Managing Your Sourdough Starter


(lili) #122

How long can you keep your starter out before it HAS TO BE put in the fridge? Can it sit out for a several days or it really shouldn’t?

I ordered and got my live starter from Breadtopia several days ago and have fed it several times. Only now I have achieved what it seems a good lively one (3 -4 days later - can’t remember exactly…) and it has been being fed and not yet put in the fridge for 3-4 days now.

I may bake with it tomorrow. But between travel time to me, plus feeding, it has not been in the fridge at all for maybe a week or more depending when you guys packed it and sent it.

Is that safe? is there a point when it has to go in fridge or it will comprise safety or quality?


(sysadmin) #123

There is nothing like a hard and fast rule for this. You could, if you wanted to, leave your starter out at room temperature all the time. You could also, if you wanted to, leave your starter in the fridge all the time.

People keep their starter in the refrigerator because the warmer it is, the faster the yeast and bacteria that make up the starter culture will metabolize the food in the flour of the starter. If they use up all the food, then all those microbes will eventually starve and die ( = no more starter).

So if you want to keep it out of the refrigerator at room temperature, you will need to feed your starter very frequently to make sure your yeast and bacteria don’t run out of food. This makes for very active starter, and also requires you to be feeding it at least every day (maybe more if it is really warm). If you want to feed it less, you can put it in the refrigerator which will slow all the microbial metabolism down and make each feeding last longer. Then you may want to take it out of the refrigerator and give it a feeding and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours before you bake with it to increase the activity level.


(lili) #124

Makes sense, thanks!


(JungleJon) #125

I am new to this whole idea and so please forgive me if this is to basic a question.

I have my sourdough starter (a friend gave it to me)

I intend to keep it in the fridge and feed it every week.

In terms of feeding do I always use approx equal weights of starter to flour to water?

But to feed this do I need to take it all out of the fridge for a few hours, feed it, leave it for a 4 - 5 hours and then put it bakc in the fridge ? or do I only return 1/3 of it back to the fridge and use the remaining mixture

Or do I just mix flour and water in thestarter that is in the fridge and put it straight back into the fridge


(chuck) #126

Jon, I have been using a starter for 10+ years. I seldom use yeast, but at times I do for expedience. I have found that keeping the starter in the fridge in a thick state (thicker than you would want for baking). This seems to slow the bacterial action and keeps the starter fresh for a long time and almost ready to use.

Night before baking I remove 100-200g (1/4 to 1/2 C) of starter (depending on how much I will need) and place it in a smaller container. I feed it well (3-4 T flour with some warm water) then loosely cover. I leave this smaller container out on the counter until ready to bake. Then in the morning (6-8 hours) brings the starter into a very healthy state that will definitely pass the float test and is very ready to use in your baking project.

Back to the night before: I feed the larger container with more flour than water (replacing what is taken out) and return thicker starter in the large container to the fridge until next use (weeks if necessary). This process seems to work best for me. Bringing the smaller amount of starter to the point where is is floating and ready in a smaller container is much faster than trying to bring the larger container to the same state. Best Luck. Enjoy the taste of your learning. C


(JungleJon) #127

Thanks, Chuck, I really appreciate this reply. Any great bread recipes you would like to share ?


(lili) #128

If baking infrequently for the summer, as you stated above, feed it once a week.

My question is what do I do after that once a week feeding?

Immediately after I feed it (and will not be baking with it) then do I let it sit at room temperature first to rise and get bubbly before I put it back in the fridge OR just mix in flour and water and immediately put it back in the fridge?

Thanks!


(JGWebb) #129

Hi - Not sure you are going to like my answer but I will tell you what works for me. All of us have different environmental conditions and different types of flours. End of the day is experiment and you will find what works best.

I have two starters (Rye and Wheat) and I never or almost never get to the point of discarding. I use the wheat for more general purpose baking so I keep more. I always take my starter out of the fridge 5-10 fours before baking letting it warm up and feed it half of what I will need the next day. I always use active starter for baking although it seems straight out of the fridge works for many. Once I have removed what I need for baking, I replace the remaining 1/2 and let it become active before returning it to the fridge. I know how much my container weighs so it is relatively easy to manage the amounts and weights.

On the rare occurrence I will not use, I either try to give the starter to someone or if I ABSOLUTELY have to discard, I try to minimize the amount. My starters are very active so getting rid of 1/2 of the total has not been an issue.

Hope this helps and does not confuse.
JG


(Bdana) #130

Got my live starter today. Fed it 4 hours ago and nothing has happened. What do I need to do?


(Crystalview) #131

I started my starter with whole wheat. I am leary to add Rye and get a strong taste from the rye. Maybe I am not aware of there being rye in new breads I have had. I will do the slower cooler rise for more sour. I a not crazy for pumpernickel.


(Leah) #132

@Crystalview, IMHO you do not need to have a rye starter to bake rye bread nor do you “need” rye in your starter for other breads. People with allergies or sensitivities to wheat make their starter out of alternative flours for that reason; so do bakers who want a 100% pure rye dense bread. My Cyril is a plain organic white AP flour starter and he bakes awesome rye bread for me. In most rye bread recipes, the amount of rye flour is anywhere from 25-50% of the recipe. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a problem for your wheat starter to rise the bread.

Leah


(susanmcc99) #133

From reading through this forum topic, it appears to me that the key to managing one’s sourdough starter is to make and eat lots of sourdough pancakes. Or waffles.


(Eric) #134

It’s the key to that and everything else. :grinning:


(haleyrowe) #135

I’m on day 3 on my sourdough. What measurements do I use tomorrow? When can I start using the sourdough?


(haleyrowe) #136

I feed the sourdough at work 3 times a day. Do I need to feed this one that many times?


(carolyncolmer) #137

Hi Eric. When I am storing my starter in the refrigerator may I use an airtight cover on it? Should I stir it every day? How often and how much should I feed it when I am storing it in the refrigerator?


(carolyncolmer) #138

Hey Chuck. You are very knowledgeable and I am a newbie at this. Do I need to stir my starter every day if I am keeping it in the refrigerator for my weekly loaf making; and is it okay to keep it in an airtight glass container when I store it in the refrigerator (I just throw a tea towel over it when I keep it on the counter)


(Paul) #139

All the questions you are asking here are answered in the post that this thread of comments are comments on. Did you read the article at all?

You do not need to stir the starter.
You should not use an air-tight container.
You should feed it whenever you get around to it and probably no less than every couple weeks.


(carolyncolmer) #140

Yes I read the article. But unfortunately I can’t find anything that explains how to properly store it in the refrigerator. It is in glass. This glass container when I have my starter on the counter and am feeding it and baking regularly only has a tea towel draped over it. However I’m now going to hold back and only bake a loaf at a time. I understand how to remove my starter from the refrigerator and get it ready. But how do I store it in the refrigerator? Should I put the airtight plastic lid on it?


(Leah) #141

@carolyncolmer, DO NOT put an air tight cover on your container of sourdough. Sourdough is a living organism and needs oxygen. An air tight seal will kill your sourdough starter. I keep my sourdough starter refrigerated in this glass jar that I purchased here at Breadtopia: https://breadtopia.com/store/sourdough-starter-jar/.

I feed my starter, who is named Cyril, about once a week. I feed him in his jar and leave him on the kitchen counter for about 7 hours or so with his lid closed. I mark the jar with a sticky note at the level he’s at immediately after I’ve fed him. That way I can watch his progress as he happily feeds. After the 7 hours or so, I just put him back into the refrigerator. Again, please do NOT use an airtight lid on your sourdough. The type of glass storage jar sold here on Breadtopia WITHOUT the use of the rubber gasket seal that usually comes with them, is the perfect environment for sourdough. It keeps out contaminates and allows for proper air circulation. I have found it to be ideal for Cyril.

He’s actually just had his first birthday a couple days ago. I got him as a gift from a dear friend who shared some of her starter with me on February 12, 2018. I lovingly tended to him for a while before deciding I’d be brave enough to try using him to bake bread. My very first loaf of sourdough bread using Cyril was baked in April 2018. The rest, as they say, is history.

Leah