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Sourdough Starter FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about our Sourdough Starters.

  • Should I refresh the starter with 20g/ml, 40g/ml of flour and water or some other quantity?
  • a) As a general guide, we add the same amount of flour and water as the weight of the starter, we call that a 1:1:1. To get started we recommend 40g/40ml (1:2:2). If you refresh frequently using less is a good guide. When getting started 40g/ml will get you going more quickly even though we send you a 20g pot.
  • b) If you are not currently baking with it then between 20-40 once a day is generally OK, it varies with the type of flour and temperature the starter is stored at. You'll need less high protein flour or less refresher mix(flour and water) at a higher temperature for the yeast to thrive. We suggest keeping the ratio of 50% flour to 50% water.
  • c) If you are baking, then take half the starter, refresh half with your usual amount then refresh the other half with the quantity you need to make up an amount for your bread recipe - for example, 50-100g flour and 50-100ml water. Remember to deduct the flour and water content of the starter from your recipes quantities.
  • Should I close the clip top jar or not?
  • As the yeast is active it will give off gas, so it's best to leave the jar ajar or remove the rubber seal and then close the lid. This is so gasses don't build up in the jar.
  • How do I know when the starter is ready to use?
  • The starter will be ready to use once it's re-established, that is bubbling and increasing in volume. It may take a few feeds for it to become active, there are various tips to help on this page. 
  • I'm not going to be baking for a while how can I store my starter?
  • a) It will keep in a fridge for several days or a week or so without being fed. To wake it up simply feed again, we recommend a couple of times a day to start with. Different starters behave their own way after storage in a fridge, some will restart more quickly than others!
  • b) You can freeze your starter, it will keep for months frozen and should restart once thawed and fed, although again as a living thing rates of success differ! 
  • How long will the starter keep in the packaging?
  • Our pots are good for a day or two, maybe three or four around room temperature as long as they are in a cool place. Take postal transit time into account! You can put them in the fridge to keep for longer, but they will take longer to revive from chilled.
  • My order took a while to get to me is the sourdough OK?
  • Yes, but if they have been in the postal system for a few days already then best to refresh straight away or pop into a fridge if you aren't going to use it yet.
  • My pot(s) has leaked into the plastic outer, is the starter still OK to use?
  • Yes, the packaging is food grade, and the outer sleeve is there to catch any runaway fermentation, just empty both into your jar to start refreshing.
  • Can I feed the starter with plain flour, I don't have bread flour at the moment?
  • You can use plain flour if you can’t get strong bread flour, but success will vary depending on the protein content of the flour, higher is better.
  • Can I use wholemeal, rye, organic or non organic?
  • Yes, use whatever your preference is. The starter we supply is non organic, strong bread flour from Wessex Mill and is available in our online store.
  • My starter isn’t bubbling at all (it was, or never was, or is a funny colour!)
  • Sounds like it has either run out of food(water and flour), got too cold (29c is the ideal temperature) or something has got into it and killed it off. Overly chlorinated water can have an adverse affect on the yeast. It’s usually food and temperature related, feed again and warm it up.  
  • How can I keep some of my starter safe as a backup if my live starter dies?
  • Freeze a portion. Once your starter is going, why not keep some back in the pot we sent you?
  • Can you tell me which recipe you recommend for a simple sourdough? My starter is ready but every recipe seems unbelievably complicated.
  • Yes it can get very complicated but there are a couple of things you can do to get started on the sourdough journey.

    I have a simple sourdough tinned sandwich loaf recipe here, or follow one of the guides below.

    1) Try taking a regular 500g flour, 300ml water, yeasted loaf recipe and swap the dried yeast for 100g if your starter when it’s active. Reducing the flour by 50g and water by 50ml of course. Don’t forget to keep some starter back.

    The dough will take a lot longer to rise but that’s not a problem. In all other respects just follow the dried yeast recipe.

    2) An even easier approach is to do the above, but with 3g if dried yeast added which will kick start the fermentation. This is a cheat but I call this semi sourdough, it's a popular method with French bakers, and will get you a nice loaf with those sour notes to the flavour due to the long fermentation.

    Do the above in loaf tins to start with so that you don’t have to worry about shaping, then when you get the recipe working to your liking you can try hand shaping and longer more complicated proving techniques which will result in better flavours.
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