The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

how old is your starter?

rolls's picture

how old is your starter?

just out of curiosity, how old is your starter? i think mines almost a year old. started from the bourke st bakery book :)

swtgran's picture

Probably 25+  years old.

gmagmabaking2's picture

Mine is only about 5 months old... I am new at this!

Breadboard's picture

I have two starters.   I live in Wisconsin.   My oldest starter (this is true) I got from a close friend in Dayton Ohio.  She got the starter from a close friend living in North Georgia.  He got the starter from a close friend who has a starter that is an heirloom originally from Germany.  The starter came over on a boat during the 1800's.  So it's a Grandpappy from the Motherland. 

My other starter was born Dec. 4th 2011 from organic apple peels.  We affectionately call this starter "the baby".   


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Mathilde VI is 3 months old.

Mathilde V was 2 years old before she passed away. 

Do I notice a difference? 


ehanner's picture

My current starter is around 3 years old. I know it's a romantic notion to think that it matters how old a starter is, but I don't believe it for a second. After a few weeks of proper feeding in room temperature climate, the culture is stable and it smells and tastes like how you feed it and keep it. If you refrigerate it, it will adapt and the aroma and flavor it imparts will change with the climate.


G-man's picture

Bret is a little over a year old. He survived a near-death experience when I put all of him into a dough. I scraped what few dry bits I could out of his container and revived him. It was a tense three days of waiting and hoping, but he bounced back stronger than ever for his harrowing brush with the great unknown.


varda's picture

I think from a starter's perspective 2 months is the same as 2 years is the same as 20.    That said, both my wheat and rye starters are 2 months old.   -Varda

G-man's picture

Food doesn't just stand alone, though!

A starter that is older has history. It has depth, it has experiences, it has a life that is filled with stories.

A cheeseburger is a cheeseburger. The best cheeseburger in <insert your city here> has a past, it has stories about how it came to be, it has secrets. It will always be more interesting than any other burger, and therefore it will be better.

The flavor on the tongue is only a small part of the full flavor of the meal.

This is, of course, an opinion piece. Your mileage may vary.

kmrice's picture

40 years that I can vouch for; another 70 or so that I can't vouch for.

My sister, who lives in Alaska, gave it to me in 1972 and I've used it since then, so I know it's at least 40 years old. My sister had been told it dated back to the gold rush (which ended in the late 1890's) but she had not owned it for long. So, it could be 110 years old or older.

I have a question. I started a brand new starter last year using the pinapple juice method in ABED. It acted just like my old starter, and the breads seemed to be the same. So, my question is: has my kitchen become so infused with spores or whatever from my 40 year old starter that a new starter just picks up the same wee beasties and becomes a virtually identical starter, or has my original starter, over the years, picked up the local wee beasties so that it is no longer really a starter from 40 or 110 years ago? I guess you'd need to do DNA testing or something to be sure.

Anyway, its been a great starter since 1972.


G-man's picture

The longer answer has to do with your feeding regimen, storage conditions, etc. As long as you are keeping these starters under the same conditions, using the same feeding schedules, giving them the same food, etc, they will act the same.

If you want them to be different, try to keep the two starters using different flours, different feeding schedules, storing them in different places, etc to see what sort of results you get.

proth5's picture

from so many reliable sources that after the starter is fully mature (at 3-4 weeks) the quality of the starter itself does not really get any "better," that I absolutely believe the statement.

That being said, one of my favorite "my teacher" quotes is that an old starter is "the baker's pride". And I believe that, too.  It takes pride in your craft and dedication to maintain a vibrant, healthy starter over many years.

And so while not giving my starter a name or any other antropomorphic qualities, I've maintained the thing for 12 years.  Given the unusual demands of my life I take pride in that.

LindyD's picture

And still going strong.  

Created with flour and water, and maintained between 55-60 percent hydration.

Since I feed, kill, then eat it, figure it should remain nameless.  ;-)

rolls's picture

thanks so much, love all the stories. im new at this too. i've attempted on and off for years. but this is my first time, taking it more seriously. and i don't think i've kept going for this long before. i think mine experienced a near death experience also lol, and im currently giving it alittle TLC.

fed it last night, and this morning, and planning to this afternoon.

how do u figure out ratios and hydrations etc?

how do u know how much to use in recipes and if its ready?

ive never used my starter in a bread on its own without instant yeast

thanks again :)


patnx2's picture

started from grapes from my patio. Seems to get stronger by the year. Patrick

Doc.Dough's picture

With about 10^7 LAB per gram and refresh ratios on the order of 1:5:5, after 1o refreshes there is less than .001 LAB/gm that was there in the beginning.  That is small enough to be called zero. So if I refresh every 12 hrs, my starter turns over every week.  On average it is less than 12 hrs old. I have been messing with a new (not my primary) starter that evolved from some commercial yeast and now that it is ~25 days old I am going to bake with it tomorrow. It shows all the symptoms of having outlived all of the original commercial yeast, established a healthy population of LAB, and is just a little slower than my primary starter. How old it that one.  Same answer.

rolls's picture

I was so excited to c that it had doubled after a feed. This is good rite?

Also, it smelled like a banana smoothie kind of. Is this normal?

Mira's picture

Alphie is 17 months old.  I almost killed him through neglect last fall but he revived.

dabrownman's picture

Started it in SF from Clayton's Complete Book of Bread - 1/2 rye and 1/2 WW flour and milk.  Took 3 ties to get it going but have tried to kill it many, many times since then.  Now it is nearly impossible to kill because IT'S ALIVE!  Traveled all over the world with it many times and it changes where ever it lives for very long.  Baked two loaves with it yesterday.  Yummy!  It is currently 1/4 each; rye, WW, spelt, AP and very happy.

My grandmother's starter,that my Aunt now has, was started in 1900, the day she was born in April.  My mother started one for me and my twin in Feb 1952.  One died, we don't know which but my sister in law has it.  I started one for my daughter the day she was born too.  It is a family tradition I guess.

dabrownman's picture

I have 2 new starters one SD started with Minneola tangelos from my back yard and one Minneola/apple yeast water - all because I joined TFL last week and learned how to do it here.  What a great place.  Yeast water is freaky stuff!

RCee's picture

Mine is just a youngster at 6 months old. I had to lay to rest my last starter after it was neglected in the back of my fridge while I recovered from emergency surgery and we forgot about it. It would have been 18 months old now.

GingeredWhisk's picture

My starter is still a baby at 6 months, but I use it constantly.