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How to Feed a Sourdough Starter

 Making and maintaining a sourdough starter at home is easy and rewarding, no commercial yeast packets required!

If you have purchased one of our many dehydrated sourdough starters, please visit our video on activating your sourdough starter or consult the instructions included with your starter. 

Once your starter is activated, it requires regular feeding to keep it healthy. This video and article will tell you how!

Please note that since this video was produced we've made some changes to our instructions on feeding a sourdough starter. For best results, please follow the instructions included with your sourdough starter culture.

 

 

How to Feed Your Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter can be fed either by weight or volume measurements. Feeding by weight is considered more accurate, but feeding by volume is usually more convenient, as most people have measuring cups in the kitchen. Either method can be used successfully. Be sure to check the instructions included with your starter for the ratios of starter, water, and flour specific to the type of sourdough starter.

 

Feeding Instructions

  1. Measure room temperature starter or remove ¼ cup starter from refrigerator
  2. Feed the starter with flour and water every 8-12 hours using one of the following methods:
    1. If using a scale to measure ingredients, combine equal amounts by weight of starter, water, and flour. For instance, 50 grams of starter, 50 grams of water, 50 grams of flour. 
    2. If using measuring cups, combine 1 part sourdough starter, 1 part water, and a little less than 2 parts flour. For example, ¼ cup of starter, ¼ cup water and a little less than ½ cup flour.  
  3. Cover; place in a warm area, 70°-85°F, for 8-12 hours. Repeat steps 1-3 until you have enough starter for your recipe, with a little leftover. 
 
NOTE: A brown liquid layer on top of your starter, called hooch, indicates that the starter is hungry. If hooch forms, pour it off and feed the starter as soon as possible, then feed more frequently going forward.
 
  1. When preparing to bake, use the fresh starter within 3-4 hours of being fed, to ensure the starter is at its peak of activity. 
  2. Extra starter may be discarded, stored in the refrigerator or kept at room temperature and fed again as above. Always retain at least ¼ cup starter to begin your next project. 

 

Daily Feedings for Room Temperature Sourdough Starter

If you bake frequently, maintain your starter at room temperature and feed 2-3 times daily, as described above. Most starters generally require feeding every 8-12 hours, depending on the temperature in the culturing area. 

Keep in mind that some starters are naturally fast proofers, like our New Zealand Rye Sourdough Starter, so would require more frequent feedings.

When maintained at room temperature and fed daily, your sourdough starter will always be ready to use for baking. Use the starter to prepare bread dough within 3-4 hours of being fed, to ensure the starter is at its peak of activity. 

 

 

Weekly Maintenance Feeding for Refrigerated Sourdough Starter

If you do not bake often, maybe only weekly or monthly, it is more practical to keep your sourdough starter in the refrigerator, in a tightly-closed container, and feed it once per week. 

  1. Remove at least ¼ cup starter from refrigerator. Discard remaining starter.
  2. Feed starter with flour and water:
    1. If using a scale to measure ingredients, combine equal amounts by weight of starter, water, and flour. For instance, 50 grams starter, 50 grams water, 50 grams flour.
    2. If using measuring cups, combine 1 part starter, 1 part water, and a little less than 2 parts flour. For instance, ¼ cup starter, ¼ cup water, slightly less than ½ cup flour.
  3. Cover; let starter sit for 1-2 hours, until light and bubbly.
  4. Put a tight lid on jar and return to refrigerator.
  5. Repeat weekly even when not baking with your sourdough culture.

 

Preparing Refrigerated Sourdough Starter for Baking

Refrigerated sourdough starter is in a state of hibernation. Before using it for baking, follow our instructions for Making Fresh Sourdough Starter to ensure your sourdough starter is fully awakened and active enough to leaven bread.

Have more questions about caring for your sourdough starter? Check out our Sourdough Activation and Feeding FAQ, read more sourdough articles or contact us for assistance.

 

Ready to Learn More?

 

Back to Expert Advice on Making Sourdough at Home