Sourdough Starter Maintenance – How to keep a healthy starter

Comment 18 Replies

Your Information

  1. Emre Ozen Reply

    So far I had no idea about back-uping up yiest by drying, amazing tip Sune. Thank you very much

    • Yes, it’s super practical 🙂 You are welcome 🙂

  2. Hi Sune, I’ve discovered your YT channel and enjoy your experiments re: convention wisdom. I’ve heard that one should feed a starter the same flour and not switch. In this scenario you would have a separate starter to feed with rye, a separate starter to feed with graham flour, etc. It’s just one of those pieces of conventional wisdom that makes things complicated. Any thoughts? – Christine from Lower East side, NYC.

    • Hello Christine,

      I switch the flours on my starter a lot. Usually in the levain though and then I keep the starter using 100% bread flour, but you can easily convert the starter to a different flour or a mix. Even gluten free if you want 🙂

  3. Matthew hupert Reply

    I always see people talk about baking every day or every week. I tend to do in between those 2 – a ;loaf every 3 or 4 days.

    I’m new to sourdough, have a new starter that i hope will last. I’m trying to use a no waste method of starter maintenance where feeding happens just when i use the starter

    If i bake every 3 days or so, how often do you think i should feed the dough? What’s the longest you think i can go with dough on the counter unfed? It’s a brand new world from me, and my head is spinning from all the information out there – some of it quite contradictory

    Also – im not great at planning ahead – busy life and a space brain – what do you think is a working schedule for same day or overnight baking – when to make a le ain, how long to sit, etc…?

    Thanks in advance – stay safe – it’s crazy out there

    Matthew in New York city

  4. Sebastian Reply

    Hi Sune! Thank you for the awesome content you post here and on Youtube!

    I have a question regarding starter maintenance. I bake about 2 times a week, sometimes only once on the weekends. I used to refrigerate my starter between bakes, but as you said, the starter became sluggish.

    I decided to try storing it on the kitchen counter instead. The first week it was fine, although the started started to smell like alcohol when not fed for a couple of days. Now I left it on the counter for about 4-5 days without feeding it. At first it started to smell a lot like alcohol, and today more like vomit. I decided to discard the entire starter and revive my backup. Would it be better to feed it more frequently? I would like to keep flour waste minimal while preserving a super active starter.

    Best regards,

  5. Rita Reply

    Thank you so much Sune for the instructions. I have a question regarding feeding. I have just received a starter from friends and I’m not sure about quantities. In the 1:2:2 feeding ratio, does the first digit refer to the weight of the starter? And if so, feeding it twice, as you write, means that each time I should take a measured weight of the starter for feeding and throw away the rest?

  6. Annie Reply

    Love the practicality of keeping it on the counter. To date, I’ve kept mine on the counter but feed twice a day because it’s young and I want keep it stable and healthy (I know, anxious new sourdough mom:). How long have you gone with keeping it on the counter without feeding? At what point have you felt like it failed?

  7. Dav Reply

    Great source of information, thank you. If you don’t bake every day and keep the starter at room temperature like you suggest, how many times a week do you feed it? Thanks

    • I don’t feed it unless I need to bake. The longest my starter went on the counter was 3 weeks without a feeding 🙂

  8. Becky Reply

    Hi, I live in the tropic country where the room temp is about 31 degree C. Will the start survive such temperature if I leave them on the counter top?

  9. Jos Reply

    When drying the starter, should I cover it so it won’t catch dust or another pathogen?

  10. Robert Reply

    Is it possible to freeze sourdough bread before baking? How long will it keep well in the freezer?

  11. Emily Reply

    Your information is so clear and useful, thank you! I’ve been making sourdough for a couple months now thanks to lockdowns, and it’s going fairly well. I’m having fun learning (and eating) I’m wondering if it matters how much I feed a starter. For example if I have 20g of starter can I feed it 500g of flour? What are the benefits or downfalls (if any) of different proportions? Thanks again!

  12. Joyce in Ohio, US Reply

    Thank you for all your detailed instructions. A friend recommended your website. I have a jar of dried starter that’s been in the pantry for a few years. I’ve got the sourdough bug again so appreciate your help in reviving a dried starter. I’m eager to try Danish rye!

    • What I usually to is this:

      1. Measure the dried starter
      2. Add the same amount of water
      3. Dissolve the dried starter completely
      4. Feed using equal amounts of flour and water, by weight
      5. Wait for it to rise. If it doesn’t repeat feeding until it does.
  13. Marina Reply

    Hello Sune, I am a fan of Your page! But until now I used to do your recipes with poolish. Now, I am trying unsuccessfully with a levain, bubbly, that doubles in volume but the dough doesn’t grow as expect neither during fermentation nor baking. Can you help me.

    • What temperature do you bulk at? Also, about how long from you mix the starter into the dough until you shape the bread?