The Fresh Loaf

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Starter is almost 1 year old-I need some advice

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bakebakebake's picture

Starter is almost 1 year old-I need some advice

Hi everyone!!


I was posting on here pretty regularly last April when I was trying to get my starter up and running.  I've been doing great with it, but want to see if anyone can give me advice on how (or if I need) to tweak her a bit.  I've been baking with her about once a month.  Can someone refresh my memory about what I should be seeing when I feed her?  I'll admit that I've been a bit lax on feeding regularly, she only gets fed about 2x a month.  I've been having pretty good results when baking, but I've changed my recipe so many times, I don't really have a benchmark to know if my starter is doing all she can do, or if she could be stronger.

I started with the model in the BBA and advice here - I have one whole wheat starter and one white starter going now.  I feed them before I start a new loaf - I generally don't discard but feed to the ratio of 1 part starter : 1 part water (filtered NYC tap) : 1 part WW or KA bread flour

I fed the starters about 3 hours ago and left them out.  Both have air bubbles, but are not growing. They are on the counter at about 80 degrees.  I'm going to put them in the fridge now, but would love any advice as to wether I should leave them out when I feed, put them directly in the fridge, should try to get them at 55 degrees, etc.


I plan on feeding again tomorrow or Thursday in anticipation of baking on Thursday/Friday or Friday/Saturday.

Thanks all!!

rockfish42's picture

You should be seeing the starter double in 4-12 hours depending on temperature and the fauna of your particular starter if you're seeing many smaller bubbles you're probably fine. In general I try to grow my starter near the temperature that I use for fermentation of my favorite bread which is somewhere between 70-76 F. From a number of sources I've seen it's best feed just before storing in the fridge, however I've also heard that eventually unless you're building/feeding it at room temperature a couple times before using that this might weaken the starter.
Another option you might consider is keeping one starter and then building up a WW or white starter from it when you want to use it in a bread.
One way to perk up a flagging starter is the addition of a bit of rye flour, it's more enzymically active which will provide more sugars to the yeast/bacteria.
For a 100% hydration starter like yours, it's generally ok to feed every 1-2 weeks and I've gotten away with as much of a month in storage with no noticeable decline in rising power, with feeding it just before putting it in the fridge.

Anna K's picture
Anna K

Old Starter. I have had my starter since 1957 and at the time purchased from Sourdough Jack in San Francisco. My favorite is pancakes and then biscuits and then bread. Around Christmas sourdough fruit cake. I refresh it when I see a large amount of colored liquid on the top. Fact this week I refreshed it 3 times to make it happy. Like a lady the older she gets the better. Good luck...

bakebakebake's picture

Thanks for the advice on making sure that my starter is fit!  I refreshed both starters 5 days ago leaving them out for about 5 hours and then my white starter two days ago and left her out overnight.  I started a loaf yesterday with my white starter and should finish it today.  I used the recently freshened whole wheat starter to make myself some pancakes - YUM!!

Monica's picture

I have had my starter for over a year now and it is wonderful to use and makes a great loaf, but.... how can I get a stronger "sour" flavor?  Is there something I can add?  Monica

Crider's picture

I used to refrigerate my starter and it's true that over time the bacteria will lose their balance leaving your bread less sour. A couple of weeks ago, after carefully reading Debra Wink's articles here, I left the starter out on the counter, refreshed daily at 1:1:1 and Wednesday made a couple of very sour loaves using a conventional 30% poolish left to ferment for about 24 hours. 

Monica's picture

Thanks, I will try that.  I also heard that by adding a bit of rye flour, I can improve the poolish flavor and vigor.  Thanks again.