The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter advice

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Rick D's picture
Rick D

Starter advice

New to the site, so hopefully I'm posting in the right spot.

My new "from-scratch" starter is almost 3 weeks old, very lively, and getting feedings at room temp (70-74 F) twice daily. It smells wonderful, and has already turned out one loaf, unfortunately failed due to delfation trying to get the 68% moisture content loaf unstuck from the Banneton.


My question is: when can I refrigerate the starter and stop feeding twice daily? I bake once a week, occasionally twice a week.

Thanks in advance!

LindyD's picture

Good for you on creating a successful sourdough culture!  The next time you bake, apply a generous coating of rice flour or a 50-50 mix of rice and AP flour to your banneton.  Rice flour is like teflon.  When your proof is done, place a piece of parchment over the top of the banneton, then your peel (or a piece of cardboard) over the parchment and flip it over.  The bread will easily release and be ready for you to score and slide it and the parchment onto your hot stone.

As to your starter, since it's three weeks old, I'd take the conservative approach and feed it for another week before refrigerating. That way you can bake with it again.  You might also take part of your discard and either freeze it or dry it on some wax paper - sort of an sourdough insurance policy.

Is it a liquid or firm culture?

Looking forward to seeing some photos of your efforts.

Rick D's picture
Rick D

Thanks LindyD. I was thinking about another week as well, but wasn't sure. And, I've got another dough proofing right now, so I'll head to the store and pickup some rice flour.

The starter now is a liquid form. I've read that I probably ought to convert it to a firm culture for more stability when in the fridge??


flournwater's picture

I refrigerate my starter and feed it once a week; sometimes once every two weeks when I get forgetful.  Turns out just fine ....

My point here is that many  people who begin baking bread form the impression that a starter has to be something delicate and in need of constant attention.  While I agree that a young starter deserves tender loving care, a healthy mature starter is really more rugged than some would have you believe.  I don't recommend neglecting your starter; just don't lose sleep over it.

wally's picture

You don't have to feed it daily to maintain a healthy starter.  Now that it's summer, I've started refrigerating mine again and feed it every 2 days.  While it will keep without feedings for quite a long time, when I told Jeffrey Hamelman that I was only refreshing mine once a week his response was: "Well, yes I suppose I could get by with only one meal a week, but I'd be pretty cranky."  Take that advice as you will!


Rick D's picture
Rick D


LindyD - Here's the result of yesterday's efforts. Yum! The rice flour did the trick, though I think I layed it on the banneton a bit heavy...

Flournwater - yes, I am clinically obsessed with my starter, probably to the point of neglecting my (other) children.

Wally - Great quote.


LindyD's picture

Looks like your sourdough culture is doing a very nice job for you.

Well done!  And doesn't that rice flour make things so much easier?  If you think there's too much on the crust, just brush it off.