Comprehensive Guide to Feeding and Preparing Sourdough Starter


In this YouTube tutorial, I’ll explain the process of feeding and maintaining a sourdough starter, as well as preparing it for baking bread, commonly referred to as creating a “levain.” This tutorial serves as a follow-up to a previous video on creating a sourdough starter from scratch. I’ll share detailed methods, tips, and ratios for feeding the starter daily or storing it in the fridge, and the steps for turning the starter into a levain ready for baking.

Key Insights

Introduction to Sourdough Starter Maintenance

I’ll begin by emphasizing the tutorial’s two-part structure: maintaining a sourdough starter and preparing it for baking. The starter in question is 11 days old, originating from a previous tutorial. There are two main methods of maintenance: daily feeding and refrigeration.

“I have two main methods: one is feeding the starter every day, and the other is putting the starter in the fridge until two days before I use it.”

Daily Feeding Routine

For daily feeding, I use a ratio of one part starter to ten parts flour and water. This method ensures that the starter grows steadily without becoming too acidic. Understanding fermentation and temperature is crucial, as these factors significantly affect the starter’s rising time.

“If the weather is cold, the starter will take longer to rise; if your house is warmer, it will rise much faster.”

Optimal Feeding Ratios

I’ll provide guidance on adjusting feeding ratios based on environmental conditions. A lower starter-to-flour-and-water ratio (1:10:10) prevents excessive acidity and reduces the need for frequent feedings. Conversely, higher ratios may require multiple feedings per day.

“If your house is very cold, you might need to use a lower ratio of starter to flour and water.”

Refrigeration Method

For those who bake less frequently, I recommend storing the starter in the fridge. It should be fed at least once a week, using a lower ratio (e.g., 1:5:5) during colder months to accommodate slower fermentation.

“If it’s winter, I would feed it a 1:5:5 ratio.”

Creating the Levain

The levain is an offshoot of the starter, specifically prepared for baking. The process involves feeding a portion of the starter to reduce acidity and increase its size and activity over several stages. This ensures a vigorous levain ready for baking.

“A levain is a portion of the starter fed and prepared for a baking session.”

Step-by-Step Levain Preparation

Two Days Before Baking: Feed 5 grams of the starter at a 1:10:10 ratio and let it rest for 20-24 hours.

One Day Before Baking: Increase the levain’s size by feeding it at a 1:2 ratio, then again at a 1:1:1 ratio about 6 hours before baking.

“I prefer feeding it three times to really get my levain active and to increase the levain size depending on my batch.”


This comprehensive guide provides both novice and experienced bakers with essential knowledge on maintaining and utilizing a sourdough starter. By understanding the influence of temperature and adjusting feeding ratios accordingly, you can ensure your starter remains healthy and ready for baking. The step-by-step levain preparation further equips you with the confidence to produce delicious sourdough bread.

For more detailed instructions, be sure to watch the full tutorial and refer to my guidance charts for optimal results. Stay tuned for the next video, where I’ll demonstrate how to bake a simple sourdough loaf using the prepared levain.

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