The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starters - Are they ready?

jennyloh's picture

Starters - Are they ready?

I think I'm being ambitious here.  Building starters, and started with 3.  Actually no,  I didn't start with 3.  I started with 1 full rye.  50g/50g,  following by a 1:1 ratio and then 1:1:1 ratio by the 3rd day.  I realised too late that I was going to build a giant and alot of wastage. I decided to split them into 3.  

I wonder if they are ready or I should just go on feeding them? Looking for advice.


Rye Starter - Day 5 without refreshment yet.

I took out about 160g from this rye starter and then added 50g/50g.  I think I should have thrown out more.  It's not as bubbly as the one that I added whole wheat.


Starter 2:  Added White flour - Day 5 without refreshment (using Dan Lepard's % of white leaven formula)

80g of initial rye starter/100g white/80g water

It's more bubbly and seems to have tripled.  Is this ready?


Mother Starter (Peter Reinhart)

I actually read wrongly and used Reinhart's formula on the 4th day.  But it's also very bubbly.  Should I continue with this formula to create the mother starter as per Reinhart's formula?

80g rye starter/60g whole wheat/20g water


Looking for suggestions and advices.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

But you do have to feed them enough.  I think you can easily feed them a 1:2:2 ratio  that is to say that for one part starter:two parts water: and two parts flour.  It is important to feed the starter at least the weight of the starter itself.  Flour is food, water is not.  But water is needed for moisture so that can vary for a thicker or a thinner starter, which ever you choose. 

Two of your starters were fed too little or less than the starter, this is not good for them.  So it is best to learn to discard.  Keep only 20g of each, add water and at least 20g of flour, which ever one.  I think you can feed them twice as much flour so go up to 40g.  You will notice that they will have different rise times.   In another week, you may be able to reduce that to 10g with 40g of flour.  They will really be kicking then!  I would try in two days to make a small loaf.

When they peak or just before, that is when you want to add them into a recipe.  You can feed more to build enough for the recipe and when it comes to peak, put the bread dough together. 

I would reduce to small amounts when feeding twice a day or you will soon have a lot of sourdough.  Happy Baking!


althetrainer's picture

I have to SD starters; one whole wheat and the other one I use unbleached flour.  I have the WW one for over a year while this unbleached is only a couple of weeks old.  I agree with Mini, you need to give the starter a bit more food in order to get it ready for its first loaf.  I did my first loaf last week and it turned out beautifully.  I started feeding mine once a day until the started looked very active.  Then I began to feed it twice a day (saved the discard for pancakes and muffins) until it was active enough to double in volume in 3 - 4 hours.  This is how my unbleached started looked like when I decided it was ready:



Hope this helps.


008cats's picture

1. I don't think experimenting with 3 starters is excessive,

2. I track my starter for 'dough readiness' by watching for a double-to-triple volume rise in 2-3 hours after feeding,

3. A starter with that many bubbles looks good enough to use to me, but I personally would keep careful track of the starters flour:water ratio (for calculating use in recipes)

I am not the most experienced baker on the block and others may know better - but these rules work for me and are simple enough to let me focus on other details!

jennyloh's picture

Mini - as per your advice - I did throw out and added the ratio that I was building accordingly.  Put a tape on the level that they were.  I checked this morning,  8 hours,  they've tripled.  It is quite active,  all 3 of them.

008cats - I guess I'll have to wait 1 more round and see if it triples in volume in 2-3 hours.  That shows it's ready?  I'm keeping the throways in the fridge to do some english muffins probably end of the week.  Do you use it straightaway or it also requires some refreshment?

Al - your pics is useful - thanks.  Pictures always helps.  Mine doesn't seem as bubbly (big bubbles) as yours,  probably another day or two to get to yours. 

I'm targetting to bake a small loaf this weekend.  Been trying to search for a simple recipe,  perhaps a white soft loaf or rolls.  Any suggestions?

jennyloh's picture

The white leaven is growing very well - 3x after 3 hours.  I'm not baking till weekend,  can I just keep it in the fridge now or leave it outside till I'm ready to use it? Temperature here is averaging 20-24C. 


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You want to use them, mix them into dough, just as they peak or just before.  Great temperatures!  If you refrigerated them "just peaked" and want to use them without refreshing, use them within 24 hours for best results.  If they hadn't peaked yet but were "on the rise" when they went into the fridge, then you may have a few days to use them without refreshing them.  After a week in the fridge, it is better to give them a good feed before using.  New starters especially benefit from more feeds at room temp. 

A recipe?  Pick something simple with not too many ingredients.    You could take your starter, weigh most of it and add twice the amount of water, three times the amount of flour (this can vary) and after mixing and allowing it 30 minutes to sit, 1.8% salt.  Do some stretches and folds when it starts to rise and continue with the folds every 30 to 45 min. until placed into a banneton.   If you need more instructions, then look for a more detailed recipe.  Or search for 1,2,3   or 1:2:3  or 1;2;3  It's there somewhere...

The weekend is here!  Well deserved too!  At least for me!  Lol!  We're having cold weather and lots of rain, too much rain.  The rye is about a foot high, the corn 6 inches.  More rain on the way!  I got my garden pretty much in order except for the brier patch, a group of very nasty thorny weeds that mass together and plan my demise.  When the rain stops, they'll be greeting me root first above the soft soil! 

Tuesday, I wrestled with the rose bush.  Every year a challenge.  When I'm done, I look like I've tussled with a band of wild cats to be left soaking my sores in a hot bath at the end of the ordeal.  My son's comment after the dead wood was out and it stood free of  the wall was, "Oh, Mom! That's a mess!"  He was right!  By the time I got done with my gentle persuasion, it looked like a tamed bush gracefully almost symmetrically guarding the wall against intruders.  In a few days the leaves will have righted themselves and no one will be the wiser.  I even impressed my son!  And no scratches!  Either I'm getting better or the bush is learning.  It covers an area two meters tall and about 3 meters wide and now resembles an open fan. 

Happy baking!   - Mini

jennyloh's picture

Mini - I wish I have a garden to call my own....unfortunately I can't even keep a cactus...they'll die on me.  But I'm living in a compound, with lots of flowers and trees,  and birds too...that's good enough...without me tendering them, yet I get to enjoy the greenery.  

I had my first try of the white starter I made.  Check out here - White Leaven Bread

I was happy with what I got out of it.  I'm now into Peter Reinhart's Pain Au Levain,  and I'm going to try Hamelman's flaxseed starting tonight.  Wish me luck!