Maintaining Sourdough Starter

After you’ve learned how to make a sourdough starter, maintaining your sourdough starter is an effortless task. Keeping your starter healthy and ready anytime to bake with, can be done in various ways. I followed my readings, books, and blogs until I found the proper way to maintain my sourdough starter. And because your starter is a unique mixture I am sure you will find your proper feeding schedule and temperature to maintain it starting from my method.

Depending on how often you bake, the feeding schedule of your sourdough starter is different. Doing it properly, you will (succeed in getting) obtain each time the best sourdough bread ever. With a poor starter, the dough fermentation process will not be as should and will end up in a lousy texture and taste the bread.

When to feed your sourdough starter

Feed refrigerated sourdough starter

If you bake less often, all you have to do is store your starter in the refrigerator, and feed it once or twice a week.

Feed room temerature sourdough starter

For a newbie, this can sound like an intimidating activity, but I ensure you this is just that step which requires a bit of patience. But, once you taste your first artisan bread, everything will become a 5 minutes feeding routine which deserves for life.

If you bake daily or more than twice a week, feed your starter whenever you use it and store it at room temperature. In this case, fermentation activity is more intensive and requires more attention, else your starter will become too acid and have a negative impact on your bread taste and aspect.

In both cases, for a healthy and robust starter, it is best to feed it twice the day before baking.

How to feed the starter

The feeding process is not really different than when you created the sourdough starter.

  1. Remove your starter from the fridge
  2. Pour 50 g starter into a new, clean glass. Add 130 g water at 30o C and 100 g floor mixture (50/50 fine wholegrain rye and strong white bread flour). Stir together well. The consistency should be similar to waffle batter. If it is thicker or thinner, adjust by using more or less water.
  3. Allow the starter to sit in a warm place until the next morning, with the lid on loosely to allow air to get in. The starter should always rise to its apex, approximately triple the volume, which usually takes 10-14 hours, before putting it back the refrigerator, feeding it again or using it to set the leaven. If you are unsure whether or not it will grow more, wait until you see that it has begun to sag slightly. If you are not planning to bake the same day, put the starter back in the refrigerator. If you will be baking later that day, feed the starter again and leave it on the work surface until afternoon.

Unwanted things to avoid

You might notice some yellow liquid when you take it out of the fridge, don’t worry that is just some alcohol that has built up from fermentation. For reviving sourdough starter from fridge, pour this water excess out and follow the same simple feeding process of mixing fresh water and flower.

Conclusion

Maintaining sourdough starter and getting out the best from it is not difficult. A bit of monitoring and practicing is the key. When storing for the long term, feeding is not necessary. Instead, I will show how to dry sourdough starter in my next article.

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