The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

refreshing starter amounts?

Dagaetch's picture

refreshing starter amounts?

So I have a starter made from the formula in Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. Currently it weighs about 250g (I've used twice), and it's been about a week since I made it. In looking over the book directions for refreshing, you use what seems to me a giant amount of flour and water! I don't want to keep that much starter around. His ratio for refreshing looks like 1 starter, 3 flour, and 2 water. My question is, could I simply add, say, 90g of flour and 60g of water to my existing amount of starter? I don't want to rebuild a huge amount, just keep it alive.



wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

You certainly can feed much less, but you need to keep the amounts relative to the amount of starter as well. I feed 20 gr of starter with 40 gr water and 40 gr flour (100% hydration). You need to feed enough flour to provide enough food for the yeast, but the exact amount depends on how long between feedings. I put mine in the fridge and bake every week (or discard and feed again).

So for you maybe 20 gr starter, 60 flour, 40 water would work.


harriseeber's picture

I am new to sour dough bread making, figuring hydrations etc. and this site but have a forum going on non rising sour dough. I am having problems with getting my starter active enough. I have been feeding mine 1:1:1 ratio using weight in oz which I thought was 100% hydration. I am confused now because you recommend 20gr starter to 40gr flour and 40gr water as 100% hydration. Can you please explain?

cranbo's picture


assumng your formula is:

starter:water:flour, then:

  • 1:1:1 by weight is 100% hydration
  • 1:5:5 by weight is also 100% hydration
  • 20g:40g:40g is still 100% hydration

100% hydration means your starter contains equal parts water and flour by weight. It doesn't matter if you're using 1 tablespoon of starter or 1 gallon. Maintaining your starter by adding equal parts flour and water by weight will always yield 100% hydration starter. 

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

As cranbo said as long as flour and water are equal, then you have 100% hydration (by definition).

The issue with adding more flour&water than starter is adding enough fresh food for the beasties to feed on.


cranbo's picture


To respond to your original thread, yes, by all means, use the smallest ratio you need to minimize waste.

For example, if the starter calls for a starter:water:flour rato of 1:2:3, and your recipe requires 100g of starter, by all means refresh your starter as follows:

  • 20g starter
  • 40g water
  • 60g flour 

This will yield 120g of starter, leaving you 20g left over to feed and maintain. 

Hope this helps!

harriseeber's picture


Thanks for your very clear explanation. 

Breadandwine's picture

I had thought of starting a new thread, but this looks like the place where I can get an answer.

I'm presently on day four with my new starter and I'm refreshing every 2 days:

My question to all you sourdough buffs is:

I have some water in which was boiled some potato wedges and I'm loathe to throw it away. Would it be OK to add it to my starter when I refresh it later today?

Thanks in advance, Paul

mrfrost's picture

While I suspect it will not harm your starter, it's also doubtful it will be of any more benefit than the flour and water it is being fed. Overall, prbably not a good idea. People seem to have trouble enough starting starters as it is, even with all the proven methods to do so, without adding unknown factors.

If curious, why not split your starter in two(at discard/feeding time), feeding one as usual and the other with the potato water.

Otherwise, potato water is always nice to use as a liquid in several types of bread doughs. Freeze it if you won't be making any bread soon.

Just my thoughts. Somewhat of a sourdough noob myself, but read a lot here, with interest. Good luck.

Breadandwine's picture

Hi mrfrost, thanks for your comments.

I was just about to come back on this to say that when my wife washed up - out went the potato water!

Never mind, it's something to think about next time - and I was inclined to your point of view when I posted originally.

I'm with you on using potato water in general - but my wife, sadly, isn't!

"Freeze it if you won't be making any bread soon."

Not a problem - I make bread most days!

Thanks for your good wishes.

Cheers, Paul