Reader Dianne tells me she’s concerned about my mother. She tells me that based on my recent posts, it sounds like I don’t feed it very much, or very consistently. Dianne, that’s true, though I assure you it isn’t a cruelty. The system I use is a little different than most. I keep a very small, somewhat meagerly fed, mother starter. Most of the time I have little more than a cup in the fridge. That’s on purpose, as I like to grow new starters as I need them, not keep bigger ones that require lots of food and attention. Given that the amount of starter you can grow from even a small amount of mother starter is theoretically infinite, I need very little on-hand.
As written below, I’ll take as little as a few tablespoons from my mother starter when I initiate a bread project, then steadily grow that into the quantity I need over a period of a day or two. Replacing what I take away is therefore a simple matter. I add a couple of tablespoons of flour and some water and stir it back in. True, that usually adds up to less than a full 100% refreshment of my mother starter, which is what most books recommend, but I’ve found over time that my mother can subsist on a light diet.
From time to time I will throw out a few ounces of my mother starter so that my refreshment adds up to 100% of the total, generally when I’m doing a lot of regular sourdough baking, but little starters create little waste, which is a good thing. Thanks for your concern, Dianne! I shall pass it on!