Beginner’s Guide to Feeding Your Sourdough Starter for Delicious Bread Every Time

This blog post is a beginner’s guide to feeding your sourdough starter.

Hey there, fellow bread enthusiasts! If you're like me, you've probably caught the sourdough bug and fallen head over heels for that tangy aroma and the satisfaction of baking your very own artisanal bread. 

My journey into the world of sourdough began with the acquisition of a 200-year-old starter, and it's been an adventure full of ups and downs, especially as a busy mom. From pregnancy cravings to postpartum chaos, I've rediscovered my love for sourdough and its unique process. In this guide, I'll spill the beans (or should I say flour?) on how to feed your sourdough starter, ensuring that you're equipped to craft foolproof loaves every time.

jar of active sourdough starter how to feed your sourdough starter
two active bubbly sourdough starter in weck jars feeding sourdough starter

Unveiling the Magic of an Active Sourdough Starter 

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of feeding your sourdough starter, let's unravel the mystery behind this living culture. Unlike traditional bread-making with commercial yeast, sourdough relies on wild yeast from a live starter. Picture it as your baking buddy that needs nourishment to thrive. Just as we need food to stay healthy, your starter needs flour and water to remain active, vibrant, and ready to leaven your dough to perfection.

Nurturing Your Starter to Readiness 

You're probably wondering, "When do I know my starter is good to go?" Well, there are a few telltale signs that your starter is ready to work its magic. A properly fed starter should be bubbly, doubled in size, and flaunt a domed appearance on top. And here's a fun trick: gently drop a dollop of your starter into water; if it floats, it's a green light! However, timing is key—use your starter at its peak, around 6 to 8 hours after feeding. Whether you're juggling work, kids, or just life in general, remember that your starter can adapt to your schedule.

two jars of unactive starter ready to be fed on a food scale
weck jar of hungry sourdough starter on food scale with flour ready to be fed
weck jar of sourdough starter with flour ready to be stired to feed

Everything You Need to Feed Your Sourdough Starter

King Arthur All Purpose Flour
Weck Jars Medium
Weck Jar large
food scale
dry ingredients measuring cups and spoons
Pyrex Measuring Cup
King Arthur All Purpose Flour
Weck Jars Medium
Weck Jar large
food scale
dry ingredients measuring cups and spoons
Pyrex Measuring Cup
King Arthur All Purpose Flour
Weck Jars Medium
Weck Jar large
food scale
dry ingredients measuring cups and spoons
Pyrex Measuring Cup

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Feeding Your Sourdough Starter Two Tried-and-True Methods 

I get it; the world of sourdough can be overwhelming. But fret not! I've got two easy-peasy methods to feed your starter, catering to beginners and seasoned bakers alike.

Method 1: The 1:1 Ratio Start with equal parts flour and water after discarding some of the starter. Precision is key, so bust out that trusty food scale!

  • Discard about 113 grams of starter, leaving a small amount in your jar.
  • Add 113 grams of all-purpose flour.
  • Incorporate 113 grams of room temperature to warm filtered water.
  • Mix well, mark your jar, and loosely cover it with plastic wrap or a slightly askew jar lid.

Method 2: By Look and Feel As you become one with your starter, this method relies on your intuition and visual cues.

  • Discard a desired amount of starter.
  • Add roughly ½ cup of all-purpose flour.
  • Mix in room temperature filtered water (slightly less than flour).
  • Aim for a lumpy, thick consistency reminiscent of oatmeal.
  • Adjust with more flour or water for your preferred texture.
  • Mark your jar and cover it loosely.

How Often Do I Feed My Starter?

To maintain your starter, it is recommended to feed every 24 hours when left on the counter. When refrigerated in an airtight container, it is recommended to feed once a week. Bring your refrigerated starter to room temperature before feeding. Before using your starter, you may want to feed it every 6 to 12 hours for 24 to 48 hours to get it nice and active.

From the counter I like to feed it every 12 hours for 24 hours and then 4 to 6 hours before use. This ensures the best rise and taste in my breads.

jar of fed and happy sourdough starter

What to Do with Sourdough Discard 

But what about that discarded starter? Waste not, want not! Here are some scrumptious ways to make the most of it:

  • Save in an airtight container for delectable recipes like bagels, cookies, and crackers (coming soon)!
  • Transform your discard into more starter to share the sourdough love.
  • If tossing out, remember to dispose of it in the trash—your plumbing will thank you!

Feeding Sourdough Tips for Success:

  • Use markers or rubber bands to track your starter's growth.
  • Adjust the water content if your starter is falling too quickly.
  • Troubles with rising? Experiment with warm water and whole wheat flour.
  • Store your starter in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Don't be alarmed by gray liquid (hooch); simply pour or stir it before feeding.

Here’s to Happy Healthy Starter

Your Sourdough Journey Starts Here Feeding your sourdough starter might seem like a complex dance at first, but trust me, it becomes second nature with a little practice. This guide is your ticket to baking consistently incredible loaves that'll amaze your family and friends. Whether you're a multitasking mom or a seasoned pro, feeding your sourdough starter is the heart of your baking adventure. So, roll up your sleeves, dust off your apron, and let's get that starter thriving!

Ready to embark on your sourdough journey? Explore more of my blog posts, like my recent easy sourdough bread recipe, for a treasure trove of culinary and lifestyle inspiration. Connect with me on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to join a community of like-minded individuals passionate about health, wellness, and the art of delicious living.

Remember, your sourdough starter is your baking buddy, your culinary companion, and the key to crafting mouthwatering loaves. Happy baking, and remember—your sourdough journey is as unique as you are!

2 Comments

  1. Trisha Spurlin
    February 4, 2024 / 1:20 pm

    Do I leave a lid on it if it’s on the counter or only the fridge. If I keep my starter in the fridge, how often do I feed it?

    • Serein Wu
      Author
      February 6, 2024 / 2:56 pm

      The starter needs air to breath when it’s on the counter, so I would not tighten the lid on it if you have it out and are feeding it. When it’s in the fridge make sure it’s airtight. The blog post should explain how to feed it based on the health of your starter.

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