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The cookbook I'm using tells me how to make a sourdough starter, but not how to feed it after I take out what I need for the bread. What do I do with the starter once I've used some? I don't think I'll use all of it at once.

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related:… – Sam Holder Jul 19 '10 at 23:16
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I feed starter with a 50-50 mix of water and flour. Usually 1/2 cup water 1/2 cup flour for a small container. You can eyeball the ratio. It isn’t critical to get it perfect.

If you keep the starter in the fridge you can get away with feeding it twice a week depending on your yeast strain. You can do this by eye…if the starter starts to look ugly when you take it out to feed, you should feed it a little more often.

One thing I will say is that you can resurrect a starter that seems long past edible. The starter will get a cloudy fluid on top of the batter and develop a really strong smell if you let it go too long. My personal experience is that you can pour off the watery fluid and some of the batter if need be. Then add a good feeding of flour and water. It will take a little longer than usual to build up again. Yeast is a very durable critter.

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When I've made and used starters in the past I've generally fed it 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour every other day. The challenge with sourdough starters is that you need to be using them regularly as the volume obviously grows if you're just feeding it and not using it regularly. Of course a friend, family member, or neighbor might be thrilled for you to share it with them but then's kind of like having a pet - you have to keep it fed!

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You can always discard part and feed it to keep it alive. A waste, yes, but better than not feeding or having it outgrow the container. – Matt Miller Jul 17 '10 at 3:14

You just have to add more flour and water periodically so your yeast doesn't die. You can add more to replace. You don't have to feed the starter as often if you leave your starter in the fridge but then you have to let it warm up before you use it.

This video is awesome for showing how to make and maintain your starter.

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I don't do sourdough in warm weather, it wastes too much flour. In the cooler months I use half the starter once a week and then add 1 cup flour and one cup water and watch the mix, when bubbles stop appearing (use a ceramic bowl with at clear glass top), will either make up another batch of bread or pour out half the starter and add the 1 cup of flour and one cup water. This refreshing of the starter is temperature related; the warmer it is the faster the yeasts work and the more often it must be renewed. I keep mine on the floor in a cool part of the kitchen. If you see pink in your starter, toss it and start over.

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