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.

paddyboomsticks's picture

Ciao Ric, come' sta? Mio nome' e' Patrizio. Ho studiato italiano al'univerita' per otto mesi, ma non ricordo tutto!

Your questions, as far as I know:

1: Yes. It will return to being 100% Hydration after several feedings. If you want, you can accelerate this by adding a small amount of starter - say 20-40 grams to a 100% ratio of flour and water.


2: A topic of much debate! In my personal opinion, You can use your fridge starter IF you are making a levain, biga, et cetera with it. I wouldn't use it straight from the fridge if it was going to be mixed right into the loaf.


3: This relates to the second question. I personally will make a fresh starter for each loaf I bake, using 20-30 grams of my fridge starter + flour and water at the correct hydration.

I hope this helps you. There are much more experienced bakers here than I who may have a different - and more correct - set of answers.

Suo inglese e' piu bene di mio italiano! Mi dispiace! Ciao,

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?