The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starters.... Using, Keeping and keeping it SAFE!!!!

b166er's picture

Starters.... Using, Keeping and keeping it SAFE!!!!

Okay, first dumb question. I assume I can keep a tight lid on the started AFTER it has become a mature starter? As in, it doesn't need wild yeast anymore. It is mature enough for baking. For what its worth, its about 500g of 100% hydro, kept in a 2 quart cambro container. Way more container than what is needed, so, plenty of air trapped in there.

Mostly though, I am wanted to know how you use your starter. Most recipes  call for 200-400g of "built" levain, using a tablespoon of mature starter. So, they call for building twice as much and only using half, replenishing your starter..... Me? I hate the idea of replenishing. I would rather ruin a batch of bread than my starter and having a step where I MAY forget to replenish and use the whole levain scares me.

So, I propose taking what I need and leaving my starter alone. I keep a very tight schedule for feeding and since I am only keeping 100g's of mature starter, tossing out 400g's of starter, adding 400g's of flour and water to feed, I would think that the only thing I need to worry about is making sure that I don't take too much that I am left with less than 100g's of starter and I need to concern myself with how ripe the starter is when I take from it. Obviously, if I feed at 6am, I am not going to pull from it at 7am. If I need to pull in the morning, I pull prior to the feed. If I pull at noon-2pm, I can almost pull my full amount and have no need for a levain build, unless I need a particular flour for the build. If I pull late at night or just before the feeding, its going to be more acidic and maybe I should take a little less or ferment less, if I want less acid.

Also, I never make one recipe of bread. At the very least, I make 2. Sometimes 3 or 4 and sometimes I stagger the builds and final dough mixes. I write up a "pan up" sheet and keep things pretty organized.


Grenage's picture

Taking from the starter and building a levain is the most common route, although 500g of flour is a monster volume to maintain; you could get away with much less!  I maintain 60-70g of starter.

I believe that gas buildup is the reason lids/covers are normally left on jars; while I doubt most people would be in a situation where it would be a problem, a glass jar with a heavy lid is ideal.  The weight keeps in closed, but it could open if need be.

JeremyCherfas's picture

to maintain. 

Like Greenage, I keep far less, in my case about 50 gm of 100%, kept in the fridge in a loosely lidded jar.

My routine is to take 10 gm from the fridge for a new build, feeding 20gm +20gm and then 125 gm + 125 gm. That gives me plenty for most of my recipes. Before using the active built starter, I remove 10 gm, feed it 20 + 20, leave it on the counter for a couple of hours and then put it in the fridge. That's when I discard the old starter.

So I always have the old starter if I should forget to save some from the active build. And for the occasion when all is lost (not yet, but it can't hurt) I have some dried and stroed in the freezer.


LindyD's picture

Hi b166er.  Welcome to TFL.

I've kept my five-year old sourdough starter in a quart-sized Cambro container with no problems.  Lid is always snapped on tight after refreshment.  The wild yeast comes with the flour, so each refreshment introduces another batch.  

I agree that you're keeping a huge amount of starter.  I maintain around 80 grams at 50-60 percent hydration.  Not refrigerated unless I'll be out of town.

You shouldn't worry about using all of your starter.  Even if I use 99% of my levain for a build, I'd still be able to refresh the few grams left at the bottom and sides of the container.   A mature and healthy starter will surprise you with its strength.