The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How often do you refresh?

sewwhatsports's picture

How often do you refresh?

I have both a liquid and firm sourdough starter in my refrigerator.  I do not make bread more than once or twice a week and was wondering about refreshing my culture in between those times.  I always get a good reaction with the liquid starter when I feed it but am not sure if I am doing my cultures disservice about the amount of time between refreshments.  I tend to like the liquid culture better and convert that to stiff when I need it for a recipe. 

Any and all thoughts and guidance would be appreciated.  Thanks

gianfornaio's picture

It depends on how wet it is and how sour you want it. I'm not going to get super technical here because I don't have the resources at arm's length for a quick reply, but if your starter is biga-ish, like a regular bread dough, you can feed it 3 squares a day for optimal yeast reproduction and more leavening power. If you feed it once a day it should still perform pretty well but raise your dough a little more slowly, and be really sour. I do twice a day and get a pretty good balance, if a tiny bit more sour than I'd like, but I'm not a huge sourdough fan. I think three times a day is pretty optimum, but I have a hard time keeping the regular schedule.

Also, I've always read that you should double the feeding each time-- which means you have to either use it really regularly or throw a lot out-- for the first I have a hard time making the time, and the second makes me weep for lost cultures...

SourdoLady's picture

If you keep your starter in the refrigerator between uses it will do just fine on once a week feedings. When you want to bake, it is best to take it out of the fridge the day before and give it a generous feeding. A second feeding after it peaks the first time will get it really going good.

andrew_l's picture

I leave my starters in the fridge and feed them when I bake - sometimes twice a week, sometimes once a month. It's a firm starter (well two firm starters) and I find if I take it out the fridge in the morning, take say 30 grams starter, add 40 grams flour and 40 grams water and mix it and leave it out of the fridge - by evening it's lively and ready to go.Feed the remaining starter with 30 grams starter, 30 grams water and 50 grams flour and put back in the fridge (covered). Despite so much that you hear, a stiff sourdough starter is a very accomodating thing!

sewwhatsports's picture

 I followed your suggestion Andrew and fed my firm starter yesterday morning with the proportions you suggested.  I hated throwing away the excess but...   Yesterday evening I did a build for a basic Pain au Levain from Hamelmann's book.  I just got done mixing the dough and it is on its first fermentation now.  I am hoping I get a better overall loaf this way.  I will post how things developed and baked later today.

Thanks for your help.

Rena in Delaware