The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Lucy-Sue's picture


I have had my starter for over a year now.  I have only used it a couple of times, without much luck.  I may have used it too soon or I did not feed it properly??

My question is, how do I treat my starter before I want to use it?  Do I feed it the day before, or 2 days before and leave it out of the fridge.  Do I put it back in the fridge and use it cold or do I feed it and let it sit 6-7 hours out of the fridge,  the day of making the bread.


Any help would be appreciated.




Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

There certainly is a lot of information here on the care and feeding of a sourdough starter if you're ready to do a little reading. I just can't type fast enough or explain it all succinctly enough to give it all to you in a short posting.

All you have to do is look for the Forum at the top of this page and click on that. You'll soon see a page of topics that have been discussed and the most popular will be Sourdoughs and Starters. Not all of the 17,000+ postings will apply to your question but your answer will probably be within the first 100 and frequently repeated over the years of postings.

You might also find your answer in the Lessons section of the home page. Don't forsake, the answers are closer than you think.

Lucy-Sue's picture

Thanks:  I will check it out.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

The problem with a stored starter is that a refrigerator is not a science ficton suspended animation device.  Your starter is not stopped, it is slowed.

So, as it sits in the fridge it is converting carbs into alcohol and carbon dioxide, increasing the acidity of the starter, reproducing slowly and dying somewhat more quickly.  Refrigeration is what we do because unlike our ancestors, we don't bake every day.

I strongly suggest feeding a refrigerated starter for several days before using it.  You can use a starter that has been refrigerated for less than a week right out of the fridge.  However, that is still somewhat inconsistent.

Your goals are to reduce the acidity and restore the vitality of the starter.  Using a tablespoon or so of the stored starter, 1/2 a cup of water and a cup of flour for the first feeding right out of the fridge is about right.  Keep the feeding ratios the same, but feed every 12 hours and double the amount fed and your starter should be great in 2 or 3 days.  If you feel the starter is too mild, you can rebalance the bacteria and yeast by feeding about 95% white flour and 5% whole wheat or rye.



Lucy-Sue's picture

Thanks so much!  I appreciate your help.  I love to bake bread but I am not nearly as good as the members here.

I am planning to bake on the weekend coming so I will start to feed my starter tomorrow, and every day until Sunday.  Then I can use it right out of the fridge on Sunday?



Thanks again, this is very helpful.