Starters. As I just wrote, I used to be way too rigid. If it was supposed to be ready in 8 hours, then that’s exactly when I fed it. If possible, I like to watch it closely starting an hour before it should be ready.
I look closely at my starter when it’s time to feed it. Sometimes it’s just not “ready”. I’m still not 100% sure when it’s at its peak. I used to feed my starter when it’s just after its peak beginning to fall. I now think this is too late.
First, I look at the top of the jar. I like it to look ripply and bubbly. If it gets too bubbly, then it’s starting to fall, and I should have fed it earlier. Often, when I’m sitting and looking at the top of my starter, I can see some bubbles come up and burst. I love this mostly because it’s so cool. I also think this is a good thing.
Second, I look at the sides of my jar. I love to see lots of bubbles, from the bottom of the starter all the way to the top. The bubbles are different sizes. I’m also noticing that at its peak, the bubbles don’t actually go all the way to the top. The last millimeter or two or three has grown but the bubbles aren’t there yet. I think this is a good thing.
If the top or sides of my starter don’t seem ready, then I just don’t feed it when I’m “supposed” to. I’ll wait 10 minutes. Maybe 20. Maybe 30. I just make a guess, and I set a reminder on my phone to go look again. I try to only feed it when I believe it’s at its peak. This can sometimes be 45 minutes or more after I thought it was time. If I feed it late like this, then I can’t really use a 1:3:3 ratio for the next feeding. I now need it to be ready in less than 8 hours. So, I feed it maybe something like 1:2.5:2.5 or something less hoping it’ll peak by the time of my next feeding.
Get to Know Your Starter. It’ll be different than my starter. Don’t follow my times or ratios. Follow your starter. Everybody’s starter is different, and everybody’s schedule is different too.