The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does a sourdough starter get better with age?

leavenguy's picture

Does a sourdough starter get better with age?


Can anyone tell me this?



Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

If you have a new starter (one that was just created or revived from dry) then yes time will make it better and stronger.  Once you have a starter that has been working well for a while then it stays about the same.  I did find that my starter changes a bit with the seasons  but that is not a better thing just different.   Hope that helps


wally's picture

If you take good care of your starter, over time the colonies of wild yeast and lactobacilli will flourish and you'll find you have more stability and 'horsepower' in them.  The details lie in taking care of them.  My experience is that they are adaptable but tend to best adapt to conditions that are regular and consistent (feeding intervals, temperature, etc).


suave's picture

You mean is a 100 year old culture better than a 1 month old culture?  As a marketing tool - very much so.  Bread-baking wise.... well, that's highly debatable.

Grenage's picture

I'm with Suave on this, although my sourdough experience is minimal.  Unlike wine, which sits in a bottle for many years, a sourdough culture is being constantly replaced as new yeast/bacteria are born, and the old die off.  Once a culture is strong, and peaks in organism volume - it's a strong starter.  The adverts spouting "lets you skip ahead 40 years" make me a bit angry - no, it just saves you a week or two.

Whether the yeast strain in a 2 month-old starter is the same strain present 20 years later, now that's something to ponder.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Usage?    Yes.

Passage from new to stable?   Yes.

Adage and urban legends?   Most definitely adds mystery!

Tragedy happens when it ages and doesn't get fed.   

Then it becomes just a page in TFL.     :)

Happy aging.

mwilson's picture

Love this answer!

Nice one Mini.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the period after "fed" and change the last line to:

becoming just a page appendage in TFL.    

(yep, too much time on my hands...)  My ageless rye starter is in deep firm ball storage in my fridge back home.  I'm still stuck in a hotel hoping for a small apartment but having a hard time finding a short rental that allows one friendly, clean, well behaved, quiet Jack Russel Terrier.   Did I say she smells good?  She does turn up her nose to the local baguettes at eighty cent euro apiece.  That must be the problem...  

tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

You crack me up! 

wally's picture

Belongs in the FAQs on the site.


tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

this would be considered a troll post, but this is the friendliest place on the internet! No really, I'm a bit of a forum nerd as I suspect others here may be, and everyone is so nice on TFL!

As with all subjective questions, yours is quite open ended. Maybe defining 'old' and 'better' would help.

But in short, depends on what your after. I've been keeping a 60%WW, 30% BF, 10% WR and I think it's better when it's new because I don't want it to be sour. 

Maverick's picture

I wouldn't think this to be a troll post, but then I am a TFLer (is that a term?). I believe that this is a valid question that someone interested in sourdough might ask. I actually am surprised this is not asked more often.

My answer is that a very young starter is not going to be as reliable as one that is a couple weeks or a couple months old. I have not seen a difference in a starter that is a couple months old when comparing to one that is several years old and maintained with the same flour in the same way. Of course this assumes that the younger starter was not kept in the refrigerator for half of its life.

Now this is not to say that the hundred year old starter you got in the mail yesterday is going to be the same as the one you started a few months ago. However, over time they will most likely become the same (some will debate this).

dabrownman's picture

1973, makes good bread every week as does my new one, 2 months old.   One was started with milk and the other on with minneola juice.  The only difference is;  the new one smells like my great aunt Tessie and my old one smells like my great aunt Tessie's feet.   And Tessie, if she was real, would have had to be both sweet, nicely alcoholic smelling and of course a great bread baker!