Starter - when is the best time to use it?


I have my first ever sourdough starter going and am on day 6, it is going very nicely, The temperature where i live is warming up now as we are going into the Australian summer. anyway back to the starter, there are many lovely bubble throughout and it is very froffy, once I feed it, it at least doubles in size if not more, then by the next morning it goes back down (I feed it around 11 am) I assume it is normal for it to go back down. The smell is lovely and sour with a tinge of fruityness. When is it best to use the starte, when it comes up? As I understand it before using it you refresh the starter anyway, wait some hours and then use it and keep the left over in the fridge until you are ready to bake again. do I  have that right? thanks to anyone out there you can give this novice a bit of advice.

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rossnroller 2010 November 16

Sounds like you have a starter well on the way to being ready, although 6 days is pretty quick! I think I'd start feeding it twice per day, 8-12 hours apart, discarding the excess (or, better, using it for pancakes) for a few more days before you try a bake. That said, I suppose it might be ready now, or very soon, since it's doubling in volume at its peak. Only one way to find out...!

I'd suggest feeding it around 8-10 hours before using it.. Opinion is divided as to when it is best to use it. Some say right at peak, others just before, and others just after! In my experience, the timing doesn't need to be exact. You have a window period of two plus hours in which your starter will work fine - probably considerably longer.

If your ambient temperature is similar to here (in Perth), it is warm! The warmer the ambient temp, the less time your starter will need between feeds (and the shorter the proofing times required for your dough).

Best of baking to you! Let us know how you go (pics please!)



LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 November 17

 Alex yes you want to keep some of the left over starter and keep it feed.  You mentioned in your post about keeping it in the fridge.  I would leave it out of the fridge for another week so that you make sure you have a very good and healthy culture.  Then do as you said feed the starter after you use it and store it in the fridge until you want to use it again.

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2010 November 21

If your starter is at 100% hydration (equal weights of water and flour) make sure you are feeding and discarding at least every 12 hours.  You can reduce the size to keep the amount of waste down using only around 10-15g of starter.  Here is a great article on maintaining your starter and the ratio's to consider for your young starter: 

And from Dom - here at this forum:

Some of the other links are broken right now - I wrote to Maedi.

Also if you don't feel like throwing out the starter keep the excess in the fridge and then make pancakes or pizza with it within a week. 

Any loaves yet?


alexandra75 2010 November 22

thanks so much for your posts! No loaves yet, it is hard to get the time over the weekene, what with keeping three kids entertained. Will try and do my first loaf this week

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