The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Re: How much Seed Starter will I need.

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inglisbe's picture

Re: How much Seed Starter will I need.

Hello everyone,

I have been creeping around this forum for quite some time now. The sheer quanity and quality of information circulating is astounding and ,consequentally, the quality of my breads has increased exponentially. So thank you, all you skilled artisan bakers out there, for your willingness to help out the rest of us!

I am relatively new to the whole field of starters and sourdoughs. For the longest time I have contented myself with using bigas and pre-ferments, which are great in their own right, but felt I really needed to finally bite the bullet and jump in.

I currently have a 100% hydration whole rye starter which seems quite vigorous and rises well within a few hours and, having recently purchased Reinhart's Whole Grain book (which is amazing) have recently started a 75% hydration whole wheat starter, which I like since the consistancy resembles a biga, which I'm used to. But let's say I want to refresh a previous mother starter into a much bigger mother starter than the 22 oz. (I will soon be making alot of bread) quanity that the original recipe makes.  It says that 3.5 oz will raise this much. .would I just use the same ratios in a bigger batch?

I have been working in bakeries for the past several years but have recently been presented with an opportunity to make artisan breads ( whole grain) full time at a local resort. I have been making hearth breads at home for several years now, but this is completely different and I am VERY intimited. Don't want to screw this up!

Thanks so much for all the work you're doing.



Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

As long as you have such vigorous starters, you can easily build up to the quantity you need by doing it in stages. For instance, if your first stage is a one part seed, two parts flour, two parts water, you can use the result as the seed for the next stage and feel relatively confident that you'll have a vigorous build at the end of your second stage. Any excess starter can be saved for a seed for your next bake or dried as a backup in case of  brain flatulence or unplanned disposal by a well meaning spouse or room mate.

inglisbe's picture

Thanks postal grunt, I will give that a try. So it IS possible to overwhelm my poor seed starter with too much feeding at one time?

dabrownman's picture

I have experimented with 1 g of seed for 100g of  flour and 100 g of water and,after 24 hours of sitting on the counter in the summer, it had doubled and was ready to bake - so we did - very nice bread - very sour.  We duplicated this experiment and the same thing happened.  As long as you have enough water in the levain the starter will handle just about any amount of flour within reason.

inglisbe's picture

Dabrownman, wow, good to know, thanks!