The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Normal maintenance feeding

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JIP's picture
JIP

Normal maintenance feeding

So I have been on a regular schedule of once a week feedings if I am not baking.  Since I have made a firm starter and have been bakign with that lately I am pretty much just feeding my regular starter to maintain it.  The feedings I have been doing are 1c 120g AP flour 120g spring water 120g starter.  First of all even though this has sustained my starter I want to know is this the way to go to keep things healthy also since I got a smaller container today (1 quart cambro) to hold my starter would it be o.k. to cut this in half to maintain a smaller amount of starter.  I guess that's about it thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

JIP,

I am currently keeping just 60 grams of starter. That's about 2 ounces, and it's working fine. I keep 10 grams of starter and these days I am refreshing with 20 grams of water and 30 grams of flour. The flour is a mix of AP and Whole wheat. When I build my final levain I use up to 50 grams of starter and refresh the remaining 10 grams.

I don't find and difference at all between small amounts of culture and larger ones for creating an active and ripe final levain. It raises the bread just fine as well. Why waste the flour?

Soundman (David)

JIP's picture
JIP

So is the 1/1/1 ratio a good one for regular maintenance feedings.

browndog's picture
browndog

I keep 50g firm starter as per JMonkey--5g starter, 15g water 25 g flour. If I need more for a build I just double it. It's a compact amount, but it's enough.

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

It's so good to see you back here. Annie and I were just saying we missed you. Hope all is well. How is my favorite Vermont in my favorite season?                                                                   weavershouse

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Nice to see you!! Welcome back!

Betty

JIP's picture
JIP

Well I do have a firm starter I have been using the formula from Gleezzer's book.  The ratio is like 10g starter 25g water 45g bread flourand it has worked good for me. I was more looking for info on a basic batter type starter.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

JIP, 

First, there are lots of very experienced sourdough bakers on TFL who will, I hope, weigh in on your question.

It sounds as if you already have a firm starter and want a liquid one as well.

A 100% hydration starter is equal parts water and flour, and is indeed a liquid starter. It leaves open the ratio of flour to starter. The 1:1:1 ratio you mention is one instance of 100% hydration; the question is, is that enough flour to feed the yeast in your culture? (In my case, no. If I used 1:1:1 my yeast would be finished feasting in 4 hours or less, and I want the process to take at least 8 hours to allow flavor to develop.)

So my short answer to you is: you can use 1:1:1 if your culture ripens in the kind of time you need for developing the flavor you want. If it exhausts itself too quickly, you need to increase the ratio of flour to starter.

Back to hydration: an alternative to 100% hydration on the liquid side is 125%, a hydration level favored by Hamelman in Bread for his Vermont Sourdough, for example. That's 5 parts water to 4 parts flour. You still need to decide what ratio of flour to starter you want, of course. You could do 1, 2, 3, or 4 to 5:4, for example. (The last, 4:5:4 is the closest to 1:1:1, of course.)

Still, there are other issues. Some of us who don't bake every day have seen an advantage in keeping a firm starter. It appears to me that my starter maintains its activity better in the fridge if I keep it at, say, 1:2:3 or 1:3:4, or 1:3:5 for that matter. It also seems to bounce back better. If I need a 125% hydration starter for a particular recipe, I adjust it during the final build. I should point out that I now refresh my starter 2 times per week when not using it. I find it requires fewer feedings to get it to ripeness when I bake with it.

Hamelman uses a "liquid levain" for tangier breads. He uses a firm starter for what he calls a more French-style Pain au Levain, which is less sour. However not everyone agrees on the liquid starter = tangier equation, as one sees here on TFL.

Finally on Hamelman: he has a really rich and interesting discussion of temperature and hydration level when discussing rye sourdough, specifically the Detmold 3-stage process of building rye sourdough bread. This method has codified the hydration level and temperature best suited to develop each essential component of a sourdough culture: yeast, acetic acid, and lactic acid.

This is, to me, serious food for thought.

Hope this helps.

Soundman (David)

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Hey there, good to see your name again! Please keep posting, we worry when people go missing! As you can see, we are all baking - how about you? A.

edh's picture
edh

Browndog it's so good to see you back here! I swear I was just wondering where you'd got to the other day; the apple trees in Downeast Maine are absolutely groaning with fruit this year and it reminded me of your amazing post The Scent of Apples from last fall. Still one of my favorite bits of writing and photography.

We'll be picking apples in the next week or two for cider, and my not-so-secret hope is that we'll have enough for me to attempt a small batch of cider jelly. Failing that, my eleven year old has asked for a jar of Willis Woods for Christmas this year...

Welcome back!

edh

Oops! Almost forgot the original purpose of the post! I keep a very small firm starter; feeding 10 grams of starter with 20 g water, 40 g AP flour. If I know I won't be baking for several days, I add a pinch of salt to slow things down, though I know this is considered a big no-no by some. Hasn't caused any problems though, and it's prevented me from starving the little dears by accident... With such a small maintenance amount, it's easy to convert to WW or rye in one feeding. All I need for storage is an 8 oz jelly jar. 

sodbuster's picture
sodbuster

Hi,

It is really pretty simple.  If you are using your starter daily, mix the white flour and water to a thick consistency and let it sit at room temp (leaving room for expansion).  If you want to store it, stick it in the fridge for a month or more.  It will survive.  Just dump most of it (hooch too) and use the remainder for a new batch (white flour and water only).  My starter is 24 years old and as long as I pay attention to it every month or so, I am assured a supply of pancakes!