How to store a sourdough starter

How to store your sourdough starter

Now that you have made it, how do you keep it alive?  You do not need to feed it slavishly unless you are using it most days.  If you use it from time to time, you can store it and, when you want it, you can refresh it according to the recipe instructions.

To store your starter, you have three options.  

1.  Refrigerate it

Pop it in a clippy jar or clippy tupperware and put it in the fridge.  Clippy jars let gas out but don’t let gas in so they won’t explode if your fresh starter is still emitting a lot of gas when you jar it, nor will they let any air in to contaminate the starter.  I once found some starter that had been in the back of the fridge for about five years.  I scooped it out, refreshed it (it took a few days) and it was good to go. 

Your starter may separate in the fridge and you will see liquid on the top.  This is normal.  Some people call this liquid hooch.  It’s where the bulk of the yeast actually lives.  You can siphon it off and use it to ferment things to make, for example, alcoholic beverages.  

If you are just using your starter to bake bread (rather than make alcoholic beverages) just stir it all up  – liquid and solid – it’s a bit stiff when it’s cold, and then weigh out what you need to use to refresh your starter according to your recipe.
Tips to keep a starter alive in the fridge:

1.  Use sterilised jars
2.  Make a starter that is reasonably liquid – liquid enough to separate – so the starter is protected from the air by the water
3.  Dig into the starter with clean spoons
4.  Don’t put dead (ie massively over proofed by accident so that there is no yeast activity left) refreshed starter back into your starter – too much dead starter will kill it

2.  Freeze it 

When you want it, defrost it and use it according to your recipe.

3.  Dry it

Spread it out thinly on parchment and let it dry completely.  Crumble it and pop it in a jar.  It’s handy to transport it this way as it’s less messy than in it’s liquid form.  To refresh it, just add some water so that it’s the consistency you remember and then refresh it according to your recipe.

Want to learn more about baking sourdough bread?  Take a course with us. We have plenty of sourdough courses and wonderful trainers who will make sure you leave with a deep and intuitive understanding of how to make, keep, and use your starter to make wonderful sourdough bread.