The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough feeding help

Yuval35's picture

Sourdough feeding help


Recentlly i asked a question regarding sourdough feeding , several people respond but I am still confused,

I searched the web and the TFL also and saw so many methods and approaches about feeding and maintaining the sourdough starter.


could someone give me  a simple and clear method how to use my sourdough for baking ?

Lets say the receipe required for 360g ripe soudough starter. and lets say i am going to bake only once in week and save my jar in refrigerator.

what are the recommended steps i should do ? what amount of starter i need to keep in my jar ?


thanks for your help.

AOJ's picture

Be flexible. There is no single right way. I keep a small amount in the 'fridge, maybe 50-100g. I am baking Wednesday, so Monday morning I'll take out 25g of starter, add 50g water+50g flour. Do not refrigerate, this is what I will "build up" to get the amount of active starter I need for Wednesday. Monday evening or Tuesday morning, I will add 150g water+150gflour. By Tuesday evening I should have about 425g of active starter. So, I took a small amount of my original starter, and "built it up" to the amount required for my recipe. The original amount I store in the fridge, I feed when it gets low, or once every one or two weeks. But only keep a small amount in the fridge, no use feeding massive amounts of flour, only to have to discard it.

clazar123's picture

You will get advice on a lot of different ways to manage,feed and use your sourdough starter. Almost anything you do is ok, as long as the starter is well fed and it raises dough.

So, here's what I recommend.

First of all, think of your culture as a puppy. It needs to be fed often-sometimes more often or less often than other times-depending on if it is going through a growth spurt(on the warm counter) or if it is cold and sleepy(in the refrigerator). If it stays on the counter, it needs to be fed between 1 and 3 times/day.If it stays in the refrigerator,it needs to be fed 1 time per week after discarding half (equivalent to cleaning a pet cage-see next paragraph)

Occasionally the "cage" needs to be cleaned so that the "puppy" stays healthy-get rid of all the waste.You do this by removing about half the starter and replacing it with some fresh flour and water and putting it back in the refrigerator.

Now there are 2 things you can do with the "discard"(what you removed). You can throw it down the sink or use it to make something. If you want to make bread with it, you have to feed it (there are yeasties in there,after all) until it is active enough to double its height in the container in 1-2 hours.This may take several feedings,all the while it is out on the counter. What you are doing is increasing the amount of yeast in the starter by providing food and water and time to replicate. It is not necessary to discard during this process. The idea is to build up the volume to about 360 g(what your recipe calls for) and have it active enough to raise bread when you are ready to bake. I didn't think I'd ever get the timing right but it comes with practice and knowing your starter. I take about   50 g or even up to half (depends on how many loaves I'm baking) of my starter out of the refrig on Wednesday night. I then feed the jar with fresh flour and water and put it back in the refrigerator.The portion I removed for activating, I feed twice a day while it sits out on the counter and by Fri night or Saturday morning,I have enough starter to bake with.Keep it covered so it doesn't dry out and the flies don't get it. I have to adjust my timing during the cold winter months, here-it takes longer for the yeasties to activate.

 If I don't bake that week,I scoop out and discard about half of what is in the main starter jar,feed the starter jar and put it back in the refrigerator-ready for next week.From the discard I may make pancakes,add it to a cake or sweet bread or just toss it. That is why I keep smaller jars of starter-I don't want to waste all that flour but there will always be some waste, if you don't bake every week.

A main starter jar can be as little as 2-4 tablespoons (50-90g) and can be as wet as a thick pancake batter or dry as sculpting clay. What determines it is your preference for what you like to work with and the recipes you have. I don't like trying to work a thick dough into another dough-I feel like I'm fighting with it and none of my recipes require that kind of starter. So my starter is like thick pancake batter.I find it much easier to work with.And I keep it at about 1/4 cup,total, of starter in the jar so I don't have to feed it huge amounts of flour. You can find all kinds of formulas for how much to feed but I just estimate by the texture. That is a problem only if you have a really strict formula/recipe to follow and must know the exact amount of flour and water in the starter.(Shoulder shrug) My recipes are more like guidelines than formulas.

Starter can be fed almost any kind of unbleached flour-wheat,rye,spelt,kamut,all purpose.They all act a little different in how often they need to be fed and how active they get and how quickly.Adding a little rye to any sluggish starter will jolt it into activity-it is super-food for yeast. I use unbleached,all purpose flour as it is the cheapest and readily available. I use my starter to make 100% whole wheat,rye and white breads of all sorts-sweet and savory. I will convert some starter to a rye sour/starter if I plan on making a rye bread.

The easiest way to learn about starter,using it to make bread,timing,feeding, to do it! So go make some bread.Write down what you did,repeat if successful or change something and keep track until you find something that works for you. Experience is the best teacher. And delicious,too!

Shutzie27's picture

Thank you so much for posting this easy to understand advice! I'm on my own "starter" journey right now and your explanation made it seem far less daunting. Thank you! 

ehanner's picture

First, 360g is a lot of starter. I suggest you feed your starter every 12 hours at room temperature  until it is active and healthy, doubling in 6 hours and tripling in 10-12 hours. Once you have achieved a good activity level at room temp, feed the culture so you have 150-200 g and refrigerate immediately.

When you want to bake, the evening before, take 50g of the mother starter from the fridge and add to the water portion of the required starter you need. For example if you need 360g of active starter at 100% hydration, you need to add 50 g starter to 155g of water and 155g flour. This will give you exactly the amount of active starter you need. Personally I would make a little extra and not worry about the exact amount.

You should be able to do this 2 or 3 times using your mother starter depending on how much you keep. When you need to replenish the mother starter, allow it to come to room temp and feed it, promptly placing it back in the cooler.

Hope this helps,


smeredith's picture

I bake bread once a week. I keep about 50g of 135% hydration starter in the fridge, and don't feed it during the week. The day before baking, I add 100g flour and 135g water in the AM and leave it out of the fridge. That night, I add 200g flour and 270g water and leave it out over night. In the morning, it's ready. It's liquid, so it doesn't double--it bubbles. I make my bread using most of that, and save 50g for the next time. I never have to throw away starter.

You can adjust your quantities according to your needs.

And don't worry too much about it. I can skip a week and my starter is just as strong the following week.

Yuval35's picture


Thank you for the answers.

actually, last weekend I bake a sourdough bread .

my jar was about 240g ( I know, maybe its too much). I took 120g for my starter and feed it with 120g water and 120g flour . also, i fed the jar for 120g water and 120 flour.

after 12 hours i put the jar back to the refrigeretor and back with my 360g starter.

The result was good, the dough raised by 1.5 of its volume at the first proof and double its volume for the final proof.  but. the taste was liitlt bit sour, i dont know if it relate to the feeding method.

anyway, I saw your methods and noticed that you prefer to feed with 1:2:2 or 1:3:3 for smaller amount of sourdough and more than one feeding.


Is it better than one feeding ?


P.s. sorry about my rusty english, its not my daily language in my country ( Israel...)