The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Feeding starter

Obibi's picture
Obibi

Feeding starter

I know you're supposed to feed starter with an equal ratio of starter-flour-water by weight, but the other day i was in a hurry and didnt want to use a new container but my starter was 3/4 what i wanted it to be. 3 days ago, I fed with equal parts water and flour, left on the counter for a couple hours, then put in the fridge. Its bubbly but not as much as usual, and is not passing the float test. Have I killed it?

Lechem's picture
Lechem

If you wish your starter to be 100% hydration then you feed it by equal weight. Starters can be any hydration. 

...And don't worry you have not killed it. You just refrigerated it before it completely matured where it will carry on fermenting but slower. 

When you wish to bake bring it back to room temperature, dump some and feed the rest etc. Wait till it matures. 

Or take a little off, build a Levain and keep the rest in the fridge for some other time. 

So many ways! 

Obibi's picture
Obibi

Interesting! So you bake with the starter that you just fed? I was always under the impression to feed it the night before you use it to bake, but the more I bake the more of a n00b i realize i am! Thank you for your response 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

That has been fed and left to mature. When it's peaked and bubbly then I bake with it. 

It's no problem to feed it, leave it a few hours then refrigerate. This way it can last in the fridge for quite a while between feeds. I keep my starter like this. 

But when it comes to baking I'll give it another feed and use when mature. Or I'll take a little off and build an off shoot starter - a levain - wait for that to mature and use. 

Alternatively I'll build a starter, wait for it to mature, refrigerate and then use within a few days. 

Obibi's picture
Obibi

also also!! what is the difference between a starter and a levain, and how would i build a levain and what would i use it for? thank you 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

See above! 

The difference between a starter and a Levain is simply how you keep and use a starter.

Some people keep a small amount of starter and use it as a seed only. When it comes to baking they'll take some off and build an off shoot starter - a levain. 

Others keep, feed and use a starter all in one. 

All depends on your baking needs. 

SeattleStarter's picture
SeattleStarter

I'm new, so take with a grain of salt. I now follow the "seed starter" protocol as described by Lechem.

Before that, I was using the same batch for everything but I found that it was developing a smell I didn't like. (At that point I fed and used it very frequently, never spending time in the fridge.)