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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Feeding and using your sourdough starter

So, now you have attained or grown your own sourdough starter. What do you do with it?

Well, I recommend naming it. Anything you have to feed deserves a name. My starter is a third generation "Herman," as I got it from my mom, who got it from a lady who grew it from scratch and named it Herman. So, feel free to name your new pet. Don't worry, it doesn't bite and doesn't acquire any vet bills.

Now that you have your sourdough starter happy and bubbly, you'll want to start feeding it regularly. The happiest of starters get left on the counter and fed each day, but that is too much work for me. I keep mine in the fridge and take it out twice a week to feed it. By keeping it in the fridge, the bacteria get sluggish and don't eat as much, so I don't have to feed it as often. It still works really well, and still seems pretty happy.

To feed your starter:
Take it out of the fridge and feed it some flour.  Any flour (except self-rising) will do, Mr. sourdough is not picky. Also, if the consistency is getting thick, gloopy, and hard to stir, add some water. It's best to use filtered or bottle water for this, as the chlorine in tap water is not good for the little yeasties.

The general rule is to double the amount of your starter each time you feed it. For example, if you have one cup of starter already in your jar, mix in 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water.

Leave the sourdough starter on the counter for several hours to wake up and enjoy it's dinner. I like to get my starter out and feed it in the evening so it's ready to go for some bread in the morning.

Which gets me to the best part of your starter:

Using it!

To start off, I'm going to give you the basic bread recipe I make every week at our house.

Sourdough sandwich bread

1 1/4 cups sourdough starter
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons sugar (any kind, I prefer brown sugar, but you can use honey, white sugar, molasses, etc..)
2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast

  • Mix all of your ingredients and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes)
  • Put into a well greased breadpan. (no need to shape, just plop 'er in there and mash down a little, to fill in the corners)
  • Place 3 slits in the top and place in the oven (DON'T turn it on yet)(I find my bread rises better with the warmth of the oven light being turned on)
  • Let rise for approximately 40 minutes, until doubled in size
  • Turn the oven to 375 degrees (with the bread still inside) and let preheat and bake for 35 minutes.
  • You bread is done if it makes a hollow sound when you knock on the top.

Here are some photos to go by:

Here's my dough, sliced to help it rise higher, and ready to go in the oven.

Here's the risen dough, with a heavenly light shining upon it. Fitting, I think. 

And here is the finished product!


It took me forever to perfect this recipe. In fact, the loaf of bread I use as my profile picture is one of my first loaves.  I took a picture because it was the first decent looking loaf I still didn't taste good. I mean, the birds wouldn't even eat my first efforts! I persisted, though, and I'm sure glad I did. I love baking bread, and I never cease to be amazed at how just a few mixed ingredients can grow into something so tasty and versatile!

I'll be sharing some tips from my personal bread mishaps on Friday, so tune in!

Any questions? How's your starter doing? Have you named it yet?


  1. on your ingredients you said 1/14 cups sourdough starter. Is that a typo?

  2. Yes! It should say 1 1/4 cups sourdough starter! I'll fix that now!

  3. So far, everything I've made with my starter has been a disappointment - bread too bland, too dense... tried kaiser rolls and they were reminiscent of hard pretzels (hubs loved them, but maybe one or two once in a while - not a whole batch!). I've not tried the starter in conjunction with commercial yeast, however. So excited to try this out. Thanks for the post!

  4. Such a helpful blog!
    I am new to baking so I'm clueless!!! My friends have all recommended Sourdough's International's sourdough starter to me, so I'm going to give it a go!!!