The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Feeding Schedules

SourFlour's picture

Feeding Schedules

I am currently keeping my starter Blarf on a 2:4:5 (starter:flour:water) twice a day feeding schedule. My room temperature is usually around 62F-68F.  It was on once a day, but I recently switched to see if I could get it more active. Blarf has only been on this schedulef or a few days, but he still does not seem very active.  He bubbles very differently from other feeding regimes I've had, but doesn't seem super active. Breads have not risen as much as I'd like.

Dulce is my firm starter, and she is kept at 1:2:1 once a day.  She has been somewhat active, but is not as sour as I'd expect from a firm starter.  I'm thinking of moving her to 2:2:1, as I'm thinking she might be getting too much food.  She used to be on twice a day, which I think might promote more sourness, but then I'm worried about her not being so active.

Both starters are just new to these regimes, and I'm trying to see if by just keeping the schedule consistent for a while longer, they will improve on their own.  Does anyone have any experience with these types of feeding regimes, or have any advice for me?

Danny - Sour Flour


OldWoodenSpoon's picture

I'm just a novice so it would be presumptive of me to advise you since my starter is only a couple of months old.  Therefore, I won't try to advise you. I can tell you, though, what I've observed myself in the last couple of days.  Our weather has changed dramatically since Sunday when it was 96F to only mid-70's yesterday.  Overnight my kitchen has been averaging mid to high 60's.  When it was that warm my young starter (fed 1:1:1 daily) would routinely double in about 7-8 hours, and drop within 10-11 hours.  I fed it last night, and overnight the temperature was significantly cooler.  About 15 degrees cooler.  This morning my starter barely had shown any expansion, although there were bubbles and some froth on top so it was clearly active.  Now that the day is warming up it is coming out of it's lethargy, and starting to expand.

Perhaps your experience is similar?  I've concluded that the rapid drop in average temperatures has had roughly the same effect, though less extreme, that putting my starter in the refrigerator would have, and dramatically slowed the growth.

As I said, I'm not one to advise you, but this is what I've seen.  Maybe a warmer spot will help wake your starters up as it seems to have done for mine.

Good luck with Blarf and Dulce!


Janknitz's picture

as far as experience (and perhaps geographically since our weather did that too--North SF Bay Area) and my observation is that temperature has the biggest impact on how much activity my starter shows, not feeding ratios. 

In our usual mild, foggy clime, my starter is fairly consistent.  It takes 8 hours to get fully active, about 12 to peak.  Our kitchen temp averages the mid to high 60's.  But when the house warms up the starter is very active.  If I want to get my starter activated more quickly (I am rarely seeking the sour flavor) I heat up some water in the microwave and put the starter in the microwave with the hot water for several hours--the temp stays around 78 to 80 degrees in there and the activity in my starter triples. 

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

I move my starter, dough, or whatever, into the "computer room".  No need for a microwave. :)  With 4 or  servers and related systems humming away, it's always 75F or higher in there, even in the dead of Winter!

JanKnitz, I'm 60 miles East of you, in the Central Valley.  We don't enjoy your usual mild, foggy climate.  At least not in the summer.

Elagins's picture

healthy starters really don't need to be fed more than a couple of times a week: i've kept both wheat and rye starters in my fridge for a couple of weeks unfed, and they've come back just fine after a generous feeding. My proportions are a lot more like 5parts each flour/water to 1part starter.

i think temp is a far more critical factor. here in so cal (san diego) we don't ever really have to deal with low temps, but in winter our house generally gets down to the low 70s. if i need an extra thermal bump, i either move the starter to the stove after i've cooked (not on top of the hot burner, but next to it, or between the hot burner and the water kettle). i also will sometimes put the starter bowl on top of the hot water heater, which works pretty well.

so key is not to overfeed, which you may be doing, and in so doing, actually diluting the amount of yeast and bacteria in your starter. give it time and a warm place to grow.

Stan Ginsberg

jannrn's picture

Ok....AGAIN, my ignorance is hanging out!! What in the WORLD is "BLARF" and "DULCE"?? Are these just the names you have given your starters or actual names?? I SWEAR I had NO idea I knew so little after baking bread for 35 years until I joined this site!! I am SO much smarter now!!!!! THANK YOU ALL for helping me!!! My Family is SO grateful too!!