The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Effects of Feeding a starter twice a day vs less often?

Nick Sorenson's picture
Nick Sorenson

Effects of Feeding a starter twice a day vs less often?

I used to feed my starter twice a day. I'd bake one and waste one. I got tired of the waste and started just only doing the bake dump. This seems to produce good bread. The difference I've noticed is the crumb is tighter on the less fed starter. It's more like regular store bread as far as how open the crumb is.

What have you noticed in the differences?


I'm especially curious of feeding:

-twice a day

-once a day

-once every two to three days

tchism's picture

I feed mine every 12 hours when it on the counter and at least two cycles before i use it or place it back in the fridge. I keep my starter at 100% hydration.This seems to produce the best results and keeps my starter healthy.

I also feed 1:1:1


BreadBro's picture

I leave my starter in the fridge and only remove a tiny bit (ie ~5 grams) for each loaf of bread. I do 2-3 feedings to double it up to the size I need. This way I don't have to throw anything away.

For example, I need 56g of starter for my loaf. I take out 10 grams of starter, feed it 1:1:1. Now I have 30g. Twelve hours later I double that and then I have my starter. This method produces excellent bread with no ill effects.


dabrownman's picture

80 g of stiff rye starter (66%) hydration in the fridge and us 10-20 go fo it for each loaf of bread.  I too use 3 builds to make the levain for the loaf at about 10-20% of the flour water weight of the final weight.  After 3 weeks baking 1 loaf a week, I take the last of it and refresh it back up to 80 g and 66% hydration over 3 feeds.  I call this the no muss, no fuss, no waste method of sour starter nirvana.

Feeding white flour twice a day @ 100% hydration will promote yeast growth while reducing labs and sour.  Perfect for folks who don't want or like sour, but folks that do always ask -  why has my sour gone away?  They need rye, dry and cold, no feed starter like mine to get sour.

gary.turner's picture

I confess to providing very little care for my mother leaven. It's 100% hydration fed with whatever flour is on the counter at the time. Feeding comes about when I start getting low, then I add 50g each water and flour of the day. I let it sit for an hour or so on the counter before it's back to the fridge.

My usage runs about 10–25g per batch of poolish, so feedings are about 4–6 weeks apart. I have used this mother for four years now with good  results. Naturally, YMMV, but I am convinced that sourdough is made up of tough little buggers.



phaz's picture

 and I am just lazy,  only feeding once a day in this warm weather.  sometimes I'll forget to feed a day or 2,  but doesn't seem to bother anything.  things may get a little more tang,  but as mentioned,  feeding a time or 2 before use to make sure the starter is nice and active is the way to go. I usually bake 2-3 times a week,  I'll bet I can get away with no feeding between bakes with this schedule. an established starter is a resilient beast,  it can take a licking and it keeps on ticking!

M2's picture

I only have time to bake on the weekend, so I keep my 100% hydration starter in the fridge, and feed it at 1:2:2 to refresh it.  My bread seems to have pretty good crumb.  If the crumb is tight, I'll blame it to my poor mixing and shaping techniques!

Yes, I do run into the issue of end up having too much starter...oh well.


FlourChild's picture

Because I bake frequently, I maintain my starter at room temp.  Reducing your feed schedule while still at room temp can definitely be done.  You need to decrease the amount of seed in your feeds so that the starter will have enough to eat between feeds.  For instance, if you are feeding something like 1:2:2 (seed: flour: water) every twelve hours, then to move to a daily (24 hr) feed you would need to go to something like 1:4:4.  It will help your starter if you stir or knead a little after 12 hours, this will give it a second rise and encourage yeast production.  

With smaller seeds you have to be very careful to always let the starter reach full maturity and full acidity before feeding again- be careful when temps begin to drop.  Otherwise, the starter spends too much time at a lower level of acidity and is less able to ward off infections from unwanted microbes.

The other way to go about it is to find a cool or cold place to slow down the starter.  The fridge is an obvious choice, but you may also find a cool corner of the basement, etc.

DavidEF's picture

When I feel like it, I'll keep the starter on top of my fridge, and feed it twice daily. If I no longer feel like doing that, I just throw it into the fridge after a feeding, and get back to it whenever I feel like it again, or if I use it up in baking. I've also tried keeping it like a Pate Fermentee, with the Flour:Water:Salt ratio of bread dough, while keeping it in the fridge. I guess it is probably one part benign neglect, one part malicious experimentation, to see what kind of abuse the yeast can handle, and one part pure selfish "This stuff ain't gonna rule MY LIFE!" attitude. After several months of this bouncing around, the only thing that has caused sourness is switching to King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat flour for the feedings. That produced so much sour, that I had to add baking soda to subdue it, and afterward I switched to feeding with about 25% KA WW, with 75% unbleached AP, now down to just using the AP recently. I also never throw away any "discard" from feedings. I keep it in a sealed container in the fridge, and use it for baking after bringing it back up to room temperature. Oh, I also keep it at a 100% hydration, and feed it with a very small amount of seed, just a few grams, so I don't have to feed it as much flour and water. It seems to be doing fine.