Feeding your sourdough starter

The 1-1-1 method: A Foolproof Guide to Feeding Your Sourdough Starter

Feeding your sourdough starter is akin to nurturing a living organism, ensuring it remains healthy, active, and ready to leaven your bread with its characteristic flavor and rise. Among the various feeding methods, the 1-1-1 method stands out for its simplicity and effectiveness. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of feeding your sourdough starter using the 1-1-1 method.

Understanding the 1-1-1 Method:

The 1-1-1 method refers to feeding your sourdough starter with equal parts, by weight, of starter, flour, and water. This balanced approach helps maintain the hydration and consistency of your starter while providing it with fresh nutrients to thrive. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients and Equipment:

Before you begin, gather the following:

  • Sourdough starter
  • High quality whole wheat flour OR unbeached All purpose flour
  • Water (preferably filtered or non-chlorinated)
  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Mixing bowl
  • A clean container for storing your starter

Step 2: Measure Your Ingredients:

Using a digital kitchen scale, weigh your sourdough starter. Note down the weight. This will serve as your reference point for the feeding process.

Step 3: Discard and Refresh Your Starter:

In your mixing bowl, combine an equal weight of flour and water to the weight of your starter. For example, if your starter weighs 100 grams, add 100 grams each of flour and water. Mix everything thoroughly until well incorporated.

Step 4: Incorporate and Mix:

Add your starter to the mixture of flour and water in the bowl. Use a clean spatula or your hands to mix everything together until you achieve a smooth, homogenous consistency.

Step 5: Transfer and Store:

Once mixed, transfer your refreshed sourdough starter back into its storage container. Ensure the container is clean and has enough room for the starter to expand during fermentation. Use a rubber band or marker to note the level of the starter before feeding, allowing you to track its growth over time.

Step 6: Allow to Ferment:

Place your refreshed starter at room temperature, ideally between 70-75°F (21-24°C). Allow it to ferment and develop for several hours to reach peak activity. Depending on factors like ambient temperature and starter vigor, this process can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours or longer. Keep an eye on your starter and look for signs of fermentation, such as bubbles forming on the surface and a slightly sour aroma.

Step 7: Repeat Regularly:

To maintain a healthy and active sourdough starter, repeat the feeding process regularly, ideally once a day or every 12 hours if kept at room temperature. Consistency is key to keeping your starter happy and vigorous.

Tips for Success:

  • Use room temperature water to avoid shocking your starter.
  • Maintain a consistent feeding schedule to keep your starter active and predictable.
  • Adjust the feeding frequency based on your baking schedule. If you’re not baking as frequently, you can refrigerate your starter and feed it once a week to keep it alive.
  • Pay attention to the texture and aroma of your starter. A healthy starter should have a slightly tangy smell and exhibit vigorous bubbling activity.

By following the 1-1-1 method and incorporating these tips into your routine, you’ll be well-equipped to maintain a thriving sourdough starter that will elevate your bread baking endeavors to new heights. Happy baking!

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  1. Hi Callie,
    I’ve been following the recipe for the Sourdough starter, admitidly it is early days , but I’m 5 days in and after each day the starter is still quite sloppy and some water seems to seperate out. Is this right?
    I’m using a good quality Strone Wholemeal bread flour.

    1. Hi Steve! The liquid that is separating off is called “hooch” and is a normal byproduct of a hungry starter. You can just poor it off before you feed it. Your starter should be starting to bubble after feedings, should start to develop a tangy smell, and should begin rising and falling predictably after feeding. It should be the consistency of thick pancake batter so if you feel it is too thin, hold back a bit of water next time you feed it so that the consistency fits that description.

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