The Fresh Loaf

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An advanced starter question

ramat123's picture

An advanced starter question

Hi All,

I'm baking for about 12 minths with 2 well maintained starters (white and a mix of whole wheat / rye starters).

I'm baking about 12 loaves a week and sell them to my friends at work.

Though my starter is working well I have the following question:

When is it best to use a starter?

When it doubles itself?

After it falls?

Does it matter if I use it 12 hours after it doubles itself?

Do you know what's the chemistry behind it?

Thank you!


ehanner's picture


When you refresh your starter, it is at the most diluted state. That is, the population of bacteria and yeast is at the lowest concentration due to your discarding the old and adding new food. The next thing that happens is the bacteria and yeasts begin to feed and multiply. Slowly at first and then at an increasing activity rate until the available food is consumed. At this point, the starter will have grown to it's highest level and will start to collapse. If you can catch it at exactly the time when it is falling, that would be the largest population of creatures looking for a free meal. (new dough mix) This is like free pizza at the commons in school:>)

Anyway, it isn't necessary to catch it at the absolute peak. I will use my starter after 4 hours at room temperature and a fresh feeding. The activity will vary with the hydration of the starter of course. If you know you need to feed the starter and also know that you want to mix your dough in 4-5 hours, mix a 100% hydration starter (equal water and flour weights). A firm starter will last longer before it needs to be fed but will be less active after 4 hours. Hope this helps.


Yerffej's picture


In addition to Eric's answer I would encourage you to research the posts on this forum.  Debra Wink, and others, have posted a lot of fantastic information on the chemistry of sourdough.