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happysmileylady

Where to keep a sourdough starter

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I just got my first sourdough starter together yay!  I don't intend to make a bread with it for a few days at least, I like pretty sour sourdough.  So, where do I keep this?  I have a glass mason jar ready for it, do I keep it on the counter, in the pantry or in the fridge?

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Is it all developed?  If so, you keep it in the fridge.  Make sure you feed it at least once a week. 

And read “Sourdough”!  An excellent novel.

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In the fridge. When you are ready to get started, take culture out in the morning, feed equal parts of flour and water and wait till it gets all bubbly. Then mix up the dough and form the bread - whatever recipe you are following - usually the loaf shaped dough has to sit and double again before baking.

Congrats, I love my sourdough!

Edited by Liz CA
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2 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

I just got my first sourdough starter together yay!  I don't intend to make a bread with it for a few days at least, I like pretty sour sourdough.  So, where do I keep this?  I have a glass mason jar ready for it, do I keep it on the counter, in the pantry or in the fridge?

If you’re going to use it in the next few days, I’d feed it twice a day and keep it on the counter.  After that I’d stash it in the fridge and feed it much less often. It’s forgiving. I neglect mine for weeks on end and it’s been humming along for over a decade. 

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Oh. Then definitely in the fridge.

I treat mine according to my goals. If I want a quick, more predictable rise, I feed it more aggressively a day or two before I need it. If I want it as sour as possible and don’t mind a very slow rise, I  can neglect it a LOT and stretch the process out over two days.  There’s nothing like the flavor of the super slow rise. I LOVE it really sour and it lasts longer than homemade bread with commercial yeast. 

If I want ultimate sourness and don’t want to be on bread watch half the day, I use a recipe that has both sourdough starter and commercial yeast. 😬 I even have a pizza dough recipe that uses the starter you discard when you feed it. 

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4 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

Oh. Then definitely in the fridge.

I treat mine according to my goals. If I want a quick, more predictable rise, I feed it more aggressively a day or two before I need it. If I want it as sour as possible and don’t mind a very slow rise, I  can neglect it a LOT and stretch the process out over two days.  There’s nothing like the flavor of the super slow rise. I LOVE it really sour and it lasts longer than homemade bread with commercial yeast. 

If I want ultimate sourness and don’t want to be on bread watch half the day, I use a recipe that has both sourdough starter and commercial yeast. 😬 I even have a pizza dough recipe that uses the starter you discard when you feed it. 

What do you discard when you feed it? I never discard any of mine. I stir in any hooch that has accumulated. 

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31 minutes ago, Quill said:

What do you discard when you feed it? I never discard any of mine. I stir in any hooch that has accumulated. 

When I feed mine I mix equal parts (by weight) of the existing starter, unbleached flour and water. I discard any extra starter. Otherwise I'd have an enormous amount of the stuff. I'd need a five gallon bucket. 😉  I stir the existing starter thoroughly before weighing out a portion to feed.

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8 hours ago, Pawz4me said:

When I feed mine I mix equal parts (by weight) of the existing starter, unbleached flour and water. I discard any extra starter. Otherwise I'd have an enormous amount of the stuff. I'd need a five gallon bucket. 😉  I stir the existing starter thoroughly before weighing out a portion to feed.

Hmm. That’s so different from what I do. I have my starter in a quart-sized container, like a Chinese food takeout container for soup. I don’t feed it until it’s getting low. Then, I weigh how much starter I have and feed it half the weight unbleached flour, half the weight water. So it’s roughly doubling the starter. Thus, I never discard any. 

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1 hour ago, Quill said:

Hmm. That’s so different from what I do. I have my starter in a quart-sized container, like a Chinese food takeout container for soup. I don’t feed it until it’s getting low. Then, I weigh how much starter I have and feed it half the weight unbleached flour, half the weight water. So it’s roughly doubling the starter. Thus, I never discard any. 

My directions are from the King Arthur Flour website. I'm guessing there are lots of different ways to do it. Do you bake a lot? I'm wondering how often yours gets low? My baking is very sporadic, so if I didn't make a point to feed mine every week, and waited for it to get low . . . sometimes that would mean it would go several weeks w/o feeding. Now I have gone as long as 26 days w/o feeding it and it was fine (we were on a long trip).

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If you look up zero waste chef, she has starter discard recipes for things like pancakes and sourdough crackers (taste kind of like cheez its, oddly).

Eta: not cheerios,  cheez its...autocorrect strikes again!

Edited by EmseB
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1 hour ago, Quill said:

Hmm. That’s so different from what I do. I have my starter in a quart-sized container, like a Chinese food takeout container for soup. I don’t feed it until it’s getting low. Then, I weigh how much starter I have and feed it half the weight unbleached flour, half the weight water. So it’s roughly doubling the starter. Thus, I never discard any. 

But don't you have to feed the day you bake so it's all bubbly and active?

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8 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

My directions are from the King Arthur Flour website. I'm guessing there are lots of different ways to do it. Do you bake a lot? I'm wondering how often yours gets low? My baking is very sporadic, so if I didn't make a point to feed mine every week, and waited for it to get low . . . sometimes that would mean it would go several weeks w/o feeding. Now I have gone as long as 26 days w/o feeding it and it was fine (we were on a long trip).

I bake almost every week, but I don’t feed it every time I use it. When I make pizza (which is what I make the most often, almost every week), it only takes 2 TBS. Almost every week I stir it and may leave it on the counter for several hours or overnight, but I don’t feed it but every month or more. (Now I’m doubting my starter management, lol!) 

One time I left it a long time and it turned to clay but, after discussing it with some people on my FB Bread making group, I got it reconstitutes and it was fine. 🤷🏻‍♀️

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3 minutes ago, EmseB said:

But don't you have to feed the day you bake so it's all bubbly and active?

No, I just stir it up and it gets active. However - whenever I make bread or pizza, I am using the mother starter in a starter sponge, which does take more flour and water. Then my starter sponge is getting active all day before I make it into pizza or bread. 

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14 hours ago, Quill said:

What do you discard when you feed it? I never discard any of mine. I stir in any hooch that has accumulated. 

You're supposed to toss half of it and feed the rest unless you're intentionally increasing your amount of starter.  If you keep adding and adding without using enough you end up with way too much for your fridge.  Best case scenario, you're USING it instead of tossing it, but every now and again you'll need to feed your starter when you have no intention of using it.

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4 hours ago, Quill said:

I bake almost every week, but I don’t feed it every time I use it. When I make pizza (which is what I make the most often, almost every week), it only takes 2 TBS. Almost every week I stir it and may leave it on the counter for several hours or overnight, but I don’t feed it but every month or more. (Now I’m doubting my starter management, lol!) 

One time I left it a long time and it turned to clay but, after discussing it with some people on my FB Bread making group, I got it reconstitutes and it was fine. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Pizza crust is a lot more forgiving than bread.  You can get away with more., especially if you're doing a single rise.  Are you able to get a loaf of bread to cooperate without using any yeast? I say if what you're doing is working for your needs then you don't have to change a thing.

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5 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

Pizza crust is a lot more forgiving than bread.  You can get away with more., especially if you're doing a single rise.  Are you able to get a loaf of bread to cooperate without using any yeast? I say if what you're doing is working for your needs then you don't have to change a thing.

No. I use supplemental yeast. My single attempt in the past year to do my bread completely without supplemental yeast failed. Maybe that’s why. 

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53 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

You're supposed to toss half of it and feed the rest unless you're intentionally increasing your amount of starter.  If you keep adding and adding without using enough you end up with way too much for your fridge.  Best case scenario, you're USING it instead of tossing it, but every now and again you'll need to feed your starter when you have no intention of using it.

Why, though? I actually only feed mine when I’m intentionally increasing it, except for some instances when I was giving a portion to a friend. 🤔

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22 minutes ago, Quill said:

Why, though? I actually only feed mine when I’m intentionally increasing it, except for some instances when I was giving a portion to a friend. 🤔

Because the good bacteria eat up all the flour and need more to survive. There flour and water are what keep them alive.

At least as far as I understand it. When you put them in the fridge it slows their metabolism but they still need more food every so often and especially before using it.

Edited by EmseB
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32 minutes ago, Quill said:

Why, though? I actually only feed mine when I’m intentionally increasing it, except for some instances when I was giving a portion to a friend. 🤔

 

35 minutes ago, Quill said:

No. I use supplemental yeast. My single attempt in the past year to do my bread completely without supplemental yeast failed. Maybe that’s why. 

 

Ok.  We got to the bottom of it.  If your starter is properly cared for you can bake with it without adding any commercial yeast.  In order to do this you have to pull it out of the fridge and feed it twice a day for about three days before using it.  When it's strong enough it starts bubbling and rising up it's container within a few hours.  If you get it to the point where there's no hooch a it doubles in size in about 3 hours, it's ready for baking.  If you bake frequently and keep your starter on the counter, you can just keep it ready all the time.  If you're like me and shove it in the fridge for weeks and weeks, you have to start messing with it a few days before you need it.  

I have used yeast when I want sourdough TODAY.  It's good but it doesn't compare to the depth of flavor you get without the commercial yeast. It's delicious when I plan ahead and do it the slow way.  The bread stays fresher longer than homemade yeast bread.  I've never bother to look up the science behind that.

 

ETA:  This is also why people have starter to discard.  If they just kept doubling it with every feeding, you 'd waste a lot of flour and have more starter than you'd need for any recipe.

Edited by KungFuPanda
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8 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

 

 

 

Ok.  We got to the bottom of it.  If your starter is properly cared for you can bake with it without adding any commercial yeast.  In order to do this you have to pull it out of the fridge and feed it twice a day for about three days before using it.  When it's strong enough it starts bubbling and rising up it's container within a few hours.  If you get it to the point where there's no hooch a it doubles in size in about 3 hours, it's ready for baking.  If you bake frequently and keep your starter on the counter, you can just keep it ready all the time.  If you're like me and shove it in the fridge for weeks and weeks, you have to start messing with it a few days before you need it.  

I have used yeast when I want sourdough TODAY.  It's good but it doesn't compare to the depth of flavor you get without the commercial yeast. It's delicious when I plan ahead and do it the slow way.  The bread stays fresher longer than homemade yeast bread.  I've never bother to look up the science behind that.

 

ETA:  This is also why people have starter to discard.  If they just kept doubling it with every feeding, you 'd waste a lot of flour and have more starter than you'd need for any recipe.

Gotcha. I’m screen-shotting this so I can try it. Thanks! 

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Okay I've been wanting to do this, and make some real-deal sourdough. I think I did this once a LONG time ago, but don't remember where to begin.

Anyone wanna share a great "recipe."

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I use the scrapings method. It works but requires advanced planning. I do not have discards. The scrapings method is when you already have a good active starter going. You use what you need for the bread, then store the remaining in the fridge. The night before you want to bake, take out the little bit of starter you have and feed it enough to have the amount you need for the recipe. So if you need 400g of starter, feed it 200 flour and 200 water. Let sit overnight. In the morning it should have more than doubled. Use the 400g you need, you will now have the little bit left over (mine is usually about 100g left). Store this in the fridge and repeate next time you want to make bread. No waste this way, but you do have to make bread at least once a week or the starter starts to weaken and you will have to do more feeds to get it up to an active level that works for rising the bread. When you have to reactivate it like that, you will have discard again.

 

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18 hours ago, EmseB said:

Because the good bacteria eat up all the flour and need more to survive. There flour and water are what keep them alive.

At least as far as I understand it. When you put them in the fridge it slows their metabolism but they still need more food every so often and especially before using it.

Right, and plus they give off alcohol when they are digesting, and the local concentration of alcohol slows them down a lot.  That's mostly why you stir--so that they get away from the alcohol and closer to fresh flour to consume.

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5 hours ago, Margaret in CO said:

If anyone is interested, there is a strain of sourdough from 1847! http://carlsfriends.net/ And the starter is FREE!

I used it for years, but now am low carb so I no longer bake bread every few days. It's a nice strain. 

I have never made sourdough bread, but I find this so intriguing. My dad used to make sourdough bread. I really should learn.

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An excellent book for those new to sourdough baking is Ken Forkish's book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. I've found its recipes to give the most consistent results until you gain the experience to branch out on your own. The Fresh Loaf forums have a wonderful community willing to share their knowledge.  An inexpensive scale and thermometer are super helpful for ensuring successful loaves. Sourdough baking can become addictive. Have fun.

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I was today years old when I learned about the "float test" to check your sourdough.  If it's well-fed enough to raise bread, it will float when you drop a teaspoon of the starter into warm water.  That's certainly easier then paying attention to how fast it doubles.

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