Sourdough Sparrow FAQs

When rehydrating your dehydrated Eden starter, we always suggest using an unbleached bread flour (not all purpose) because it has a higher protein percentage. Bleached flour has chlorine and will slowly but surely start killing off the cultures in your starter. We personally suggest getting King Arthur Bread Flour. If you can’t find that brand try to get one that has a 12% protein percentage or higher. 

The water you’re using matters. If you’re using tap water (usually full of chlorine) it will do the same thing as bleached flour. Filtered waters like distilled or reverse osmosis are not beneficial either, because they don’t have the necessary minerals to help starter cultures thrive. So if you’re using those waters and aren’t seeing a lot of activity by Day 3, your cultures might have started to die off. We always suggest using filtered spring water, whenever possible.

If you are planning on baking with your starter daily, you’ll want to leave her in a locking lid sealed mason jar on the counter and feed her daily. I remove the seal to make sure built up gasses can escape during its doubling process. If you feed your starter and don’t end up pulling from it for a recipe, you’ll want to wait at least 12 hours to discard everything but 25% left in your jar to make room for another feed the next day. This is called “discarding”. You can use this “discard” or “inactive starter” in discard recipes, or can place it in another locking lid sealed jar in the fridge to save as a back up starter. (If you feed it, it becomes active starter). 

If you are only planning on using your starter once a week or even less, you’ll want to keep it in a locking lid sealed glass jar in the fridge, to prevent mold spores from growing. Once you’re ready to bake with her, I always suggest pulling her out the day before so you can feed her 2-3 times in a 36 hour period to make sure she’s nice and strong.

The water you’re using matters. If you’re using tap water (usually full of chlorine) it will do the same thing as bleached flour. Filtered waters like distilled or reverse osmosis are not beneficial either, because they don’t have the necessary minerals to help starter cultures thrive. So if you’re using those waters and aren’t seeing a lot of activity by Day 3, your cultures might have started to die off. We always suggest using filtered spring water, whenever possible.

Discarding is simply removing extra starter contents in your active starter jar, when you don’t have enough room to feed your starter and have it double without overflowing. If you have a really large jar and would like to “bulk up” your starter, you can skip discarding for awhile and just continue feeding it. The only reason we discard is to ensure you have enough space in your jar, so do it at your own discretion.

YES! Discard is simply just inactive starter. So when you feed it a couple times out of the fridge, it will become a nice bubbly active starter again.

I have left discard in a locking lid sealed jar in the fridge for six months. It collected a lot of dark hooch, which is simply lactic acid bacteria. You want to drain a lot of that off if you don’t want a really sour starter after you feed it. If you’d like to make your starter sourer, keep some of that hooch, stir it in and feed it as normal. It will take a good 4+ times to come back to life, since those amazing cultures took a long nap. I like to power-feed every 12 hours for 48-72 hours to get a nice active and bubbly starter, again.

I wouldn’t use discard that’s been sitting in the fridge for discard recipes beyond 1-2 weeks. Two weeks is pushing it, imo. If you want to “freshen” it up. Take it out, feed it once or twice and stick it back in the fridge and you can have good discard for recipes for another week. 

Discard or “inactive starter” that you’ve removed from your active starter is liquid gold. You can use it to flavor and add more nutrients to any recipe that doesn’t require yeast, such as: brownies, cookies, muffins, breads, tortillas, biscuits, thickening agent in gravies or Mac n cheese, etc. It is full of vitamins and minerals and still has gut-friendly pre/probiotics in it, especially when you let batters sit in the fridge overnight. 

You can also use it to make a new starter, heaven forbid your current one accidentally dies, gets mold, or gets baked in the oven 😅 (I get a lot of those messages).

Some people swear by a 1:1:1 ratio, but I’ve found that never works for me. My starter always ends up too runny and not very strong. I was doing a 1:1:.75 ratio at one point, but I’ve found my starter sometimes becomes sluggish and doesn’t peak as quickly because it’s not getting enough food. So I’ve started to do a 1:2:1.5 ratio (I honestly don’t know if that’s a real ratio haha, but it works for me). For example, I would do ½ cup starter to 1 cup flour and ⅔ cup water. If you don’t want to keep that much starter on hand, you can lower it to ¼ cup starter to ½ cup flour and ⅓ cup water. This will ensure your starter is getting enough food and is always strong for bread or other yeast recipes.

You can also use it to make a new starter, heaven forbid your current one accidentally dies, gets mold, or gets baked in the oven 😅 (I get a lot of those messages).

There is so much difference of opinions on this topic, but I have found that Eden LOVES a locking lid sealed glass jar. They have them at grocery stores, IKEA, or on Amazon. I close the lid on my starter after every feeding. I don’t do cloth or pop the lid, ever. I feel like this allows the gasses to build better, keep out unwanted pests (like fruit flies), and helps mold spores from getting in. If you’re worried about your jar breaking from pressure, you can always remove the seal so gasses can escape but still have the benefits of the closed lid. And then if you ever need to stick her in the fridge, you can put the seal back on to prevent mold and ensure it’s sealed tight.

Short answer. There technically isn’t a difference, it’s just the amount. Some people will keep their starter in their fridge all of the time, then pull a little bit from it to make a small amount of leaven (aka active starter) in another jar, instead of feeding their entire starter jar. Many people prefer making a leaven if they don’t want to have an excess of discard. Personally, I like to make a lot of loaves at a time or multiple recipes at a time, so I prefer to feed my starter jar a larger amount of flour and water, so I have usually have 2 cups of active starter at a time (which is technically leaven when it becomes active). So it’s just preference. I was always taught to just feed my starter jar instead of making a leaven, so I prefer to keep it simple.

The only metal that is allowed when making sourdough is stainless steel. So if you have pure stainless steel spoons or a larger stainless steel bowl to mix your dough and proof it in, you can totally use that. Other metals aren’t good because your starter will leach it into your starter or dough, which you don’t want. If you’re really worried about it, use wooden spoons or glass. 

Starters prefer temps between 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit, (22-30 C). If it’s colder, it’s sometimes difficult for them to rise. Yeast likes warmth. You can stick it in your oven with the light turned on to help warm it up, you just want to make sure it doesn’t go over 104 F (54 C) or the cultures will die. Sometimes people will invest in a warmer to keep the temp consistent if their home is always on the cool side. I’ve found a 1:1:.75 feeding ratio is better for cooler homes when maintaining an established starter.

This is a big fat, yes! Where you live matters a lot. Elevation, humidity, dry climates, and even just changes in weather (a rainy day) will affect your starter and dough textures tremendously. 

  • LOWER ELEVATION & HIGHER HUMIDITY CLIMATES: if you live in places that have over 50% humidity, you’re going to want to cut back on water by usually ½-¾ cup of water for a sourdough loaf recipe. I usually suggest cutting back ½ cup of water for our recipe and then adding in 2 Tbsp-¼ cup of water with your salt, after you autolyze. So no more than 1 & ¾ cup of water per loaf. You’ll also want to do shorter times in-between your series of stretch and folds or coil folds (30 mins max) and then allow your dough to almost double on your counter (covered) for usually 1-4 hours. This time shortens a lot in the summer when it’s higher humidity but can be a little longer in the winter. This would be considered your “bulk rise” on the counter. Then you’d shape, stick in your banneton in the fridge overnight, and bake in the morning. 
  • HIGHER ELEVATION & DRY CLIMATES: this is my climate in Utah. I actually go up in water by ¼-½ cup with my Heavenly Hydrated Recipe. I need the extra moisture to really get that airy, custardy crumb and crispy crust. So if you’re in these climates and you are getting denser crumbs, up your water! You can get away with a little longer time between stretch and folds (30-45 mins) and can go a little longer on the counter for your bulk rise,  if needs be (2-5 hours). I still suggest doing a second rise in the fridge after shaping. 

I have found that temperature/humidity changes will change my dough texture drastically and what once worked for me the day before, doesn’t always work for me the next day. So I’ve learned to “listen” to my dough. If I need to cut back on water, add more flour, or lessen/up my bulk rise times, I do. Following the recipe (especially our  recipe) to a T, isn’t always the answer. I want you to learn how to go with your gut. So what I’ve created with our recipe is a starting off point to follow and then adapt as necessary. I hope that you’ll learn to tap into those ancestral skills and become “one with your dough” 😅. I know it’s cheesy, but that’s truly when the therapeutic healing journey starts happening, in my experience.

This was me. I want you to know as a recovering perfectionist, this was REALLY hard for me. I want something to go perfect the FIRST time. So after failing many times trying to make a loaf, it was extremely discouraging for me. I honestly finally had let go and let God. 😅 I let go of the expectation of making a “perfect” loaf and allowed Him and others in the community to teach me and learning how to adapt for my own climate. 

But honestly, the thing that completely changed my journey was inheriting Eden. I know that sounds biased because we sell her, but the reason we sell her is because she is ✨MAGICAL✨. She has helped 10,000+ people on their own journeys. We have been told countless times by customers that the only thing they changed was purchasing & rehydrating her for their sourdough and it changed everything. I don’t know what is inside her, but the Alaskan air or water that created her is superior. 😅🤗❤️. So if you keep getting dense and unsuccessful loaves, even after adapting your recipe, it honestly might be your starter.

Essentially, it’s just mixing flour and water together on a certain time schedule and ratio for 7-20 days. I get asked a lot how to make your own and honestly, I never had success. I tried to make my own three times in 2020 and failed, miserably. So I always tell people that I am not really the person to ask about this topic. 😅 There’s a lot of great content creators that have recipes and methods to follow, but I am not one of them and to me, that’s okay.  Once I inherited Eden, I never looked back.

It’s honestly preference, if you feel like you want to feed your starter right after pulling from it, you can. Just know she/he might get sluggish because it’s not “hungry”. I usually like to wait 18-24 hours between feedings because I don’t like using more flour than needed. But if you want to make her a little strong if she’s been sluggish from being underfed, feed right after you pull from her.

There can be a few reasons for this. 1. Your starter isn’t established or mature enough (it’s on the younger side) and doesn’t have the strength to give your bread the rise it needs. 2. You’re pulling from your starter too late (it’s started to fall when you use it) 3. Your dough is getting over-proofed or under-proofed which can cause dense bread. 4. You aren’t using enough hydration (water) in your dough. 5. You might not be baking at a high enough temperature, especially if you have an electric oven.

You usually want to pull from your starter once it’s doubled in size and the dome it makes when growing, flattens out, but hasn’t fallen. If you happen to pull from your starter before the dome completely flattens out, that’s okay. If you pull from it when it’s started to fall, you won’t get the best rise for your active starter yeast recipes.

This usually means your dough has gotten “over-proofed” or “over-fermented”. This is a lot easier to do in places with higher humidity, which is why I have our customers and students cut back on water in our recipe. This is also why I want to teach you to learn to “listen” to your dough so you can feel confident in understanding what the texture needs to feel like so you can lessen or up your water, or visa versa with your flour, if needs be.