The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need help maintaining sourdough starter from a local grocery's bakery...

Chrisan's picture

Need help maintaining sourdough starter from a local grocery's bakery...

I recently acquired a sourdough starter from Earth Fare's bakery (free by the way!). It seems to be thinner than pancake batter. It's been sitting at room temperature for about 8 hours in a plastic container that's not shut all the way---oh and there's hooch, that watery alcohol layer starting to form at the top. Do I put it in the fridge or keep it at room temperature? I think I'm gonna put it in the fridge since I don't know what to feed it exactly.

Anyway, I don't wanna kill it or mess up the starter since this is my first time with a starter.

I know that to feed it, you wanna put double the amount of flour + water to starter.
Any suggestions as to what flour I use? I have Hodges Mill rye, King Arthur whole wheat, KA bread, and KA unbleached white. Also, do I just use water or should I add pineapple juice? I've sorta read Peter Reinhart's book, but this is my first time making a sourdough starter.

And if I have, say 1/2 cup of it, I would just add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water/juice, right?

Any help or feedback would be appreciated! Thanks!

Oh and here's what it looks like:

(N/C = no charge)

Layer starting to form.

SourdoLady's picture

Feed that starter--it's hungry! Before you feed it, I would dump out half of the old starter. That would leave you with 1/4 cup if  you had 1/2 cup to start with. Then feed it with 1/2 cup of flour and enough water to make a thick batter-like consistency. You don't really want it to be runny. If you have a scale it would be good to use equal weights of flour and water. You can feed it any kind of flour you want to, or a mixture of flours. I many times feed with unbleached white flour and add a spoonful of rye or whole wheat. Leave it at room temperature until it is nice and bubbly before you put it in the fridge.

Chrisan's picture

I figured it needed a feeding!

I took out half which left me with 1/4 cup. I fed it equal weight of flour + water, about a 1/4 cup flour + 1 tsp rye and a lil less than 1/4 cup water. After reading your comment again just now, I realized I should've fed it 1/2 cup flour + water. I left it at room temp, but only saw more hooch after a couple of hours. I didn't see a rise, so I decided to put it in the fridge since I didn't know if it's better to do that or leave it out.

Anyway, I fed it the next morning. I tossed half out, leaving me with 1/4 cup. I fed it 1/2 cup of white AP flour + tsp of rye and about the same weight of water. After 2 hours, it only started to form hooch.

Is my starter still alive?  

ehanner's picture

As sourdolady said it needs to be fed immediately. The image shows a liquid starter that has past it's feeding time. As suggested above you should probably not try to keep it as a liquid starter if you are new using a natural yeast. The more firm version is more tolerant of schedule changes and will not ripen so quickly. The bakery that gave you the starter probably bakes every day maybe even several times a day so they are constantly feeding and caring for it. As a home baker, we usually feed a small amount and then refrigerate until you need it to inoculate a new batch of bread.

This is actually a big subject you have touched on. I suggest you search here for threads on "feeding starter". You should find lots of material to read for making sourdough breads. Good luck.