The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Difference in bubble size in starter?

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Difference in bubble size in starter?

What do the bubble sizes tell you?

My starter info;

Feed it everyday in the morning.

Keep it in the basement, average temp 66 degrees during winter and 74 degrees during summer. (Pittsburgh PA.)

Feed it 50/50 mix of Whole wheat and All purpose.

I keep a small amount, about 50 grams.


About 3 hours after I feed it small bubbles (the size of a period at the end of a sentence) appear. Some on the top but mostly on the sides of container.

About 12 hours after I feed it the bubbles are the size of a zero on the keyboard, and they are on the sides of container and on top.....................this is when I use the starter to make a leaven?  Is this the right time?



cranbo's picture

need more info: how much water do you feed your starter, in relation to the fresh flour?

give us these ratios for your feed:

  • old starter (weight in g):
  • flour (weight in g):
  • water (weight in g):

If your starter is very liquid, it may not bubble much. 

You want to use your starter just before it has peaked, i.e., doubled in volume. You have to pay attention to the starter carefully to find when this will happen, this varies for everyone. 12 hours is probably too long. If you feed on the same schedule and pay attention, you will find how long it takes. 

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head


I feed equal weights water and flour.

-Old starter about 10grams

-Flour about 20 grams

-Water about 20 grams

(I don't weigh it everytime I feed it.)

wildman's picture

Keeping a wild yeast starter culture is a lot like keeping childeren, if you want a good one you need to be consistent with htem. To get a reliable active and vigorous wild yeast starter you need to treat the starter culture consistently and provide the culture lots of food. Feeding your culture willy nilly creates an inconsistent starter. Feeding your culture not enough food makes it run out of food too soon. My advice is to feed the starter twice a day 12 hours apart and get your starter culture well balanced and active before trying to keep a smaller amount of your starter culture. This takes at least 14-21 days to get a good culture going, sure you can use it by 7-10 days but it only gets better over time. I suggest using a 50/50 unbleached and whole wheat flour mixture with an equal weight of water. Carefully weigh your ingredients every time for best results for the initial starter culture and work with 200-300g of starter for the first couple weeks until you have a starter that will reliably rise and fall in 4-8 hours in a 75-80F environment using only a 5% innoculation at feeding time. For example if you keep a total of 200g of starter this will be made up of 100g 50/50 flour and 100g of water. At feeding time you will use 5g of mature starter added to 100g flour mixture and 100g of clean water. Mix with a clean silicone spatula and keep it on the kitchen counter covered with plastic wrap or a hard cover like Cambro or Tupperware containers use.


Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Thanks wildman.

What is the difference between my small starter and a larger one like 200 grams?

Am I stressing it by not keeping a larger amount?

wildman's picture

Yes, exactly! You are not giving the yeast enough food to go the distance between feedings. I wondered the same thing early in my wild yeast experiments where the best books were saying to use 300g, 400g and 500g of flour for the starter and it seemed like a huge waste of perfectly good flour to toss out twice a day. But once you get the culture vigorously active you can maintain the culture using the 5g starter, 100g 50/50 flour and 100g water no problem. It works down to 100g total food at a 5% innoculation but this is can be even for a very good culture unless you maintain it perfectly. You can use a higher percentage innoculation but then you really have to feed it more often.