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Sourdough starter

lorian's picture

Sourdough starter (post #63318)


Can anyone give me an easy recipe for sourdough starter.  I know this has been talked about before, and believe me, I've tried so many different methods unsuccessfully.  Here I am in the "Gold Country" where the stuff is rumored to be from and can't seem to get a recipe to work for me.  I'm pretty sure the gold miners of way back when didn't have to fuss as much as I have.  Thanks in advance.

"If at first you don't succeed, maybe failure is your thing!"   --bumper sticker
macy's picture

Uh-oh, it's beginning to sound like they're getting baked. I'll bet you have it a little too close to the bulb. Have you taken a temperature reading of the spot? Upper 70's will feel just barely warmer to your hand than room temp. If it feels warm, then it's probably upper 80's or 90's at least. Check your temps and move them farther away if you need to. Too much heat stresses wild yeast to the point that they don't multiply well.

DeannaS's picture

So, I think something might be happening. It definitely seems like there's a little bit of expansion going on. Nothing huge - not the overflowing kind from the picture. But, there's some. We'll see what it looks like when I get home tonight, but when I stirred it down last night, there was some definite "poof" to it, and the smell was different. It was distinctly more sour.

Also, this is day 7 for me (I think). On which day do I drop it back down to the scant 1/4 cup. Is that today?

Edited to say - No crust problems for me. I'm keeping it in a screw top jar, with the jar just set on the top (not screwed on).

Edited 12/2/2004 7:28 am ET by DeannaS

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

macy's picture

WooHoo! Sounds like lift-off to me. It was between the day 6 and day 7 feeding that mine took off too.

From day 4 and on you should be feeding only 1/4 cup of it each day and discarding the rest. I appologize for my lack of clarity. Today and from now on, be sure to at least double it each feeding -- that means take 1/4 cup and increase it to 1/2 cup with fresh flour and water:

1/4 c starter

1/4 c flour

2 T water (generous)

Those are approximate amounts. The goal really is equal weights flour and water for proper hydration in many recipes today, unless otherwise specified.

When you're ready to start using it to bake with, don't discard any. Double the whole amount by adding 1/2 c flour and a generous 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup water, and then at the next feeding 1 c flour and 1/2-2/3 c water and so on until you have as much as you need. You can feed again as soon as it reaches the highest point--the peak--and starts to fall, whenever you need to speed things along or when you need to build strength and vigor. That could be as often as 3x a day. There are other ways to handle it too, but I don't want to overwhelm you with information. Feed it a few days (just the 1/4 cup) and let it sink in first, then we'll talk more about maintenance and storage.

*** Remember to keep it in a container that is 4x the volume of your refreshed starter***

Edited 12/2/2004 10:32 am ET by macy

Edited 12/2/2004 10:40 am ET by macy

DeannaS's picture

Hark! Are those the faint strains of "Taps" that I hear?

I came home tonight to totally runny starter with mold growing on the upper part of the jar.

This is the end, isn't it?

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

macy's picture

Oh no! Did it stop growing today? I'm concerned that yours has been underfed if you weren't discarding all but 1/4 cup each time for the last few days. It may not be hopeless if the mold is only on the sides of the glass above the starter and not on the surface or down in the starter. Do you think you can spoon some out of the middle? Of course it's up to you, but if it were me, I'd try feeding it and see what happens. You can always bury it tomorrow and it will only cost you a few tablespoons of flour. As long as the mold doesn't return (wash that jar really good), any remnants will be completely diluted out through successive feeding. Once the starter is healthy, the mold won't return as long as it is well cared for.

DeannaS's picture

I did feed it. It was actually after I dumped it back in the jar that I noticed the mold (tucked up under the rim). I started a new one. But, I'll clean that jar out and try to coax this one along as well. :)

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

Wolvie's picture

This thread is fascinating! Fun to read all of your adventures. I'll have to do the water heater thing tho - I keep my house around 64-65F in the winter.

The last time I made starter, I had to freeze it to stop it. I had a Kyle like experience. :-)

I kept it for quite awhile, but gave it away when I moved to WV. 

I guess I'm going to have to start some new. I've been wanting some sourdough bread.

"Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, 'Something is out of tune."  Carl Jung


macy's picture

Welcome to sourdough madness! I'm at day 4 with my latest tweak, so I should know in another day, whether it is an improvement or not. If so, I'll post the latest version in a new message (#128), rather than editing the previous one. At this point, it needs to be all in one place for the sake of clarity and for future reference, should others want to stumble down this path :-)

Edited 12/5/2004 7:10 pm ET by macy

DeannaS's picture

Okay, I'm still starting a second one with the tweaked formula (2 T flour, 2 T. juice), and not using organic this time. I figure flour and juice/water are pretty cheapo ingredients to waste, and it's certainly not taking much of my time. Besides it's fun.

Oh, and the smell of the first one changed, too. Not so pleasant. Which also makes me think the good stuff died. But, we'll see.

I can be patient when I want to be.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

macy's picture

I'm glad you're still having fun :-) And it will be nice to get feedback on the tweak too. I will give mine the day 4 feeding in a little while and so far, I have grown none of the gassy bacteria. Past experience tells me, that is a very good sign. I also haven't tried to warm it at all. It's been sitting on the counter in my kitchen, where it drops to 69 during the night and reaches about 73 during the day, a little higher if I'm baking. The next 24 hours should tell.

macy's picture

Well, the test culture is progressing slower than I'd like, but it is progressing. When I do side-by-side cultures with whole wheat and rye, the rye is performing fine, but the wheat is consistently sluggish. That has not always been my experience, so I wouldn't conclude that one always works better than the other. Either will make a fine starter.

Since you all seem to be experiencing the same slowness, I'm wondering if the unusual growing conditions have shifted the microbial populations in this year's wheat crop--their numbers and proportions. Specifically, it seems like the acid-producing bacteria are getting off to a very slow start. Usually by this point in the process, the starter is getting very tart tasting, and before I fed today, it was only tangy. Tangier than just from the oj, but the pH is not low enough yet (sour=acid=low pH).

Also, I paid close attention to the gluten. This is more of a batter to begin with, but the gluten causes it to sort of "sheet" off the spoon. It stretches a bit before breaking, rather than dripping off the spoon. The gluten was still intact today. That and the mild sourness makes me think the sourdough bacteria haven't taken over yet. Nothing to do but give them the time they need.

Many acid-producing bacteria also produce small amounts of carbon dioxide, and I do see little pin-size bubbles forming here and there, but they don't really effect the volume. The smell is pleasant--sort of like pancake batter, but not yeasty. An important distinction. A tip if you can't tell for sure: whenever yeast are growing, they're producing CO2 and the starter will expand or bubble noticeably. If it has not started to expand yet, then what you're smelling is probably the doughy smell of flour and not yeast, which will smell like bread or beer.

Sourdough is an exercise in patience :-)

GourmetGenie's picture

Is is way too late for me to join in. I started mine today. I used apple juice since that is what I had. My looks might thick right now. The 3 Tbsp. flour and just two of the apple juice made a thick mass of dough in my jar. Hope it isn't to late to participate.

I meant to ask, can you use frozen orange juice?

Edited 12/4/2004 9:14 pm ET by GourmetGenie

Lucky is he for whom the Southern Belle Toils.

macy's picture

Welcome GourmetGenie -- it is never too late. The only requirement is patience :-)

The frozen orange juice should work just fine -- better than apple juice. When you feed tomorrow and Monday, use just 2 Tbsp. flour and 2 Tbsp. oj.

GourmetGenie's picture

I am sorry, it was apple cider that I used not apple juice and it was aged. When I opened it, the smell was like hard cider. I went ahead for the heck of it started one with the frozen orange juice just to see what would happened.

I have a starter that is now only being fed with white flour that I began with rye flour and I love it. I did begin with larger amounts than this but I have had this starter for many years. I have one that I started with grapes. I have just never done one with juice,  so me, and I am zealous about things like this, I just had to try this juice thing.

Can you think why mine turned out to be sorta dry, crumbly and a bit doughie?  I read this entire thread here and I don't remember anyone saying theirs was in that condition when they first began. Can't figure out why mine was. 

I love the natural beastie starters, they are unique to your area and I have some from several different states that we have lived in. I have some starters that I ordered from Sourdough International, they were pricey though,  but some are really good and some I didn't care for.

I have a small fridge (about waist high to me, I am 5'3", so it isn't a huge fridge) that I keep my sourdough starters in. I can keep the temp to my liking and my hubby doesn't have to face the various jars everytime he opens the fridge.

I am really in to this sourdough thing and it is very different now that when I was growing up. Grandmother always kept hers in crocks and they were never in a fridge. I have only one that stays out on the counter at all times, the other are kept cold.

This is great for you to guide all of the members through this process and be here to answer questions and hear about all the progress and failures if any happen.

How many starters do you keep? Have you used any of those from Sourdough Internation? Do you keep your in the fridge or do you leave it sitting out? You really sound like you know a lot and I am anxious to pick your brain. LOL

I will dump what I did tonight and just start again with 2 and 2 and see what happens. May be my flour. I opened a new bag and I haven't baked anything with it.

Thanks for letting me participate.



Lucky is he for whom the Southern Belle Toils.

macy's picture

I think apple cider is my favorite, especially in combination with whole rye flour. Of course, they're both gone by the end. The rye seems to be growing yeast in 4 days for me, while the wheat is currently taking 6.

If your initial mix was very dry, it could be that your flour is higher in protein, has a lower water content to begin with, and/or your tablespoons were more mounded than mine. These don't need to be exact, but they do need to be wet enough for the microbes to grow. You'll probably get better results with the 2 T. amount--and it's simpler to boot.

It sounds like you've got some experience in sourdough, so maybe you can recommend some recipes to Canuck and the others. (I actually don't bake with it very often.)

I have never bought a starter. In fact my interest only started when I found out you could make your own from scratch--I think it's that master-of-your-own-universe thing :-) I have made many now, and I have kept as many as 3 at a time (white, rye and ww). At the moment, I only have the white one and a desem of questionable status because I haven't fed it in a while. The white one can be used to recreate any of the others. I kept it at room temp for a while, but got tired of the daily feeding, so now it lives in the fridge :-)


DeannaS's picture

Okay, last night I fed my original starter with whole wheat again - thinking that with all it's been through, it might need some whole grain help. Today, it's actually growing. I've taken to marking the jar with a white board marker each day. It's grown noticably more than it did yesterday. I wouldn't say that it has doubled yet, but it's definitely growing. I haven't smelled it today. Yesterday it still smelled very sour alchohol-like. So, I still don't know if I'm growing the right things, but something is growing.

I also measured the temp of the air near it. Measured at 70, so I think it's "in the right place."

Starter #2 is still in the "not doing much" phase. Today is the day that I'll drop it back to 1/4 cup and switch to water feeding (day 4). We'll see if anything happens after that, eh?

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

macy's picture

Oh, this sounds really encouraging! Good instrincts on the feeding too :-) It is sometimes hard to pick out the smell of yeast over the smell of fermenting whole wheat, but I'm confident that is what you're growing if it has been smelling very sour.

As for #2, mine didn't do much between day 4 and 5. It tasted tangy, but not sour. I gave it the day 5 feed yesterday at noon and it was quiet all day, but smelling very nice. This morning when I got up, it was shot through with tiny bubbles and had the most pleasant aroma--something had enhanced the orange scent and it tasted very tart. I let it go until after 11:00. It was increasing in volume and bubbles in the last few hours and it was very foamy when I stirred it down to feed (day 6). I keep opening the jar to sniff it because it has had the most heavenly aroma all morning--I wish I could attach an aroma file here for you all to experience it :-) The orange scent is fading now and the bready aroma is taking over.

macy's picture

Basic Procedure for Making Sourdough Starter


If you are the curious, investigative type (or a sourdough purist :-), this can be done with just water in place of the juice throughout. For many (not all), a vigorous gas-producing bacteria will grow on day 2 and quit growing on day 3 or 4, followed by a few days or more of agonizing stillness. The fruit juice or cider should keep this bacteria (and a few others that are smelly) from growing and delaying the process. Either way, the end result will be the same sourdough starter.



Day 1: mix . . .


2 T. whole grain flour* (rye or wheat)

2 T. unsweetened pineapple juice, apple cider or orange juice



Day 2: add . . .


2 T. whole grain flour*

2 T. juice or cider



Day 3: add . . .


2 T. whole grain flour*

2 T. juice or cider



Day 4: (and once daily until it starts to expand and smell yeasty), mix . . .


2 oz. of the starter (1/4 c. after stirring down--discard the rest)

1 oz. flour** (scant 1/4 cup)

1 oz. water (2 tablespoons)


* Organic is not required.


** You can feed the starter/seed culture whatever you would like at this point. White flour, either bread or a strong all-purpose like King Arthur or a Canadian brand will turn it into a general-purpose white sourdough starter. Feed it rye flour if you want a rye sour, or whole wheat, if you want to make 100% whole wheat breads. If you're new to sourdough, a white starter is probably the best place to start.



Because this is a process involving variable live cultures, I think it may be better to outline the phases than to give a timetable. It's a natural succession that will progress at its own speed. You can influence it, but you can't control it--not an easy concept for a baker :-) "Relax. Be patient." You'll hear that a lot in regard to sourdough.


You don't have to taste the mixture if the thought really bothers you, but it will tell you a lot about the progress at times when there may be no other outward signs. Lactic acid doesn't really have an aroma, so you won't be able to gauge just how sour it is by smell. Taste the initial mixture to get a point of reference and pay attention to the sourness level as you go. Taste it before you feed and decide if it is more sour or the same as after you fed it 24 hours previous. Taste it again after feeding the next addition to compare in the next 24 hours.


The First Phase:

For the first day or so, nothing will happen that is detectable to the human senses. It probably won't taste any tangier or develop any bubbles. It will look much the same as when you mixed it. This phase usually lasts one day, sometimes two.


The Second Phase:

The starter will begin to produce its own acid and taste tangier (it may be hard to tell with some juices until you switch to the water). It will expand only if the juice wasn't acid enough to prevent growth of the gassy bacteria, otherwise there won't be much else to see. There probably won't be much gluten degradation (see message 125). It may smell a little different on the surface, but shouldn't smell particularly foul unless you're using water. This phase could last one to three days or more. If it is going to get hung up anywhere, this is the place. If after 3 days, it still doesn't become more sour and show signs of progress, use whole grain flour instead of white for one or more feedings.


The Third Phase:

The starter will become very tart, an indication of more lactic acid production by a more acid tolerant bacteria. The gluten may disappear and tiny bubbles become more noticeable. Once the starter becomes really sour, it usually transitions right into phase four.


The Fourth Phase:

The yeast will start to grow and multiply, causing the starter to expand with gas bubbles all over, and it will take on the yeasty smell of bread or beer.




Exact feeding times aren't critical. Pick a general time of the day--morning, afternoon or evening--that will be convenient to feed daily for 4-7 days. It'll only take a few minutes, and if it varies a few hours from one day to the next, that's okay. But, try not to skip a day. There is a higher incidence of growing mold when an unestablished starter sits idle for 36 hours or more. Daily refreshing seems to eliminate that risk.



Keep the container covered to prevent mold spores, dust, undesirable bacteria and wayward insects from falling in. Don't worry--it doesn't need fresh air or oxygen, and all the microorganisms you need are already in the flour.

For the first few days of this procedure, you can leave the mixture in a bowl and set a plate on top. Saran Quick Covers work great too. Run a rubber spatula around to scrape down the sides after mixing. From day 4 on, it's a good idea to rinse the storage container before returning the freshly fed mixture. It is not necessary to sterilize the container, but old residue stuck to the sides or lid is an invitation for mold.


By day 3 or 4 it will need room to grow (day 2 if using water). Be sure to use a container about 4x the volume of freshly fed starter or you may end up with a mess on your hands. Wide-mouth canning jars are nice to gauge and view the rise. Also, the two-piece lids are designed to vent pressure. Straight-sided Rubber Maid containers work well too. Plastic containers with tight-fitting lids will pop their tops if they are sealed tightly. Gladware doesn't seem to have that problem.



You don't need to keep it in a special place unless your house is particularly cool--try to keep it in the 70's for the most part. 75-78º would be ideal, but you needn't go out of your way to achieve that. The low 70's will do fine. Below 68, things might be a bit slow to develop (but it will eventually).


One solution for those with very cool houses, is to turn on a desk or table lamp and set your container in the vicinity. Light bulbs put out a LOT of heat, so be sure to take a temperature reading of the site and set the starter where it won't be warmer than about 80º.  Cool is better than too warm. If the starter develops a crust at any time, move it farther from the heat source.


The warmth helps more in the first few days because the various bacteria really like it and it helps them produce the acids needed to lower the pH and wake up the yeast. The yeast don't need it so warm. Once you have a good population of yeast growing, you'll be able to maintain it at cool room temp, even if that's less than 70º. They will grow faster if kept warm, but they'll also run through their food supply and exhaust themselves sooner as well.


How it works

It seems to be a widely held belief that if you add water to flour and "catch" some wild yeast and sourdough bacteria from the air, or from grape skins, etc., that they will grow and become starter, but it doesn't work quite like that. The "bugs" we're trying to cultivate will only become active when the environment is right -- like a seed won't germinate until certain conditions are met. When you mix flour and water together, you end up with a mixture that is close to neutral in pH, and our guys need it a bit more on the acid side. There are other microbes in the flour, however, that prefer a more neutral pH, and so they are the first to wake up and grow. Some will produce acids as by-products. That helps to lower the pH to the point that they can no longer grow, but something else can, and so on, until the environment is just right for wild yeast to activate. It is a succession that happens quicker for some than for others.

When using just flour and water, many will grow a gas-producing bacteria that slows down the process. It can raise the starter to three and a half times its volume in a relatively short period--something to behold. Not to worry, it is harmless. In fact it is a bacteria sometimes used in other food fermentations like cheeses and vegetables, and it is all around us in the environment, including wheat fields and flour. It does not grow at a pH less than 4.8, and the specified fruit juices serve to keep the pH low enough to by-pass it. Things will still progress, but this is the point at which people get frustrated and quit, because when the pH drops below 4.8, and it will, the gassy bacteria stop growing. It will appear that the "yeast" died on you, when in fact, you haven't begun to grow yeast yet. But they will come -- really, they're already there. When the pH drops below 3.5 - 4 or so, the yeast will activate, begin to grow, and the starter will expand again. You just need to keep it fed and cared for until then. Once up and running, it will tolerate a wider pH range.


There are many opinions out there about how to maintain sourdough starter. Feel free to refresh and store it per the cookbook you'll be using most often. You can adjust the hydration up or down according to recipe requirements. The way I like to maintain mine, is to keep just 2 oz in an 8-oz jelly jar--the canning type with two-piece lid. To feed, I measure 1 oz of it into a bowl (discard the rest), add 1 oz bread flour and 1 oz water. Mix, then measure 2 oz of that back into the jar (rinsed out). This is actually tripling it since 1 oz is increased to 3 (with equal weights of flour and water), even though I only keep 2. The measuring is easy keeping everything 1 oz. When I want to build up the volume for baking, I double, triple or even quadruple the entire amount each time it peaks until there's enough for the recipe and an extra 2 oz to put back in the jar. Don't forget to save some.


The character and flavor of new starter will improve quickest with a few more weeks of daily feeding at room temperature, but that is not a necessity for baking with it. The flavor-producing bacterial populations will shift and equilibrate in that time, but it is capable of raising bread whenever the yeast are active and vigorous. In the refrigerator, they will stay fairly active with once a week feeding. The longer you go between feedings, the more dormant it will become, but they can usually be resurrected with a few feedings at room temperature. Whenever you want to raise bread with it, plan on a few days of feeding beforehand to get it as strong as possible. You can use discards to make pancakes, crumpets and muffins, etc.


If you want to store it in the refrigerator, first make sure it is active and vigorous. Then when it is ready to refresh, feed it and put it directly into the refrigerator. Most cookbooks recommend weekly feeding to keep it in good form, but most home bakers forget about it for weeks or months at a time. Take it out of the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature and rise if it will. After it peaks and starts to fall, feed and put it back into cold storage. If it doesn't rise, feed and keep it at room temperature; feed at least once a day until it is in good shape again. It sounds more complicated than it is, but you'll develop a pretty good feel for it as you go. The process is very flexible and established starters are actually very resilient.


For the truly obsessed: To turn the starter into desem, feed with whole wheat flour and cold water, reducing the water to achieve a dough consistency. Knead it a bit and form it into a ball. Keep it in a cool spot (50-65º preferably) like a basement, cellar or wine refrigerator. Discard half and feed daily--weekly if kept in a regular refrigerator. The key is to not allow it to get warm.

Edited 1/24/2005 7:23 am ET by macy

knittermom's picture

Macy, you _really_ need to write up something and publish your findings and recipes for making a starter! Maybe Fine Cooking would like to do it? I made the starter fronm Nancy's book about 4 years ago and used it for about 3 years (had to let it die with a big remodelling project). I'm on day 5 of your starter and while it isn't yet fully operational, it is so much easier than Nancy's recipe, and I do appreciate the research you've put into it. I don't mind a little voodoo cooking, but I'd much rather follow McGee's or Corriher's recipes - they back them up with research!


deejeh's picture

Checking in on Day 8 - still patiently waiting, although nothing much has changed.  Well, the smell is different - not sour, but not yet yeasty or beery.  Otherwise, it's the same.  We'll see if today is the day.


macy's picture

Deej, let's try something a little different with yours and see if it helps. At your next scheduled feeding, use whole wheat or whole rye flour instead of white. That way, we can bump up the numbers of the microbes again--I think the ones we want just got wiped out and there aren't enough in the white flour to make up the difference.

deejeh's picture

Ok, the next feeding is tomorrow morning, and I'll try some rye flour.  I should continue to use water rather than apple juice, yes?


macy's picture

Yes. As long as it is still smelling reasonably pleasant, I think water is fine.

deejeh's picture

Macy, you truly are the sourdough queen!  The rye flour did the trick.  When I got home from work tonight, the mixture had swelled, and the smell was considerably more sour.  I stirred it down, and it had that bubbly, yeasty thing happening with the texture.  So, I think it's on its way.

Should I go back to plain unbleached bread flour when I feed it tomorrow morning?


macy's picture

Oh, I'm SO happy to hear that! You have waited long enough, but I am glad you stuck it out. You're good to go now -- you should be able to feed it bread flour or whatever you choose from now on :-) I added the fix we did with yours to the procedure in message 128. We'll just keep refining this as we go. What an adventure so far!

deejeh's picture

Let me see if I've got the next steps straight:

For the next two weeks I should maintenance-feed it daily - 1 oz flour, 1 oz water to 2 oz starter.

After two weeks I can either increase it and bake with it, or store it in the fridge until needed.

If I choose the first option, I feed it its weight in nutrients (in other words, 4 oz starter, 2 oz flour, 2 oz water), doubling it until there's enough for my recipe, plus some to keep for the next time.  I feed it every 6-8 hours?

If I put it in the fridge, I have to refresh it occasionally.  How often?  And, when I refresh it, is one feeding enough, or should it have a couple before it goes back into cold storage?


macy's picture

The two weeks is optional really, but it will give you a chance to get to know your starter and for it to develop more flavor. You can bake with it during that time--you don't have to wait two weeks.

When you do want to bake, you can double, triple or quadruple it (the bigger the refreshment, the longer it will take to start expanding and to reach its peak). It needs to peak before it is ready to use in a recipe. Some recipes will give you specific instructions for refreshing to get it ready, others may not. If you don't have The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Bread Alone, or another bread book with a sourdough section, you may want to take a look at the library or book store and put one on your Christmas list.

If you want to store in the fridge, first make sure it is active and vigorous. Then when it is ready to refresh, feed it and put it right in the refrigerator. Most cookbooks recommend weekly feeding to keep it in good form, but most home bakers forget about it for weeks or months at a time. Take it out of the fridge, let it come to room temp and rise if it will. After it peaks, feed and put it back in cold storage. If it doesn't rise, feed it and keep at room temp; feed at least once a day until it is in good shape again. It sounds more complicated than it is, but you'll develop a pretty good feel for it as you go. The process is very flexible and it may be hard to believe at this point, but established starters are actually very resilient.

deejeh's picture

Thanks for all your help, Macy.  I'll spend the next couple of weeks getting to know my starter, and with luck, we'll have a relationship for years to come LOL.  I'll let you know what happens when I bake with it. :)


ChristineY's picture

This morning is day 4 1/2 and I woke to find that the starter is full of bubbles and has at least doubled in size.  The citrus aroma is less noticable.  There is a faint yeasty smell now.  The taste is tangy.  What do I do now?  I presume that I feed it at its regular time this evening and not refrigerate it until the yeast smell is stronger.  Am I right? 

I bought "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" when it came out.  I make some of the recipes.  The cinnamon raisin bread was especially good.  I found the sourdough chapter to not be real user friendly so I stayed away from it.  You made the sourdough process so easy.  This has peaked my newly-wed daughter's interest.  She wants to learn how to make bread now, so this experience has been especially gradifying to me.

macy's picture

This is great! There are at least 5 more sourdough starters in the world now :-) Canuck, DeannaS, deejeh, venturedone and ChristineY are all proud new parents. Anyone else? I think a few others are getting close.

At this point, you can feed it once a day, or up to as often as it peaks. You want to get it to the point that it is at least expanding to double volume in 6-8 hours before baking with it or putting it away in the fridge. You may be able to get it to triple in 6 hours. That would be ideal.

You might want to take another look in the BBA at the section on refreshing the barm (pg. 231-2). It may make more sense now. Bear in mind, you probably don't need to make a pitcher-full at a time, so scale it according to your needs. Hope you and your daughter enjoy the learning process together :-)