Lesson 4: Feeding, Care & Use of Your Sourdough Starter


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Our ancestors made made use of breads often… and they kept their sourdough starter alive for many generations.

It is common for sourdough starter to live for hundreds of years if cared for and nurtured properly. Sourdough starter can become an important part of your family traditions and in-turn reward you with nutritious and delicious baked goods for many years… if not generations to come.

Caring for a sourdough starter is not rocket science, by any means. With just a little “know how” and some TLC, your starter can stay healthy and happy.

So What Does A Sourdough Starter Eat?

Sourdough starter lives on two things: flour and water. Your sourdough starter will happily "eat" any flour that contains gluten, such as Whole Wheat, Rye, Spelt, or All-Purpose "White" Flour. Remember we don’t fear gluten. In Lesson 3 science and health we talked about how lots of it gets consumed by the starter.

What kind of flour is best?

Type of flour used to feed the sourdough starter has a big impact on the way the starter will taste! Because the taste of the flour becomes "highly concentrated" inside the starter. Overtime using a whole wheat flour to feed your starter can result in a very wheaty tasting baked good. This could overpower the taste of the flour used in the recipe and make your rye bread lose its rye taste or that chocolate cake taste like essence of whole wheat.

For this reason it is preferred to feed your sourdough starter Unbleached All-purpose White Flour (organic if possible). This will give a neutral taste to the starter, so all your baked goods taste like they should.

Overview of Feeding

Most recipes use a 100% hydration starter, which means every-time it is fed it is doubled. This is done by feeding the starter half its weight in water, and half its weight in flour. So if your starter weights 4 ounces it would be feed 2 ounces of water and 2 ounces of flour by weight not volume.

You will need:

  • 1 hungry sourdough starter
  • preferred flour (must contain gluten)
  • filtered water, at room temp or cool (never boiling)

Important! If you’re taking your starter out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature before feeding or baking (using), about 3 to 4 hours minimum.

Water for Feeding: The water used in feeding your sourdough starter should ALWAYS be filtered, containing NO Chlorine, as it will “kill” your starter. Any basic water filtration system should be sufficient to remove the chlorine.

See the Lesson Documentation for detailed feeding instructions.

Sourdough Feeding Tips

  • 4 to 8 ounces of sourdough starter stored in the fridge will provide an adequate amount of starter for most recipes with a single feeding.
  • When taking the starter out of the fridge, wait until room temp before using about 3 to 4 hours.
  • For maximum rise in bread making, feed the starter 3 times immediately before use, each feeding 8 to 12 hrs. apart.
  • Make sure the starter is fed and active as required by the recipe before using.
  • When using your starter, make sure you have enough to save…don’t use it all up in a recipe!

Continue to Lesson 5 – Tools —>

Quick Links:
– Lesson Documentation (PDFs)
– FAQs Support Page


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