The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Some questions from a beginner

MasterChef's picture

Some questions from a beginner

Hi, i'm Ric from Italy, i love this forum and i would try to ask u something about starters.

I will try to use my english skill as better as i can, sorry for any inconvenience.

First of all i have a 100% hydratation sourdough with 1:2:2 ratio feedings every 3 days and store in refrigerator.


Don't remember why but at the first week, during seed culture, i feed my starter with a 50% hydratation.

The question is : my starter after several feedings at 100% will come back pure at 100% or the feedings i made at 50% are no more erasable ?


Second questions , when i need some starter for a recipe and i take out of the fridge , is that starter immediately usable for the recipe (part of it) or i need to feed it and after this take the part i need ?


Actually i take out the fridge, take what i need for the recipe and feed again the other one 1:2:2 awaiting for double and then again in the refrigerator. Correct ?

Last question, how to change starter hydratation whenever a recipe needs somethinh different (like a starter at 166% for example )?

Thanks for your help.

clazar123's picture

A lot depends on the temperature in your house.Sourdough cultures do best above 70 degrees F (21.1C)-I forget the exact ideal temperature.

I don't use my culture straight from the refrigerator to make bread unless I want to wait days for my bread to rise. Some people do. I make sure my culture is very active before I use it. SO,you either wait for the culture or you wait for the bread.


I take 3 or 4 tablespoons of starter out and feed it twice a day with equal weight flour/water (100% hydration) and try to keep it in a warm place. (To clarify, I don't weigh the starter-I just take a little out of the jar.I weigh the flour/water.) I usually use 25grams each. Make sure the container is going to be large enough to contain it and a doubling rise for a week-I use a 4 cup glass measuring cup.


By Wednesday, the culture is usually bubbly and smells wonderfully yeasty/wine-like but may not be doubling. A LOT depends on how consistently warm the culture has been kept. At this stage-you will make great smelling bricks-it just doesn't have the strength to rise a loaf.


Now it consistently starts to rise-anytime between here and Saturday I bake.I still feed twice a day and keep it warm. I usually use 1-2 cups of starter per week (my recipes generally call for 1/2cup to 1 cup starter per loaf of bread), so if I'm going to be using more,I just feed it higher amounts so that by the time I need it, I have the volume I want.

If you bake often,you really don't need to discard any culture because you are taking it out to bake with and starting to re-build for the next use.Actually, I keep a small amount in the refrigerator (as a backup) but keep a culture on my counter constantly bubbling away. If I don't bake for a week,I don't feed it and it seems to do just fine.If I kill it with neglect or overheating-I have my backup in the refirgerator.

I have found if my culture is slow to start bubbling, I just keep it consistently warmer. My culture also has more sour taste if I keep it consistently cooler.You have to get to know your culture. I think this is a reflection of the environment that the 2 major bacteria in the culture likes-lactobacillus seems to like it cooler-yeast likes it warmer.

The ambient room temp may not be a problem where you are but I am in the USA in the cold Midwest. COme summer I won't have a problem and will start my culture brewing for a shorter time.

So-I bring my culture to full activity at 100% hydration before I make bread.


Life is good!



five by five's picture
five by five

I really liked this post, especially the comment about great smelling bricks. Mainly because I made my first loaf of sourdough the other day and it came out like that. Delicious, but roughly the shape of a frisbee and very dense.

I have a 100% hydration starter that I had been feeding once per day. It doubled in about 5-6 hours. I fed the starter and shortly after it doubled I removed 1/8th cup and added it to the bread flour and water for my bread. I then kneaded it as usual, let it rest for 30 min, formed it into a boule and let it rise overnight. There was very little rise if any. I baked with it anyway and it had a very nice sour flavor but was very dense. Where have I gone wrong here?