Starter help?


I just signed up to the site. And gotta say this is GREAT!


I have been baking sourdough bread since July 2012, so about 6 months. I have been using a recipe from an older bread book that has a small section for sourdough. All the sourdough recipes call for comercial yeast as well as starter. I would like to get my starter to the point where I can give up the comercial yeast altogether. I am very impressed with my success so far. I have had some very impressive loaves, I think I am addicted to bread baking.


I live in a basement suite in Vancouver, Canada so the ambient temperature is pretty low. Does anyone have any good tips for getting my yeast population up in my starter without a lot of waste (working on a tight budget).


My mom gave me a tip that if I add about a half teaspoon of sugar when I feed the starter it would increase the population, and it seems to be working but I still think it could be better.


Is there a way to guage how yeasty my starter is? Like a test loaf with no storebought yeast?

126 users have voted.


bubbles 2013 January 26

I didn't look at the site long before I posted this. I am glad to have found this site, as I have a lot to learn and aparently I have come to the right place.

SlackerJohn 2013 January 26

By all means bake a loaf without added yeast.

If your starter has survived for six months, I am confident it will do the job.

You seem to think your starter may be under-powered (whatever that means).  In that case, more time will be required for proving.

I don't know how cold your basement is, but it's hard to believe that your starter could not have developed sufficiently!

Cheers John

bubbles 2013 January 27

Thanks for the link to grahams recipe, I will give it a try. (in the next few days)


I got started today on the Pain de mie, from the recipe section. The preferment is hanging out on my kitchen counter getting bubbly.

GoneAsync 2013 January 27

G'day Bubbles. Do you start with an overnight sponge? If not, try mixing all the (warm) water and almost half the flour with your starter the night before, whip a bunch of air into it, and seal the bowl into a small air-filled garbage bag (or just cling wrap). Add the rest of the flour mixed with the salt the next morning, and return the dough to the garbage bag in between each punch down/reshaping, and again after you shape the loaves. The overnight sponge should give the yeast the best start, and the garbage bag helps retain some of the heat of the yeast's work as well as the moisture to keep the surface from drying out. On particularly cold days, I also warm the flour in the oven (50-100C) before adding it, turn the heat off, then put the whole thing -- garbage bag and all -- into the oven to rise.

Fred Rickson 2013 January 28

Don't add sugar to a starter......unless you are going to use it all in a build.  Sugar is an energy source that allows almost any microbiological organism to grow.  Including fungal molds.  One of the great characteristics of bread organisms is they can make a living by breaking down flour.....not all that many yeast and bacteria can do that.  Add sugar and anything grows.

 So if the starter goes back in the fridge, no sugar.  Enjoy.
bubbles 2013 February 1

Thank you for clearing up the sugar thing for me. I have noticed if I bake with it more often (thus feeding it all the time) it doesn't need the sugar, and it gets smelling really good.


I am not going to use the sugar anymore, and start feeding it in much smaller doses.


The problem is I am only baking for me, I live on my own and a batch usually lasts almost a week. I am going to try baking a smaller batch and do it more often (like everyother day, maybe).

Fred Rickson 2013 February 4

I only bake every three weeks or so....the starter (half quart) stays in the fridge till needed.  Little hooch, no problems.  This has to be a 15+ year old starter....only has ever seen flour and water.

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