The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

very stiff starter experiment

bread basket's picture
bread basket

very stiff starter experiment

Hi, in October I will be for 3 weeks out of the country and have nobody to feed my rye starter which is now about 11/2 year old. So I wanted to experiment with a stiff starter which as I learned keeps much longer unfed. In a whim I took 90 gr of mother starter, fed it with 50 gr. water and 90gr. whole rye flour (stone ground). It is now 14 days since I did this, and no other feeding since then. The starter is very stiff, smells wonderful, yeasty and appley at the same time.  I already baked twice with it (took a small amount,did 2 feedings) and had good results. How long can this starter live without additional feeding? To make sure that nothing goes wrong I took today 20gr and feed it with 50/50. I will feed that one regularly once a week and use it for baking.  So now I have 2 jars in the fridge :-). What is the SD specialists take on this? As always thanks for you input.

mrfrost's picture

It will last "forever" in the refrigerator. I have a 50 gram 50% white flour starter(2 years old) that I totally neglected for about 9 months. I did nothing to prepare it for it's 9 months of neglect. Never even screwed the lid on tight. It was totally dry, and had developed a greyish crust on top. I scraped the crust off, recovered about a teaspoon of old dried starter, and fed it twice a day with 100 % hydration.

On the 4th day, I baked with it and it raised as powerfully as ever. It tasted the same as ever too, although it was never "sour".

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

If you're in (or going to) Stockholm, that is.

The latest craze in Sweden seems to be sourdough bread, the famed stuff of San Francisco whose upkeep requires daily attention from bakers to maintain the living bacteria that give it that distinctive zip.

So what to do if you're a Swede on the go? Check your starter loaf into Stockholm's newest hotel: A sourdough sanctuary at the Nytorget Urban Deli, where bakers will tend to your bread base on your behalf.

One traveling musician says its a Godsend, the AP reports, letting him travel to gigs while babying his bread.

The "hotel" charges about $30 a week.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... keeps forever too. When I went back home, I wanted to take my starter with me for breakmaking in the UK. So I refreshed a small teaspoon of starter then when it showed signs of activity - began to expand - I smeared a very thin coating of it on a piece of parchment paper and left it on a sunny windowsill, with another piece of parchment over it, to keep flies, dust etc off. Once the smeared skin of starter is properly dry, just flake it into a very small airtight jar or plastic lidded bowl or, as I did, fold the parchment with the smear on it, and place inside a ziplock bag. Then keep between the pages of a book or similar where it won't get disturbed.

Refresh the dried starter whenever you need. Just add it to water, let it soften up, then add flour to get a 100% hydration. It will take a few hours to think about it, realise it's on to a good thing once more and that somebody loves it after all, and start to bloom.

All at Sea

Doc.Dough's picture

If you feed it at 1:10:20 (starter, water, flour), let it sit for one hour before refrigeration, keep it cold but not frozen (33-36°F), then it will easily last three weeks.  Beyond a month, you might consider just burying a small piece of starter in a tub of flour in the refrigerator and sort it out when you get back.  This of course assumes that you have no friends.

I like the idea of a starter hotel.  Sort of nichey but what the heck.  €1 a day seems fair.  That might work out OK so long as there is a good template for describing the feeding schedule.  I suppose you really should bring your own flour for the feedings just so things don't go native on you while you are gone.

Another option would be to take it with you and feed it on the road.  If you can deal with small quantities, you only need to keep about 100mg of starter and you could feed it once a day by carrying <10g of flour.  When you get home it would easily expand to a metric ton in a week of 1:10:10 feedings.


Berti's picture

if you have got a healthy active starter, it can stand up to anything.

*drying and you can then freeze it, eventually for a month at least if not longer

*put it in fridge after a feeding and come back after months and it will do fine after a few regular feedings

*some even report having got very old moldy starters that someone forgot and they just revived them

as long as its healthy, nothing wrong with it.

good stuff huh? ;)

Doc.Dough's picture

There is good evidence that starter doesn't tolerate freezing very well (somewhere I have a tech paper from the early 70's that reported on some experiments that drew that caution as one of the conclusions).  But at least the SF variety is tolerant of near freezing so long as there is some food available.

Another trick that I know works but I have not used it intentionally is to add about 3-4% salt to the starter.  It dramatically slows it down and extends the availability of food from the flour.  Doubling times can easily be twice what they are under similar conditions without the salt, even at room temperature.