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If you're new to sourdough baking, our helpful Sourdough How-to Videos can be useful for beginners!
On this Page: Before You Begin | Activating the Sourdough Starter | Using and Maintaining a Fresh Starter for Frequent Bakers | Weekly Maintenance Feeding for Refrigerated Starter | A Note About Discarded Starter
Sourdough starters are fairly resilient cultures. When working with sourdough there are several methodologies for activating and maintaining a sourdough starter. Below you will find both our original and a newer methodology for activating and caring for a sourdough starter culture. The methodology you use to activate and care for your starter is completely up to you based on what you find easiest for your lifestyle. With that said, sourdough is a very forgiving culture and one of the easiest to work with, so we are confident that you will be successful despite which methodology you choose. If you have any concerns regarding your starter culture feel free to reach out - we're here to help!
When maintained at room temperature, the starter will always be fresh and ready to use for baking within a few hours of being fed.
Use the instructions in this section if your recipe calls for more fresh starter than you currently have ready, or to prepare refrigerated starter for baking. When stored in the refrigerator, the starter should be brought to room temperature and fed at least 3 times before being used for baking.
Feed your starter once every 12-24 hours using 1 part starter, 1 part water, and 1-2 parts flour (review the instructions included with your starter culture for specific ratios). We suggest discarding down to 1/4 or ½ cup starter to keep your feedings smaller and your starter manageable.
To build up enough starter to bake with, feed your starter according to the directions above—just don’t discard as you go. Bake with your starter 12-24 hours after the last feeding.
If you bake infrequently, storing your sourdough starter in the refrigerator may be more practical. The refrigerated starter should be fed weekly, to keep it healthy. To prepare the starter for baking, see the instructions above for Using and Maintaining Fresh Starter.
In colder temperatures, your starter goes into hibernation, and you don’t need to feed it as often. Feed it every 5 to 7 days just like you would keeping it on your counter.
Be sure to plan ahead when baking with a refrigerated starter, as it needs to come to room temperature and be fed 2-3 times according to the countertop instructions before baking.
While it may seem wasteful to discard extra starter, maintaining a large amount of starter for infrequent baking would use large amounts of flour over time. For more information on why we recommend discarding starter, and for recipes for using discarded starter, consult our article, How to Use Discarded Sourdough Starter.