The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Feeding the barm, numbers vary

mendozer's picture

Feeding the barm, numbers vary

Peter Reinhart suggests doubling the barm whenever refreshing. So for 1 lb barm, he adds 8 oz of flour and 8 oz water.  Is this the same as teh 1:1:1 ratio I'm seeing on here?


Also, he suggests refreshing after 3 days where here on the 101 tutorial, it's suggested to do so once a week.

breadforfun's picture

1:1:1 refreshing means literally that: one part by weight of each of the starter, flour and water.  Reinhart's formula as you wrote it would be designated as 2:1:1 (twice as much starter as flour and water).

But take this with a grain of salt.  Starters are very flexible.  My Reinhart barm or starter is almost 2 years old, and I have refreshed it using 2:1:1, 1:1:1, even (approx) 1:5:6 as Hamelman uses in his formulas.  The exact ratio can be adjusted to fit your personal baking schedule.  Most bakers like to use the starter just before or when it peaks.  Different refreshment ratios allow you to vary the time to reach maturity, so experiment to see what works bets for your schedule and with the temperature you use.

If you use your starter ofter, then daily refreshment is great.  I store my starter in the refrigerator and refresh it once or twice before I want to bake with it, usually weekly.  This schedule works just fine for me.



mendozer's picture

oh ok.  I've been baking galor because I don't want to waste starter.  Two batches went well and today's didn't rise as expected. Today's was after i refreshed it. The other two were from the initial barm.  I'll wait a few days before using again.  I'll try refreshing weekly and see what that does. 


also, after each refreshment, i let it sit on counter for 8 hours (overnight) then stick it in fridge till next refreshment

Janetcook's picture


I keep my starter in the refrig. and when I want to bake I take a portion of it and refresh that portion several times before I add it to my final dough.

That being said, the starter that is left in the refrig. is refreshed only once a week.  I feed it and put it immediately into the refrig. so that it has food to eat and that way it stays 'fresh' all week.

By letting yours sit on the counter for 8 hours I would imagine it has consumed all the fresh food you have given it.  You are then putting it into the refrig. 'hungry' and it won't last long at all due to how the yeast and LABS react when food is low.....

 I would recommend feeding it and letting it sit on the counter for maybe an hour and then put it into the refrig.  Before you are going to use it again just let it sit out at room temp. and finish it's feed.  It should stay fresher longer this way.

Experiment and see what works for you.  You can increase or decrease hydration to speed things up or slow things down....You just have to see what works for you :-)

Good Luck,


davidg618's picture

In a large part, based on advice from Debra Wink, TFL's resident microbiologist, when I build levain for baking I include enough extra to entirely replace my refrigerated stored starter. I adopted this method about six months ago when Debra helped me save a starter that I thought was a goner.

Here's my weekly routine.

Twenty-four hours before mixing dough I begin building levain. I progressively feed 2:1:1 every eight hours. Example: to 10g of stock starter I add 5g each of flour and water. I do this for two reasons: 1) I don't want to significantly change the chemistry of the stored starter, especially the pH; any feeding dilutes the stock starter, but smaller feedings, i.e. 2:1:1 dilute less, and 2) since I feed every eight hours there is little chance all the available food will be exhausted. Subseqently, to the 20g of ripened levain I add 10g each flour and water; repeating a third time after another eight hours. At the end of 24 hours 80g of ripe levain result.

For my usual weekly sourdough bake I require 250g for the formula, and 40g to replace my stock, so I begin with 40g of starter, resulting in 320g of ripe levain. I first take 40g and feed it 1:1:1, and place it immediately in the refrigerator for next week's bake, leaving me about 280g for the dough mix, and the bit that alway sticks to the spatula and the levain container. The newly made, refrigerated starter, which cools fast, nevertheless over the next three days slowly works to a peak and afterwords slowly deflates. I feed 1:1:1 to insure there is enough food to maintain the slow development during the week.

On those rare weeks I don't bake, I simply make enough levain to replace my stored starter.

David G


mendozer's picture

so when you store it for the next week, you are doing a 1:1:1. Mine also isn't very sour yet, needs another week or so to develop more.