Constant Hooch- Sourdough Starter

I have a 1-month-old sourdough starter. At this stage I keep it in the fridge and feed it once a week.
The problem is that it gets a hooch (brown liquid on top- which means it’s hungry) 2 days after I feed it, when it should get it a week after feeding (or not get it at all).
I started with a 1:1:1 ratio. When I noticed the problem I made 2 sub-starters as experiments: one with a 1:2:2 ratio and the other one with a 1:3:3 ratio. They both got the hooch after 2 days.
I also tested my starter to see if this apparent hooch was actual hooch (since I’ve read that it could simply be separation). On the feeding day, I removed the hooch and then left my starter at room temp for an hour. When I checked, the liquid on top had reappeared- so... hooch, right?
HELP!
- Is this hooch?
- could it be a ventilation problem? My starters are sealed, they don’t get any air circulation
- Should I continue to increase the feeding ratio?
- do I simply have an extremely hungry starter?

victoriarigoli
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1 Comment

Lori T. May 25, 2021
You will always get "hooch" on the top of a starter. It's a natural byproduct of yeast metabolisms. They eat the carbs in your flour, burp carbon dioxide bubbles and release the liquid as alcohol and water. "Hooch" floats to the top of your starter because gravity works. The flour and yeast are simply heavier, and sink down, leaving the less dense water and alcohol on the top. You don't need to remove it, and actually- should not. It's got nothing to do with ventilation at all- yeast will work best with plenty of oxygen, but will also work if there isn't much. The fermentation process just works more slowly when they are cold (refrigerated) than it does at room temperature. For now, start with a deep breath and relax. Producing the liquid on top is exactly what your starter is supposed to be doing. Keep feeding it as you normally would, at the ratio you choose to use. Refrigerate the starter if you aren't using it every couple days or if it's particularly warm where you are. Mine lives in the frig, by the way - coming out only the afternoon before I will bake. When you take it out of the fridge, just stir any liquid "hooch" back into the thicker flour bit on the bottom, and get on with the business of making your starter for baking. Hooch is NOT a bad thing. It doesn't taste so good, but it's harmless. The alcohol will evaporate in the baking, and that's also part of what adds the flavor to your final bread product.
 
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