The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

One base starter vs. many

BreadBrother's picture
BreadBrother

One base starter vs. many

Hello, I have one starter that I turn into various leavens by adding different flours according to recipes, but I also know of bakers who maintain multiple starters (1 whole wheat, 1 bread flour, 1 rye, etc.). Most home bakers have limited room in the fridge, and I'm guessing 1 base starter is most common, but I'm wondering what the trade-offs are here. I love my mother... do I need more than one? Thanks! 

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

I maintain a couple starters: one with a mix of AP/WW/Rye and one all AP.  I find it is quicker and easier to use the AP one for pizza dough and focaccia without having to 'convert' a single WW starter, over several days, to a recipe that is mostly if not all AP/bread flour.  The WW starter I use for my everyday sourdough and for other recipes that call for levains that aren't 100% AP.  I usually only keep small maintenance starters for each in the fridge, so I don't have a problem with storage space--the difference between one and two small jars isn't significant for me.

BreadBrother's picture
BreadBrother

Thanks! I can see how two give you some flexibility while reducing time to convert. 

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

Not only that, but having two active starters gives you a little bit of insurance, should something bad happen to one of them.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

In many cases 5 bakers will have 5 different opinions on any given subject. And all 5 of them may make excellent bread. If bread was a painting, we’d probably all use different brushes.

I have no problem converting my all purpose starter to any other type starter in a single feeding. If a rye starter is needed, it is fed rye, and so on. In my experience any of my starters (I’ve had many) were easily converted in a single feeding.

For those that disagree, they’re most probably right also...

Danny

BreadBrother's picture
BreadBrother

 I guess I'll let my baking needs determine it going forward. Thanks!

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Hi DanAyo,

I only maintain one liquid white starter at 125% hydration. During the recent baguette community bake, I worked out how to take my liquid starter to a stiff starter of 60% hydration. However, Hamelman stated on a recent video that he only maintains a rye starter of 85% hydration that he feeds once a day in the morning 20 g rye flour, 17 g water and 10 g rye culture (since August 1980!). I can't work out how to convert that to higher hydration liquid levain , eg. 125%.

Do you have any suggestions/solution?

Cheers,

Gavin.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Gavin, give me a working example of what you want converted.