The Fresh Loaf

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Wait to Feed a New Starter?'s picture

Wait to Feed a New Starter?

Hi all, newbie to the forum, 

Should I wait for maximum expansion and the start of collapse before feeding each time?


Did have a viable starter, then forgot it for a few days and started again, since then haven't been able to get a start up and running:

  • Thought it was temperature variation, so built a proofing box out of an old tabletop oven. Constant temp 27 deg C on stone slab (as a heat sink), 28-29 air temp. So that's not the problem.

What I have now after a week of 1:1:1 each day. Started with Rye and now doing inorganic white.


Help muchly appreciated!!


Malcolm in New Zealand.


Abe's picture

Is like making a new starter. If you have been feeding it come what may everyday even if there hasn't been activity then you probably ended up with fresh flour and water. Leave it alone now and see what happens.'s picture

Thanks Abe, will leave it alone and see what happens. Have also put a 50/50 Rye and water alongside just for fun. Will update this thread with progress.

Many thanks


Abe's picture

Good idea with the side experiment. Report back in a few days with your findings.'s picture

OK, so now have a repeatable starter. Feeding 1:2:2 with a 50/50 white flour and Rye. But...

Takes about 18-24 hours to double in size. Smells very ethanol, and not very yeasty. Should I up the ratio to say 1:5:5 or even 1:10:10? From the research I have been doing, thinking it might be hungry.

Also, using filtered water from our city supply which is treated with Chlorine. Wonder if that has an impact.

Temperature in the proofing oven is a constant 27 deg C.


Thanks in anticipation



Benito's picture

Rather than choosing a predetermined amount of rise such as double or triple, wait until your starter has peaked and just started to fall before feeding it again.  As it is rising it has a bit of a dome, as it just starts to fall the dome flattens.  This happens when the microbes are starting to run out of “food” and is an ideal time to feed.  If you feed too soon, you are diluting the microbes in the starter which you don’t want to do.  So wait to feed.

In fact, I would actually stir the starter thoroughly when it starts to fall.  Wait to see if it starts to rise again.  If it doesn’t after several hours then discard and feed.  If it does rise, then wait until it peaks and just starts to fall before thinking about feeding again.

When should you increase the ratio of the feeds?  The higher then ratio, say 1:4:4 vs 1:2:2 which you have been doing, will make the starter take longer to peak and fall.  So if your starter if peaking and starting to fall after 18 hours and this is occurring in the middle of the night, then yes increase the ratio so that the peak is closer to 24 hours and at a time when you are awake.

Benny's picture

Thanks Benny, will do the rise and fall feeding without changing anything else ;-)

Update to follow...

Abe's picture

Ethanol smell means it's hungry. Slowly increase the amount it is fed but only re-feed once it has peaked. It's going well.'s picture

Thanks Aba, 


by Slowey increase the amount you mean the ratio right? 1:2:2 --> 1:4:4 --> 1:6:6? as opposed to just the flour content, which would lower the hydration 1:2:2 --> 1:4:2 etc


Abe's picture

Slowly increase, e.g. 1:2:2 - 1:3:3 - 1:4:4, and try to re-feed when it peaks.'s picture

OK, left until it peaked at 3 times volume!. Then feed 1:3:3. picked up a tip from another site to put the filtered water into the old discard jar and rinse out the goodness.

More to follow at the next peakyness.




Abe's picture

Every time you feed your starter?'s picture




Abe's picture

the discard jar with the water you're feeding the starter because it's full of goodies. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

i will add:  My caged up critters only get a jar change when they've really messed up their cage. :) 

To each his/her own, let thy sourdough be true.

Abe's picture

Exactly my point, Mini. If washing out the discard jar to use the water for feeding the starter in a new jar, because it's full of goodies, then why not just keep it in the original jar? 

I'm with you. I never change the starter jar. With good maintenance it doesn't become too messy.'s picture

hi all, an update!

Held off feeding my starter until it had tripled in size, and got it repeatable using 1:3:3. Then it was Christmas and in my part of the world that means the beach and 27 deg C days!

Between the BBQs and Hazy IPAs, kept feeding my starter, but left it in the same jar, no longer weighing it out, just left about 2 table spoons in the jar and added 2 tablespoons Rye, and 2 table spoons plain, with just enought water to make it firm but still soft. 

Worked a treat and got some great results. And the sourdough pizza bases were a huge hit with the family.

Thanks all for the advice and a very Happy New Year!


Benito's picture

I only clean the starter jar if the inside of the lid gets messy.