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I'm following the instructions in The Rye Baker to start a rye sour culture. After the first week of daily refreshing, it says it can be left in the refrigerator and fed once or twice a week. There are proportions for a "maintenance refresh", but no specific instructions for feeding. Am I just supposed to dump flour on top? With water?

Specifics: The first step is 70g whole-grain rye flour and 70g warm water. Daily for the next week is 70g of preceding culture mixed with equal amounts flour and water. (I'm using King Arthur Pumpernickel flour.) The maintenance refresh is 7g sour culture and 70g each of flour and water, which seems to be rather wasteful for "feeding".

In searching this site, this question got the closest to an answer, but it's asking about feeding after taking some out for bread; I'm not sure if regular not-baking-anything feeding is different, or if an all-rye culture is different.

  • I dislike waste, so I have various tricks to use up discarded starter - probably the easiest/quickest is to pour it onto a silpat (or other non-stick) covered baking sheet and bake it as a kind of oven-pancake. You can also fry it in a pan as a more normal approach to pancaking, but very different (taste/texture) than the usual pancake. – Ecnerwal Jan 21 '18 at 17:12
  • I feed mine since 2 years once a week with 20g culture, 50g flour and 50g water – eckes Jan 22 '18 at 20:43
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The feeding/maintenance of your starter is the same regardless of flour. Remove and discard (or use elsewhere) half or more of starter. Add fresh flour and water in the desired proportions. Stir. As your starter matures, it becomes acidic. Too much acidity interferes with yeast activity in the bread making process. That is why you need to remove a portion of the "spent" starter each time you feed.

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  • So it's like the daily refreshes I'm doing now? What would the maintenance refresh be for, then, using only a tiny amount of the original starter? – Cajunluke Jan 20 '18 at 20:32
  • I store my starter in the refrigerator and feed/refresh once a week...or once every two weeks. When I want to make bread, I remove from refrigerator and place on the counter. I feed/refresh, for two or three days in a row. Then I make a biga or levain to begin my bread making. Once that is going, the original starter is refreshed once more and returned to the refrigerator. – moscafj Jan 20 '18 at 20:36
  • Thanks! The book I have is great, but I think they assumed the reader had made sourdough before, which I haven't. – Cajunluke Jan 20 '18 at 20:41

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