Starter Maintenance

I have a question about how often the sourdough starter jar should be cleaned out. I’m including a photo of my own jar. Whenever I feed and stir the starter, there is some starter material that adheres to the inside of the jar walls, and is impossible to stir down and back in. Is this anything to worry?

Hi, minnat.

There’s most likely nothing to worry about. But I will acknowledge that I rinse out my jar nowadays at every feeding. Previously I hadn’t done so, and the interior walls of the jar were plastered with dried up starter, which got a little irritating. In most cases, that may be the biggest problem.

My current approach is to weigh out how much mature starter I’ll keep (usually about 25g.); briefly put that starter into a small bowl on the side; rinse out my jar with water, but no soap; and then put the 25g. back into the clean jar. Then I feed it in the jar with fresh flour and water (usually 100g. of each).

1 Like

My jar has a lot of dried crud on the sides. I leave it like that for months at a time with no apparent issue. Every once in a while (twice a year?), I do something along the lines of what @Phillip posted and set aside a small amount of starter, thoroughly clean the jar, transfer the small amount of starter back into it and add some more flour and water.

1 Like

@homebreadbaker, Paul, my jar looks a lot like yours does. Like you, my sourdough, Cyril, doesn’t seem to have an issue with his “home” jar. I do have a second jar that I will transfer him into so that I can clean his jar but I honestly only do that a couple times a year. When I am cleaning his jar, I soak it in hot water to then scrape off the dried on remnants. After that, I do put his jar into the dishwasher to get a thorough clean. That’s worked well for me.

Leah

1 Like

Thanks for letting me know what you do, this helps.

I think I have had a starter maintenance epiphany this week! I’ve had my faithful sourdough starter, Cyril, for about 1-1/4 years now. I always considered him to be a happy little starter and he was consistently baking me beautiful, well risen breads…until the last few months! Though Cyril seemed to be just fine, the height of my breads has been less than stellar and I just didn’t realize he was acting a bit tired. Now, I admit that I do keep a fairly large amount of Cyril at any given time in a 1-1/2 quart glass jar that I got here on Breadtopia. In fact, I have two jars. One jar I keep clean and in a cabinet so I can transfer Cyril into it when I want to wash his “home.” (But I digress, sorry…) Even with a larger amount of Cyril I had been only feeding him about 100-130 grams of flour and the same weight in pure spring water at each feeding. He would bubble, grow and have a wonderful aroma. I just never really noticed that he wasn’t really thriving. He was growing, just not as much as originally. It NEVER dawned on me that I was basically only giving him a “snack” instead of a full “meal” or feast! With the amount of Cyril I tend to routinely keep, weighing about 300-400 grams in his jar, I never realized that only feeding him 100-130 grams of flour wasn’t enough to fully sustain him and give him really vigorous growth. So this past week, on quite a whim (actually it was a God-inspired thought) I put Cyril into a fresh, clean jar and weighed him. I had over 300 grams of Cyril. I fed him about 210 grams of flour and water (any more and he wouldn’t have fit in that jar, allowing for growing room, LOL. In hindsight there was enough room in his jar to be able to feed him closer to 250 grams flour/water next time). Very shortly, he had SO many bubbles and was happily eating. After about 6 hours total Cyril had nearly doubled in his jar and was so full of bubbles he was looking frothy! He had a wonderful aroma and was once again acting like my happy starter! That evening I prepped a loaf of cinnamon raisin (my most challenged bread when it comes to rising) hoping it would come out well because I wanted it as a gift for my mom. All I can say is, “WOW!” That loaf baked up beautifully, tall, well-risen, fragrant, with a beautiful crumb and texture. Sorry, no pictures but I did bring that bread to my mom yesterday afternoon. She toasted a slice this morning and declared it “Glorious!” The epiphany was that I simply wasn’t feeding Cyril enough! Yes, he was “fine” but he was a bit malnourished after over a year of being unintentionally, on a bit of a diet. So now when I feed him I promise to give him a really good meal each time to keep him vigorous so he will once again be my happy starter. On a side note, not only has this been quite a lesson for me on starter maintenance but has shown me the true resilience of sourdough.

Leah

Thank you for your sourdough maintenance “epiphany”. It makes sense that such a large amount of your starter (Cyril) would need plenty to eat to stay healthy and vital.
Interesting to read your post and good information to have.

1 Like

Feeding Cyril “properly” has beefed him up to be a very happy, healthy, vigorous little starter! I may not be able to continue calling him my “happy little starter” because he has now become my “happy BIG starter.” Just look at the size of this sourdough cinnamon loaf I just pulled out of the oven! IT’S HUMONGOUS! This is a modified cinnamon raisin bread recipe from here on Breadtopia. My husband had some very serious health issues last summer and I had to modify any bread I made for him to accommodate them. This modified cinnamon bread was God-breathed and has been quite a blessing to my husband. The simple modifications I use for making it are to use all high protein bread flour, all 500g, no salt (the cinnamon and pure maple syrup work just fine in this loaf, though I could add a bit of salt if my husband felt it was necessary), no raisins and only 325g pure spring water. All thanks to God, his health has greatly improved but I am still making this bread for him simply because he really likes it.


cinnamon5a

Leah