feeding my sourdough starter


I was gifted a friends sourdough starter this weekend and feel extremely fortunate. She showed me how she feeds it - with milk and flour - equal parts. Milk? I thought it was supposed to be water? She's been using this starter for a very long time, so I trust her. But, should it be non-fat milk only? she used buttermilk. But said she doesn't always use buttermilk, just happened to have some when she showed me how to feed it.
She also said to "feed it from time to time". I thought it was once a week?
Any tips on caring for my new starter are appreciated!

badge posted by: laelliott11 on August 30, 2010 at 10:27 am in Baking, yeast
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reply by: pjh on August 30, 2010 at 11:23 am

Leigh, the only starter I've ever fed with milk is a "friendship" starter - a sweet starter that's fed regularly with milk, flour, and sugar. And that was ages ago, and I can't remember the routine. I wouldn't dare to give you advice on feeding a starter with just flour and milk - for fear of giving bad advice, as I'm uncertain as to how to prevent the milk from going sour during the sourdough's rest. You could always feed with water and flour; the starter should gradually segue into a plain flour/water starter. But schedule, nonfat vs. buttermilk vs. whole milk, etc.? Don't know.

Readers, can anyone help Leigh with tips for feeding this milk-based starter?

reply by: KIDPIZZA on August 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Good morning. In feeding your new friend it would be advantagages to employ a little rye flour as well as W.W. flour every now & then. I would NOT USE ALL PURPOSE FLOUR for feeding except KAF A/P flour as it's protein strengh is a good proxy for bread flour which is also a good flour to use in your feeding.
In the event you do use water in your feedings & if you feel your muncipal water system has chlorine in it I would then measure out the water & leave it uncovered for at least 3, hours it will disapate on it's own. You then can use it free of chlorine.
Good luck & enjoy the rest of the day.


reply by: camelot on August 31, 2010 at 8:32 pm

I use the Saco Buttermilk powder to feed my buttermilk sourdough starter. I use 3 - 4 Tablespoons of powder with 3/4 to 1 cup of water. I then add 1 cup-ish of flour. I like a thicker starter so adjust amounts up or down to get the consistency I want.

I have also used regular buttermilk and don't think I've had a problem leaving it out on the counter for up to 12 hours.

reply by: laelliott11 on September 01, 2010 at 8:53 pm

wow thank you all for the great tips and advice!!! I just opened the jar to smell it and it has that wonderful, pungent sour smell. It looks quite healthy and happy. I did some reading online about starters and some have said the warning that it is 'gone bad' would be if there was any "pink" color (bacteria).
I am going to split this starter and feed some with water/flour and some with milk/flour (going to try that buttermilk powder tip!). I only use KAF flours ;)

thank you again!!!!

reply by: randy_hills54 on September 14, 2010 at 3:29 pm

To add to this thread, can anyone explain why a sourdough starter would begin to turn black ? Not all the starter, but a layer of liquid on top between feedings...?

reply by: sarahh on September 15, 2010 at 6:10 pm

It is just old. That liquid on top is mostly alcohol, a byproduct of the life processes of the yeasts and bacteria in your starter. The longer it sits between feedings, the darker the liquid gets. When mine does that (pretty often, because I neglect it), I pour off the black liquid. If the starter is really sour smelling, I pour off most of it and feed it with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. After it rises and then falls, I might repeat the process if it still smells sour. And then I will use it the first time in English muffins, pizza dough or pancakes–something that doesn't rely on the leavening power of the starter as much. When the starter is good and strong again, and smells only slightly sour, I then can use it as the sole leavening in bread. Hope this helps.