The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Refrigerating my Starter

ktgp's picture

Refrigerating my Starter

Over the last week I've diligenty nurtured my own liquid levain culture with the guidance of Jeff Hamelman's Bread.  It's now ripe and ready to go!  I've taken some out to start building it to bake tomorrow, and put the rest of it in the fridge for the first time.  How much does temperature matter?  Hamelman recommends not keeping the starter any lower than 46 degrees F.  If I can't get my fridge to be that cold, is there another approach?  Will there be negative flavor effects or will my starter be okay at about 40 degrees? 

cognitivefun's picture

should be fine. It just goes dormant more or less, with lower temperatures. It can even freeze without harm.

Janknitz's picture

Your fridge should be colder than 46 degrees F!!!  The preferred temperature should be between 35 and 38 degrees  --certainly below 40 degrees.   Warmer than that and you could be inviting some nasty bacteria to party in your food.   

My sense is that Hammelman wrote the book for professional bakers and adapted it to home baking--not always keeping in mind the practicalities of home bakers.   Most of us don't have cool storage that is at least 46 degrees F year round, and we may not have the time to keep the starter out on the counter with all the required feedings.

Hammelman claims that temperatures lower than 46 lead to changes in the flavor of sourdough because certain components favor certain temperature ranges.  I don't know if that's true, but many of us do keep our starters in the fridge quite successfully.  As for flavor, sometimes it's a trade off.