Wondering how often you should feed your starter? Maybe you have one cup on your counter, maybe even two or three. Maybe your kitchen is cool, or maybe it’s warm and toasty. Because every starter — and every kitchen — is different, the instructions for maintaining your starter may need to be tweaked to your circumstances.
When it comes to sourdough starters, including Amish Friendship Bread starters, there’s ONE RULE you must abide by.
If your starter is hungry, feed it.
This means that, yes, sometimes you might be feeding your starter off schedule. If your kitchen is warm, it means you might be feeding it A LOT. especially traditional sourdough starters which may sometimes need to be fed daily.
Sticking to a schedule means that your starter might go hungry. Like kids that go through growth spurts, sometimes you have to give them a little more.
If you used commercial yeast to start your starter, expect that your starter will be super active in the beginning. It’ll have a voracious appetite, which means more feedings. Once it finds its groove, things will slow to a more comfortable pace.
The general rule of thumb is a 1:1:1:1 feeding ratio. For example, one cup of Amish Friendship Bread starter needs to be fed 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk.Friendship Bread Kitchen
Note: If you’re making a traditional sourdough starter (without milk or sugar), one cup of traditional sourdough starter needs to be fed 1 cup flour and 1 cup water.
If you have more starter than you need, consider feeding it and then freezing the excess.
If your starter is especially runny or watery, you probably need to increase the amount of flour in your starter. If you’ve been baking with me for a while, you should have an idea of what your starter should be like. I know my starter is in good shape when it feels like a cake batter, has some bubbles, and no hooch.
If your starter is thin, flat, bubble-less, and/or starting to separate, it’s time to feed it. This usually happens to neglected starters or starters that are in warm kitchens who quickly metabolize the sugars after each feeding.
In general, feeding your starter on Day 6 and Day 10 should be sufficient (again, make sure you are feeding at the proper ratios). If you are taking starter from the fridge or freezer, you may need to give it a feeding before you use it, just to make sure it’s not hungry.
To learn more about maintaining a healthy starter, check out this post: Maintaining a Healthy Amish Friendship Bread Starter.
Hi I have a starter I took out of the freezer. Treated it like day 6 after it thawed. Still no real bubbles should I feed again?
Catherine Elson says
Just wondering, can I bake on day 6 after feeding the starter instead of waiting to day 10? This is my third round of making amish muffins and my starter is doing pretty well.
Hi Catherine! Yes, you definitely can! Here’s a great post about when you can bake with your starter: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-how-soon-can-i-bake-use-my-amish-friendship-bread-sourdough-starter/ Let us know if you have any more questions!
I made Amish sour dough bread. It seemed too sweet for my family. Should I have let it rise another time to make it less sweet?
Hi Pamela! One way to lessen the sweetness of the starter is to stop feeding it sugar, or to cut down the sugar amounts by half. This will eventually make the starter less sweet. Let us know if you have any other questions!
Erica Pizzola says
I make friendship bread once a year at Christmas. Let’s say I make 10 recipes and I want to use my starter from the previous year. Does that mean I would need to save 10 cups of starter from the previous year and freeze it? Or does starter only get better over time when you continue to use it and feed it?
Hi Erica! If you want to just pull your starter out of the freezer and use it, yes, you will have to save 10 cups of starter. However, we do feel like the flavors (especially the unique sourdough flavor) gets better through feeding it and going through more than just one cycle. Here’s a great post on the options when you defrost your starter: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-reviving-frozen-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
Let us know if you have any other questions!
Help! I was getting ready to do the final addition before separating starters and baking my bread and approximately half of the mixture spilled! Do I add the milk/flour/sugar to what is left? Measure 1 cup for bread and divide what is left for starters to give away??
Hi Rebecca! Yes, you can still feed your starter before separating it! Your starter is usually happy with a 1:1 feeding ratio, so if you have a cup of starter left, I would feed it 1 cup of flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup of milk. It should be fine, you will probably just have less starters to give away!
Teresa Seagraves says
I was given a starter made bread with it added nuts and raisens in it.
Now my question… first do I have to keep my starter in refrigerator??? I see where lots are. And second can I make sandwich bread with my leftover starter??? My family loves bread,rolls if I could make sandwicheh bread it would be great. I need a recipe please. Thanks in advance.
Hi Teresa! Yes, if you like, you can keep your starter in the fridge! Here’s a post on how to take care of it in the refrigerator: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-store-my-starter-in-the-fridge/
If you’re planning on baking consistently, though, we’d recommend keeping it out on the counter. Here’s the original starter recipe that has the feeding periods if you decide to keep it out: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/amish-friendship-bread-starter/
Here’s our white bread recipe that works great for sandwiches: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/basic-white-amish-friendship-bread/
On day 10, if you reserve a cup of starter to use as starter for a new batch, do you feed it or just treat it as Day 1 and wait until day 6 to feed it?
Hi Jodeen! Before separating any of your cups to keep going and/or bake with, you feed your starter. So when you take the cup out to keep a starter going, you’ve already fed it. So you’ll just treat it like day 6 (after feeding) and wait to day ten to feed again and separate.
Sheree Agosto says
so basically i will feed and be able to bake again 4 days later (day 10)? I want to get on a good baking schedule and have bread weekly and english muffins and waffles.
I accidentally fed my starter 1 1/2 C each of milk, flour, and sugar in Day 6 instead of just 1C of each. Did I ruin it? Will I need to change anything on baking day?
Darien Gee says
Hi Jennifer! If anything, your starter will love you more, LOL. How is it doing now? The only downside is that you will have much more starter on Day 10, which means actually a larger feeding if you want to maintain your ratios. So you have a couple of choices — remove a cup or two now and freeze it (if you fed it in the last 24 hours) to reduce your amount of starter, or discard 1-2 cups of your starter BEFORE you feed it on Day 10. The 1 1/2 cup feedings on Day 10 assumes that you have 1 1/2 to 2 cups starter in your bag or bowl. If you have more, you’ll want to reduce your starter (this post helps explain why: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-maintaining-a-healthy-amish-friendship-bread-starter/). Good luck!
Thanks! It seems pretty happy. Lol. Lots of gas, smells yeasty. I appreciate your help!
What do you do if you can’t bake on day 10?
Question about my stater. Today is Day 8 and it’s thin, barely any bubbles. My living area is probably 70 degrees or less. Have I ruined my starter with it being too cool?
Darien Gee says
You definitely didn’t ruin it, Sue — it’s just not motivated to eat! Move it into the sunshine or place it in a warm area, otherwise, your starter will be dormant. Another possibility is that it ate all the sugars super fast and is now hungry. Have you seen this: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-maintaining-a-healthy-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
I just made my friendship starter yesterday and it already has hooch. Do I need to feed it already? I let my milk warm up a little on the counter before I made the starter and I did let the yeast sit for 10 minutes in the warm water.