The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter ready and you're not?

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Starter ready and you're not?

This has happened to me more than once so I'd like to get some advice. What should I do if I've done my levain builds and the starter is ready before I'm able to use it? Perhaps something came up, or like today, I decided to make something requiring a soaker and the starter is peaked/ready to use now.

Today I sprinkled a little salt on the starter, put it in the fridge. I figure I'll bring it back out 2 hours before using. But, what should I really do? Feed and build again?

davidg618's picture

a starter.

WhenI can't bake as planned, I leave my ready levain at room temperature, throw away some, and add back flour and water, at the right hydration, to replace the discard. Discarding half makes mine good for another eight hours or so, but I've used one three hours after feeding it with good results, having thrown away only about a quarter.

David G.

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

That's what I was going to do but for some reason, I guess because I have exactly the amount I want right now, I decided to salt it and put it in the fridge.

I'm hoping to bake this afternoon so the soaker won't get it's full 8 hours but should be plenty. I'll pull starter out of the fridge 2 hours ahead of time. Maybe at that time I should discard half and feed again? That would give it a couple of hours refreshing and feeding before using. Or should I use it as is, just letting it warm up?

wally's picture

is probably your best move if the starter has peaked.  Using salt is a fine tactic if you know in advance that you need to slow down the build.  But once you've done it and the levain has ripened fully I don't think that salting it is going to achieve your goal.  I'd just put off the bake and refresh the starter.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Quick rescue... add a little water and some more flour and tuck back into the fridge for the next few hours.   Give it a little food to chew on but not enough to elevate the pH levels too high.  Increase it about 1/4.  A small amount of starter cools off fast and if it was just peaking, it will work.  But if it was falling down when you chilled it, then it would have been better to refresh it.  No need to warm it up before using.  You can compensate using warm water in the recipe. 

Don't forget to save a little to propagate the starter.  lol :)


Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

It was just peaking so I'll take your advice Mini. I'll pull it out of the fridge, feed it about 1/4 and plan on using it in a few hours.

Oh, and I always feed and return my saved starter to the fridge for next time so that what I'm building is only for my recipe.