The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Feeding schedule: 3x a day or 2x a day?

pezeni's picture

Feeding schedule: 3x a day or 2x a day?

My current feeding schedule is to feed 3 times a day, at 8am, 4pm, 12am. I leave 30 grams of starter and add 60 grams of water, 40 grams of white flour and 20 grams of wheat flour. This is working pretty well for me but sometimes it's hard to keep on top of such a demanding schedule. Occasionally I fall asleep and forget to feed at 12am. I notice the next morning the mother has peaked and maybe decreased in size only slightly compared to my 3x schedule. Also the mother is foamier and more liquidy when stirred through. After another feeding I notice more vigorous activity and quicker rise from the mother and any leaven I build for baking. I'm wondering if anyone else is on a 3x schedule and if in fact maybe 2x is preferable to allow the yeast to have a longer chance to fully eat at the feeding?

FYI I am using the Tartine method for leaven building using a tablespoon of ripe starter. I keep this separate from my main mother just so I have more flexibility unlike the method in the book where the mother and leaven are kept together.

tgrayson's picture

I think that schedule is crazy. You want to live your life around your starter? I keep in the refrigerator until I need it, then three feedings make it ready to go: once over night, once while I'm at work, then another overnight.

golgi70's picture

This depends on what you'd like to achieve from your starter.  The more frequent the feedings the less sour the and more sweet notes your starter imparts.  This is certainly the time line of a professional bakery that has staff on hand 24 hours a day 7 days a week making it quite simple to achieve.  If your just trying to maintain your starter as a home bakery you could feed 1 x daily let sit at room temp for a couple hours then retard.  This is how we maintain our starter.  Fed at the same time every day.  The excess is levain for the days breads.  If you want to regather the sweet notes you can pull this from the retarder and use some to seed a more frequently fed starter again and regain the attributes of a more often fed starter.  And as the previous poster said.  If it is simply about keeping it alive it can be fed even less than daily and just be sure to give it a few builds before planning a dough.  Although this very much works and has been proven so, I think feeding it once a day is rather easy, relatively cheap, and if you choose a good time in your life cycle to do the feeding and then putting it away, should be effortless.  

Hope this helps


davidlaplante's picture

The density of your starter is the key to getting results. I bake bread for my restaurant Sea and smoke and feed my starter once a day. Time and temperture are very Important as well to the speed of the fermentation. 

Here is what I recommend for a daily starter feeding.

Discard starter till there's just  about 200 gms 

Feed 500gms water

          500 gms  white flour

          500 gms wheat flour

this how to tell if this formula works for you it's called the "float test"
when ready to bake bread fill mixing bowl with water

measure desired starter amount pour into bowl and if it floats



Ford's picture

If it works for you, it is right.  Each baker has his (or her) own procedure for keeping a starter fresh.  For me, this is the easiest way.

I keep two active starters in the refrigerator for weeks on end, maybe three weeks before refreshing.  When I need starter, I remove the starter from the refrigerator the morning before I intend to use it.  I refresh with the following ratios starter:AP flour:water::1:1:1.  (I have been told not to overwhelm the starter with new strains of yeast and lactobacteria whose spores may be in the flour.  That is my reason for not using a ratio of 1:2:2))  I let this ferment for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature.  Then I refresh again at the same ratios.  This ferments overnight at room temperature.  The next morning my starter is raring to go.  If my bread is to be whole wheat I use whole wheat flour instead of AP flour.  I also use chlorine free water -- I run tap water through a charcoal filter.

I also keep some dried starter in a plastic container in a cool place (e. g. refrigerator) in case disaster strikes.

Now, you choose a procedure that suits you.


hanseata's picture

I treat my 4 starters just like Ford, keeping them in the refrigerator and taking out what I need to refresh a day ahead. If I want to bake a Tartine or Forkish bread I start feeding earlier, but only the amounts I need to produce the starter for the planned bread.

No waste, no hassle - and rave reviews from my customers.


Fatmat's picture

I mostly bake daily. I use my starter in the morning and feed it in the evening, approx 10 hours before I need it again. Works absolutely fine for me. 

If I know that I wont be using it for a while then I put it in the fridge after I've used it and take it out and feed it the evening before I need it, as above. 

Dead easy.

CAphyl's picture

When I am not traveling, I feed it once a day, later in the day.  When I travel, I put it in the fridge and then take it out when i get home and bring it to room temperature.  I actually brought some starter with me in my suitcase as we have another home, and this starter was crazy when I fed it. It responded so well to feeding; I did feed it twice a day at first to get some volume, as I didn't bring very much.  I baked something every day during the trip, including Paul Hollywood's sourdough cheese and apple bread, and all of our guests loved it.  I would say that this starter was more active than the "Mother" starter in our full time home.  We have an overseas trip coming up, and i am thinking of taking a small amount of starter with me so I can use it to bake for our English family.