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Category ... Sourdough

Tips from Hector on Nurturing Your Sourdough Starter

May 18, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

I've developed my starter at a 75 to 85 oF kitchen, in Hawaii. And as some people experience, the process looks different from how it is described.

A warmer environment accelerates the process. I would recommend in this warm case, to follow the instructions for the first week, then do your feeding at shorter time intervals.

Ideally, you want to feed when the starter is at its peak activity (the most bubbles, higher, before it deflates). Seems like your starter is now on its peak, so actually, feeding it sooner as you say will be ok, but just in case, I like to let the starter "over activate" during the first week, to get the most yeast growth possible.

I've read somewhere that when the ideal temperatures are not possible, the starter will behave differently. I was getting a lot of smell and bubble activity. After 4 weeks, I've kept feeding daily, a few times I will forget and let 2 days pass by which turned my started "really dirty and stinku looking." I am glad I did not give up since the first time I made bread it proved the starter was alive!

It is really easier than what we think, and definitely don't get discouraged if things don't look as expected. Having your own birth starter becomes beloved.

Do you have any other use for excess sourdough starter?

Mar 07, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Do you have any other use for excess sourdough starter aside from giving it to friends?

Yes! When I feed my starter, if I know i'm going to bake a hearth bread within the next 3 days, instead of throwing out the excess, without refreshing or feeding it I simply refrigerate up to 1/3 cup starter (about 2.75 ounces / 75 grams) per loaf.

Just before adding the salt to the dough, I tear the starter into about 8 pieces and knead it into the dough. The starter dough adds extra depth of flavor and moisture, and also speeds the fermentation (rising) slightly even in a dough using the usual amount of instant yeast. (You should also add an extra 1/8 teaspoon plus 1/16th teaspoon of salt to balance this extra amount of dough--less if using less starter dough.) The starter dough serves as a "preferment" making it possible to use the quicker "direct" method of mixing the dough. (Simply combine the flour and yeast from the sponge or biga in the recipe with the flour and yeast for the dough.)

Sourdough Starter's Need To Breath

Mar 04, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Sourdough


Feedback: I have been storing my sourdough starter in a crock. Now I read that a wire-bail jar is better. Does starter need a little air, or can it survive air free. I don't want to kill my starter! Thanks.


you would kill your starter if you removed all the air by vacuum but there is enough air in the head space of the container to give it breath even when the container is covered. covering keeps it from drying out.

More on Sour Dough Starters

Feb 11, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Sourdough


Feedback: i'm getting frustrated with the stiff sourdough. its a hit or miss struggle to get it to double consistently after feedings. i had much better luck with the liquid starter. i may throw in the towel and reconvert it back to a liquid one. is there anything wrong with doing this?? and do you have a quick recipe for switching it back to a liquid starter?


it's fine to put the starter back into the liquid state. please follow the directions in the book. if you want it to go faster, since you know the consistency of the liquid starter, you can just add water to reach that consistency.

Sourdough Starter

Feb 07, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Sourdough


Rose (I feel as though I know you since reading your book since Christmas),

In making our own starter we followed the directions day by day, my wife and I are both engineers so lists and organized plans are VERY helpful. The starter didn't appear to follow the double a day that you mentioned. This may have happened while we weren't looking and then deflated. At the 5 day point, we decided to keep with the daily routine. At the 10th day, the starter does look a bit more energetic.

Do we need to mature the starter by feeding it every 3 days at room temperature or should it be in the fridge? How much should we be feeding, 60g of flour and water without removing any while it is matured? Should we remove a cup before we start expanding it?

We would both appreciate even a quick response. The description that starts at the end of page 429 "for example ......" confuses us when we follow the instructions in the last paragraph of page 433.

Thank you in advance for the help,


because sour dough is an alive entity it is not something the you can nail down hundred percent.

The last paragraph on page 429 of my book referred to an already established starter. The last paragraph on page 433 is referring to one that is not yet mature.if you have an active starter as I mentioned at the bottom of page 433 if you don't plan to use it for several days feed it to double it, let it sit one hour, and then refrigerate it.
as I wrote, for the first two weeks feed it at least three times a week.if you are not feeding it every day you need to refrigerate it between feedings. I wrote that during maturing you need to keep a minimum of 1 cup. In answer to your question how much to feed it, I wrote that you need to at least double it, so this depends on how much you keep. You can do it by a eye, or as I prefer, by weight.

By way of encouragement, everyone who has written to me about problems starting a sourdough starter has, with patience, arrived at a successful one. What follows is one person's very helpful suggestion which I have not tried myself but suspect will work brilliantly:

"... i had a asked for advice earlier about a sourdough culture that was
going flat and not responding to the feeding after 2 days. the trick i had
about using a 50/50 mix of organic rye and bread flour during the next
feeding to reintroduce more wild yeast into the sourdough did the trick of
waking it back up. it responded right away and i just went back to normal
bread flour feedings. i haven't had any troubles since in case anyone in
the future has this problem"

A Quick and Easy Sourdough Starter

Dec 26, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Sourdough


Feedback: I love to bake bread and would like to have an easy starter for sour dough bread.
I have several but they are pages long and I need a short, to the point starter. I have a bread machine but prefer to bake bread in loaves.


there is a reason that instructions for sourdough starters are pages long. once you have developed a starter it only takes minutes once a week to keep it alive for years, but establishing a healthy starter is an achievement which feels akin to a miracle and miracles don't happen overnight. there is an answer for those who want an easy but excellent starter and that is to purchase an established one. king arthur is a great place to get a sourdough starter and you can also find other places on line.

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