The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter - Feeding & Storing - Questions

PajamaGuy's picture

Starter - Feeding & Storing - Questions

I received some of Carl's 1847 starter.  Grew it sporatically on the counter, then put it in the fridge.  Then I took it out and let it warm up - I used some (without "freshening it up") and ended up with two bricks of dense gum that found their way to the circular file.

Then I grew it some more and made a different recipe.  This time, I freshened it before using.  The free-form loaves rose (raised) well, but deflated when I applied (gently) the eggwash, and didn't spring - ending in two frisbee-shaped, but tasty finished loaves.  (I think if I'd used pans, they'd have been fine.)

So I've built up a jar of starter on the counter, and after the last feeding I woke up to an overflow - Fortunately I'd used a soup bowl underneath, AND - my wife was out of town.

I dumped all but ¼ cup into another jar and put the jar in the fridge.  Then I washed the counter jar and fed the ¼ cup with another ¼ Cup fresh wheat flour and the same amount of warm water.  Today, I added ½ Cup of each.  It IS active!

So my questions are:  If I continue to grow it on the counter, as the jar gets full, should I dump all but ¼ Cup into the big jar in the fridge?  I would expect to feed it maybe ¼ Cup fresh flour & water once a week.

When getting ready to make bread, should I use what's in the fridge?  How?




Franchiello's picture

I keep my starter in the refrigerator because I only have time to bake on the weekends.  I usually pull it out after I get home from work on Friday and refresh it using warm water and high gluten flour and let it ferment overnight.  By Saturday morning it's awake and raring to go.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

If you're refreshing your starter with equal volumes of water and flour, the hydration level of your starter and the discard will be somewhere around 166%. Now, if you want this level, by all means proceed, but it sounds like your starter just got off the ground. If you haven't already done so, check the archived threads on starter hydration and why the subject is important. Just click on Forum at the top of this page and scroll down until you find Sourdough and Starters.

I find that adding my refreshment by weight, which requires a scale, works out to be very reliable. I haven't lost my starter and other than the winter weather seeming to slow it down, it has raised every loaf with a hydration level between 80-100% depending on my whim the day I refresh or build up. I refresh with whatever flour I have on hand that I feel like using, let it double, and if I'm not baking a loaf that day, put it in the fridge. If you use a little bit of planning in your baking schedule, you won't need to keep a large quantity of starter or deal with discarded starter.

As long as you have a scale, you can take out a portion of your starter to build up a quantity for your loaf and have it ready to go in 8 hours or less. The rest can go back in your fridge or you can refresh that leftover portion. You'll find that your starter is fairly durable and it takes a major boneheaded mistake to kill it. As I said earlier and can't emphasize enough, read the archived threads. You'll gain a lot of knowledege and save yourself from needless fretting.