The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Maintenance Starter Feeding Ratios

LisaE's picture

Maintenance Starter Feeding Ratios

Hello all,

I captured my own wild yeast and have kept it alive and I think happy for about 8 weeks or so. I have been reading so many different pieces of advice about feeding for maintenace and have never seen anyone else feed at a ratio of 1:6:6. I was wondering if anyone had any insight on if this is a bad idea or just another way to feed it.

I have tried 100% hydration, 66% and 50%. I found that 100 percent gives me good bread and seems to be very stable. 66% was fine but soooo sticky! And 50% just smelled like vinegar and I never baked with it.

I do keep it in the fridge if I am not using it, usually during the week as I work full time. (I keep the discards and whip out some coffee cakes during the week) On thursday I'll take it out, stir it up and let it peak and begin to fall. (it smells like brandy and bananas when its time to feed, oh I love that smell!) Then I take 5 g of starter, add 30 g water, stir it up till it looks milky, then add 30 g flour. It likes bread flour and I spike it with rye at least once during the refreshments. I wait till it peaks (8-12 hrs, it quadruples) and begins to fall before I feed again with the same ratio. My room temp is about 74F on top of the fridge. I refresh it until Sunday evening and feed it, let it about double and pop it back in the fridge for another 4 days of hybernation.

So, why do I see so many people feeding at a ratio of 1:1:1 or 1:2:2 but never as high as 1:6:6? Is it that it would peak much faster and need to be fed more often? I think my starter would race through these lower ratios and hooch out after 5 hours! Haven't tried it though, we seem to have found our routine, Ursula and I. I know it's all about what works for us but was wondering about your thoughts? Thanks for any input!


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

not when the starter works for them.  That is why the ratios are low (1:1:1, 1:2:2) to put the starter back to the beginning steps.  Once a starter is purring along and you can read your starter, judging the fermentation and balance,  you can refresh or feed just about any ratio as long as you let it ripen fully before feeding.  

There is a recipe posted this weak that uses 15g of starter to 455g flour.   A starter:water: flour ratio of  (1:20:30)  and I'm sure that if a sample of this dough was pinched off and allowed to fully ripen (beyond the timing used for the bread)  it could continue as a starter.  It will take time for this ratio to ferment but that is the beauty of it.  I don't recommend using a 1 to 30 feeding ratio for maintenance unless you are using an old dough process.  Your 1:6:6 is just fine.

SourdoLady's picture

I think that what you are doing sounds perfect. Your starter is happy and performing well. Most people underfeed their starters and then over time they get weak. That is the number one cause of starter problems. The other big mistake people make is not discarding (or using) enough of the old starter. Once it has consumed all the nutrients in the flour that you have fed it, it is then just a puddle of waste with millions of hungry yeast cells competing for food. Every time you feed it, the number of yeast cells grows dramatically so you have to discard to keep their population manageable. You are doing a great job at being a starter mommy!

LisaE's picture

Now I see, that makes perfect sense! Thanks for your replies. =)