The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do you have to store starter in the fridge?

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tomcatsgirl's picture
tomcatsgirl

Do you have to store starter in the fridge?

Have been away for awhile and haven't baked in in awhile. What brought me to this wonderful site was trying to get a starter going. I did indeed accomplish that and made some wonderful first ever loaves. I have been keeping up with my starter feedings not real regularly however each time I feed it it rises and falls. I have NOT been putting it the fridge and sometimes it has gone as long as a week and a half without a feeding. I have added like a 10 oz. of rye flour to my KA flour 30 oz ( I have been keeping it 20 oz starter to 40 oz each water/flour) every once in awhile not sure why. The last few days I have been feeding it once a day as I would like to bake some breads.

 

My questions is this:

It is not real sour smelling almost flat and right before I feed it it smells kinda of like alcohol. I am wondering if I should feed it more than once a day at this point? It does fall before I feed it again should I feed again at it's highest rise? Have I ruined it by not storing it in the fridge for so long (months)? Thanks

jcking's picture
jcking

Storing starter in the fridge is advantageous for the home baker who doesn't bake every day. Yikes; you're storing 100 oz of starter, believe me you don't need that much.

Jim

tomcatsgirl's picture
tomcatsgirl

ROFL Typo not oz grams silly me

 

?Does storing it on the counter have a disadvantage i'm afraid to put it in the fridge as I KNOW I WILL FORGET about it.

jcking's picture
jcking

It seems you don't use it often enough if you'll forget about it (post-it notes?). Think of a thermos, or look into other pre-ferms that can be made a day or two ahead. SD works best if kept at room temp, yet I feel you'll be wasting a lot of flour if your not baking everyday or two.

Jim

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Storing starter at a temperature colder than 46° F can negatively affect the flavor characteristics of the starter.  I would keep a small amount at romm temperature or the coolest place in the house and feed it regularly.

Jeff

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

While chilling the starter may not work for you, it works well for me. I've been using one or two stage builds for a new starter for each loaf and the two stage works  especially well for a rye starter. I've kept a mild flavored starter for a while and the only thing to keeping it productive is to store enough for a week's baking, less than 150g, plus the seed for refreshing. There's no cool place to keep my starter in the summertime other than the fridge. The basement is about 74-77F from mid June through the third week of September. Even with the use of AC, the main living area is around 78-80F. I'd have to feed at least every 18 and probably 12 hours. That wouldn't work out for me.

I do recall reading an article that was linked through here on TFL  about a baker in the Madison, WI area. He kept his starter in a bag of flour, much like it was done before refrigeration. The difference was that he bakes in commercial quantities for sales at the Madison Farmer's Market. If there's a way to do that on such a small scale as I need, two loaves and a pizza a week, I'd be willing to try that.

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

If I recall correctly, sourdough breads were what humans ate for risen breads until wet then dry yeasts were made.  And for the largest proportion of that time humans had no refrigerators.  Hence we crafty humans must've figured out how to deal with sourdough starters without refrigeration.   I guessing that the only hazard of storing your starter at room temperatures is that, depending upon what your room temperature is, you'll always need to refresh your starter more often than a refrigerated one.  By the way, I once gave my brother some of my starter with instructions for its care.  He then promptly stopped caring for it at all.  Months later he wondered what was in that jar in the refrigerator.  I had him add a cup of warm water to it, mix in the dried starter, then mix in a cup of flour.  The culture burst back to life.  He and I learned a lesson.  Life with starter went on.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

with the idea of keeping the starter out of the fridge and feeding it as needed, but I do want to point out that before refrigeration people also probably baked daily or at least every other day because there were also no convenient grocery stores to buy bread at any time of day or night.  If you're not  baking that often, it's more work to keep a starter out of the fridge, but there's nothing wrong with doing so. 

Letting the starter go a while between feedings and letting the hooch build up will change the flavor profile, but that's not necessarily undersireable. 

tomcatsgirl's picture
tomcatsgirl

I suppose I could put it in the fridge ( Sticky notes DUH I will do this!) and didn't really think about the up coming warmer months. On average it is refreshed once a week never on a set day of the week. My plan is to continue this method for another week and up my feeds to twice a day. I am recovering from surgery and kneading is not something I am able to do just yet but perhaps by the end of the next week. I will bake off a few loaves see how they tatse compared to prior bake offs. If the flavor is off I am considering purchasing a starter (San Fransisco) as I like my bread to taste real sour. I have mainly baked the vermont sd recipe and although its delicious and beautiful (have retarted it for up to 18 hours) I want more sour notes. I am definatly a NOVICE bread baker and am still finding my way through baking with and keeping my very own starter.

jcking's picture
jcking

I find that saving a handful of the previous baked loaf (dampened slightly) and adding it to your next mix, kicks up the sour. Give it a shot, it's easy. Fooling with the storage starter to get more sour can be tricky and requires some tinkering. Your post it note could read "Feed Me". {:-)))

Jim

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

 I am recovering from surgery and kneading is not something I am able to do just yet but perhaps by the end of the next week.

You don't have to knead - although some people like to. Most recipes can go with some Autolyse (letting the water and flour sit for 20 - 60 minutes before adding other ingredients) and once mixed, doing a few Stretch and Fold sessions on the dough while it bulk ferments. Kneading not required.

Do a search here for "Stretch and Fold" to get lots more details and discussion. And check out the Handbook in the menu at top, go to Bread basics >> Process & Techniques >> Mixing and Dough Development for a quick overview. 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

My very happy and active starter lives in the fridge when I'm not about to use it or feed it.  I pull the mother out of the fridge, use part of it for a levain (built at room temp with feedings once or twice in the day or two before baking), then refrigerate the remainder of the mother.  The mother usually gets fed every 3 or 4 weeks.   The mother is 70% white, 20% whole wheat, 10% rye at 60% hydration.  This has worked well (good rise and good flavor) for many months.

Glenn