<< For a list of ingredients, equipment and FAQ, see Day 0 – How to Make a Sourdough Starter.
<< Previously: Day 4 – Feeding Your Sourdough Starter
Day 5 – Morning
It’s the big question day: Is my sourdough starter ready to be ‘refreshed’?
If it looks like this picture, then the answer is ‘Yes, finally, yes!’ Frothy, extra-bubbly, airy, all these are good signs.
Day 5 – You're Ready
If your starter was very active yesterday, but has now developed a thin liquid on the surface, this is fine too.
Day 5 – Not a Problem
So now’s the time to be really honest with yourself. Does you starter look like either of the pictures above?
Option A: Yes It Does
In that case, congratulations, you’re ready to refresh your starter. Here’s how to do it:
In a clean medium-sized bowl, weigh out 25g of your active sourdough starter. (Stir in the liquid before hand if any has developed.) Add 90g tepid-to-warm water, and stir well until there are no lumps of starter. Add 70g of strong white flour, and stir until well mixed.
Cover the bowl, and leave in a warm place (around 20°C / 68°F) for 12-24 hours (i.e. until the next morning).
[Variations: If using whole wheat flour, follow instructions above using 90g water and 60g flour. If using rye flour, follow instructions above using 100g water and 50g flour.]
Option B: No, It Doesn’t, Argh What Do I Do Now?
Let’s do a sourdough health check. Does it look completely dead? No bubbles and yeasty smells at all? If so, it’s time to try using a different brand of flour, and a warmer room. But if you’ve been following the instructions, this scenario should be very unlikely.
So does it have some bubbles? If so, great, there’s life in there. Now it’s time to nurture it further.
In a clean bowl, weigh out 50g of your sluggish-yet-slightly-active sourdough starter. Now feed it, following the instructions from Day 2, until it reaches an active state (see pictures above). Then (however many days later) move on to the instructions in Option A above.
Tip #1: Make sure you’re leaving your starter somewhere warm (around 20°C / 68°F) while it grows. You know those people who always complain they’re cold? Your sourdough starter is just like them. Crank up the heating, or move your starter to an airing cupboard.
Tip #2: Similarly, make sure you’re using tepid-to-warm water – i.e. around skin temperature. Too cold, the yeasts will be slow. Too hot, and you’ll kill off the yeasts.
Tip #3: Stir well when you mix in the water and new flour. It’s all food to your starter; make sure it’s distributed well.
Next up: Day 6 – Baking with your Sourdough Starter [Link goes live on Fri 27 April.]
These posts are part of a Sourdough Tweet-Along taking place from Sunday 22nd April (a.k.a. Day 1) until… well, until your starter is good and ready! Follow along at @BakerAndLoaf on Twitter, or follow the hashtag #SourdoughTweetAlong