The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Okay, so tis

skinnybuddah's picture

Okay, so tis

I'm a little confusted, or perhaps its because I'm a bloke and can't multi task!


I've had my starter going for about 6 days now, 75g Rye and 75g water, which was changed after 3 days to 75g white and 75g water. It looks and smells as I think it should do ................. what now.

I've read quite a lot which seems to confict, although I'm sure they're all the correct thing. What I'm looking for is a basic way ahead to start making simple Italian style home breads.

Will I keep the starter going, and only use some of it for my first loaf, which means I can continue to feed it and always have it on hand.

Ideally I'd like to keep it in the fridge.

I'd be looking for about 3 loaf bakes a week.

I'm sure there's a hugh amount of information I'm not giving so feel free to ask.

Something easy to follow would be great as, I've been making bread for a wee while now, but not quite getting it, so I'd like to get to basics and start from there.


Thanks in advance guys.

clazar123's picture

If you are going to do 3 bakes per week, it is actually easier to keep a starter going. The problem comes in when you are doing less (I do 1 per week) or not baking for a period of time. Remember, liquid yeast was something people used almost daily-either on bread,cakes or beer, er....beverages. Keeping something going that you use every day is easier than when you use it every couple days but it can be done. They become like a pet.

HOW IT WORKS    A starter is maintained by being used. That is, you take some starter out of the jar it's kept in and bake with it. In order to replace the starter so you have more to use tomorrow (or soon), you add flour and water. The little yeasties eat and reproduce and fill the jar again. If you don't plan on baking, you still need to take some starter out of the jar as if you are baking. Then you replace what you took with flour and water to feed the beasty yeasties. It's like having a pet. Really! You can either use the starter you took out of the cage (jar) or you can toss is down the drain(discard it).It is important to take some out before you feed! What happens if you don't take the horse manure out of the barn....ever? Same idea but on a microscopic level.

HOW MUCH TO KEEP? Some methods have you keep a gallon crock. Only if you have 18 kids, like my sainted grandmother! Yikes-think of the discard!Enough to feed the nation!  Rule of thumb- You keep a jar of yeast big enough to cover your needs. If your recipe needs "1/2 cup active starter" and you bake the recipe 3 times per week, then you need 1 1/2 c per week plus a little extra to keep the culture going. It pays to use recipes that use less starter. I use 2-3 tbsp for a recipe that makes 2 loaves so I keep a pint jar that has about 1/2 c starter-max. During the holidays, I build the volume to meet my needs of a zillion loaves as gifts.You get the idea!

LONGTERM KEEPING  If you intend to bake every couple days, you can keep the cage/jar on the counter,ideally at 60-75 F. Yeast eats more when it is warmer and gets less active when cool so feed accordingly. You can keep it in the refrig but you will be pulling it out for about 24 hr at a time (for some time before the bake to help it wake up and activate and then for a time after you've taken some for the bake and fed it so it replenishes before putting it back in the refrig). I keep mine in the refrig for a once per week bake on Sat or Sun-

METHOD   1.FRIDAY AM-take it out ,discard/feed to activate, 2. FRIDAY PM take needed starter for baking(acts as discard) and feed.Leave out to grow at least an hour or... 3.SATURDAY AM-put starter in refrig for the week.Give it time to replace itself before putting it back to doze in the refrig or it won't activate well for the next week's bake. 4. SATURDAY Bake.

I have developed my recipes so I take out 2 heaping tablespoons of starter on Friday evening and put this in a covered container with 1 c flour and 1 c water, well mixed. Let it sit overnight (but no more than 12 hours) and use it to make bread on Saturday. This  is called a preferment and is a great way to develop good flavor in your bread and to use as its yeast. The preferment should be at its active phase when used. If it was really warm in the kitchen, it could rise and go flat if left too long. Can't use it then.

Play time for you! Find a recipe to use. Take a look at the "Handbook" above. It will give recipes, info and links to great sites.

Whew-lots of info.Read thru a bunch of times-you'll get it.