What Is The Liquid On My Sourdough Starter?

Does your sourdough starter have liquid on top and you don’t know what it is? Maybe this is the first time making sourdough and you have never seen the liquid before?

Or are you curious and want to know more? No matter what the reason is, we have the answer for you!

Knowing what the liquid is on your sourdough starter can be tricky. You head online for guidance but are met with page after page of confusing and conflicting answers.

Frustrated and disappointed, you wonder if you will ever know what the liquid is called.

Well, that is where we come in to save the day! Keep reading to find out what the liquid is called on your sourdough, what causes it, and everything else you need to know!

What Is A Sourdough Starter?

A sourdough starter is a mixture of flour and water. The flour is usually fermented. It is a leveling agent that uses yeast and bacteria to make baked goods rise.

It is used by bakers typically to help their bread and other baked goods rise.

The bacteria used is naturally occurring and isn’t dangerous to consume.

What Is The Liquid On My Sourdough Starter?

The liquid on your sourdough starter is called hooch. Hooch is a clear liquid that collects at the top of your starter sourdough when it hasn’t been fed in a while. Hooch is alcohol, given off as the wild yeast ferments.

Don’t panic if you see liquid on your starter! This isn’t a bad sign and can be rectified by feeding your sourdough starter. When you see liquid on top of your sourdough, you can feed it with some water and flour.

Mix 1 cup of flour with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. Add 1/2 cup of your starter to the mixture and mix until smooth. Return this mixture to the sourdough starter and cover.

You should repeat this every twelve hours, feeding your starter twice a day to prevent hooch from appearing.

If you don’t feed your starter, the liquid will turn into a dark color. Even if your hooch is grey or black, the start will not be bad! Simply feed it.

How Can I Tell If My Starter Is Bad?

Hooch is a good way to tell if your starter sourdough has gone bad. If there is an orange or pink streak or tint, your sourdough has gone bad.

This happens if your starter was left out at room temperature for two weeks or more. It should be discarded and not kept or consumed.

If your liquid develops hooch it isn’t a bad sign necessarily. If it is clear, dark, or even black, that is fine. But when you see pink or orange appearing, it’s time to throw the starter away!

Sourdough hooch is a sign your sourdough needs to eat, rather than there is something wrong!

What Should I Do With Liquid On My Sourdough Starter?

The liquid on top of your sourdough starter should be left. Do not try and discard it or pour it off. Hooch is part of your starter’s hydration, pouring it off could dehydrate your starter!

Plus, it adds flavor. if you want sour sourdough, you need hooch on your starter! Instead, mix the hooch back into your starter before you feed it.

Great sourdough bread needs some hooch for the taste – so don’t fear it, embrace it!

If your starter has been refrigerated for a while and the hooch is dark, it is worth removing the hooch.

Should My Sourdough Starter Have Liquid?

Yes, it is normal for your sourdough starter to have liquid on top. The liquid, hooch, is a good indicator of how you are caring for your starter.

When your sourdough is not fed and runs out of its food, it produces hooch.

The alcohol comes from your fermented flour and is a sign that it needs to eat!

What Does My Sourdough Starter Eat?

Your sourdough starter will eat starches and sugars produced in your flour. These need to be topped up regularly to prevent hooch from appearing. This is done by adding more food, or new flour to your sourdough starter.

The fresh food for your starter should be provided on a feeding routine. Ideally, you want to feed your starter every 12 hours, or twice a day.

Add flour and lukewarm water to your starter before sealing it with the lid. The sugars and starches will be absorbed, feeding your starter.

You can use wheat flour, rye flour, or any flour you see fit. Ideally, it should be the same flour in your starter sourdough.

This will give your starter sourdough the right sugars and starches to ensure it is fed correctly. After all, if you don’t feed it properly, your starter will produce more hooch.

There should be a reduction in the hooch your starter develops when it is fed regularly. Remember, hooch is a good sign and can show you how to care for your starter.

Where Should I Store My Sourdough Starter?

You can store your sourdough starter at room temperature if you plan to use it daily. If you aren’t using your starter regularly, store it in your fridge.

Storing it in the fridge will increase its longevity and prevent the pink and orange mold from growing in between uses.

No matter where you store your sourdough starter, check on it regularly. Once you see it develop hooch, adjust your feeding routine to ensure it is getting all the foot it needs.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it! The liquid on top of your starter is hooch! This runny liquid comes in various colors and is a sign that your starter sourdough needs feeding!

Provide it with more flour and water to ensure that your starter gets the sugars and starches it needs to keep going.

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Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

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