to make the Sourdough Rye recipe. Needless to say after the 12-14 hour rise time, it was just a lump sitting in the bowl! I feel terrible about wasting all of the ingredients! Is there anything I can do to revive this “lump” or is it doomed for the trash?
Thanks for your help!
Susan

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ronald panzica January 19, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Just finished my first soar doe bread from your soar doe starter you sent me I like it ,But wife says it is to I just finished making my first soar doe bread Martha says it is to soar !!! I got they starter from Breadtopia internet sit . It took me five days to get enough of the starter to make my first loaf ! I will e-mail them about how to dilute it ( not make it so strong ) I like it but I must say it is strong

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Mary Sue January 13, 2014 at 8:50 am

I have a question about the flavor of the sourdough. My current starter works very well, but there is very little sourdough “tang” with it. I was wondering if there is a way to alter the starter, or the loaf of bread as it’s being made, to give it more tang.

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Jack January 13, 2014 at 11:34 am

Yes. Do everything at a warmer temperature. 70F to 75F favors yeast, 80F to 85F favors lactobacili (twang). Keep your starter in a warmer place for a few days. Use warmer water when you make the dough. Proof in a warmer place.

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Mary Sue January 13, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Thank you!

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Beth Peterson January 6, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I received my starter from you Thursday, Jan.2. It smelled quite lovely, I began to feed it. Fed it again Friday and Saturday. But yesterday (Sunday) it separated and had dark liquid on top. I fed it again and stirred it with a plastic spatula. It has separated again. It still smells ok, but not as good as it smelled the first two days. I am still at the 1/3 c flour and 1/2 cup water. I am using spring water. Is it doing ok?

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Mona January 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Beth — I ordered and received mine a couple of days ago, too. But I thought it was 1/3 c flour with 1/4 cup of water (not 1/2).

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Beth Peterson January 8, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Oh, that is right (1/4th cup). I just forgot as I was not near the card I keep by the bread and spring water. I read that what I had let happen was not feeding 2x a day. I had made hooch. Now after cleaning it off and feeding the starter, it smells a bit like paint thinner. I suspect it has gone bad. My kitchen was probably too warm, but it is disappointing to have lost the starter.

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Rocket December 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Hello, I don’t see a video in this post. The update mentioned a video. Is it still around? I would love to have a watch. I am at day six of starter – almost to the doubing stage; my starter is alive and kicking. Need more instruction (eyes just ain’t what they used to be).

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Sue December 23, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I purchased Classic Sourdoughs by Ed and Jean Wood. It has some very nice recipes but most of them want you to proof the dough for 8-12 hours before shaping it to bake. When I make bread, I use my dough cycle and then remove the bread from the bread machine. I shape it and let it rise for an hour and then bake it in the oven. What do I accomplish by proofing for 8-12 hours. These recipes do not call for any yeast. Could that make a difference?
Thank you in advance,
Sue

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Jack January 11, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Hi Sue. Sourdough uses a “sourdough starter” instead of “yeast” (store-bought “commercial” yeast). Sourdough starter consists of flour and water with a wild yeast and a wild bacteria (usually lactobacili) growing in it. These two exist in a symbiotic relationship. Essentially, the bacteria create an environment too acidic for contaminates to take over, so the wild yeast survives (and somehow helps the bacteria survive). The difference between sourdough starter and commercial yeast is that the starter is much slower to consume the nutrients in flour. This means the dough can “proof” for 18 to 24 hours or more before becoming “overproofed” (deflating) versus 2 to 8 hours for commercial yeast. The longer the proof, the better the flavor due to a bunch of biological processes involving enzymes. So, sourdough tastes better. Plus, sourdough can be made more or less sour by proofing at a higher or lower temperatue (e.g. 70F vs 80F) to encourage or discorage success of the lactobacilli, which create the sour flavor. Generally speaking, sourdough tastes better due to the time flour is in contact with water prior to baking. Good flavor can be achieved with commercial yeast by proofing in the refrigerator for 18+ hours (to “retard” proofing and thus avoid overproofing before good flavor develops). However, only real sodough creates that delicious sour twang, and naturally takes 18 to 24 hours to proof and thus tastes good whether you encourage the sour flavor or not.

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Douglas December 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Hello,

Can you please suggest a way of incorporating something like cheddar cheese (or cheddar and jalapeno, or prosciutto, etc…) into the sourdough bread?

Thank you very much.

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Sue December 16, 2013 at 11:26 am

I received your starter on Wednesday. I baked bread with it on Sunday. The bread was great. I am feeding the starter Bread Flour. Is that OK?
Should I give it a little rye or just keep doing the Bread Flour or should I be using white four.
Thank you,
Sue

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Breadtopia December 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Hi Sue,

Bread flour is perfectly fine and probably the easiest way to go. Rye is fine too or any of a myriad of flours.

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andrew December 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I followed instructions from a artisian bread book, saying it has to have a final feel of dough and using the measurments of flour and water i got something very sticky not pourable but not dough like and the flour im using is not taking up much water so i kept adding flour and a lot. I got desperate and came to this website. i believe the company in mexico changed the way they process the flour or the grains they pick, cause its taking less water than before i dont know why if its the protein or gluten and that makes it very hard to follow recpies and i need a solution cause they dont sale bread flour, just all purpose. And im seeing your starter is pourable can i add more water to my dough to make it more pourable im sure its very alive but now its at dough stage what do you recommend i really want it to work and dont want to go through the seeding part again.

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michael December 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm

You mention that you want to double the the amount starter you have, in your example you had one cup of starter. Then you said you would add 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup water. That would triple the starter you had. I interpreted that if you had one cup of starter you would want to add one cup of ingredients to make 2 cups of starter therefor doubling what you started with.

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Popekitty December 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Hello,

My starter is bread flour and pineapple juice- started about a week ago. I have yet to see it become “active”? I live in San Diego and it’s been a chilly 60 + in our house- could that be the problem? Or maybe the bread flour?

Thanks!

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susan December 2, 2013 at 8:35 am

I was able to get a small amount of sour dough starter from someone, and it is very small, about a tablespoon. I want to increase the amount so I can make some bread soon. So I was wondering how often I can feed it to build up my amount. Is every day alright?

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Erin December 1, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Hello!
I’ve made the starter a couple of times. It worked well with white flour only however it was great. I was keeping it in the fridge in a mason jar, lid not tight, feeding once a week… And twice now I have had black mold eventually growing at thee top, on the dried out stuff on the side. What am I doing wrong? Any ideas to help me trouble shout would be great. I feel like giving up but don’t want to.

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Jack January 11, 2014 at 9:47 pm

If your starter becomes contaminated (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, gray, brown, black on the surface) , then it will probably smell bad, and the resulting bread will thus smell and taste bad. It might be possible to “clean” it, or otherwise recover, but you may as well start over. When you start with a starter like San Francisco from sourdo.com, the key is to keep it at 90F (hot) during the first 24 hours after hydration to encourage the bacteria (lactobacilli) over yeast. This creates an acidic environment that resists contamination (only the wild yeast can survive in it). A high-acid starter may smell a little “off” at first, but if the color stays beige, you are fine. Once you cool it off (70 to 75F), the smell will lessen, and the bubble (yeast) will increase. Key, I think, is to not let the acid get too low. Feed daily (1 or 2 parst flour plus 1 or 2 parts water to 1 part starter), at room temp indefinately, or refrigerate one to four weeks, then revive at room temp by feeding for a few days.

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Denise November 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

I have made quite a few sourdough loaves now – using a mixture of wholemeal, white and rye. My starter seems to big and bubbly but my loaves never have that wonderful ‘holey’ texture that you get in the loaves bought from ‘artisan’ bakers – they look good but are quite solid. I have even bought myself a ‘cloche’. What am I doing wrong? – am on the verge of giving up!

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Mary March 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

It could be your dough needs to have less flour and more water in it. Some flours absorb more water, so you may have to tweak the recipe you use and add more water. The final dough should be pretty sticky, but workable. I work by feel and sight, so I do not remember the exact percentages. God Bless.

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Anthony November 22, 2013 at 10:54 am

Hello,
What do you mean by Not an air tight container. No lid ? I was going to use a large mason jar with ring and lid. What should I use ?
“Be sure to store your starter in a container that’s not air tight.”

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Breadtopia November 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

That’s fine. Just don’t screw the lid on tight. You want air (co2 buildup from fermentation) to be able to escape. Even the tiniest air flow is sufficient. So a jar with a loose lid does that and doesn’t allow the starter to dry out.

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megan November 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Hi,
I’ve just made my first starter and all looked well, but my first go at bread didn’t rise very much. I’m on hour 16 of the rise (for your no-knead recipe) and it’s barely doubled. Should I carry on and bake it, or is something not quite right with my starter?
Thanks!

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Breadtopia November 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Definitely carry on now if you haven’t already.

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Annie November 17, 2013 at 9:31 am

I am on the 7th day of creating my first sourdough starter. I am using the Dan Lepard method. There are plenty of small bubbles but after feeding (up to 24 hours) the increase in volume is only about 25%. Should it be more active than this? I am feeding it once daily with unbleached white organic bread flour and leaving it on the counter top at a temp of around 75 degrees F. Your videos suggest it should be doubling in volume. Do you think I will still be able to use this or should I start again? Perhaps I should be using the pineapple juice method?

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Gerry November 13, 2013 at 1:56 am

When feeding and building up the starter do I have to take out any or do I just continue to build upon what I have? KAF says to get rid of half your starter before each feeding to reduce the acidity level. I don’t understand their reasoning or the science behind it but it defeats the purpose of attempting to build my starter. I just bought two of your starters from Amazon and plan on keeping lots of starter on hand for baking. I just opened the packages and fed them today at 5pm so I have till 5pm tomw till the next feeding. After that feeding of 1/3 cup of flour and about 1/4 cup of water and the 12-24 hour wait, the regular feedings begin. Are those the feedings of 1 cup flour and 2/3-3/4 cups water you spoke of in the video? Can I leave the starter at room temperature while I’m feeding it and building it up or does it need to be refrigerated? Please advise. Thanks!

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Breadtopia November 13, 2013 at 6:10 am

Hi Gerry,

No need to toss half the starter at this point while you’re just building it up. Yes, you should keep it at room temp at this time until you’ve gone through the instructions. Just following the instructions on the label should be sufficient. Once you’ve built it up, refrigeration is typically a good idea between use and feeding.

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Sue Sullivam November 12, 2013 at 9:00 am

I’ve had your sourdough starter for almost two years and now the dough doesn’t rise even during the baking period. Can I add some instant yeast to the starter? Thank you.

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Alma November 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm

What flour do you recommend? I do not want to use processed white flour and shy away from whole wheat due to so many gluten intolerant people. What gluten-free, whole grain do you suggest? I appreciate the help.

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Nancy October 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I purchased Sourdough Starter Mix while in San Francisco. Instructions were to add one cup lukewarm milk to dry ingredients. Cover loosely, stir daily for 10 days – on day 5 and 10 add 1 cup each of milk, sugar and flour. There was no information whether to keep it on counter or refrigerate. Online I see that most instructions mention feeding starter water and flour. What do you recommend? – I just started yesterday and it smells good so far but if it needs refrigeration I might not be too late. Thanks in advance if you can help Nancy

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Breadtopia October 30, 2013 at 9:03 pm

I just use flour and water to feed my starter. Don’t need milk. Definitely don’t need sugar. Basically, I just follow the instructions above.

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Ed October 20, 2013 at 7:36 pm

I keep worrying about my starter… I have been noticing the typical dark liquid on the top and I pour it off. However, once I noticed a darkened and hard top layer. The first time this happened I scraped it off and threw it out. Then it happened a gain a few weeks later and I stirred it into the starter and used it. Since this happened my starter has not looked very active when I feed it, and despite the bread I use it with still tasting great, it is not rising quite as much as it used to. I do not think that the dark layer was mold, at least no mold I have ever seen but I keep worrying about that. Additionally, I have kept my starter on the same counter and in the same fridge as my kefir. Would the cultures from that hurt the starter? Any good advice about this would be great Breadtopia world! Thanks in advance!

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Joe November 4, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I had the same happening when keeping my starter in the fridge. I have since switched to simply freezing it between use (without drying). I simply put it in a small plastic container and freeze it ( about 1/2 cup) at the time I use the majority to make bread. Next time I plan to bake I take it out in the morning and feed it at night. Works perfectly and no issues whatsoever. I don’t see any need to dry it first.

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Ed November 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Well, came home from being gone for just a week and it had black spots on top of it. It also smelled horrid. I threw it out and am starting over by capturing wild yeast with the pineapple juice again. I just keep wondering if I should keep it FAR away from my kefir and/or kombucha containers.

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Jack January 13, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Ed, i agree; start over. Once you have an active starter, keep it warm (85F to 90F) for 24 hours. This will encourage lactobacili and build acid which discourages contamination (the environment is too acidic for anything besides wild yeast). You’ll need to find a way to achieve this (a light bulb in a cooler, or whatever – don’t create a fire hazard). Next, keep the starter at room temp (70F to 75F) for several days. This encourages yeast. During this time feed three times a day. Try this: put 1 cup flour, 1 cup water in a new clean container; add 1/2 cup starter (stirred first), discard remaining starter. In a few days it should be “highly active”. Now, put 1/2 in a separate container in the fridge. This is backup. It can be revived any time in the next several months if your starter that is out becomes contaminated. Just take it out and start feeding. Keep your starter that is out going by feeding once a day (or three times a day leading up to baking), but instead of discarding excess starter, use it to bake! If you need to be away for a week, put your starter in the fridge. When you get home, take it out and wake it up by feeding.

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Sue October 11, 2013 at 11:31 am

I cannot watch video….says error loading media

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Breadtopia October 20, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Which browser are you using? 
A few people have had issues but the vast majority can watch them without problems. The issues have been mostly around the Internet Explorer browser. They should play fine in Firefox, Safari and Chrome. Chrome is probably your best bet. If you go to www.google.com/chrome and follow the instructions for installing Chrome, you should be fine. Otherwise, most of our videos are on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/breadtopia

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Pete Werner September 27, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I can top most of these durations. I left my starter unattended in the refrigerator for over 2 years once, and when finally revived, it came back with no problem. It was a starter that I got from my 90-year old grandmother who had brought it back from San Francisco on a trip she took there back in the early 1940’s. She had managed to keep it alive for that whole time and it was the smelliest, most wonderful wild yeast in the world. Who knows where she got it or how long it had been around, but bakeries like Boudin’s claim their (proprietary) ‘mother yeast’ dates back to the days of the gold rush when miners used only sourdough to bake their bread because they couldn’t find – or afford – regular yeast.
I finally lost that start in a move (the jar broke when accidentally dropped, and the movers threw out the mess without telling me). I miss that sourdough so much. On a recent vacation to san Francisco, my children got tired of listening to me lament about the wonderful bread there and how I missed my grandma’s sourdough starter, and they convinced me to try another one.
So here we are. Boudin’s in San Francisco wouldn’t sell me a piece of their starter (those Bogarts!), so after extensive research, BreadTopia won out in the contest of which one I’d use. Hopefully this one will last at least as long as the 60 years my grandmother kept her’s going. It will certainly make countless batches of sourdough pancakes on the weekends (my personal favorite from childhood). I’ll be long-dead, but hopefully one of my grandkids will carry it on.
Thanks, Eric.

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Breadtopia October 2, 2013 at 9:24 am

Hi Pete,

Great story. I had one with a long history that succumbed during a 6 month out of country stint. I still lament its loss, so can feel your pain ;-).

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