I forgot to feed my starter, should I throw it away?
If you’re new to Amish Friendship Bread, figuring out what to do when you miss a day of feeding can be nerve-wracking. Following are questions I often get about missing a feeding:
- “I forgot to feed my starter two days ago. Is it ruined?”
- “I fed my starter a day late. Does that mean I have to bake a day late, too?”
- “I got the dates mixed up and I forgot to feed my starter. What should I do?”
- “I received my starter from a friend and forgot to feed it on Day 6. It’s Day 9. Should I throw it out?”
- “I didn’t feed my starter on time. Will it make me sick if I feed it late and still use it?”
Some good news
Amish Friendship Bread starter is pretty flexible, so if you miss a feeding by 1-3 days, you are probably in good shape. I say “probably” because warmer kitchens generally have more active starters, which means your starter will be metabolizing (eating up the flour, sugar, and milk) pretty quickly and thus be “hungrier” sooner.
Cooler kitchens have starters that metabolize at a slower rate, so those starters won’t be as hungry because they’re taking their time and grazing their way through the ingredients (hint: if your kitchen is too cold, your starter could go dormant and could stop the fermentation process altogether, so make sure you’re seeing some activity).
Since everyone’s kitchen (and starter) is different, your best bet is to smell and look at your starter. If it smells yeasty and not too sharp, if the color is still pale ivory (and not brown or pink), then it’s probably fine. The rule of any kitchen is “When in doubt, throw it out,” but I wouldn’t panic and toss your starter if you only missed 1-3 days of feeding.
If it’s more than 3 days AND you have a warm kitchen, you’ll have to make the call based on how well you know your starter. If you’re interested in experimenting, then do a feeding and see if you get bubbly activity in the next 24 hours. If you do, that’s a BIG tip on how much you can push your starter in your kitchen, which is a great thing to know for the future.
A caveat (or two)
If you received your starter from a friend and are unclear about which day is the real Day 1, you need to find out. For example, they might have marked the bag as Day 1, but didn’t give it to you until Day 3. Day 1 isn’t just the day you received it–it’s the day AFTER a starter has been fed.
If you aren’t clear about the EXACT date/age of the starter, ask your friend so you can make sure you’re feeding it on the right schedule. It’s always a good idea to write the actual date on the bag, along with giving them a set of instructions (and maybe the link to this website!). For example:
Day 1: January 4, 2020 Saturday
Day 2: January 5, 2020 Sunday
Day 3: January 6, 2020 Monday
Day 4: January 7, 202 Tuesday
Day 5: January 8, 2020 Wednesday
Day 6: January 9, 2020 Thursday FEED!
Day 7: January 10, 2020 Friday
Day 8: January 11, 2020 Saturday
Day 9: January 12, 2020 Sunday
Day 10: January 13, 2020 Monday FEED, BAKE, DIVIDE
If you’re worried about the state of your starter but don’t mind losing a few ingredients to find out, do a Day 6 feeding and see what happens. A spoiled starter will not “re-activate,” so to speak, but if you DO get lots of bubbles and a happy, yeasty smell, you’re fine.
A good starter is worth saving because the older a starter is, the better the flavor and heartier it becomes over time. ♥️
Now, if you missed a week or have totally forgotten about your starter altogether, then use common sense! The 1-3 day window is suggested, and every home baker will have to make his/her/their own call based on his/her/their circumstances. If you are uncertain or worried, please toss it out and make a new one. Your peace of mind, as well as your health, is worth more than a handful of flour, sugar, and milk.
On baking and schedule adjustments
If you feed your starter later, you’ll want to re-adjust your baking schedule accordingly. Here’s another tip: you don’t HAVE to bake on Day 10. Say what?
Remember how I said the starter was versatile? If you have established that your starter is in good shape and you’re feeding it on schedule, you can bake a day late (or even a day early) and be fine.
Once you’ve gone through the 10-Day cycle at least once, you can technically bake from your starter at any point. Just know that some recipes, like our more traditional sourdough loaves, require an active starter that’s been recently fed, while others prefer starters right before they’ve been fed. The recipe will indicate this if necessary. If you don’t see it specified, it means you can bake with your starter in any state, so long as you’re feeding it regularly.
These tutorials can help evaluate the health of your starter:
I should of baked on Saturday it’s now Thursday should I throw it out and start over?
I had a double batch that had been in the freezer, been mashing the bag every day but on Day 6, I forgot and only added 1 cup each of flour, sugar & milk instead of double. Is it ok? should I feed it more or is it ready to bake on day 10? (which was today but it’s a holiday here in Greece so I forgot but I saw you said one day won’t matter.
I want to get it right as I moved overseas and want to start sharing Amish Friendship Bread here. Also, as it’s been over 20 years since I made it the last time… if the ziploc bag gets inflated, is that good or bad? I opened the bag to let the air out (afraid if I let be for 1-2 days it’d bust open! lol
I forgot the bread at my school which was Day 6. (I did not feed it). It’s now day 9. It appears ok so I will take it home and fee it. Should I wait the next four days (which, if it were on schedule, would have been days 7-9) before trying to cook it? #newbie
We’d recommend waiting the next four days before you bake with it, but it should be okay either way. Happy baking!
I have an amish friendship bread starter in a bag. I fed it as scheduled but completely forgot to knead the bag for 2 days. Is it still ok?
HI Ashley! Yes, it should be totally fine!
I forgot to fed my bag on day six realized on day 8 and fed it should i stay on track and still baked on day 10 or wait a few extra days?
Hi Jessica! Yes, it should be fine for you to still bake on day 10!
I have frozen starter and I followed your reviving instructions. It worked quite well. Thank you for the information on how to revive frozen starter.
I took this bag out I was unable to bake. It is now on day six. I have a reasonably healthy starter but not near as good as one that had not been frozen. Should I discard this or can I act like this is day six? The color looks good and it smells fine.
Thank you. I thoroughly enjoy your side and all of the recipes.💛
I would just treat it like it’s day six, Luann. It sometimes takes some time to get your starter back to a super active place after you revive it. If it looks and smells good, it should be fine!
I fed my starter on day 5 accidentally (mom/pregnancy brain). Is it still okay? Do I still follow the schedule to feed it on Day 10 or do I need to throw it out?
Hi Emilee! Your starter should be fine! Just feed it on day ten, separate the starter, and bake! ❤️
On day 6 my starter was fed in the morning and evening. Is there anything I can do to save my starter
Your starter should be fine, if not a little sluggish from the extra food. LOL Just keep an eye on it, and stir it (or squish it, if it’s in a ziploc)!
Let us know how it goes!
Help! I had 2 packs of starter & prepared both for use on Saturday but only used up one batch. So, today is Wednesday & I can’t get back to baking until tomorrow or Friday. My starter has been quite active but it will have been 5-6 days since the last feeding if I bake tomorrow or Friday. If it needs to be fed before using – I don’t know how much to feed it. (Guessing I have about 5 cups of starter in the bag.)
Darien Gee says
Hi Darlene — I would reduce your starter to 1.5 cups and give it a feeding of 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. And maybe look at storing your starter in the fridge to slow down the feeding time.
I am on day 10 and would like to stop the process. What should I do with the bags I have ready?
I have not added anything since day 6. Can I just bake what is in the bags or do something else?
Thank you for your resply.
Darien Gee says
Hi Harry! Ideally you should feed the starter before you bake with it, but generally, you can use it now to bake the cinnamon-sugar original loaf as long as your starter doesn’t smell funny or hasn’t started to separate. If it’s separating, then it means your starter is hungry, which means it probably won’t be great in a recipe unless you feed it. Alternatively, you can put them in the freezer to save for another day in case you decide to do it again in the future. Good luck!
Is my starter still good if I added only a half cup of ingredients on day 6 when it should have been one cup then on day 10 added a whole cup of each when it should have been a half to make it “even.
Hi Renee! It should still be good, although it may be a little hungry. Just make sure you feed it the correct ratios (which is a 1:1 ratio) the next time you feed it. Here is a good post to check and make sure it’s still healthy, too: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-good-vs-not-so-good-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
Let us know if you have any more questions!
I forgot to feed on day 6. It’s day 10 today and realized I did not feed it… when can I bake once I fed it on day 10?
Hi Laura! I would recommend feeding it and giving it a few days to see how it reacts to your feeding first. If it seems active and happy, you should be able to bake with it as soon as you like! This post also helps with knowing when to bake: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-how-soon-can-i-bake-use-my-amish-friendship-bread-sourdough-starter/
I fed my starter yesterday and took a cup out 1/2 a day later and baked with it. This was my 6th day but the starter had already been through many 10 day cycles. Should I wait till day 10 to feed and bake again. Also since day ten you are supposed to add one cup of flour sugar and milk, but I took out a cup and now have 2 cups should I feed it 2/3 cups to feed according to ratio of the 10 day cycle or should I do 2 cups of each to feed according to how much I have? Also can you over feed?
Okay, so I’m on day 11. Back on day 7 I fed the starter but only with milk and sugar, I missed the line about flour. So I was going to bake it today when I saw that I missed the flour so I added the missing cup of flour and the bag inflated when I mixed so I’m sure that means it’s alive still but do I wait a few days to feed/divide/bake or do I go ahead and do it tonight?
Darien Gee says
Go ahead and bake it — it’s happy and ready to be used! Just know that whatever you make will rise a lot, so cookies and cakes will be loftier. It’s a good time to try a traditional sourdough loaf!
I accidentally skipped the feed and divide step on Day 10. And just when my starter was bubbling up nicely. I added oil, sugar and eggs before I realized my mistake. What can I do now??? Is there any way to salvage this batch? And do I have no choice but to make a new starter?
Hi Rachael! If you have already have put the ingredients in all of the starter before you separated the starter, you will have to start another one, unfortunately. However, if you have any starter that you didn’t add the ingredients in, you can always feed it a 1:1 ratio and see what happens!
I was given both a regular starter and a sourdough starter, they on the counter where I mash and squeeze daily. Today is day 4, I feel like the bags are both still fairly runny. Do I need to feed them? do I feed them the amount called for on the 6th day, but not feed them again? My kitchen is in the 70’s temperature wise. My first time and don’t want to blow this.
Darien Gee says
Hi Connie! It’s always hard to know what the real deal is with starters you get from others, and if they’re runny, I would feed them as you would on Day 6. This might help: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-how-often-should-i-feed-my-starter/
Hi there! I got a starter that I thought was on day 6….turns out it was day 4…..so now I’ve fed it early and will be baking early….I know you said it’s ok to bake earlier but will feeding it earlier make a difference?
Darien Gee says
Hi Lyndsey — If you fed it on day 2, I’d say that’s a bit too early, but Day 4 is okay so long as you’ve been mixing your starter well daily and have seen some activity.
I thawed a bag of starter and fed it treating it as day six. I didn’t pull the instructions and fed it again on day 7. Today I looked at the instructions and see I overfed it. It’s grown a lot overnight. Can I mix up a loaf and let it rise overnight. I want to make a sandwich loaf like this. https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/rustic-sourdough-afb/
Darien Gee says
Hi Hollie! Yes, you can absolutely do that. Any of the bread recipes work well when your starter is going nuts and super bubbly.
Sharon Dugger says
I over fed my started😬 what should I do?? ( It was a double feed at once)
Darien Gee says
Well, if everything’s already mixed in, the best thing you can do is wait. You’ll know if your starter got overwhelmed because it won’t bubble up again, but give it some extra time to work through all the ingredients. I’d postpone another feeding until you see some activity. Keep me posted! 🙂
Charlotte Moore says
I did half of the flour, sugar, yeast and milk. I turned the light of the bottom of the microwave on and put it under it. It has been doing great since then. Our house is at 74 but must need a bit more heat.
Charlotte Moore says
I started a half recipe of starter on Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday there were nice bubbles. I stirred it this morning and so far it has not bubbled back up.
Darien Gee says
It’s hard to halve the starter recipe, because there aren’t enough ingredients to get it going. It’s best if you get a starter going at the correct ratios and then cut back and maintain a smaller amount of starter (but at least 1 cup at any given time). If you underfeed your starter, it could die off, so you’ll want to make sure you keep the correct ratios. Have you seen this tutorial yet? https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-maintaining-a-healthy-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
Darien Gee says
Hi Charlotte! How did you do a half recipe? If you’re starting a starter, you need the full amount to get it going, and to maintain it. Once you’re past the first 10 days, there are ways you can cut back but it’s very hard to start with a small starter because there aren’t enough organisms/yeasts to keep it going. It needs a minimum amount to thrive. Hope this helps!