Mother vs Starter??


Hi... I am relatively new to sourdough baking and have a question about Mothers and starters. I was given some Mother from a friend who said she makes starter from her mother... is this not the same thing?? It sounded like she keeps her mother in the fridge and then makes a starter from that every week?? Is this necessary?? Please advise with your own tips and tricks. 

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farinam's picture
farinam 2015 August 31

Hello Arleigh,

Mother, culture, stock, starter - just words used to describe the same sort of thing - the stuff that you keep somewhere between bakes.

Starter, levain - other words to describe the stuff that you mix with flour and water etc to make your dough - hence the reason that different words sometimes get used to try to differentiate.  Then of course there is poolish and any other number of different names given to 'starters' prepared using slightly different methods and materials.  So by and large only a couple of preparation techniques really deserve a separate name.

I usually take a quantity of the mother/stock starter and feed that and let it develop (overnight often) to create the loaf starter.  I feed the mother/stock to replace the stuff taken out and that goes back in the fridge till next time.  But if you are baking every day, then the dregs of one batch can serve to inoculate the next batch which is the sort of thing that happens in a bakery and so there is no need to try to distinguish one from the other.

Good luck with your projects.


ed_f's picture
ed_f 2015 October 17

I think the best term is pre-ferment - biga, poolish, sponge, starter they are all preferments. Some have different hydrations and different methods, but in the end serve the same purpose.

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