Your sourdough starter is a key and crucial part of baking. A successful starter can be your gateway to an array of tasty recipes. It’s therefore vital to look after. When you’re ready to bake with it, you need to make sure it’s fully charged!
The main goal for a super active starter, is rapid growth. An active starter in good health will eat through flour fast and bubble up quick.
If you don’t bake every day, it’s best to store the starter in a fridge. Be sure to schedule a day once a week to feed your starter and keep it in good health.
Guidance can vary, but a starter can be kept healthy with a weekly feed of flour. If you fail to feed it one week – don’t worry, just give the starter additional feeds in succession and across a 4-hour interval. You’ll know when the starter is back to good health because it will double in size over a 5-hour period. At this point, it can be returned to the fridge and follow the weekly cycle again.
Feeding step-by-step (Weekly)
- Remove your starter from the fridge.
- Stir in any separation on the top.
- Separate 30g of the starter into a bowl.
- Add 60g of lukewarm water (26 °C) and mix. This will help oxygenate the water and support the culture.
- Add 100g of a good organic stoneground wholemeal flour.
- Mix the flour in vigorously until you reach a smooth consistency.
- Cover loosely to allow the gasses to escape.
- Leave at room temperature (20-22°C) to allow the yeast to start feeding.
- You only need to maintain 1 starter pot. Discard the remainder of the starter or make a tasty recipe with it.
- After 6-8 hours, place in the fridge.
Using the starter to bake
The night before
- Take the starter from the fridge the night before you intend to use it.
- Separate 30g of starter and repeat the feeding directions above.
- Cover and leave at room temperature (20-22°C) overnight.
The day of the bake
A well looked after starter should start to bubble and expand fairly quickly. If it does not show signs of activity, it may need successive feeds, across a 12-hour interval.
If the starter is doubling in size, within 5 hours, it’s ready to bake with. The starter can also be tested by adding a spoonful to water. If it’s a white starter and truly ready, the starter solution will float.
How much flour and water should I feed my starter?
The equivalent of the starter. 30g is a good base amount (1/5 of a cup).
What can I use the discarded part of the starter for?
The discard can be used to make tasty pancakes, waffles, cake, pizza and flatbread.
How much starter do I need for my recipe?
If your recipes require 1 cup of starter (230g), mix together:
- 115g of the original starter
- 115g of the flour
- 115g of lukewarm water
Double this as you need to, relative to your recipe.
Always make sure you keep some of the starter to use again. Feed this part in the ways discussed and return it to the fridge.
What type of water should I use?
UK tap water contains chlorine (0.5 mg/l). These levels may differ around the world. For best results when refreshing a sourdough starter, use bottled water or boiled and cooled tap water. Chlorine will inhibit yeast organisms in your sourdough starter.
What flour should I feed my starter?
Use a good quality organic flour, free from pesticides and chemicals. Unnatural additives can inhibit the sourdough microbes. A natural stoneground wholemeal flour should allow the starter to thrive. A white or rye flour can also be used to feed the starter.
If you’d like to read more on sourdough starters or sourdough in general, check out our sourdough baking area.