Yet another starter question

For the last 6 weeks, I’ve been keeping my starter on the counter and feeding twice a day. I feel like I’m getting the hang of this, making 2 nice loaves a week, aware of my starter cycle, etc. So I decided to move the starter to the fridge.

After feeding, I left the starter out for about 2-3 hours until I saw some activity, then popped the jar in the fridge. Two days later there is about a half inch of hooch on top and it smells AWFUL.

I’ve read the demystifying posts and such but… clearly something did not go well. Is there a process to moving the starter from 2x daily feedings to fridge storage? I’ve got it back on the counter again and it’s not nearly as active as it was before the fridge episode. I expect it will take a day or two to wake up again. So how do I keep a nice bubbly sweet smelling starter in the fridge?


What flour is your starter made from?

A 100% hydration wholegrain rye flour starter is easy to keep.

Give it a good feed. I eyeball it mostly but 10g starter + 50g water + 50g wholegrain rye flour is a good ratio. Allow it to double then refrigerate. Can last in the fridge for weeks.

When you wish to bake just take some off and build a preferment. When it runs low, back down to about 10g, take it out, refers, allow to double then back into the fridge.

I find allowing the starter to become very active before refrigeration makes it keep and perform better. Its built up enough acidity to keep mould away, the yeast population has grown enough to keep it healthy and its ready to go when fed next.

Another thing to check is how cold your fridge is.

It’s just a basic whole wheat flour starter. So I guess I put it into the fridge too soon. Once it’s awake and active, I’ll try again but waiting until it doubles before putting it in the fridge. As to the temp, I have no idea. I have an oven thermometer, but not a fridge one. I guess I should get that next :slight_smile:

What hydration is your starter? Wheat tends to need more TLC than rye. Perhaps making it 80% hydration will help it keep longer. Don’t build too much so it doesn’t get used up for a long time. Keep enough to last for a week or so and in that time take from it to build preferments. When it runs low take it out to re-feed etc.

It’s 100% hydration. It did give me some trouble when I first got it (switching from who-knows-what-flour-originally) and at that time I lowered the hydration to 80% for a week. That brought it up to nicely active and predictable at which point I went to 100% hydration.

I think lowering the hydration is a good idea.

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