Determining hydration of an existing starter ?


Hi, I'm ken [ ĸen if the software recognises it, but I'm not holding out much hope of that ].  I've been making sourdoughs for a few years - initially French gingerbread (pain d'epices) with fresh starters each time, then once I'd taken early retirement I started making leavains to keep.  At the moment I have two that have been in use for a year or so - a wholewheat which is about as stiff as a dough (when it's fresh - it starts to dry in storage), and a rye which I now dilute when I store it so that it's runnier than Mr Wensleydale's apocryphal camembert [ for the Python fans ].

I'm now at the stage where my loaves are repeatable enough to consider sharing the recipes, but in all the recipes here I see exact percentages of hydrations.

Now, I can go back to the initial creation of the levain and check the hydration, but over it's life it has dried in storage, and been refreshed, so how do you determine the hydration ?  Now that the wholewheat levain has been going for a year or two, can I reasonably assume it has attained the hydration of the normal refreshments ?  If not, how do I tell what hydration it is ?




ĸen [ or ken if that was unreadable - preview shows the ĸ, but who knows ? ]





26 users have voted.


mlucas 2010 July 24

Hi ĸen / ken,

(I just see the first as like a different font?)

I would definintely say, after a few refreshments it has attained the hydration of the refreshment.

Actually even after one refreshment, if the ratio of new flour/water to starter is high enough! eg. a 50% hydration starter has 1 part water for 2 parts flour (by weight). If you refresh it at 100%, at a ratio of 1:5:5 (starter:flour:water), you've now got:

- 1 part water, 2 parts flour from the starter
- 15 parts flour added
- 15 parts water added

for a total of 16 water to 17 flour. So it went from 50% to 94% hydration after only one refreshment!



zarniwhoop 2010 July 24

Mike, thanks for confirming the maths.  I'll need to confirm the exact amounts I in my recipes.


As to the glyph - yes, it looks like a cyrillic or greek lowercase 'k', but it often doesn't render on forums, even when the preview works.








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