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+ servings
two 16 oz deli containers sit side by side. the one on the right has about half an inch of mature sourdough starter in it. the one on the left has about a quarter of an inch of newly fed sourdough starter in it and is labeled with masking tape that says "starter."

feeding a small sourdough starter

The Practical Kitchen
Don’t feed your sourdough starter cups and cups of flour when a few tablespoons will do.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Technique
Cuisine French
Servings 75 grams

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 25 grams mature sourdough starter (approx 1 TBSP)
  • 25-200 grams flour (equal to or greater than the amount of starter, and equal to the amount of water)
  • 25-200 grams filtered water (equal to or greater than the amount of starter, and equal to the amount of flour)

Instructions

  • Measure 1 TBSP (25g) of sourdough starter into a bowl on a kitchen scale. Note the amount by weight in grams.
  • To maintain a small starter: Add the same amount of filtered water by weight to the starter. Stir to combine. Then add flour and mix until no dry spots or lumps remain. Let feed at room temperature for an hour or two, then transfer to the fridge.

To scale your starter up for baking

  • For a mellow starter (levain): Measure 1 TBSP (25g) mature sourdough starter into a bowl on a kitchen scale. Add 75g-200g water (depending on how much starter your recipe calls for) and stir to combine. Then, add the same amount of flour by weight as you did water. Stir until no dry spots or lumps remain. Cover and let feed at room temp until it passes the float test.
  • For a sour starter: Transfer all of your small, mature starter (75g) to a bowl. Add 75g water, stir to combine. Then add 75g flour and stir until no dry spots or lumps remain. Cover and let feed at room temp until it passes the float test.

Video

Notes

  • How quickly your starter feeds and when it's ready to bake with will depend on the ambient temperature and the temperature of your starter, water, and flour. Cooler ingredients = slower feeding. Room temperature ingredients = faster feeding. You can always check if it's ready by dropping a small amount in a glass of water. If it floats, it's ready to bake with. 
  • To calculate how much flour and water to add to your starter when you want to scale it up, take however much starter your recipe calls for, divide it in half and add 20. That number is the amount of water and amount of flour you should feed 1 TBSP of starter with. You will use most of the starter in your bake, and have about 25-30g of starter left to feed. It will become your new starter.
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