How to Care for Your Sourdough Starter

Now that you’ve learned how to start a sourdough starter, the next step is to learn how to properly care for it.  When properly cared for, a sourdough starter will last you a lifetime!  As long as you take good care of your starter and don’t leave it on a high shelf on your wobbly pantry shelf…ahem…you should be set!

Caring for Your Sourdough Starter

If you have already successfully started your sourdough starter, then you will have no problem caring for your sourdough starter.  You will continue feeding it in the exact same way that you did when you were making the starter.  The only difference is that now you can use your starter to make lots of sourdough goodies to enjoy!

Caring for Your Starter

You’ve made your sourdough starter from scratch, and you’ve been discarding part of it and  feeding it every day for a week or so.  Once it has doubled in size for at least three consecutive feedings, you now have successfully made a sourdough starter. Congratulations! 

At this point in the sourdough process, I usually transfer my starter from a jar to a glass bowl.  It is easier for me to feed it and use it with the much wider opening of the bowl, and I just find it to be more convenient.

Example of a Sourdough Starter  

  • Once a day, remove some of your sourdough starter and then feed it with 3 parts flour to 2 parts water. 
    • For example:  You could feed your sourdough 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.  Or 3 cups flour and 2 cups water.
    • Multiply the amount of water that you feed your starter by 1.5  to determine how much flour to feed it.  (1/2 cup water x 1.5 = 3/4 cup flour) (2 cups water x 1.5 = 3 cups flour)
  • Do not feed your sourdough more than triple the amount of flour compared to what is in your current bowl of sourdough. 
    • For example:  If you have 1 cup of starter in your bowl, don’t feed it more than 3 cups of flour and 2 cups of water.   If you have 2 cups of starter in your bowl don’t feed it more than 6 cups of flour and 4 cups of water
    • You don’t have to feed your starter triple it’s amount in flour, but that should be the maximum that you would feed it.
    • How much you need for the recipe you want to make will determine the amount that you want to feed it.
  • After your starter is at least a month old, you may begin storing it in the refrigerator between uses.  Until then keep it at room temperature.
    • You don’t have to store it in the refrigerator in between uses once it is a month old, but that is an option. It will give you a break from feeding it everyday.
    • It can safely be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.  To do this, simply place in a tightly covered bowl after you feed it and place it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 
    • To use it after it’s been in the refrigerator, simply remove from the refrigerator, feed it, and allow it to get bubbly again. 
    • When storing at room temperature, do not cover with an airtight lid.  You want oxygen to be able to get to your starter.  Plastic wrap or a towel with a plate over it are a good option for covering the starter.  These will both keep the bugs out, but allow air in.
  • Occasionally, transfer your starter to a new, clean container. 
    • I always prefer glass to store my sourdough starter in.
    • When you’re container starts to get crusty starter around the edges, it is time to change it!
    • I usually change my container about once a week, when I am keeping my starter at room temperature. 

Using Your Sourdough Starter

After you feed your starter fresh flour and water, it begins to eat the “food” that you just gave it.  Depending on your starter it can take anywhere from 6-12 hours (give or take) for it to reach it’s “peak”. It’s “peak” is when it is very bubbly and has about doubled in size.  Sometimes you will notice it has formed a “dome” when it is at it’s “peak”.

  • Anytime you are making bread or something that needs the rising power of the yeast in the sourdough, you will want to use the sourdough when it is at it’s “peak” stage
  • Other recipes such as Sourdough Biscuits or Sourdough Pancakes can be made after the peak stage has been reached.  For these type of “quick bread” recipes, you want to use the sourdough within 24 hours after it’s last feeding.
  • When adding your sourdough to a recipe, stir it down before measuring it.
  • After using some of your starter for your recipe, feed it immediately.

Any Other Sourdough Questions?

If you have any other sourdough questions at all, please feel free to ask in the comments or send me and email.  mindy (at) thepurposedheart (dot) com

I am going to write a Sourdough FAQ post and will include any questions that have been asked on previous posts as well as any more you might have!

This post has been shared with Monday Mania.