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How to make 60% Motherdough:


Many of my formulas/recipes have Motherdough in them. Motherdough is a cold preferment which you make up and put in your refrigerator to ferment for a while. You can have a low hydration like a 60% Motherdough ferment in your refrigerator for a long time. You should leave it in your refrigerator for at least 3 – 4 days before using it, it does need time to ferment. As long as it has bubbles and has not turned into glue, it can be used. Motherdough is often used with another sourdough starter that is fresh and has plenty of wild yeast.

60% Motherdough

Add together:

  1. Vigorous fresh sourdough starter @ 100% hydration – 6 oz/170g
  2. Water – 6 oz/170g
  3. Flour – 12 oz/340g
Mix all of the above ingredients and store, tightly covered in your refrigerator. This will make about 1.5 lbs/680g. Double this amount if you wish to keep some on hand for baking.


  1. February 5, 2013    

    I’ve been refreshing part of the leftover motherdough – and I’m keeping the same hydration but wonder if I’m doing it “properly”? For example if I start with 100 g. motherdough, I add 60 g. water and 100 g. flour. Does that sound right to you? I get so confused with ratios! (I love the blonde wig bread, by the way… I have had great success with it!!)

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      February 5, 2013    

      Yes, that is the right refreshment. You are adding a 60% mixture to a 60% motherdough.

  2. pLUT0 pLUT0
    May 17, 2013    

    how can I check if my sourdough still works, I left it in the fridge for more than a week, ( left for a trip)

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      May 18, 2013    

      Hi Pluto, pour out half of it, feed it again and then keep it at room temperature. Do that for a day or two and see if it has recovered. Keeping it for a week in the fridge isn’t much time as far as a starter goes. It should be fine.

  3. Elizabeth Elizabeth
    May 24, 2013    

    Can I use whole wheat flour for motherdough?

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      April 1, 2015    

      Yes. :)

  4. Chris Pickett Chris Pickett
    September 11, 2013    

    Good Morning,
    Can you tell me what the right consistency/thickess the motherdough should be?. Also if you have time, what 60%, 100% hydration means.
    Thank you, ke6faw

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      April 1, 2015    

      A motherdough at 60% hydration feels like a finished bread dough, not a sticky wet dough, but a firm dough.

      Hydration means how much water is in the dough. It is calculated by weighing the flour and then the weight of the water is a percentage of the weight of the flour. So if you have 100 grams of flour and 60 grams of water, you have a 60% hydration dough. If you have 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water, you have a 100% hydration dough or starter.

  5. Amos Amos
    January 5, 2015    

    Can I ask about using apple cider as the liquid for sourdough, This was recommended to me as all my attempts, compared to the posted pictures look flat. I have been using a 50/50 mix of whole rye flour and apple cider. Apple cider in the uk is fermented, about 4% alcohol, a friend tells me that in the US cider is the name for un fermented apple juice, can anybody confirm.

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      January 5, 2015    

      A 50/50 mix of rye and cider would produce a dough that would have a difficult/impossible time rising. What else do you put in the dough, just rye flour and cider?

      • Amos Amos
        January 5, 2015    

        I have tried water(bottled) with organic rye, again 50/50 by weight, filtered tap water, then pineapple juice with rye flour, they all produce something resembling a thick beer like Guinness although a lighter colour, these produce a porridge, sometimes with a shallow dark liquid layer on top. I have used a food mixer to mix.

        I have about three so called starters with no visible activity. I am doing something very wrong.

        Thanks so much for coming back to me.



    • John H John H
      January 28, 2016    

      I didn’t see a response to the specific question about apple cider in the U.S In response to that, apple cider here is apple juice — not fermented. In some states, there are labeling laws making distinctions, but to most people, juice and cider are the same.

  6. Muna Muna
    March 31, 2015    

    Good morning Teresa, How often should the cold mother dough be fed?

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      April 1, 2015    

      Hi Muna, since 60% motherdough is a somewhat low hydration, it can stay in the refrigerator 2 to 3 weeks before needing to be fed. You can tell when it has gone past it’s prime by noticing how much stretch or strength is left to the dough. If it is a pile of pasty glue, it is far gone and I would make a new motherdough or take it out of the fridge, discard almost all of it, refeed it at room temperature for a few days to bring up the yeast and bacteria levels before making another dough to keep in the refrigerator. If it has good stretch and strength left to it, just feed it and put it back in the fridge.

      • Muna Muna
        April 3, 2015    

        Thank you Teresa

  7. Lior Lior
    August 28, 2015    

    hi Teresa,

    I started my starter today, on which day should i move it into the fridge ?

    Thanks a lot


    • August 28, 2015    

      Hi Lior, I keep my starter at room temperature. For those that do keep their starter in the fridge, I would recommend not refrigerating it until it is mature at around two weeks.

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  2. More Bread | The LuluPapa Blog on November 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm

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