Preparing Your Starter for Baking
It’s usually best to have a starter that has been refreshed a couple times (atleast 3) immediately
before baking. It’s preferable to refresh the day before or the day of baking. Refreshing can also
be referred to as ‘building’. This usually requires being around the house to watch it and feed it
To prepare your starter before baking for an optimally active starter:
To prepare your starter you should feed it it's exact amount, ie a 1:1 ratio, 3 times the day before
baking. So for example, take 1/4 cup starter, feed it 1/4 cup flour and slightly less than 1/4 cup
water (or it gets too soupy) in the early morning. Feed it 1/2 cup at lunch, then before bed, feed it
1 cup. If you need more than 1 cup, start with a greater amount in the morning (takes a little
mathematics but you'll get the hang of it!). The next morning you're starter will be very active and
ready to be put into your recipes to bake with! You can store this for a few days in the fridge, but at
that point you really should refresh it this same way again before using it.
To prepare your starter before baking for a descently active starter:
For a more simple, less time consuming option, you can use your refrigerator with the
Note: If your starter is in between stiff and wet, simply ignore the approximate times and follow
the volume amounts in the guideline to know when it is ready.
Stiff starter (doughy/putty consistency - more flour used)*
- 1 day before baking: feed, let sit out until about 1 1/2 times larger in volume/size (about 2
- 3 days before baking: feed, let sit out until about 1 1/4 larger in volume (about an hour).
- 1 week before baking: feed, let sit until its increased just a bit in volume (about 30
Wet starter (pancake batter consistency - more water used)***
- 1 day before baking: feed, let sit out until about 1 1/2 times larger in volume (about 5
- 3 days before baking: feed, let sit until about 1 1/4 larger in volume (about 3 hours).
- 1 week before baking: feed, let sit until its increased just a bit in volume (about an hour).
If no particular consistency is called for in the recipe, aim for a happy medium: a starter that feels
like a very thick pancake batter, and is still stirrable. Stiff and wet starters are difficult to pinpoint
when they are active because neither rise very well. You may want to experiment with these after
getting the hang of a ‘normal’ middle-ground consistinency starter which has both the wetness
to expand and the stiffness to bubble and rise.
* a stiff starter is used for mild breads, some recipes will call for a stiff starter. These also tend to
have more yeast active, and less bacteria.
**Sourdough will rise quicker in the summer, and slower in the winter, try following the volume
amounts until you can determine the best amount of time.
***Wet starters are known to make a more sour tasting bread. The watery nature encourages
more bacteria and their sour acid by-products.
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