The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough and still a bit clueless

Lemonie's picture

Sourdough and still a bit clueless

Okay so after help I now have a healthy starter.  I'm about ready to put my starter in the fridge and am a bit lost again.

I am looking to make a couple of loaves and some experiments with other bakes per week.  I use 100g of starter per loaf ish at the moment.

1)  How much starter should I keep in the fridge.

2)  If I need 100g of starter, do I need to take it out of the fridge and feed it prior or just take out the 100g and add 50g water and 50g flour to make it back up and pop it back in the fridge.  Does this count as a feed?





Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

1: build up about 50g and keep it in the fridge. When it comes to baking take off 20g and build a levain. After two bakes your starter will be down to about 10g and then top it up back to 50. 

2: if you bake often then keep 20g in the fridge. When it comes to baking take it out, feed it, take off 100g and return what's left of your starter back to the fridge where it can last a few days between feeds. Repeat. 

3: keep 30g in the fridge. Comes to baking take off 20g and build a levain. To the remaining 10g feed what you have taken off and return it to the fridge when it's activated. 

I could go on throwing out ideas but you can see it's flexible. I build about 100g of 100% hydration wholegrain rye starter. Allow it to activate then return it to the fridge. It can last a week or two in the fridge. When I wish to bake I'll dip into it to make a levain. When it runs low I'll refeed it. 

eddieruko's picture

If you're baking multiple times throughout the week, I would suggest leaving it out at room temp. I would only suggest putting it in the fridge if you are going to go more than 4 days without baking. You can maintain a smaller starter and build it up leading up to your bake. 

How large is your starter now?

You'll likely get lots of responses how people manage their starters. Ultimately it's up to you and your schedule. 


Lemonie's picture

Thanks for the replies.

I have half a large mason jar made up in the fridge which is 390g of starter! so think I may have overdone it there.  Will reduce is down as I use it.  I was worried that I wasn't going to have enough when I wanted to take 100g off and also if I took a little of and fed it up to the 100g whether that would be as strong as the original if that makes sense.

I'm a bit overprotective of my starter after so many failed attempts lol.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

It's so easy...

Find a small jar. Jam jar size. Clean it thoroughly. Take 10g of your starter and feed it 35g water (if you want it 100% hydration) and 35g whole rye flour.

Keep that out at room temperature for 6-8 hours until it doubles but not quite peaks. Active but not too mature. Refrigerate. this 80g starter will last in the fridge for a week or two (or even three). When it comes to baking take off some starter and build a levain each time. When it runs low just re-feed, top it back up and repeat.

Won't do any harm to freeze some as back up. And/or dry some starter where it can last forever till reactivated.

Make a thin starter paste. Consistency of a thin paint. Take some starter off, feed it some water and flour to about 150% hydration...

e.g. 12g starter + 64g water + 50g bread flour

Allow this to bubble up (about 6-8 hours) once frothy (it won't rise much as it's too hydrated) and smells good then paint the starter thinly onto some parchment paper and air dry it. You can use the oven to do this but just with the light on. Once it's all dried out then peel off the starter and store it in an airtight container. Or you can grind it up into powder first if you like.

Lemonie's picture

Thank you.  Am definitely going to dry some as I have a dehydrator and have dried liquids before.  I didn't think it was an option with starter though.

Am sure a few months down the line I'll be slinging it around and not be quite so neurotic :)


clazar123's picture

See my post on drying starter HERE . It is easy at room temp if the air is dry. If you use a dehydrator, make sure you have the heating element off or very low or you will cook your yeasts!

I dry it out and store it in the freezer or cupboard as backup. Revive with some water and I have been good to go. Do a few feeds and I am back in business.

Dulcilo's picture

This took me so long to figure out, that I thought I would share the insight that finally came to me. I have been baking sourdough for about a year, and I was getting terribly confused by the differing methods I read about on how to maintain your starter. I finally figured out (just today!) that there are basically two systems, both work and both are widely utilized. 1) You keep a larger amount of starter, either refrigerated or on the counter depending on how often you bake, you feed it regularly discarding half each time so that it doesn’t get too acidic or too large in volume, and when you are ready to bake you take a small amount of it and build the levain for your bake, still leaving enough starter to store and continue to feed OR 2) You keep a small quantity of starter, say 20 g, and when you are ready to bake you use that entire amount to build the levain by adding enough flour and water for your bake + 20 grams extra, which you put back to store and become the starter for the next loaf.

I am sure there are pros and cons of each method. It is understanding that there are these two very different methods that was important for me to make sense of all the advice I was reading in books and on the internet about starters. I use the second method because 1) you aren’t wasting flour, 2) you don’t have to continually feed a separate starter, and 3) you are always using a “young” starter which gives a me the milder, “sweeter” flavor that I like in my sourdough bread. Since this is how I was taught initially, I was getting so confused by recipes that differed. But now I can see the two systems and figure out how to adapt such a recipe to the method I prefer.

I hope this helps some other beginner and saves you the head scratching that I went through. 

Lemonie's picture

Thanks all.  Now I know there isn't a tried and tested way to maintain a starter am going to have a play around and see what works for me from the suggestions.