[Note: if this is your first newsletter and you need to know what to do on Days 1 through 6, you want to read this one first.]
Guess what, people: Today’s a big day in tiny starter land! Our starters are a week old and moving along nicely, which means it’s time to start refreshing them more frequently. Last night I started doing mine on a 12-hour schedule rather than a 24-hour one, and you should too, provided you have enough flour on hand. One reason many of you might be thinking that your starter isn’t showing any activity is that it’s probably collapsing before you return to it; it’s now consuming the nutrients in the flour rapidly enough that it wants to eat twice daily. Doing so is going to keep it happy and it should get it to full maturity faster than if we just stuck with a 24-hour schedule.
Also: I am feeding my starter exclusively with white AP flour out of solidarity with those who have nothing but that on hand. But if you have access to whole wheat or rye flour then you should definitely be adding it to the mix, because your starter is going to appreciate the extra sugar and minerals. (I’d use either of these in a 50/50 mix with white flour. And if you happen to have been doing 100% wheat flour up to now, I’d switch to a 50/50 white to wheat ratio now too.)
Also also: it occurred to me that there are hidden sources of wheat in our kitchens we can use to feed our starters in a pinch (or as an amendment to white flour as described above). I took a quick look through mine and found a bunch that’ll do nicely: wheat berries, farro, cracked wheat, breadcrumbs, panko, even cubes of stale bread (good bread, natch). Just blitz any one of these in a spice mill or blender and pretend it’s flour!
Also also also: To all of you who aren’t sure if your tiny starter is alive or well and are wondering if you should start over: Don’t! I’ve said it before and will say it again: Keep on keeping on. It’ll get happy sooner or later, I promise.