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I’m making my first sourdough starter. Actually my second; the first one dried up and turned into cement. I figured that it wasn’t hydrated enough (the original directions called for 35g rye flour, 15g AP flour and 50g water), so in my new starter, I upped the amount of liquid by 25g.

Does hydration affect the fermentation process? Or rather, does over-hydration affect the process? Are there sourdough starters that are very liquid?

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The hydration of sourdough starters can vary ...50% to 125%. Some are kept very stiff and others are kept quite liquid. A higher hydration starter will need to be fed more frequently. The hydration of your starter relates to how you will use the starter. Also, knowing the hydration percent of your starter is important when calculating the hydration percent of your final dough.

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Yes, hydration does affect the fermentation, but to get a starter going you need not worry.

In fact, one of my favourite instruction (from a very experienced German baker and author, roughly translated) is:

Take about half a cup of flour, add enough water to make something like thick pancake batter....

Once you get your starter going and you have familiarized yourself with your new pet and know how to use it, then you might want to dive into the scientific details of how water and temperature gradients influence the flavour profile and yeast to acid-producing bacteria ratio etc. Or never bother, that’s also perfectly ok.

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