The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

long stored starter in fridge?

nebetmiw's picture

long stored starter in fridge?

Has anyone stored a starter in the fridge for months without feeding it monthly? Like 6 months or more.   I just took mine out smelled great had to stir in hooch but no probelm so far.  I took a cup out and added 4 cups of flour and 3 of water.  Smells right but am wondering if anyone has refreshed after this long in the fridge with no feeding.

pmccool's picture

if you start seaching through TFL.  Yours should be fine.


juliette's picture

My poor starter has suffered several periods of neglect over the past 18 years. With a fairly thick starter you should be fine (I have found the higher the hydration the more delicate they are). You did right to stir in the hooch and not pour it off. Also, I would not bake with it until it has gone through several feeding cycles or is doubling in size within a 4 to 8 hour period.  You did not say what your original amount of starter was...I feed mine 1 part starter, 1 part filtered water, and 1.5 parts AP flour. 

Happy baking!

nebetmiw's picture

I am working with the BBA book.  It is the newer version of the book.  I am at the bram stage of it and resfreshing it.  It was bubbling some but was thin.  I will feed it a few more days then continue.  Thank You.

moma's picture

I just used mine for the first time in months. I fed it and left it on the kitchentable for at day and it works fine!

just stir in some flour and maby a (small) drizzle of honey and it will come alive in no time.

GAPOMA's picture

Early on in my sourdough experience I always worried about losing my starter, so I did a post on how long I could store my starter about a year ago.  I went out as long as storing it for 13.5 months, testing the starter periodically along the way.  You can find the post here ...

The conclusion:  "It is clear from this experiment that storing starter at 65% hydration in the refrigerator is fine (and probably the method of choice) for at least 6 months but a year or more is probably asking too much.  Freezing the starter works fine, even out to a year or more.  However it takes longer to restore a vigorous starter from the frozen state.   

Early on in this experiment I came to the conclusion that keeping a sourdough starter in the refrigerator for a month or two (or even six) is absolutely no problem.  It is now my routine.  I pull it out every 2-8 weeks or so, feed it for a weekend (probably use it once or twice), and put it back in the fridge.  I also keep an aliquot at 65% frozen as a backup, and I plan to refresh this backup on an annual basis.  (I also must admit that I don't always go to the trouble of making a 65% starter for refrigeration.  If I'm planning on taking it out again in the next few weeks I usually just put my 100% starter in the fridge.)"

- Greg

loribe's picture

Not sure if I should ask here since it's the same topic or if I should start a new thread ...I don't mean to hijack someone else's thread if that's what I've done - very sorry - let me know if I should move this to a new thread ...just trying to avoid too much redundancy

Anyway: I'm trying to revive 3 different neglected starters that I've had in my fridge for probably 9-10 months ... not feeling very positive but it sounds like it can be done.  Of course they all have hooch on top & the very toppish layer is s bit gray with the lower portions looking creamy in color - smell is tangy, no mold or anything.  They all look about the same. 

   ...from one of the old starters, I poured off the hooch then removed a good dollop of the starter from beneath the gray area and fed equal parts (by weight) of unbleached AP flour & water (I just did this one this morning). 

With the other 2, I stirred in the hooch and then pretty much did the same thing. I was previously under the impression that I should just watch for activity (which should occur in 24-72 hours??) and not feed again until I saw some.   I am seeing no activity at 36 hours  so far. But I should actually be feeding every 12 hours regardless?  I did just go ahead & feed them this morning even though I see no activity yet.  They smell good ...a bit tangy like a starter should. One of them does have some hooch seperating out. They are sitting in an area that stays about 74-76 degress

ALSO - if I can ask here as well ...I have dried starter of each of these.  I made them about a year ago.  They dried quickly from a very active stage. They were stored is sealed poly bags in a cabinet.  I am at 36 hours with a couple of these as well and no activity yet.  I went ahead & feed them this morning too.  Just a hint of tang smell to these, not much.  Again ...should I be feeding these every 12 hours regardless of activity?  Am I doing this right?

G-man's picture

Activity won't always occur in the first 72 hours when you're reviving starters, particularly if you've left them out for a while. Rest assured they're much closer to being viable than a new starter a few weeks old.

If you've got a sour smell but no rise you're doing fine feeding every 12 hours. The bacteria are alive and well, you're just waiting on the yeast population to gain enough momentum that it can raise a loaf of bread.

loribe's picture

Thanks so much!  Seems all my long stored starters are coming around 48 hours I was seeing some bubbling in all of them & now at 60 they are looking more awake ...not doubling yet but doing good.  I'm so tickled ...after probably 10 months of cold storage & neglect - all 3 are waking up! I want to comment that the starter to which I poured the hooch off is the slowest of them ... the 2  I stirred it in are moving a bit faster - just FYI

My 2 dehydrated starters are coming along nicley as well - slower than the above, but coming to life.