You are probably here because you have made a sourdough starter. Oh! So you have not made it; you purchased it online. Great!
But let me guess, what got you here! Ummmm………. you want to feed it, Right? So you must be worried about its spoilage.
Don’t worry! It would not go wrong. I would teach you how to feed sourdough starter.
There are numerous ways you can feed and maintain your sourdough. Here let me give you a quick review of all the tips, tricks, and necessary methods that you should opt for while feeding your sourdough.
Tips for Maintaining Sourdough Starter
Before we dive into the discussion about feeding the sourdough, here are some quick tips. These tricks would probably help you take better care of your sourdough.
- If you are a casual sourdough baker, always refrigerate sourdough starters.
- To use a refrigerated sourdough starter, take it out of the refrigerator a few hours before using it.
- Use lukewarm water for feeding the refrigerated sourdough starter. It will make the process easier for you.
- If you have refrigerated the starter after feeding it, there is good news for you. Next time, you can use it without providing it.
- If you want to check whether the starter is active or not, here is a tip. Take a dollop of sourdough starter. Put it in a bowl of water; if it settles down, it isn’t active and vice versa.
- During feeding, some starter needs to be discarded. But you can use this discarded starter to make waffles, pancakes, or pizza.
Schedule for Feeding Sourdough Starter
One question that I’ve got a thousand times is,” How often should I feed the starter?”
The intervals and number of feedings are not fixed. The frequency of feeding sourdough starter depends on the baking frequency and the atmosphere in which you keep your starter.
If you keep sourdough starter at room temperature, you need to feed it daily. However, refrigerating reduces the hustle from daily to weekly.
Therefore, it is mandatory to provide a sourdough starter once a week, whether you are baking or not.
When you take out a refrigerated starter for baking, do not refrigerate the remaining starter immediately. Instead, keep it at room temperature for almost 3 to 4 hours.
Usually, you need to wait for 5 to 6 hours after feeding the sourdough starter. Then, you can bake it after it shows several signs, which manifests that it is ready. One of the signs is increased volume. And obviously, the float test that I mentioned earlier.
Also read our article about sourdough donuts.
Process of Feeding Sourdough Starter
For feeding a sourdough starter, you will need some ingredients and some tools. The requisites of the process are mentioned below.
- Sourdough starter 112g (4 oz)
- All-purpose flour 112g (4 oz)
- Water 120ml (4 oz) – the temperature of the water should be normal
- One quart plastic container – you can also use a glass container
- Wooden spoon
- Kitchen scale
- Take out 4 oz of starter in a clean container. Discard the remaining starter. Do not ditch that discarded starter; you can use it for baking.
- Add flour and water to the starter. Mix it until it is well combined.
- Once it is thoroughly mixed, set it aside at room temperature.
- Generally, you can use this starter after 4 to 5 hours. However, this duration depends on several physical conditions, such as dough temperature and room temperature. Once it passes the float taste and the volume increases, it is ready to use.
- If you don’t have to bake it immediately, refrigerate it within 3 to 4 hours of feeding.
- If you do not want your refrigerated starter to enter a dormant phase, feed it weekly. Otherwise, the neglected starter would take 2-3 feedings for activation rather than one.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Feeding and maintaining a sourdough starter is a widely asked query. Usually, newbie bakers have a lot of questions regarding starters. So, here are some of the frequently asked questions.
What if I forget to feed my starter for several weeks?
Not feeding often can produce an alcohol-like odor in the starter, and it loses its vibrancy. But there is no need to worry. You can recover it by feeding. But if feeding does not activate it in 4 to 5 hours, you have to discard it.
Can I use the neglected starter as soon as it’s been fed?
No, you cannot use a neglected starter immediately after feeding it. As the starter is inactive for so long, you have to give it 2 to 3 feedings before using it.
Therefore, it is necessary to provide the neglected starter every 12 hours for 36 hours before making bread.
Can I make dough with a cold starter straight from the refrigerator?
Yes, you can make dough with a cold starter straight from the refrigerator. It might increase the dough proofing time; otherwise, it is safe and will cause no harm to your dough. You can give it a float test to ensure it is active.
What is the grey liquid on top of my starter, has it died?
No, your starter is still alive. The grey liquid is a type of naturally occurring alcohol. It is called “hooch.” The presence of a hooch on your starter indicates that your starter needs to be fed.
Hooch is harmless. Pour it out of the starter. Mix the starter, provide it according to the schedule, and it is ready to use.
Do I have to weigh the ingredients?
It is not mandatory, though it is preferable. The random addition of ingredients leads to an unbalanced starter. If you have to feed it several times, it is better to weigh the ingredients.
You can not measure the volume as it varies massively, so measuring ingredients is the only reliable option.
What if a recipe calls for less than 8 oz of starter?
Using 8 oz is not necessary, though it makes the process easy. If a recipe calls for less than 8 oz, take what it demands and then take 4 oz of the remaining starter for feeding. You can discard the rest.
Do I have to discard the starter?
Yes, you have to discard the starter. However, if you want to maintain your starter, it begins with discarding a portion of it.
If you don’t do so, the starter will quickly build up and require a great deal of flour for feedings. Eventually, it becomes unmanageable for you.
Can I bake with the discard?
Yes, you can bake with the discard. In addition, you can make some delicious treats out of this discarded sourdough starter, such as biscuits, shortcakes, pancakes, waffles, muffins, crackers, pretzels, and single-layer cakes.
I am going on vacation: Should I take a starter with me?
It largely depends on the duration of your vacation. If your trip is a few weeks long, you can leave your starter in the refrigerator, and it will be fine.
But if you are going on a prolonged vacation, it is advised to freeze your sourdough starter or dry it. You can activate the dried/frozen starter by giving it several feeds.
Now that you know how to feed the sourdough starter, you can maintain your sourdough without it getting spoiled.