Sourdough starter maintenance and troubleshooting

feeding sourdough starter

Keeping your sourdough starter alive and happy is essential for consistently baking great sourdough loaves. Remember, your starter is wild yeast that needs to be fed! Here are some tips for sourdough starter maintenance and troubleshooting.

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How to feed or refresh your starter

My starter is usually in the refrigerator until I need to use it. I feed it once per week with the following procedure. My post here has more details.

  1. Place a clean glass or plastic container on your kitchen scale.
  2. Carefully weigh 3 ounces of starter into the clean container.
  3. Add 3 ounces of water.
  4. Add 3 ounces of unbleached whole wheat flour.
  5. Mix until smooth, cover and put back in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake.

I use a 1:1:1 ratio of starter, water, flour to feed my starter and usually use about 3 ounces because that is enough to bake a loaf of bread. You could maintain a smaller or larger amount of starter depending on your personal baking needs.

How do you know when your starter is hungry?

Your starter will double or triple in size between feedings. How fast this happens depends on several factors, especially the temperature of your kitchen or refrigerator.

The best time to use your starter for baking is when it is most active. This is when your starter reaches its maximum volume and starts to deflate. At this point, it is a good idea to use your active starter for baking and feed the remaining starter.

If you keep your starter in the refrigerator, it is a good idea to feed it at least once per week. If you keep your starter at room temperature, you probably need to feed it at least once per day or more.

I forgot to feed my starter! How do I save it?

If you forget to feed your starter for a few weeks, try the following:

  1. Remove starter from the refrigerator and feed it at least once per day at room temperature.
  2. Continue feeding frequently at room temperature until it is rising and falling regularly at least once per day.
  3. Once your starter is stable again, return to the refrigerator.

What is that gray liquid on top of my sourdough starter?

If your sourdough starter hasn’t been fed in awhile, a gray liquid might appear on top. This is just an alcohol byproduct from the yeast fermenting. Don’t worry, it is not a sign your starter is dead, just a sign it is time to feed your starter again.

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