The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How store the sourdough

gercio's picture

How store the sourdough

Hi. Firstly sorry for my english but I'm not American or English and I still learning :) 

I have a question how to store the sourdough. I have mature sourdough culture (rye sourdough) and I wanna use it to make bread daily.  If I take a little dose of sourdough to make bread, can I just refreshed the rest of my sourdough (add water and flour) and leave it for 12 hours in room temperature? The wild yeast and bacteria after 12 hours will still alive? Or mayby I should put the sourdough to the fridge? But I have read that "(...)in a lower temperature (below 46°F) part of the flora of the culture may be destroyed(...) "

Thank you for your help in advance :)


DavidEF's picture


If you are baking everyday, you are in a position to treat your sourdough like a king! You can do as you say, take a little sourdough out for baking and refresh the rest and leave it at room temperature until the next bake (the next day). I would recommend getting the sourdough (and yourself) into a 24-hour feeding routine, so that you are only refreshing when you bake bread. This is an ideal situation, because you can observe your sourdough and calculate exactly how much to keep for the "seed" and how much you use for baking. Then, make that much every day, such that the sourdough is perfectly peaked in activity when you're ready to bake.

Let's say you want to use 200g for baking, and you need your refresh rate to be 1:2:2 of starter:flour:water for a 100% hydration starter fed once per day. If this were the case, you will need 50g of starter to begin with and add 100g each of flour and water. The next day, you would find your starter perfectly ready to bake with, and you would take out 200g, leaving the 50g to feed for the cycle to continue. Your starter would never have to go into the fridge, which does reduce its activity, so it would always stay active and can be relied upon to bake with every 24 hours. Also, there will never be any "discard" that you would have to throw away, because you're using all the starter you're making.

These numbers will have to be worked out by you. You may find you need a larger feeding ratio. But, whatever you need can be calculated by taking the finished amount you will be using each day, and dividing by that ratio. So, if you need 1:4:4 and 200g, you would end up feeding 100g each of flour and water to 25g of starter. The 25g would be your "seed" amount carried over every day.

Ford's picture

I believe there are many ways to refreshing starter and I take the view that whatever works best for you is the correct way!  Here is my way.

Refreshing the Starter

For years, I kept two to four quarts of starter (equal volume flour and water or 188% hydration) in a two-gallon, ceramic crock in the refrigerator.  I would refresh this with a cup of bread flour and a cup of chlorine-free water.  I now know that I do not need to keep that quantity of starter and have discarded all except 2 wide-mouth, plastic jars each containing about four ounces (by weight) of starter (100% hydration).   One jar contains starter from unbleached, all purpose, white flour, the other contain starter from whole wheat flour.  I find that I can store the starter in the refrigerator for a month without refreshing.   As a back-up in case disaster strikes, I keep some flakes of dried starter.

I also measure by weight, now.  And I refresh in the ratio of starter:flour:water :: 1:1:1

In working with sourdough bread and the starter, always use chlorine-free water, whether this is specified or not.  I run city water through a “Pur” filter.

Let’s assume you need 3 cups (27 oz. weight) of refreshed starter (100% hydration). Mix 3.3 oz. of water and 3.3 oz. of flour with 3.3 oz. of stored refrigerated starter and allow to stand at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.  To this mixture, add 11 oz. of water and 11 oz. of flour and mix well.  Allow this to stand another 8 to 12 hours.  This gives you 31.9 oz. (about 3 1/3 cups of refreshed starter.  Use that which you need and mix the rest with the stored starter. Sourdough need not be sour, but you can make it so, primarily by the time and temperature the final dough experiences.  Retarding dough in the refrigerator for a few days will give the bread a distinct sour taste.


Dried Starter

Making a dried starter is actually preparing for a possible loss of your starter, so that you do not have to start from scratch and make a new starter.  Take an ounce or two of refreshed starter and spread it thinly over a sheet of parchment paper.  Let this dry at room temperature for a day or two.  Then, remove the flakes of dried starter from the paper and store them in a plastic bag in a cool place (refrigerator) for later use in making a starter.  This is also a convenient form for mailing some starter to another person. 


Restoring Starter from Dried Starter

Take about a tablespoon of crushed dried starter and add a quarter cup (1 oz.) of unbleached, all-purpose flour and two tablespoons (1 oz.) of chlorine-free water.  Mix thoroughly, cover, and let ferment for a day.  On day two, add 3 ounces of flour and 3 ounces of water, and allow the starter to ferment at room temperature for another day.  By this time, the starter should be active and may be refreshed as usual.


David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Ford, why use plastic to store the starter? Wouldn't a glass jar be better? I keep reading that the acidity of the starter will cause plastic to leach into the the starter. I have been using wide mouth mason jars to store my starter. Just screw a cap on loosely.  It seems to work great because I can see the bubbles clearly and it is super easy to clean.

Gercio seems to be using the "tartine" type formula of using only a tablespoon of starter to create the leaven.  This leaves a lot of leaven for the future starter and I think this makes it harder to feed at a 1:1:1 ratio since you will essentially be doubling your starter every feeding (less a tablespoon's worth), no?

I confess to being a newby here, and with baking generally.  I have been making a lot of sourdough pancakes with my excess starter.

DavidEF's picture

David, you can regulate the amount of starter you keep by using a minimum amount and refreshing according to usage. So, if you wanted to do a 1:1:1 feeding ratio, you could make it such that the flour+water you add is exactly what you will use, such as one tablespoon. That means, the other part will be a half tablespoon, roughly. It actually works better with weights. If you wanted to use 1oz of starter, you would keep a "seed" amount of 0.5oz, to which you would add 0.5oz flour and 0.5oz water, resulting in 1.5oz total starter. That is a 1:1:1 ratio. When you want to use it, take out the 1oz you need, and you are left with the 0.5oz to refresh and start the cycle over! You can calculate any refresh rate to work this way, resulting in no waste!

gercio's picture

Thank you guys for help :)

I can explain why I asked about that:

I use the recipes from "Bread" by Jeffrey Hamelman. The recipes for sourdough bread "says" to take a small amount of mature sourdough culture, add rye flour and water and leave it for 12-16 hours. 

I need to say, that in Europe more popular is a little another way to bake with sourdough, but I wanna bake with this method (the method in "Bread" ) because it is less time-consuming and work-consuming that method popular in Europe (three-stage or five-stage fermentation).

So I take the small amount of full sour from bakery (full sour is the last phase/stage of the three/five-stage fermentation) and I hope it's the same that mature sourdough culture in America and now I wanna just refreshed it in 12 or 24 hours apart, and make the bread daily (based on "Bread" book recipes)  I hope it will be working :)