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If I want to make bread using a 'mother' culture what do I need to do? How do I go about starting the 'mother'? How should I keep the 'mother' going? and how do I use the mother in my bread? What should I use to make the 'mother' for different qualities?

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See question 936 for an explanation of what is a mother culture. –  papin Jul 14 '10 at 11:28
    
Take a look at the other, related question: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/101/… –  jmoeller Jul 14 '10 at 12:28

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The best approach is to use most of it to make a starter and feed the mother with flour and water for the next bread.

Once you have the mother, you can feed it with as much flour as you need.

Let's say you have 1 cup of mother at 100% hydration. You should use 3/4 cups of it to make a starter for the bread (add flour and water to form a starter your formula suggests). Then, feed the remaining 1/4 cup with 3/8 of both water and flour to make it 1 cup again.

Then, when your starter is active enough (it's better to rest overnight), you can make the bread the same way you do with commercial yeast. Just be sure to calculate the flour and water in the starter for baker percentages.

The numbers are symbolic, it's better to use weight and not volume for correct calculations of baker's percentages.

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thanks a lot. any pointers on bakers percentages? Not heard the term before... –  Sam Holder Jul 14 '10 at 11:08
    
It is the ratio of the ingredients to flour. In its simplest form, if you are using 1lb flour and 0.6lb water, you have 100% flour and 60% water. This way it is easy to change the amounts. See thefreshloaf.com/node/4929/baker039s-percentage#comment-24842 –  Recep Jul 14 '10 at 11:16

There is a good blog post on the Al Dente blog that talks about getting started with a sourdough starter. They use a starter from King Arthor Flour that is supposed to be 250 years old. :)

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