The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter Maths

IzzyR_1995's picture
IzzyR_1995

Starter Maths

I’ve been seeing some success with my sourdough starter which I began about 8 days ago. I was however a little underwhelmed with the amount I had, so instead of discarding half, I left it and just fed my 200g starter with 50g flour + 50g water. Is this correct or should I have done 100g flour + 100g water to match what I already had?

So, because maths isn’t my strong point and I’m struggling with the guides online, my question is, what are the proportions I should work to now I have 300g of starter?

Thanks in advance for helping out a newbie!

Abe's picture
Abe

If you were just fooling up with that feed then fine. However as maintenance that feed was very poor. 

Starter is just seed. You don't need to keep hundreds of grams. All you're doing at this stage is getting one going which you can use to build levains (off shoot starters) which are geared for the recipe you're following. 

If your starter is steady and active I'd recommend keeping it in a smaller jar giving it feeds of...

  • 20g starter 
  • 40g water 
  • 40g flour
IzzyR_1995's picture
IzzyR_1995

The recipe I intend on using calls for 100g active starter so I want to have enough on the go to have a couple of attempts. 

Assuming I keep to a 1:1:1 ratio, will I be ok if I discard all but 100g and then add 100g flour + 100g water?

Abe's picture
Abe

Is fine as long as it has been recently refreshed. Keeping a small amount of starter is easy. All you do the night before is take a little starter to build up to 100g and use the next day. You're never far off from having enough. 

However if you'd like to keep 300g on hand to use then I advise to use it up within 2 or three days and then re-feed. 

I prefer the idea of 60g starter + 120g water + 120g flour. It's a healthier feed which makes for a healthier starter and  more fresh flour. Use when active and peaked otherwise keep in the fridge. 

There are so many ways to get to the same place. Keeping less and building levains is a lot easier. 

phaz's picture
phaz

Don't bother feeding or discarding at this point. Stir it well a couple times a day and look for a rise. When it stops rising is the time to feed again. How much? Get a wet dough like consistency and maintain the consistency. When it loses that consistency (thinner and looser) get the consistency again with food. Go by how it feels - feel will do ya better than math in the long run in this game. Enjoy!

IzzyR_1995's picture
IzzyR_1995

This was reassuringly simple for a topic that there is an infinite amount of daunting information on!

Thank you for the advice, I’ve been watching it closely and it rises/falls fairly predictably. But I was wondering, will it be ok if I switched to bread flour? I’ve been using all purpose up until this point but finding the consistency rather thin. Albeit I am using 100% hydration.

phaz's picture
phaz

That's a quote from a guy named Demming, smart man - if you can't explain a process in few and simple terms, you don't know it very well". Fortunately that's easy in bread making - cuz it's just a few things and they are very simple.

Switching flour - no problem. They are basically the same so no worries - I will add whenever switching a major component, which food is, it wouldn't be unusual if things get a little wonky at first. Things will work themselves out on their own.

Sounds like it's got life, now let it get strong and you'll have bread soon. Enjoy!