How to keep and care of sourdough starter

sourdough starter

Occasionally the sourdough gets our of balance – either too acid or too alkali.   This can be due to irregular feeding, overfeeding,  slower fermentation due to too low temperature or changing temperature.

Remember that the culture bacteria in the sourdough never dies,  so you do not need to through it out and start over again.  You can always bring your starter back to life from whatever state is it in as the already developed culture is a very valuable resource to use for your bread.

When you do not feed your starter,  it becomes liquid as the bacteria eats all the food it has.   The micro culture of wild yeasts, bacteria,  fungi and enzymes begin to break the structure of the food,  which in this case is flour,  into its components: liquid, solid and waste.   It also becomes very acidic.

If it dries and crust builds up on the top – remove the crust,  the inside will be thick and soft, feed it regularly to restart the fermentation process. You can mix the crust pieces with the soil to  start a compost and put nutrients into soil.

If it gets mouldy on top – remove the top layer with a spoon, underneath will be a fresh and healthy looking starter,  feed it and put it in the fridge.   Mould can develop due to starter being kept too long in a cool temperature which prevented it from fermenting.

If there is a liquid in your starter,  which is  the mildly alcoholic liquid either on the  top or underneath – pour it out and restart feeding process.

To thicken the starter,  feed it with two parts of flour to one part of water to obtain a thick mixture.   It will help to stabilise and create a different balance of enzymes in your starter.   By thickening sourdough starter it becomes slightly more sour. 

When you refresh your starter and prepare for the next use,  you should double its volume and thicken it at the same time.  

Method to bring back to life your old dough, dying or dry starter:

Add warm water to cover the starter dough in a bowl or container, stir well and break up pieces to make a smooth paste.   Then add flour a spoon at a time, until you get the thickness of a wet dough and begin folding in the flour.   You can use your both hands to mix it well,  and knead a little adding more flour as you go until becomes as a tough consistency. The kneading will expel the excess acid to get soaked up by the fresh flour in the mix.

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