The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do I replace hooch with equivalent in water?

poorlittlefish's picture

Do I replace hooch with equivalent in water?

After finally managing to cultivate a starter able to produce successful loaves, I've been storing it in the fridge and feeding it once a week by discarding half and adding equal weights of (white) flour and water.  I noticed that the starter was becoming thicker and it dawned on me that I've been pouring away the thin layer of hooch that accumulates on top, without adding extra water to compensate.

What's the correct way of dealing with this?  Should I be weighing the hooch I pour off and adding the same weight in water, in addition to the water I'll be adding to equal the weight of flour or do I not need to be as thorough as that?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

if you are feeding it, letting it rise about a third and then chilling it.  

If the starter is separating, it is either alcohol or water.  Either way, a major change has to be made with your starter routine.  

If water, let the starter stand out at room temperature until it peaks, then reduce and feed but wait until it is risen about 1/3 before chilling.  

If hooch or alcohol, the starter is underfed and you need a smaller amount of starter to feed. You may have to feed it several times to boost yeast numbers if the starter is sluggish.

dabrownman's picture

and it would be neglected in the fridge to where hooch formed.  I always stirred it into the starter before discarding and feeding so that none was lost.  It never did any harm and I always thought that sour was better and no bad things would grow in it with higher alcohol content.  I have no idea if this was the right thing to do but we never had a problem and the feedings never had to compensate for lost water.  Eventually, I got away from liquid starters because they were so difficult, wasted too much flour and required feedings. 

Farmpride's picture

first, just feed it, and make more bread, pancakes or freeze it. second, i concur with the last poster in that getting away from the liquid starter is not an altogether bad idea, waste wise. when starters where the way, this was a ..."the"..way of life. now a days we tend to let it go as we do have more ways to do things, many more things to eat.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and that is not such a liquid that it won't rise or be easy to manage even when is gets thicker or runnier.  The feeding should be balancing out the water needs of the starter with each feed unless too much hungry starter is being fed or the starter is not covered allowing for too much evaporation.   Check thru this post for more detailed information:

Ford's picture

Whatever works for you is the right way -- for you!  My starter is 100% hydration and it may stay in the refrigerator for as long as a month before I use it.  I just stir any hooch back into the starter, and refresh it twice at room temperature before making bread.   I refresh in the ratio of 1:1:1 by weight (starter:flour:water).  Sourdough requires patience, but it is forgiving as to the procedures different bakers use.