Sourdough Starter SOS

Anita, HELP! My starter needs some SOS!

Dear Sourdoughmaniacs, 

I am overwhelmed by your incredible response to my sourdough starter tutorial. You are amazing and you really know how to bubble this baker’s starter. So, thank you for actively building such an incredible community with me. 

Before I get too sentimental, and overhydrate this post with happy tears, how about we jump right into today’s topic? As promised, I’ll be addressing the top 5 dilemmas that you sent me in my stories and messages last week. 

So, my dear friends, swipe for a more empowered and stress-free starter use. 

Tell me in the comments if I should do more Q&As in the future and whether or not you like this format or if I should answer your questions in the stories next time instead. 

Have a nice day and let’s bake the world a better place 

DILEMMAS: 

  1. When can/should I refrigerate my starter?

For new starters: after it consistently rises and falls in 24 hours & doubles in the first 6-8 hours. It might take a while for the starter to come to its perfect shape. It’s like a newborn baby in the beginning, but after a few good feedings it will get stronger.

For mature starters: approximately 60 minutes after a maintenance feeding. I use mine 2-3 times per week. I almost never discard my starter. If you do, you can take most of the excess starter away and use it to make pancake batter and feed what’s left in the jar with 25g of all-purpose/bread flour and 20g of stale water.

  1. My starter is lazy, what can I do to reinvigorate it?

SOS STEP: take 1 teaspoon of starter, move it into a fresh jar and feed it with 25g of all-purpose/bread flour and 20g of stale water.

EXTRA BOOST: if you need your starter to be in top form, add a teaspoon or two (not too much!) of rye flour to the SOS mix. The added nutrients will give your starter the kick it needs to rise and shine. 😊

  1. Can any recipe be transformed into a sourdough product by simply using your starter in it? And how?

Most recipes can be adjusted, but it depends on how complicated the recipe you are trying to convert is. You can experiment and try making yeasted products by using 20-30 % of your starter based on your total flour weight or look for recipes that have already been written with sourdough in mind. You can find many recipes on how to make sweet and savory treats using sourdough in my two books or check out my feed where I post some recipes for free (check sourdoughmania_recipe hashtag).

  1. My starter looks yellow/a different color, but smells nice and is super bubbly. Is it okay?

If your starter looks bubbly, smells nice and yoghurt-like, and performs well when added to baked goods, it is most likely alright. The color change could be due to the type of flour that you are using, but I would have to see it to be sure. If you are worried, I suggest you do an SOS step using white all-purpose/bread flour just to be sure. 

IMPORTANT: the discoloration could also be due to mold. If that is the case, THROW YOUR STARTER AWAY and start from scratch. 

  1. How can I dehydrate/dry up my starter and store it as a backup?

Although I don’t really recommend dehydrating and drying up your starter, you can dehydrate your starter using these steps: 

  • Feed your starter and leave it at room temperature until it doubles in size (typically around 6-8 hours). 
  • Smear/spread most of the activated starter thinly onto a sheet of parchment paper and leave it at room temperature until it completely dries. (Don’t forget to leave at least a teaspoon of your starter in the jar, feed it again, and store it back in the fridge.) 
  • Peel off the dried starter and break it into pieces using your hands or a mortar then store in a jar. 

Instead of drying up your starter, I recommend you feed it using a lot of flour and just enough water that the mixture doesn’t have any dry patches, then store it in the fridge. This way it will last much longer in the fridge and you can reinvigorate it using an SOS step or two when you need it again.

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