The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is my starter ready for baking?

liseling's picture

Is my starter ready for baking?


So I've built my starter using the pineapple juice method that is posted in various places around the fresh loaf (100% flour/water). I've been feeding it twice a day most days for the past two weeks or so. The picture below is of my starter about an hour and a half after I fed it (the rubber band marks the level that it started from right after I fed it). It doubles in about 2 hours. I have seen it get to about 3 times the level of the rubber band at most. 

Is it ready to bake with?

Any words of wisdom for me before trying my first sourdough loaf?

Also, regarding having it live in the fridge once it's ready: do I refresh then put it directly in the fridge, or refresh then wait a while before putting it in the fridge? If I wait, then how long? And how do I get it ready for baking again once it's been in the fridge for a week or two? 



JessicaT's picture

I waited until my starter was consistent with tripling in size every 3-4 hours after feeding before I baked it. I did this to ensure thaat I got the most amount of sour as possible and boy was it awesome!


As for refridgerating, what I like to do is feed the starter and maximize in size and then stick it in the fridge. I have no idea why, but it seems to be working ok.

Yerffej's picture

From your description, yes the starter is ready.  As for advice on your first sourdough baking experience just remember the three most important elements of sourdough bread: Patience, patience, and patience.  Watch the dough not the clock.

With regard to the fridge, feed it and put it in there without waiting if it is going to rest for a week or two.  When you take it out I would give it three feedings before baking with it.


davidg618's picture

go for it.

I keep my starters in the fridge. I feed them weekly, and return them immediately to the fridge. I've developed a method to grow formula ready levain in twenty-four hours. Here's the link. It works, every time, for me.

Building a Formula-ready levain (starter)

David G.

liseling's picture

Thanks everyone - I've started the process of making Peter Reinhart's basic sourdough from BBA and the dough is now doing it's first proof as I write this. I hope it works out! Although now I'm more worried about things going wrong from shaping techniques and things like that. When I first tried making sourdough bread a long time ago I always  got flat and tough results. This time I'm being a bit more methodical about the starter so I hope the bread will be better this time.


David your post about starter elaboration straight out of the fridge is really helpful information! I'm going to try your method next time I take the starter out of the fridge.

Chris Scherer's picture
Chris Scherer

Thanks for the information David. I just read your Building a Formula-ready levain page and have a question. I recently failed miserably at a Reinhart Vollkornnbrot formula. The first bread I ever threw out (The birds wouldn't even eat the crumbs). 

In Reinhart's recipe (in Whole Grain Breads) he has a recipe for the starter (as part of the Vollkornbrot formula):

 71 g. of the Mother Starter that I made weeks ago.

213 g. Rye Flour

170 water

(454 g. total)

He says to "develop at room temperature. It could take up to 8 hours or even longer." 

Is this 454g. equivalent to the 480g example of final starter required in your example - or is the 71g he asks for equivalent to your 480g.? Would i divide 71 by 27 or the 454g by 27?

Is Reinhart by-passing all of the feedings and saying I can just take my starter out of the fridge no matter how long it has been in there without feedings?

Thanks for your time and input,


Also, I'd like to put out a "call" for a sourdough book (As is done for topics in academia which require further research or publication). I think the author would make a lot of money. Can somebody please write a 200 page book that discusses theory, creation, feeding etc. of starters. Not a recipe book. There seem to be gaps in the few books I've seen (Hammelman Bread, P.R.'s books.) and many people seem to have their own method or "tricks" that are often narrowly focussed to their style of bread etc. Maybe the book is out there and I just don't know.

The more I read the less I understand. 


davidg618's picture

with reasonable success, just to offer you an alternative formula.

specific answer to your question:

To finish with 454g of starter, begin with 17g of your seed starter. (454g/27 = 17g (rounded))

You didn't include your seed starter's hydration %, nor your formula-ready starter's target hydration % so I can't advise you how much water and flour to add for each build. I can, however, tell you the combined weight of each build.

Build 1: 17x2 = 34g added flour + water; total weight 51g

Build 2: 51x2 =102g added flour + water; total weight 153g

Build 3: 153 x2 = 306g added flour +water; total weght 459g (extra 4g due initial rounding)

I'd suggest you target 475g or 480g of formula-ready levain, and weigh out 454g. You loose a little weight during the fermenting builds from evaportion and exhausting CO2, and some always sticks to the container. You can do the math exactly as above to calculate each build's mix added.

I've written a spreadsheet that does the calculations for you--both flour and water weights for each build. All you have to enter is the Target final Weight of form.-ready levain, and your seed starter's hydration %. If your interested I'll send you the link where you can download. It's on my wife's website (I don't have one) and she is sleeping at the moment so I can't attach it now.

Happy Baking

David G

greggronald's picture

I am looking for a source of plain clear plastic bags for my fresh bread. For both full size loaves and for mini loaves.When I was a kid my Mother would buy plain plastic bags by the box, as she made our bread most of the time instead of buying it. Any links would be useful. Gregg F.

dstroy's picture

greggronald - you should post this as its own thread so that folks will see and be able to respond to it rather than in the comments to someone else's post about their starter. I would guess posting it as a new topic here in the Forums would be the best place to start (click the "Post new Forum topic") at the top of the page there to create the new post. 

Ford's picture

I find that "two-and-half-gallon Ziplock" bags will hold two of my loafa and a one-gallon bag is too small fo one loaf.  I now make my own bags using a machine designed to vacuum pack food for the freezer.  I also freezemy bread when I make several loaves