Before you watch this video on sourdough starter maintenance, please know that it really isn’t a big deal to keep your sourdough culture alive and healthy. A good starter is naturally very hearty and robust. If I were as strong as my starter is, I’d be competing in Iron Man competitions. At a minimum, all you have to do is throw some flour and water in once in a while to keep it alive during periods when you’re baking infrequently. To keep it near optimum health, feed it once a week or so and keep it refrigerated.



If you’re baking regularly, say weekly or bi-weekly, it’s easy enough just to feed it after using the amount called for in your recipe before returning it to your refrigerator. If you really want to be sure your starter is in optimum shape, feed it once or twice the day before baking or the two days prior to baking day. In addition, here are a few points that are worth noting…

  • When you feed your starter, feed it with approximately equal weights of flour and water. That equates to about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of water for every cup of flour.
  • As a general rule of thumb, the amount you feed your sourdough starter depends on how much of it you have to start with. When practical, you want to approximately double the amount of starter you have each time you feed it. However, if you already have a couple cups of starter on hand and typically only use a cup of starter in your recipe, it doesn’t make sense to have to double the existing two cups of starter. In this case just dispose of a cup or more of the starter and then double what remains.
  • If it’s been a long time since you’ve fed your starter and you don’t plan on baking for a while, don’t feel like you have to go through a big rigamarole to keep it happy, just stir in a 1/2 cup of flour and about the same amount of water and forget about it. That will at least buy you a few more weeks before you have to worry about it again.
  • If you really don’t think you’re going to use your starter at all for a very long time, (some people don’t bake during the summer months, for example), you could dry some starter and freeze it. It will store this way indefinitely. Then revive it in the fall. See the videos on drying starter and reviving dried starter.
  • If you need a whole wheat or rye starter, it’s easy to convert your white flour starter by just a few successive feedings with the flour you want. You may have to adjust the water as some flours are thirstier than others.
  • Be sure to store your starter in a container that’s not air tight. This comment from Madelyn dramatically (and humorously) illustrates why.

I’m really belaboring this subject. Once you’ve played around with sourdough starters for a while and baked some with it, you’ll know all you need to know and develop a sense for what works best. If your bread is not rising as much as you think it should (you’re not getting the desired oven spring) then try what I said about feeding your starter a couple of times in the 12-24 hours before starting your recipe.

As with anything on this web site, if you have any questions or comments about anything please ask in the space below.

Jan 13, 2011 Update: In this video I mention a favorite recipe of mine that calls for 2 cups of sourdough starter. It’s been so long since I shot the video (and many favorite recipes ago), that I’ve forgotten exactly which recipe I was referring to. I do know it was in Ed Wood’s book, Classic Sourdoughs. He has many recipes in there that call for 2 cups of starter.

Managing Your Sourdough Starter

Comments from our Forum

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  1. saarsalem says:

    Is it okay if I leave my starter in room temperature all the time as long as i feed it once a day?

  2. Eric says:

    Yes. Some bakeries do it that way since they're using it daily. But it can be a little tricky unless you are using it to bake daily. If you're not drawing from it daily then just a little bit of feeding probably won't be enough and the right amount of feeding may result in you ending up with a ton of starter before long. It may just take some experimenting to find a routine that works for you and your starter.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I returned from vacation the other day and when I took my starter out of the fridge to feed it the top 1/2" had turned an unhealthy-looking bluish-grey color. Rather alarming! I skimmed the discolored portion off and fed the starter as usual, but is it safe to use...?

  4. Eric says:

    You did just the right thing. You might want to feed it once more now just for good measure, if you haven't already. Your experience isn't unusual and your starter will be fine. Not unsafe to use.

  5. Katrina says:

    I would like to give a friend some starter but have a couple questions. .. 1. should I feed my starter before I give it to her, or give her the cup unfed for her to feed? 2. If I do not feed it before I give it to her, how soon should she feed it? 3.Should she let it sit on the counter to bubble up before storing in fridge? 4.Lastly, I had read that a thinner starter will have a more sour flavor, is this true?

  6. Eric says:

    I would feed it before giving it to her and tell her she should keep it in the fridge and feed it again within a week. Then I'd direct her to this page so she can learn how to manage it.

    I've read that a thicker starter will produce a more sour flavor. open_mouth

  7. richard says:

    Jennifer, I can relate...I was horrified the first time I saw that blue-grey liquid, or "hooch", atop my very first jug of starter. And I'm certain it's a felony, the way I abuse and neglect my starter at times...but those wild yeast critters are amazingly forgiving, at least those here in the Pacific Northwest. So now I actually welcome that liquid because I learned that by stirring it back into its "mother" increases the sourness. I lost all fear of the hooch when I saw some Youtube instructor sipping it like a fine wine. Yeah, I did, too.

  8. jlynn550 says:

    I was told not to use anything metal on the sourdough starter. That by doing so it will prevent the dough from rising. Is this true?

  9. Eric says:

    There's probably no need to keep that much starter on hand unless you plan on starting a bakery. Since most sourdough recipes only call for a relatively small amount of starter, you might want to toss all but a couple cups at most. Besides taking up less space, you won't have to feed it as much to keep it healthy. Here's a page on sourdough starter management that might be helpful:, but the really rough answer to your question is feed it at least once a week and at least double it each time you feed it. That's why if you're not using it enough, you'll need to toss some periodically in order to keep the quantity manageable.

  10. ritchd01 says:

    I have purchased one of your dry sourdough starters. It is working beautifully but I'm still a bit confused about how to maintain. I have a scale so what I have been doing is adding equal amounts by weight of starter, water and flour. Is this correct? In other words I take 350 grams ( just using this figure) of sourdough, then add 350 grams of flour and 350 grams of water. Does this make sense? Is it also correct of me to think that you nearly always will have some starter to either give away or throw away when you feed your starter? Otherwise you will end up with too large a quantity.

Earlier Comments

1,522 thoughts on “Managing Your Sourdough Starter

  1. Shelley

    Back in July I began a starter from scratch. It took 13 days to really get going. I baked bout twice a week with it for awhile, then once a week.
    All was good. Then I began baking less – once every other week – but I still took my starter out of the fridge once
    a week, let it come to room temp, poured some out, fed it and them put it back. I noticed about 3 weeks ago that i was getting a layer of “hooch”
    on the top so I began feeding it more and more often as well and it’s ok now.

  2. Mary Sue

    Hi, Eric. I received your live starter several weeks ago now; woke it up according to your directions, and it seemed very nice, active, and bubbly. So I wouldn’t forget about it, I decided to keep it on the counter. I’ve been feeding it anywhere between a couple of tablespoons to 1/3 cup of flour every 24-36 hours, and enough water to keep it like thick pancake batter. I’m noticing that the amount of bubbling I see in the started is getting less and less, and the bubbles themselves are becoming much smaller than at the start. Is this normal? Would I be better off refrigerating it? Our house is pretty cool, usually between 65-69 degrees.

  3. My starter is years old and was given to me a couple months ago. I bake with it usually once a week and have recently been getting disappointing results. I use about two cups of starter for my bread and save the other two cups for next week. Each week I feed the starter with 1.5 cups ap flour and 1.5 cups warm water. Would you be able to offer some advice or guidance towards the chewy, airy, crusty bread I know I can bake? My sourdough routine:

    Feed 2 cups starter with equal 1.5 cups flour and water. Pour off half into a mason jar and cover with plastic with a hole. This lives in the fridge until next time.
    The other 2 cups sits on the counter overnight, in the morning it is bubbly and foaming.
    I use 32.5 oz ap flour, 14 oz water and starter to make the dough in a kitchen aid. After the frist mixing, it sits for 15 or so minutes. I mix salt, and knead again.
    The dough rises 5 hours or possibly all day. Sometimes the rise is very slow.
    After it doubles I gently separarte the dough into two loaves. This is when it stops rising. It never gets to that airy constancy I am looking for.

  4. Hi Al,

    The separating alcohol is more a byproduct of a starter that’s not in good shape, probably from just not feeding enough and regularly enough. Once you see the starter separating, it probably doesn’t matter all that much whether you pour off the liquid or stir it back in. It needs help.

  5. Al

    Hi Eric,

    In your latest video on managing starter you mentioned that the liquid that forms on top of the starter is alcohol and should be poured off. I thought that this was just separated water and kept stirring it back into the starter. Do you think that might account for why my starter seemed to lose is potency over time?

    Love this site!


  6. Hi Marcy,

    You can try that. Feeding daily is pretty ideal if it works for you. The part that’s hard to advise on is how much to feed it and what temp to keep it at. If you don’t feed it enough in relation to how much there is to begin with and/or if the temperature is too warm, then your starter gets over ripe, too vinegary and loses its vigor. So it’s all a play of time, temp and quantities. And it helps most if you know how a healthy starter should look, smell and behave so you know what you’re shooting for.

    Most people don’t bake often enough and don’t want to have to feed their starters daily. If you leave your starter at room temperature and are not baking all the time, you have to dispose of a lot of starter or you’ll end up with tons of it. So it’s probably more common to feed occasionally and refrigerate between use. Managing starter this way isn’t going to result in a starter that’s as vigorous as it could be with daily feedings at room temperature, but it’s more practical for most people and can still work very well. Have I been long winded enough?

  7. THANK YOU for this wonderful information! I do have a question. A friend of mine gave me some sourdough starter that he’s had going for about 8 years. He gave me about 1/2 to 3/4 cup in a pint glass jar and told me to feed it appx 2 tbsp of flour twice a day for a few days before taking the 1 cup out to bake with it. Should I just go ahead and feed it the way he suggests? I would want to bake the bread weekly. And should I refrigerate it between or just leave it on the counter? It’s my guess he just leaves it out. Personally, it would probably be best for me to feed it daily so I can stay on a routine.

  8. Hi Lisa,

    I can’t tell if your starter is dead or not. Probably not totally dead so should be able to be revived.

    But I definitely wouldn’t use sugar (especially that much) and warm water is not necessary. The reason being both of those things speed up the fermentation process a lot. So it’s possible your starter is metabolizing its available nutrients too fast and is actually starving itself by the time you get around to feeding it again. Not healthy for it.

  9. Lisa

    I have starter that is only a three of weeks old. The problem is when I use the starter my bread no longer rises. I make sourdough every Friday. My first batch rose great, same with the second. The third and fourth have been flops. This week the alcohol formed on top I drained it off and then used a cup then feed it again. I was also was told the starter needed 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup of warm water to replenish after each use. Is this corrrect and is my starter dead?

  10. Hi Susie,

    Managing sourdough baking to get the degree of sour you want is, in my opinion and experience, very challenging. Prolonging the rising times by proofing at lower temps is supposed to help and often does. Proofing in the fridge for several hours or overnight and then resuming at room temp may work. Or, now that colder weather is upon us, just keep it in a cool room.

    Additionally, or alternately, you can use smaller portions of starter in the recipe which prolongs the time it takes until it’s ready for baking.

    Some people use a pinch of ascorbic acid (vitamin c powder available in many health food stores), to increase the sour taste. I’ve never tired this.

    I suppose the strain of bacteria in the starter plays a role too but I’ve not heard much definitive info on the subject.

    Hopefully, we’ll get some feedback from others on this.

  11. irene

    Hi again.
    To improve my knowledge i want to ask you about some of the type of starter…
    Old time…when there was no commercial yeast people use anything to make wild yeast…
    I see so many recipe with flour,which is sourdough starter. But what i do not want my bread to be sour?
    I hear from old people that they use hops-Humulus lupulus(i guess it should be fresh).Is that make any different in a taste result?

  12. irene

    Hi there.
    I started bake my own bread about 2 mount ago. I’ve been making my own starter by using rye flour and water
    I love it and also i love not to use commercial yeast! Still there is so much to learn and I’m learn something new with every time i made my bread..
    there is question which i would like to ask:let’s say i have very busy schedule and i need to have 2-3 whole bread for a week…Can i after i made my dough just keep it in the refrigerator inside of the big glass jar with lid? And every time,when i need it just grab certain amount?

  13. Susie

    My sourdough starter worked fabulously throughout the spring. During the summer, I stopped using it for about six weeks, but fed it occassionally. Recently, I started baking again. The starter is working great. The bread is turning out beautifully, but it isn’t sour. It just tastes like regular bread not sourdough. About a month ago, when I was getting my starter ready for baking, I poured off the houch, fed it, then used it for baking. For the last three weeks, the bread is turning out great, but not sour. Any advice?

  14. Scott

    Hello ~ I have just started my starter about 3 or 4 days ago from dry starter… I was hoping to get your advice on exactly what I am looking for as i feed it so that I know that I am doing the correct thing and what I could/should change if need be. Also how much I need to use for say backing a loaf of bread. Thank you for your help

  15. Wil

    Hi Ted, I’m with you re pouring off the hooch. As one gains experience with sourdough starters, they will usually just stir in what little hooch they do get. My starter does not and has not developed any “standing” hooch for years now.


  16. Ted

    why are some of the bloggers pouring off the hooch before feeding. I never pour off my hooch. Is there a technical or practical reason for pouring off the hooch? Please advise.

  17. Hi Anna,

    It usually takes at least a week and more like two to develop a starter that’s ready to use for baking. So even in the best of cases, you’ve got a ways to go yet.

    Pour off the hooch that forms and keep feeding it. Add more flour than water so it stiffens up some. And give it a few more days. It doesn’t always work out the first time so if it’s not obviously looking lively in another few days, you may have to give it another try.

  18. Hi ,
    I ve started to make the sourdough starter three days ago, on the second day there were lots of bubbles and volume in it, I don’t know if I did the right think, I feed it again with one half cup of flour and one half cup of water. On the third day which is today it has developed a hooch with no bubbles in it. I don’t know what to do now, if I should continue to feed it or it is ready to bake with it. If you can send me an email as soon as possible I will really appeciate it.
    Thank you

  19. Holly

    I have a new starter, made with dried starter. It will get bubbly and smells wonderful but it isn’t rising? Last time I used a starter it would rise but not this time. I’m’ feeding it once a day and its kept on the counter in a mason jar. Dumped it once and restarted it and the same thing is happening, it’s about a week old now.

  20. Janet H.

    Thanks for the comments on how to keep my starter alive. I am finding out that it is indeed sturdy stuff as I get used to working with it more.

    Your comments help alleviate any feelings I may have that I am being neglectful of my ‘pet’ due to over or underfeedings. 🙂

  21. Madelyn

    P.S I make sourdough rye bread with my starter. I had little to no experience with yeast breads prior to birthing my starter in December following the Breadtopia instructions. I have managed to keep a thriving colony without giving it much thought at all. Most times I thrown in rye flour. Sometimes I throw in white bread flour – excess from forming my loaves. I concur with Butch… don’t overstress over percentages and “am I gonna do something wrong”. I honestly don’t see how you can and if you do, the restart costs are minimal. I do not measure anything. I throw in flour, filtered water just to keep it a nice stirrably thick consistency. I make sure I feed it once a week. Transfer to a clean container from time to time. I probably average 3 minutes a month tending my yeast farm.

  22. Madelyn

    I have a funny story I’d like to share with all my fellow yeast farmers so you can all learn from this!

    I keep my starter in a mason jar. It was born in December 2009 (pineapple juice recipe I got here). Every once in a while I transfer it to a clean jar. I feed it at least once every week – throw some flour in and some filtered water if it’s too thick. I don’t measure anything. I also don’t throw any away. I was baking very week, but the past few weeks I’ve have just been feeding it as I have not had a lot of time for baking.

    Well, this AM I thought, hmmm haven’t fed you guys in a week. There was only about an inch of air space at the top of the jar. I fed the farm, placed it on the counter and thought, “hope that’s not a problem” then forgot about it and went to work. I also forgot to tell my husband to keep an eye on it.

    My husband said that he started hearing funny inhuman sounds from the kitchen and thought it was an insect or even an animal. He cautiously approached the kitchen and finally saw the yeasts escaping the jar. He touched the jar and it hissed at him. The top was bulging. There was starter creeping over the counter. So he put the jar in a plastic container and put it in the fridge. (Yes, he cleaned up the counter, but left the jar as he found it – a bit of a mess!)

    When I came home he showed me the mess in the fridge. The top was bulging. I insisted we had to open the jar and transfer them all to a larger container. Luckily I left the kitchen. He pried the jar open and it exploded. The lid ended up on the other side of the kitchen. The starter in the jar was actively expanding out of the open jar as we watched, like the pudding in Sleeper (Woody Allen movie).

    Moral of the story : Don’t feed a starter container that is already 80% full!!!
    They need some headroom. My jar never got so full because I was baking regularly.

    Well at least I know I have a very active starter even without regular baking.

    • Augustinue

      I liked Madalyn ‘s story re: sourdough yeast bomb. It reminded me of my first experience of sourdough starter. My highschool buddy & I were 20 something Scoutmasters in Colo. in the early 80’s. We took our troop, along with one of the dads out for a camping excursion. This dad had a great item he wished to share: a sourdough starter that he would use to make us the most wonderful aourdough pancakes. We thought this would be great. Even though we were on the Easetern plains of Colo. it was March & still plenty cold. This dad had a pint mason jar of starter & was worried about it getting to cold, so he took it with him to bed inside his sleeping bag.
      In the morning we found out a great science experiment; starter also increases its activity & volume when it is heated. For during the early morning hours the dad had the surprise of his starter blowing the top off the jar & coating the inside of hos bag. Fortunately, he was not hurt & we still salvaged enough starter to make some great pancakes for the troop.

  23. Jan

    What is the temperature of the water I should use to feed my starter?

    • Hi Jan. I just use what comes out of the cold water tap (it goes through a carbon filter).

  24. Hi Janet,

    A bit late here in replying. There’s a huge degree of flexibility in how you manage your starter. I don’t even think about hydration levels or anything any more. I just toss in some flour and water now and then and keep a fairly stiff consistency. If your starter seems healthy and works, then it’s good. If not, then it needs more attention.

  25. butch

    Sorry ’bout the excessive punctuation,I’m kinda punchy after a long day.

  26. Butch

    Hey folks,I wanted to say something to all the beginners re:sourdough :go for it….sourdough is incredibly easy and forgiving,I’ve been playing with it for decades,when I started I was worried I’d “get it wrong”.The truth is ,it’s hard to do it “wrong”.If I manage to kill a starter by neglect,or just get bored with one,I just start another by mixing a cup of flour(any kind) with a cup(scant) of water,leave it out over night and Voila! sourdough!,using this method it takes a couple of weeks to get a really sour loaf,but it’s good right from the start.I like to compare the results from week to week,as it develops.When icky stuff builds up on your jar,just scrape it off and toss it.
    As Eric has hinted at:sourdough is incredibly robust,it works if you have it wet or dry as Erics’ ,So,in conclusion:play with it,it won’t break.
    I love this method of making bread,my bread machine is now relegated to making dog biscuits,and my wife thinks I’m a genius….what’s not to love??!!!

  27. Janet H.

    Just need to clarify how I am doing this. I have watched your sourdough maintenance video several times and I still end up a bit confused between
    ‘cup’ measurements and weights when tending my sourdough. Your instruction is to double your starter with each refreshment.

    I am about to embark on your sourdough rye so I am refreshing my starter that hasn’t been fed in about 3 weeks. I took 20g and added 20g water and 20g rye flour. All equal weights BUT not in volume….Next feed I tossed a bit and did the equal weight thing again. I will give it one more feed prior to baking with it.

    Your instructions say to double your starter – I think you used 1/2 cup and added 1/2 cup flour and a bit less water. No weights given. Well, as you can see, by measuring by weight, I am tripling my starter with every feed…

    Hence my confusion…..I notice in other books I have referenced that they suggest a % – ie. Peter Reinhart suggests 33.3% so his refreshment regime that would start with 10g of starter would get 30g of flour and 22.5 g water (75% hydration….)

    I am looking for a simple way to care for my dough and don’t want to be doing this ‘wrong’ and ending up with useless starter….

    So….will using 20/20/20 be okay or should I be using volume….

    Thanks for your help 🙂

  28. Rasmus

    Hi Dianna…
    Try this:

    A very tasty “yes-knead” SD bread.

    With regard to the sourdough: I’d keep feeding it a couple of weeks before making too many breads with it to give the culture time to build strength. You can of course try to use it earlier, I did, but the bread may turn out quite dense, like mine the first time I used my starter.

  29. Dianna

    I’ve started the starter, followed all directions and am about 56 hours in – I did the second feeding last night. My starter is already super bubbly and foamy. I’m wondering if I should go ahead and skip to the third feeding without waiting the full 48 hours. Also, I am wondering if you have a yes-knead sourdough recipe. Yeah, I know, I’m weird – I like kneading and think the bread turns out better. Although I haven’t tried your no-knead recipe yet.

    • Summer

      I have never tried no-knead sourdough bread recipes. I got into sourdough because it is healthier and more digestible. I don’t actually have a gluten sensitivity, but when I was getting started, I read a comment left by a celiac how he could eat his own bread just fine but not when his wife made it. He learned that it was because he kneaded the bread about twice as long. Lesson vicariously learned: If you’re going for digestibility, kneading isn’t optional.

  30. Thanks for the video! Thought mine had passed away… Yay for Lazarus starters!

  31. Steve Shantz

    I had an old jar of a ‘San Francisco’ sourdough culture sitting unused in my fridge and I decided to see if it could be revived. Mind you, this jar has been sitting in my fridge for at least 3, more likely 5 or 6 years, unfed and untended. There were several colors of mold growing on the side, and a green mat of mold covered about 1/4 of the surface. I used a spoon to dig up several tablespoons of bottom ‘stuff’, and I put it in a new jar and fed it flour and water, to see what would happen.

    Small bubbles formed within hours, and it revived just wonderfully . Today I made a most wonderful NK loaf that was devoured in short order. I let it sit for only 11 hours, as the house is about 80 right now, and the rising went for 1 hour 45 minutes.

    I’m not going to say that all cultures will be this robust, but it does suggest that a culture will last much longer than expected if ignored in the back of the fridge. It is worthwhile trying to revive an old culture, don’t just assume it is dead. The micro-organisms seem well adapted to ‘lean times’!

  32. shelley

    On the bakingbites website I read about using unfed starter for making sourdough crumpets….and I tried it – they came out pretty good. Below is what the bakingbites site says.

    When I did it, I added a little flour as well. I made several and froze some and they actually freeze well.



    All you do is add a bit of sugar, salt and baking soda to the starter and toss it in a dry frying pan to cook like a pancake. The baking soda neutralises the acidity of the starter and, in the process, creates lots of air bubbles, which are perfect for filling with butter, honey or lemon curd. The crumpets are best fresh and crisp off the grill, so eat them as you make them. If you make more than you can eat in one sitting, just pop the leftover crumpets in the toaster to crisp them up again.

    KA’s recipe is great and super easy. Once you’ve made these, you won’t even need a recipe! It calls for the use of a 4 inch crumpet ring (or other circular, hollow tin), but it works just fine if you don’t use one. I don’t have a crumpet ring, so I did mine free-form. They’re a bit thinner this way, but no less tasty.

    Sourdough Crumpets
    Place 1 cup of (unfed) starter in a 4-cup measuring cup, or a medium bowl. Stir in 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and baking soda. Whisk together.

    Grease 4-inch crumpet rings (or eyeball the crumpt size) and place on a griddle/skillet on low/medium heat. Fill the rings with about 1/4-inch of batter (don’t overfill). Cook over low heat until the tops are set and full of holes and start to loose their shine. Remove the rings and flip the crumpets and cook the other side until lightly browned.
    Cool on a rack and toast before serving to brown further and crisp. Eat with butter and jam.
    Makes about 8

  33. Joni Huber

    I was wondering if I use my sourdough every 3-4 days if I have to keep it in the frig.

    • Hi Joni,

      I think you pretty much have to use it daily to not have to refrigerate it.

  34. susan

    I love this website! My friend introduced me to it and taught me how to make bread when I was visiting her in Israel. I carried a cast iron pot home on the airplane and packed some of her starter in my suitcase! I enjoy baking bread so much and so do all of “my eaters”! I come back to the site to refresh my memory and for tips. I tried the babana bread recipe recently and it was a hit!

  35. Bill Heffron

    How tight should the cover be for starter in frig. Can it be air tight? Do you have a recommendation for cover.


    • Polox – just take a portion of the starter that’s not moldy and feed that in a clean container. Dispose of the rest.

      Bill – the container should not be air tight. Anything non metallic that’s not air tight should do.

      • I was wondering if you can feed the starter everyday, because each time I want to use my starter I barely have enough to make the bread. Also, I can’t seem to find the perfect top for my jar of starter. I have been using a plastic elastic cover with holes punched in it for air and get some crusty top on the starter. These questions have probably been answered, but I don’t get on here that often. Thanks for any help.

  36. Polox


    I have a whole wheat starter that grew a white skin. It looks like mold but it’s not think or hairy. The starter still works great, doesn’t have a bad smell or taste. Does anybody know what is it and if I can still use this starter for baking?

  37. Shelley

    Thanks to Dave the novice and Eric for your help.
    The other day I baked my first loaf of almost no-knead bread using Eric’s method – except instead of yeast I used about 1/4 cup of
    sourdough starter from the starter I began 13 days prior. It was a success for the
    most part –great crust and spongy, chewy interior – but not that many irregular holes and not that
    sour. Also, I’m thinking that maybe my dough was a little dry –??– and
    I thought that may be why I did not have that many irregular holes.
    I think I read someplace that the bread will get more sour as the starter matures.
    I emailed Eric off this board and he replied to me & said getting the degree of sour you want is one of the trickier things in bread baking.
    He also said that generally, the longer your dough ferments the more sour it becomes.
    So things like putting the dough in a cool place (or the fridge) to slow it down and lengthen the proofing time can help.
    And he also said another general principal is the wetter the dough, the larger the holes.

    Anyway, I am happy that it came out as well as it idid and I am inspired to keep on baking no-knead sourdough bread!
    I have a wine cooler that has a temp of 49-50 degrees and so I am going to try experimenting with putting
    the dough in there for 18–or perhaps 24 hours.

  38. oliver hagans

    I followed all the steps, and my sour dough does not taste sour. What am I doing wrong? thank you for all your help.

  39. If you’re going to bake with it after feeding then you’ll want to wait at least a few hours before you use it, and refrigerate the remainder. If you’re not going to bake with it, then you can leave it out for a while or put it in the fridge straight away. It’s not that big a deal either way.

  40. Dave The Novice

    Hi, Shelley,

    Mike, over at the website,, says to refrigerate immediately after feeding. He really seems to know his sourdough, so that’s what I do.

  41. Shelley

    I have a starter that I began 11 days ago and it seems to be doing well. I have been feeding it 3x a day. I may try to use it for baking in the next fe days. It has not ever been refrigerated so should I feed it–wait a few hours then use a cup or so to make the “sponge” for the bread I wish to bake? And then refrigerate the rest?

  42. Hi Myron,

    Not every attempt to make starter is successful no matter how precisely a starter recipe is followed. So sometimes it’s just a matter of multiple tries. And sometimes it simply takes longer than expected for it to take. You might want to give it a couple more days before you start over.

  43. Myron

    I watched your video on making sourdough starter. I began a starter with the required wholewheat flour and pinapple juice. After 48 hrs I fed the starter as per your instructions. Then 48 hrs later I fed the starter with flour and water, however after 24 hrs I see no activity in my starter. How do I make the starter come to life? Or do I just start over?

  44. Hi Breadtopia,
    Your site is superb but a pity you are not decimalised in the US as I have to recalculate everything. I bake sandwich bread every day and knead the dough in the food processor. My hydration % is 66% and I slow ferment and fold like you do and bake everything in a bread form. Second rise is done in Microwave oven on the 10% power setting. 3 minutes on, 3 minutes rest, 3 minutes on, 3 minutes rest. Bread has now risen to rim of pan. I now score lengthwise with a razor blade and I bake without preheating in 950w combination convection / microwave oven for 16 minutes. Regards Reg

  45. Nice videos. Where are you in Iowa? I have a home in Clarion(Wright county) but live near SF, California. Thank you so much for this great site on Bread especially the sourdough. I am just getting a starter going again, my Mom had one for years and I do a lot of home baking and wanted to let my kids have the experience of great homemade sourdough. Her sourdough cinnamon rolls were much sought after.

  46. Julie Powell

    Hi Eric: I have been making no-knead sourdough 3-4 times a week since January (I have 2 teenage athlete boys). Recently l have noticed that, every now and then I allow the dough to overrise. I think it might have to do with the heat and the summer, but it seems that anything past 18 hours is really taking my chances. It seems like the dough rises well, collapses, and never bounces back again. It has no oven spring and sometimes comes out of the oven like a brick. This is after dozens and dozens of times of making loaves that are light, chewy, lofty and sour. Any thoughts about over rising?

  47. Tim

    Hi Eric, Thanks again for all of these videos! I have a couple of starters that I’ve had for a little over a month. They respond very well to feedings and appear to be in great health with no discoloration. Just before I feed them, when they’ve been sitting for a day or so, they smell VERY pungent. More than just sour like they smelled a week after culturing them. It’s like a sour olivey fermented alcohol smell. Have they gone bad or is this a good sign? I’m not sure how to tell if a sourdough starter has gone bad.

  48. KOSAN44

    My question is simple,can i use bleached flour to keep my starter fed?? and also to bake with using my starter,,,thank you for your time,,


  49. barbara

    Is it okay to not refrigerate the starter in the crock?

  50. Pat

    Hi, I emailed you sometime back about having trouble with a sour dough starter that I have that I feed 3 tablespoons of instant potatoes and sugar and water to a starter that has already been established using dry yeast.

    I told you that years ago I had used this same starter and baked 2 times a week and never had any trouble with it and then I got away from baking the bread and when I started back I couldn’t get the bread to rise right.

    You told me to try using distilled water and see if it made a difference and I did and for the first couple of bakings it worked just great and rose like it had in the past, then after that I have thrown more out than I have baked because once again it would not rise.

    I have made a new starter with the recipe that I got from the friend that gave me the starter and the first batch or so rose again and then it stopped. Yesterday I sat the starter out and fed it like I always do and then mixed up my bread late last night and it rose just perfect. I am wondering if the humidity where I live could be playing a part in my rising. I am just about to say to heck with it and give up but my 6 year old granddaughter loves it so and is having a fit for some to eat. I am at my witts end of what is so different from 6 years ago and now. I have mixed it up in the same bowls and so on and I just cannot figure out what is going on. Please if you have any info that would help me I sure would appreciate it.

    A frustrated Nana

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