The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter Questions

Curmudgen's picture
Curmudgen

Starter Questions

While I am sure the answers to my questions are in the archives somewhere, I haven't figured out how to ask the right questions. So, here goes.

Is it necessary or even advisable to freeze a dried starter? It seems to me you would have to freeze individual packets of the amount you planned on re-activating as defrosting always results in condensate inside the package.

The other question concerns definitions. Many recipes call for an amount of active starter. Sometimes a stiff starter or a slack starter. I keep mine at 100% hydration nad would like to be able to figure out what hydration the recipe author intended. I'm not sure I even want to get into the confusion caused by listing cups of starter. Is that stirred down or fully risen or somewhere in between?

Thanks for any help you can give to help me understand.

isand66's picture
isand66

I can't answer your dried starter question since I have never dealt with one before.

As far as the hydration levels of your started if you keep yours at 100% and the recipe does not specify the hydration level you have 2 choices: 1) adjust the water in the final dough to compensate.  Of course you would have to do this by feel and experience since you don't know what the author was using.

2) contact the author and find out the correct hydration to use.  You  an then calculate the correct water to use in the final dough or you can convert your starter to the hydration used in the recipe.

 There is a good hydration converter program at www.northwestsourdough.com

I hope this helps.

Regards

Ian

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

stick to itself unless it thawed out without you knowing it.  Even then, it should be dried and therefore no condensate should be present unless the package is open.  Simply remove from the freezer, open the bag or jar and remove the amount needed, close and return to the freezer.  

I don't freeze my dried starter because I live with moderate temperatures so dried and bagged along with several others in a protective jar (from varmints) at the back of a dark cool cupboard works fine for me.  

If your storage temperatures go over, say 35°C (95°F) you might want to freeze them to keep them from overheating.  

Papist's picture
Papist

My starter keeps getting a layer of crust on top.  Is this normal or bad?  Also, should I discard when feeding or stir it in?

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Crust is from the starter drying out on top.  I personally would throw out a dry crust, because exposure to that much air may have contaminated the surface.  You don't want molds growing in your starter.  If it was just a skin of thicker dough, though, I would probably stir it in.  I'd also seal it better in the future.

Papist's picture
Papist

I have it in a bowl on the counter with a paper towel on top.  I want to use a mason jar but some site said not to use metal lids.  So I don't have any other option.  Any suggestions?

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Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

My favorite bowl is a large coffee mug covered with a little plastic wrap and a rubber band to hold it there.  Don't forget to write some kind of warning to any savvy dishwashers in the family.  Many a starter has been lost as mistaken scraps or food gone bad.  

Papist's picture
Papist

Is it tue that I can't keep it in a jar with a metal lid?

Grenage's picture
Grenage

I can see no reason why, unless the lid was rusting and flaking inte the starter.  I use a class storage jar, with a heavy lid and clasp - I just don't fasten the clasp.

Papist's picture
Papist

So a basic mason jar is ok? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and has enough place for the starter to expand is good.  A mason jar fits that description.  The problem with a tight seal on the jar is that gas builds inside the jar from the bacteria and yeast and if the jar is too tight, can explode.   A popular container is also large yogurt with plastic lids.  There is often a little condensation on the lid.  You can use a metal lid but it may soon start rusting.  Then cover it with a sandwich plastic bag and secure with a rubber band.  It also keeps flies and bugs out.