Feed your starter 7-24 hours before you want to use it to make bread. This activates the bacteria. You can also feed your sourdough just to keep it healthy if you don’t make bread often. It’s a good idea to feed it at least once a week. If you leave it alone longer, just be sure to feed it twice before making it, allowing 7-24 hours between feedings. Starters have been known to last 3 months or more without being fed, so long as they receive a little TLC when being “brought back”.
Generally, you’ll want to feed the sourdough this way:
one part starter
one part flour
one part water
Depending on the type of flour you’re using, the amount of time since you fed last, and other variables, these measurements may be off. You can also feed the sourdough with much less flour, especially if your starter is getting too large. Just add the amount of flour you’d like to the starter, stir it in a bit and add water to make it the consistency of pancake batter.
Some things to remember
*Don’t over-feed your starter (if you have 1 cup of starter, never add more than 1 cup of flour)
*keep your starter soupy–it should look like pancake batter
*be gentle–if you over-stir your starter it will get to glutenous and elastic
*the starter will naturally separate and may turn any shade of brown or black. This is normal. If it turns pink, though, you have bad bacteria. It’s a good idea to dispose of pink starter altogether, though some say it’s possible to use a bit of the bad stuff to start a new batch of good stuff.
*again, black’s ok, pink, not so much.
Please comment and let me know if this is clear. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions! If you know something about sourdough starter that I haven’t mentioned, please comment–I might just edit it into this post (with due thanks, of course)!