How To Feed Sourdough Starter

How To Feed Sourdough Starter

How to Feed Sourdough Starter: 

Sourdough starter is the basis for the tangy taste of Sourdough baked goodies.   I will teach you the basics of how to keep your starter healthy and happy for decades of sourdough baking. 

Sourdough Bread: Just the name conjures up some great memories of my visits to San Francisco’s wharf area where I would purchase a loaf of sourdough for the road. Thus began my love of sourdough bread. Now, I don’t love it enough to cuddle with the yeast starter. That’s right legend or lore has it that the gold rush miners loved their sourdough so much that they would cuddle with the yeast starter on cold nights to keep it from perishing. Thus these miners became known as “sourdoughs.”

So What Makes Sourdough Sour?

Scientists tell us that the sour flavor of sourdough is due to fermentation by the bacteria Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis. The lactobacillus ferments the yeast, producing lactic acid. This gives the bread it’s prized sour or tangy flavor. The lactic acid also acts as a natural preservative giving the bread longer shelf life

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unfed sourdough starter
Unfed Sourdough Starter

How Can I Get Some Sourdough Starter?

You could make your own sourdough starter, or you could purchase some sourdough starter. Making your own sourdough starter is a bit involved and takes about a week. If you want to make your own starter, here is an excellent blog by King Arthur Flour on how to make your own starter. Click Here for the blog. You will also learn a lot about the art and science of sourdough. King Arthur Flour also sells sourdough starter. To order some starter Click here.

prep for feeding unfed sourdough starter
flour, water, unfed starter
Feeding Sourdough Starter
flour and water added to unfed starter
fed starter, doubles in 6 - 8 hours.

How To Feed Sourdough Starter – Step By Step

Take the unfed starter out of the fridge and weigh out four ounces of unfed starter. It is normal to see some clear yellowish or green liquid on the top.  This is alcohol that has been produced by the bacteria during the fermentation process. 

Next, discard the rest of the starter or use it in a recipe that calls for unfed starter. Then, put the unfed starter in a non-reactive bowl.  Remember, the starter contains acid which will react with most metals except stainless steel. I use a glass bowl. A ceramic or food-grade plastic bowl will also work just fine. 

Add four ounces (a little less than a cup) of all-purpose flour, and 4 ounces of water to the unfed starter. Do not use chlorinated water. The chlorine in Chlorinated water may be toxic to the healthy bacteria in the starter.  Mix well, cover the bowl, and place it in a warm area that is 65 – 70 degrees F. 

Repeat the feeding steps every 12 hours. Once the starter doubles in volume, and is all bubbly in 6 to 8 hours, it is ready to use. 

Depending on how much fed starter your recipe needs, you may need to feed it one more time. If a recipe needs more than a cup of starter, then you will need to feed it one more time. You will increase the amount of water and flour you add to the starter. This ensures there is enough starter for your recipe with 4 ounces left-over for maintaining the starter.

For example: If your recipe calls for 2 cups of fed starter, you will want to add 2 cups (8 ounces) of flour and 8 ounces of water. This will give you 2 cups of starter plus 4 ounces for maintenance. 

Once the starter is vigorous and bubbly after your last feeding, remove the 4 ounces for maintaining your starter. Feed the maintenance portion as usual and let the starter rest for 2 hours, then refrigerate. Store the starter in the fridge in a small ceramic crock or glass jar. Make sure the container has a loose lid as the bacteria will produce gas that can break the jar if the lid is screwed on tight. Use the remainder of the starter in your recipe.

How Long Will My Starter Keep In The Fridge Between Feedings?

I have kept my sourdough starter in the fridge between feedings for up to 6 months.  However, most experts agree it is best to feed it about once a week.  If it goes longer, it will require more feeding to revive it and get it healthy and robust again.  

Now that you know how to feed the sourdough starter, maybe it’s time to get some starter and start enjoying all the goodies you can make with sourdough.

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Fed Sourdough Starter

How to Feed and Maintain Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is the basis for the tangy taste of Sourdough baked goodies.   This recipe teaches you the basics of how to keep your starter healthy and happy for decades of sourdough baking.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
rest time between feeding is 12 hours: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 5 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: feeding sourdough starter, maintaining sourdough starter, sourdough starter
Servings: 4 ounces
Cost: $1.00

Equipment

  • This page contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click a link, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you
  • ceramic crock or glass jar for storing the starter

Ingredients

  • 1 unfed sourdough starter

Instructions

  • Take the unfed starter out of the fridge and weigh out four ounces of unfed starter. It is normal to see some clear yellowish or green liquid on the top.  This is alcohol that has been produced by the bacteria during the fermentation process. 
  • Next, discard the rest of the starter or use it in a recipe that calls for unfed starter. Then, put the unfed starter in a non-reactive bowl.  Remember, the starter contains acid which will react with most metals except stainless steel. I use a glass bowl. A ceramic or food-grade plastic bowl will also work just fine. 
  • Add four ounces (a little less than a cup) of all-purpose flour, and 4 ounces of water to the unfed starter. Mix well, cover the bowl, and place it in a warm area that is 65 - 70 degrees F. 
    Feeding Sourdough Starter
  • Repeat the feeding steps every 12 hours. Once the starter doubles in volume, and is all bubbly in 6 to 8 hours, it is ready to use. 
    Fed Sourdough Starter
  • Depending on how much fed starter your recipe needs, you may need to feed it one more time. If a recipe needs more than a cup of starter, then you will need to feed it one more time. You will increase the amount of water and flour you add to the starter. This ensures there is enough starter for your recipe with 4 ounces left-over for maintaining the starter.
  • For example: If your recipe calls for 2 cups of fed starter, you will want to add 2 cups (8 ounces) of flour and 8 ounces of water. This will give you 2 cups of starter plus 4 ounces for maintenance. 
  • Once the starter is vigorous and bubbly after your last feeding, remove the 4 ounces for maintaining your starter. Feed the maintenance portion as usual and let the starter rest for 2 hours, then refrigerate. Store the starter in the fridge in a small ceramic crock or glass jar. Make sure the container has a loose lid as the bacteria will produce gas that can break the jar if the lid is screwed on tight. Use the remainder of the starter in your recipe.
  • I have kept my sourdough starter in the fridge between feedings for up to 6 months.  However, most experts agree it is best to feed it about once a week.  If it goes longer, it will require more feeding to revive it and get it healthy and robust again. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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