The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter problem

KOmaha's picture

Starter problem

I recently took my starter from the 'frig to start feeding and poured off the liquid that was on top. Previously I would just stir it (liquid) in but this time it seemed to smell stronger than normal. Was this (is this) a no-no? Is there anyway to restore the starter to its glory days? It's based on Nancy Silverton's grape starter recipe...

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Pouring off the hooch isn't a bad thing.  Especially when it smells strong.


In general, a thicker starter will last in the fridge (you might look up "frig" at wikipedia) longer than a thinner starter.  I suggest beginners mix 1 part of water to 1 part of flour by weight, or about 2 parts of water to 3 parts of flour by volume to feed their starters.


When I pull a starter out of the fridge, I feed it for about 2 to 3 days before using it to make sure it is really lively.  I'll start with a tablespoon or so and add 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour.  The more extreme feeding will reduce the acidity of the starter.


I feel that a starter at room temperature should be fed no less twice a day.  So, about 12 hours later, another 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of flour.


Each feeding should double the amount of starter, so the next feeding is 1/2 cup of water and 3/4 cup of flour.  After 2 or 3 days, you'll have enough lively starter to bake with.  Then I'll feed any leftover starter one more time, clean out the jar in the fridge, put the starter in the jar, cover it loosely and put it into the fridge immediately after the feeding.  Some of Dr. Sugihara's studies suggest that a fresh starter fares better under freezing than a mature one.  I think that's also true of refrigerated starters.


Hope that helps,


KOmaha's picture

Thanks Mike. Will a stored starter in the refrigerator (gun shy) eventually  produce some liquid on top over time? Is this a necessary attribute ? Thanks for the Wikipedia tip-easier said than spelled I guess-ha ha.