The Great Hooch Debate 2.0

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A Deeper Dive into Sourdough Science 🍞🧪

Hello there, Bread Lovers! 🥖❤️

Today, let’s revisit a popular topic we discussed a little while back. Remember the hooch debate? We had a fantastic discussion about what to do when your sourdough starter produces a liquid layer called ‘hooch.’ Stir it back in or pour it off?

Well, guess what? The debate is back on the table, and this time, we’re digging a little deeper. Thanks to your feedback and discussions, we’re about to get a little more scientific about our beloved sourdough starters. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Hooch: A Closer Look 🧐

First things first, let’s be clear about what ‘hooch’ really is. It’s not just alcohol, as is commonly believed. Hooch is a mix of water and alcohol that forms when our yeasty friends have munched up all the carbohydrates in our starters.

High Hydration & Long Rests: The Hooch Catalysts 💦⏰

Now, not all starters produce hooch at the same rate or in the same amounts. What influences it? Two main factors:

  1. Hydration Levels: The more water in your starter, the more likely you’ll see a layer of hooch. It’s simple physics – water and alcohol don’t mix too well, so the water rises to the top.
  2. Feeding Frequency: If your starter hasn’t been fed for a while, it’s more likely to produce hooch. Why? Because the yeast has run out of fresh food (flour) and starts breaking down what’s left, producing more water and alcohol.

Stir or Pour: A Refined Take 🔄⏏️

When we talked about whether to stir in or pour off the hooch, we largely focused on flavor. But there’s another dimension to consider: hydration levels.

If you stir the hooch back in, you’re adding extra water to your starter, which can throw off your measurements for the next feeding and make your starter (and eventually your dough) wetter. So, for those of you looking to keep a thicker, more manageable starter and dough, pouring off the hooch might be the way to go.

So, What’s the Verdict? 🤔

It still comes down to your personal preference and baking style. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Just more info to help you make the best decision for your baking needs.

Keep experimenting, keep asking great questions, and most importantly, keep sharing your experiences with our community here at Baking Great Bread at Home. Together, we’re making this place a hotspot for everything bread!

Happy Baking! 🥖🎉

Your fellow bread lover,

Henry Hunter

Baking Great Bread at Home


📖 Discover More: Dive into the world of bread with my book, “Bread: A Journey Through History, Science, Art, and Community.” Explore the secrets of bread-making, from ancient traditions to modern delights. Get your copy today! 🍞📚


Boost Your Sourdough Journey! 🍞✨

Hey fellow bakers,

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My Curated Sourdough Tool Collection

Happy baking, friends!


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