The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reviving Starter

maiasimon's picture

Reviving Starter

Hello, All,

I'm relatively new here and learning a lot!  And having fun, too.  So, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. 

I bought a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour several months ago and have maintained it according to their directions.  Of course, the more I learn about sourdough, the more complicated I think it must be (LOL).  So using the instructions from Mike Avery's for reviving a starter - - I have been feeding twice a day and now, on the third day, the starter has hooch in just 8 hours since the last feeding.  It hasn't been doubling, either.  

The KA directions have one feed it and let it sit out until it is bubbly and then put it back into the fridge.  It has been working okay, but not much sour flavor and sometimes I cheat and add a little yeast because it does't have enough ooomph. 

Any thoughts about what I may be doing wrong, or how to correct it?  I appreciate any help you can give me. 


Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Do you have a kitchen scale? A scale that can measure down to grams is one of the best investments you can make to raise the level of your baking at home and invaluable for keeping your starter fit and healthy, especially when you're not baking in high volumes.

While you haven't specifically stated so, it sounds like you are refreshing your starter with quantities based on volume rather than weight. That may explain the appearance of hooch and the seeming failure to double. Hooch is usually a sign that the starter has exhausted its food supply.

A scale will allow you to maintain a smaller, less than 200 grams, starter that will keep longer in your fridge without refreshment. That's done by maintaining a lower hydration level starter, say 70% or so. The starter is utilized to provide a seed to build a specific starter for your next day's bake, regardless of whether it's to be white, whole wheat, or rye.

I suggest that you take a while to read about the subjects of starter revival, starter maintenance, the value of a scale, and hydration in the threads archived in the Forum.You can just click on the title at the top of this page. Your questions have come up frequently in the past and they've been answered by bakers with far more experience than I have. Going to the Forum and researching is an excellent investment of your time.


maiasimon's picture

yes, I usually use a scale.  Mike Avery's instructions were to use 1/4 cup water and 3/8 flour, so I was following his instructions.  I'll go back to measuring and see if I get better results.