The Care and Feeding of your Natural Leaven Starter

Give it a name, and don’t for get to feed your new pet!

Container:     Glass Jar with a lid that is not airtight.  Flip your canning lid upside down on a large 2 qt jar or use a large peanut butter jar.  My favorite is a square 6″x6″x6″ plastic container, very easy to mix in.

Storing:     For best results, keep your starter in the door of the fridge or right in front where it doesn’t get too cold and where you can see and check on it daily.  If you are not going to feed, like for a vacation, put it in the back of the fridge where it is colder.

Feeding:  First invest in a Danish Dough Hook.  You will love it and thank yourself daily.  You will feed your starter flour and water daily at best or, at least, whenever there is water on top of your starter.  Feed in these amounts:   1 part starter : 1 part water : 1 heaping part flour by weight.  I measure in grams but 2 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour is approximately 1-1/4 or 1-1/3 cups water.  Feed it thick.  It is like bread dough not pancake batter.  If your starter is not rising bread feed it more often.  If you have not feed it in the last 2-3 days, feed it once or twice before making bread.

Feeding Schedule:  Feed every time there is water on your starter.

  •      Tues made bread, fed starter
  •      Wed made pancakes, fed starter
  •      Fri made pizza, fed starter
  •      Tues fed starter at 7 am,  fed starter at 8 pm
  •      Wed made bread, fed starter

Feed your starter the same amount of flour and water that you have starter.  If I have 6 cups of starter I feed it 6 cups of flour and water (equal by weight).  Then I will have 12 cups of starter.  If you don’t want a huge amount of starter take some out of your jar before you feed and just feed the amount you want left in your jar.  Ex: If I have 2 cups of starter in my jar and I only want to feed 1 cup, I take out 1 cup and use it to make something yummy for my family or feed it to my animals.  Then I add 1 cup water and equal grams of flour to my remaining 1 cup starter in my jar.  I will end up with 2 cups of starter in my jar.

Measuring everything by grams is easier and by far more consistent with more consistently good results in your bread.  I don’t measure my starter in my jar, I just eyeball about how much flour I need and measure the flour and the water equal by grams.

1 cup water and 1 cup flour = 1 cup starter  Use this formula to adjust your favorite recipes to a natural leaven recipe.  You may have to adjust a bit for the extra flour, but this is a general rule of thumb.


If you are starting a new starter leave it out on the counter, covered, for a week or two until it is really bubbly and rising.  It may seem like it died.  Flat, no bubbles and black water, but it’s ok.  Feed more, more often and stir a couple of times a day, it likes the oxygen.

If your starter is still not bubbling well and smells very tangy, start your cycle over again with ¼ cup of starter.  Feed every time you see liquid, either on top or bottom.  Feed it thick and often.

If no liquid in 4 days feed anyway.

If you are having problems getting it to be bubbly, make sure you are using non-chlorinated water and freshly ground wheat might also help.  Feed it every day for three days or set out on counter for a few hours.

Make a backup by drying out some flakes or freezing

Resources: See the Library Website pages on this blog for more information and helps.

Starter Focaccia or Pizza Crust

  • 400 g (2 cups) Starter, equal weights water and flour or 100% hydration
  • 6 g (1 tsp) salt – fine grind
  • Basil Olive Oil
  • Garlic salt
  • Italian seasoning


  • Fresh Basil
  • Pine Nuts
  • Fresh Mozzarella or Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 550 with upside-down cookie sheet inside.

Use some Sprouted Wheat Flour if you need to and spread out on parchment paper. Brush with oil and add toppings.

Bake on hot cookie sheet for 7 min.



1 Response to The Care and Feeding of your Natural Leaven Starter

  1. Jordan hardy says:

    This is amazing! Good research

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