Feeding sourdough starter regularly keeps it lively, healthy and ready to go for your next sourdough recipe! Feeding sourdough starter only takes about 5 minutes, is cheap and totally easy! Every baker both novice and seasoned can benefit from having their own sourdough starter on hand. Once you get past the learning curve, you will wonder why you ever lived without one!
Below you will learn the 4 basic steps of feeding sourdough starter and a few bonus tips that make incorporating a little yeast colony into the family easy, even if you have a busy schedule!
Most of the time it only takes 5 minutes a week to keep your sourdough happy.
Step 1: Discard
One of the hardest things about feeding your sourdough starter is throwing part of it away right before you feed it. If you are like me, it totally bugs you to throw away something potentially useful. It goes against your nature and it will be hard to resist, but do it! Otherwise you will have a giant sourdough starter daycare. It will suck up much more of your time and eat you out of house and home. I learned this lesson the hard way.
So, discard your starter leaving 1/4 cup in a clean glass container. Mason jars are perfect for this, and I prefer the wide mouth 1 pint size.
Step 2: Water It
The starter I use calls for water. Some use milk, but I prefer to stay dairy free for two reasons. First, you may want a dairy-free recipe depending on your baking needs. Second, milk costs more than water and that expense can add up! It’s just less stuff to worry about. I also use tap water so it will have trace minerals. It’s chlorinated where I live, but not fluoridated (thank God), so I fill up a glass bottle and cover it for 12-24 hours at room temperature to have that evaporate out. The chlorine will inhibit your yeast from growing to it’s potential.
Add 1/4 cup water to your 1/4 cup starter. Mix it up a bit. It doesn’t have to be smooth, but it helps disperse the yeast in the water.
Step 3: Feed It
And don’t do it after midnight! Just kidding. 🙂 You can feed a starter different kinds of flour, but if you change the type of flour, do it gradually so it can acclimate to it’s new diet. My starter began as a whole wheat flour starter and I moved it to part wheat and part unbleached all-purpose flour. The whole wheat gives it more nutrition and trace minerals, while the regular flour makes it more recipe versatile and is cheaper.
Add 2 TBSP whole wheat flour to your 1/2 cup measuring cup and then fill it the rest of the way with unbleached all-purpose flour. Dump this in with your starter and water slurry. Mix it until all is moist.
If you have a hard time stirring because it’s too thick, feel free to ad a TBSP or two more of your water.
Step 3: Store It
After you are done, you simply cover it loosely and store it in your fridge. It will be ready at any time to be fed and grown larger for whatever recipe you are using.
And that is it! Feeding sourdough starter is quick, easy and cheap and you only have to do it once a week unless you are baking with it!
- Use a permanent marker on the glass jar to identify the contents. (It washes off easily with lemon essential oil or rubbing alcohol.)
- If your starter is healthy, you can forget about it for a couple of weeks and it will still survive. Just feed it every 12 hours over a period of 2-3 days while leaving it on the counter or in a warm spot.
- Plastic canning jar lids are perfect for storage as long as you don’t tighten it all the way. Coffee filters and a rubber band work great too!
- If your starter gets a gray liquid on top that looks yucky, you can carefully scoop it off and discard it before feeding.
- You don’t have to get your measurements exact. Your yeast colony isn’t too picky.
- Set a weekly reminder in your phone to help you remember to feed your sourdough starter.
Disclaimer: Jaimie is not the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, a lawyer, a doctor, a veterinarian, or a CPA. Nothing your read in my blog is a substitute for professional advice and doing your own good research. Remember that just because someone has credentials doesn’t guarantee their advice is golden or perfect. Put your smart hat on and do your due diligence. Good luck!