Sourdough Starter Mother Feeding Methods

Everyone has their own method that they’ve learned for feeding and maintaining their sourdough mother/starter.  From research and personal experience these are some methods that have worked for me.  there is some  overlap in the methods so pick one that works best for your baking situation and needs.


Sourdough Starter/Mother Feeding

  • Method 1: 7th Day Baking Method

    • EVERY DAY feed the mother 3/8 cup flour and 1/4 cup filtered water morning and night. At the end of the week your starter will be pretty sour.
    • On the 7th Day Bake! Use the majority of the starter by making a sourdough batter bread, sourdough waffles or pancakes or something similar until you have only 3/8 cup of starter left.
    • Start feeding the remaining starter right away.
    • To slow the activity of the starter, but still keep it fed you can put it in the refrigerator and feed it the prescribed amount 2/week until you reach the 7th day levels.
  • Method 2: Daily Discard

    • 1 part starter, 1 part water, and 2 parts flour
    • Example – 1/2 cup starter + 1/2 cup water + 1 cup flour
    • Discard all but 1/2 cup starter each day either by baking with the discarded portion, adding the excess sourdough starter to your compost, or freezing it. Reserving some frozen starter can help revive or restore spoiled or neglected starter.
  • Method 3: Refrigerator Mother

    • This starter is kept in the refrigerator all the time until needed for baking. This requires a little more planning as you need to bring it to room temperature and make sure it’s well fed and active before attempting to bake with it.
    • Feed the same as the “Daily Discard” method but only every 5-7 days. Stir it thoroughly, cap it tightly and return it to the refrigerator.
    • Allow the refrigerated starter to come to room temperature and feed it at least three times before using it to bake to make sure it is fully active and happy. Follow the discard method above for dealing with the excess.

There are numerous recipes online for using up your sourdough discard. Think of it as a volume of flour and water that you can add to any recipe if you do the proper calculations to adjust for the moisture and flour to be removed. One cup of starter will be 1/3 cup water and 2/3 cup flour more or less. Choose your recipes carefully, because the starter will impart a sour flavor to the recipe.  If you don’t believe the final product would benefit from the sour flavor you might want to consider another recipe.

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