Sourdough Baking Maintain (2024)

The complete guide.

  • Understand
  • Create
  • Bake
  • Maintain

Maintaining your starter

Once you've successfully created your starter, you need to feed it regularly in order to sustain it. Regular feeding could mean anything from twice a day to once a week, depending on your schedule and how often you bake.

Understand that the less frequently you feed your starter, the longer it will take to get it ready for baking. If you forget your starter in the back of the refrigerator for months on end, you can probably still bring it back to life; but it will take nearly as long as creating a new starter from scratch. For best results, feed your room-temperature starter twice a day, and your refrigerated starter at least once a week.

Baker's Tip

Starter is difficult to measure by volume

Why do we denote starter amounts in grams first, rather than volume? Because starter volume can vary wildly, depending on how thick it is and whether or not it's fully stirred down before measuring. Weight will always be the most accurate way to measure starter — plus it saves cleaning a measuring cup!

Refrigerator storage: Feed once a week

Measure out 113g (1/2 cup) of the starter; discard the rest (or bake something with it). Feed this 113g of starter with 113g each water and flour. Cover it and let it rest on the counter until it starts bubbling (1 to 2 hours) before returning it to the refrigerator.

Sourdough Baking Maintain (1)

Room-temperature storage: Feed twice a day

Starter that's kept at room temperature is more active than refrigerated starter, and thus needs to be fed more often. Room-temperature starter should be fed every 12 hours (twice a day) using the standard maintenance feeding procedure: discard all but 113g, and feed that 113g starter with 113g each water and flour.

Sourdough Baking Maintain (2)

Baker's Tip

How to increase a starter

If your recipe calls for more than 227g (about 1 cup) of starter, feed it without discarding until you've reached the amount you need (plus 113g to keep and feed again).

Be sure to feed it in the same proportions as usual: for the first feeding, 113g each flour and water; for the second feeding (since you're not discarding and will be feeding 339g existing starter), 339g each flour and water. This second feeding will yield more than 2 pounds, which should be sufficient for most recipes.

Why are time frames vague?

Want to be a successful sourdough baker? Relax! There are so many variables in sourdough baking that there's no possibility you can control them all every time out.

The vigor of your starter, the quality/complexity of your recipe, the hydration of the dough, even the weather outside — all combine to determine how much your bread rises, its texture, and what it tastes like. Experience is your best teacher: the more you bake with sourdough, the more comfortable you'll become with its "personality."

In addition, as you become familiar with sourdough baking you'll realize it doesn't have to rule your life; feeding every 12 hours doesn't mean, if you feed it at 4 p.m., you have to get up at 4 a.m. and feed it again; 7 a.m. will be fine. And if you miss a day or two of feeding (or a week, or two weeks, or...), don't worry. Your starter can almost certainly be revived by feeding it every 12 hours until it's healthy, then putting it back on its regular feeding schedule.

What about using whole grains?

Whole grain flours — chiefly wheat or rye — are often used when creating a new starter. They tend to bring more wild yeast to the game initially than all-purpose flour, since they're less processed; and they also provide a bit more food for the yeast to feed on.

Once your starter is established, it's not necessary to feed it with whole grain flour; all-purpose flour is fine. If you're baking a whole grain loaf, however, try using whole grain flour for the final feeding (setting aside some of your original starter to feed as usual); this will add a bit more whole grain to your final loaf, and also speed the starter up a bit, due to the extra yeast food in the grains.

How to dispose of discard starter

Dislike throwing away your excess starter? Rather than simply disposing of your discard starter, you can choose one of our "discard" recipes and bake something tasty.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to get rid of it.

If you compost, scoop it into your bucket or bin; it will quickly disappear into the mass of fermenting organic materials.

If you want to throw it away, it's best not to do so in its liquid state, as it can start to smell. Instead, pour it onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and either bake it or let it air dry until it's brittle before throwing it away.

If you have absolutely no other choice, you could throw liquid sourdough starter down the drain — but do so with caution. You don't want the starter clogging your pipes. Place your discard starter in a large bowl and add cold water, stirring to thin it to the consistency of milk; then pour it down the drain, flushing the drain with additional cold water.

Will sourdough starter hurt your septic system? No, it shouldn't; it's simply organic matter and yeast. But again, make sure it's thin enough that it won't clog your pipes.

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Sourdough Baking Maintain (2024)


Sourdough Baking Maintain? ›

Starter that's kept at room temperature is more active than refrigerated starter, and thus needs to be fed more often. Room-temperature starter should be fed every 12 hours (twice a day) using the standard maintenance feeding procedure: discard all but 113g, and feed that 113g starter with 113g each water and flour.

How is sourdough maintained? ›

How to maintain a sourdough starter
  1. Remove all but 20g starter. I always eyeball this, removing 80g (since my total weight each day is 100g), which theoretically leaves me with 20g. ...
  2. Add 40g filtered water that is 80F/27C. ...
  3. Add 40g flour. ...
  4. Mix well. ...
  5. Cover loosely. ...
  6. Store at room temperature. ...
  7. Repeat this process every day.
Mar 26, 2023

What must bakers do to keep sourdough alive? ›

So, to recap, here's how we're keeping our sourdough starter alive.
  • Store it in the fridge when you aren't using it.
  • Feed it once every week or so, and always right before you bake a loaf of bread. ...
  • Use excess starter to make 'sourdough discard' recipes (there are so many on the internet!).
Oct 21, 2020

Does sourdough need to rest after baking? ›

After baking sourdough bread, wait to slice until it's cooled. Slicing a warm loaf of bread too early will result in a gummy and sticky interior. First and foremost, it's always best to let fresh bread rest until it's cool and fully set before slicing.

What is the maintenance ratio for sourdough starter? ›

A 1:2:2 feeding ratio would consist of one part existing starter, two parts flour and two parts water. For example, if you have 30g of existing starter, you would feed it 60g of flour and 60g of flour. The most common feeding ratios for daily maintenance are 1:1:1 or 1:2:2.

How often should I discard sourdough starter? ›

Daily Feeding: If you maintain your starter at room temperature (around 70-75°F or 21-24°C) and want it to be ready for baking within a day or two, daily feedings are recommended. Discard a portion of the starter and feed it with fresh flour and water every 24 hours.

Do you have to discard sourdough every time you feed? ›

Do I have to discard my sourdough starter? It would be best if you discarded some portion of your starter each time you feed it unless you want to continue to let it grow. Eventually, you need to discard the used “food” (flour and water) that's been used to sustain your starter during the last fermentation period.

Can you leave sourdough bread out overnight? ›

Freshly baked sourdough can be left out on the countertop for a day or two before using any of the rest of the methods in this guide. After cutting into the loaf, the crucial step is to ensure you leave it cut side down on your breadboard or chopping board.

Should I close my sourdough starter jar? ›

Should I Cover My Sourdough Starter Jar? I like to keep mine covered loosely to keep anything from falling inside the jar and the starter from drying out. The lid does not have to be airtight.

How old is the oldest sourdough starter? ›

The World's 'Oldest' Sourdough Starter Was Made With 4,500-Year-Old Yeast.

What is overproofed sourdough? ›

Overproofed bread dough is dough that's had too much fermentation activity. This could be dough left to ferment for too long or dough that's fermented at too warm of a temperature for too long. Lack of oven spring. An (interior) crumb with lots of little holes but not dense spots.

How to tell when sourdough is done baking? ›

The best way to know when sourdough bread is done without a thermometer is to knock on the bottom of the loaf with your fingers. If the bread sounds hollow, then you know the sourdough is cooked through. The bread should also look golden brown and feel light when you pick it up.

How to get dark sourdough crust? ›

Steam Your Sourdough Crust

Creating the perfect steamy, hot environment is essential to getting a rich, dark sourdough crust. As a home baker, using a Dutch Oven is the easiest and most consistent way to create the steamy environment needed to bake great sourdough bread.

Should I stir my sourdough starter between feedings? ›

stir your starter in between feedings - try stirring it twice in between feedings and really give it a chance to get oxygen into the mix. This will help to activate your starter without too much effort.

Can you use too much starter in sourdough bread? ›

The more starter you use, the faster your dough will ferment - resulting in a less sour loaf. Of course the amount of starter is actually a ratio in relation to the flour - so 50g of starter to 500g of flour will ferment at a much slower rate than 200g of starter to 500g of flour.

How often should I clean my sourdough starter jar? ›

Have you ever wondered whether you have to clean your sourdough starter jar? The simple answer is you don't need to clean your sourdough jar. It's just not necessary to clean your jar all that regularly, unless it's super crusty or you can't get your starter out or fresh flour and water in.

How does sourdough last so long? ›

Sourdough bread lasts longer than other types of bread because it has a higher acidity level and extra microbes. It's longer fermentation process gives it natural preservatives.

How long will sourdough stay active? ›

Through proper maintenance and a little attention, it can last indefinitely and provide you with countless healthy and delicious loaves of bread.

What makes sourdough last longer? ›

Sourdough's natural acidity discourages bacteria, which means you can keep it fresh for longer. You can generally expect sourdough to last for four to five days at room temperature.

Does sourdough have live bacteria? ›

From these early studies, more than 50 species of lactic acid bacteria (mostly Lactobacillus spp.) and more than 20 species of yeast (mostly Saccharomyces spp. and Candida spp.) were known to be living in sourdough starters.

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