The Fresh Loaf

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what is the best time to refrigerate a stiff starter?

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

what is the best time to refrigerate a stiff starter?

I have some stiff starter in my fridge that I'm going to 'wake up' after a several-month-long nap.  It's a 60% starter I made using Maggie Glezer's method.  I'll bake with sourdough for awhile, then I get tired of feeding it twice a day, so I put it in the fridge and let it go dormant.  

My question is this -- How do others manage their stiff starters?  Specifically, how much time elapses between feeding the starter and putting it in the fridge  -- is it right after feeding, 2 hours, 8 hours to peak or ...??    What I've been doing is let it rise to almost peak before putting it in the fridge, but I don't know if that's the best way.  I've never had any trouble waking it up, even after many months.

Thank you! 

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

80 g of stiff starter (60%) in the fridge and use it twice a week to bake bread using about 40 g of it or so.  When I refresh it about every 10 days there is only 10 g left.  I add 20 g of water to it to thin it out, and then add 20 g of flour. That gets me to 50 g and a  little less than 92.3 % hydration  After it doubles, I add  24 g of flour and 6 g of water to get to 80 g and 60% hydro and let it sit on the counter for an hour before refrigerating it.  Works for me.  10 days later, no waste and do it all over again.

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

That's intriguing.  So out of the 80g of starter, you are you taking 40g out of the fridge, using that to making a larger amount of starter, and then use that larger amount to  raise your bread?  

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I will take 20 g at a time to make a loaf of bread 3 times - using it to buold levains of around 200 g for each fo teh 2 breads.  I use 10 g to make rolls or bagels in the 10 day period too.  After using 7o g of the 80 g total, I use the remaining 10 g as seed  and feed it as previously noted to get it back to 80 g.  No waste, no huge feedings, no large storage required.  

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/30755/sd-starter-experiment-how-long-can-it-ferment-counter-goo-overtakes-it

 After doing my 1 g starter levain build this past week I might go to 10 grams total storage instead of 80.  Here is a post on that.  I will be posting the two breads made from 1 g of starter tomorrow.

 

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

I've been spending some time ploughing through some old threads to learn more about feeding and maintaining a stiff starter.  Unfortunately the one I have is not very active and stops totally after it has doubled in about 4 - 4.5 hrs.  I'll continue to feed it every 12 hrs to see if there's any improvement.

Judy

phaz's picture
phaz

 give it a good stirring and see if it rises again.  if not, increase the amount of food.  if feeding every 12 hrs, feed every 6.  or, if feeding a 1:1:1  radio, try 1:2:2 or even .5:2:2.  the stirring will get the bugs more food, if there is any left.  no rise after a stir usually means all the food is depleted. 4 hrs to double sounds like a pretty active starter.  if temps are high  you're starter will  burn through food like crazy.  you may a better starter than you think (that's always a good thing)!

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

Never thought  the day would come when I  would bring my starter with me into the office!!  This was fed at 8:00 a.m. and the picture was taken at 11:00, just  three hrs into it's  feeding.  I've been feeding it at 15:30:50  so far, not  sure if my starter is strong enough to go lower at 10g or even 5 grms but could try.  My office is cool but  not  cold, It's sitting on top of my tea cup which is on top of my cup warmer which  is set to low so should not overheat the starter.  I hope  to see a better rise today as I've  been feeding it since Wed. night 

stiff starter

I've read elsewhere that I should wait a few hrs after it has deflated, letting it go hungry before giving  it another feed but 12 hrs seems to be the max for me as there was no more activity after doubling last night.

Judy

And this is taken  after 4 hrs, looking very firm, waiting to see if it will rise further..

levain after 4 hrs

phaz's picture
phaz

 that is a very active starter.  time to make some bread! I find at this point a feeding daily is enough to keep it healthy and active, as long as temps are not too high,  like over 80F.  you are all set to go now!

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

A case of not knowing a good thing when I see one ;)

I couldn't make bread when it started to deflate and waited till I got home which was 11 hrs after the morning feed, I didn't have enough levain to bake with so I threw in another 50 grms of flour and 30 grms of water to the what I had in hand.  After I had done that, I started to wonder if it was in fact too little food for such a large amt of levain (70grms) (I didn't want to put that good levain to waste nor did I want to start over again with a small amt of starter  arrive at  140 grms,

This mornig I made the bread....the result was unexpected.  Suffice to say I'm very pleased that my effort has not been in vain.  60%  is the way to go for me from now on.  

Judy

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

I guess it depends on a few things:

  • How long you intend to leave it between feedings.
  • How much old starter you are building the feed with.
  • Do you want to use it straight from the fridge? I know many don't advocate this method but it can work really well.
  • The hydration of the starter and flours it is fed with.

For instance, if I was only feeding it once a week at 60% hydration I would perhaps give it an hour or two on the bench at room temperature before placing in the fridge for the week. You need to understand your starter pretty well and judge when it is starting to 'move' ... this will depend on how much old starter you are building the starter feed with and the room temperature. From memory Maggie's starter method uses a reasonably small amount of old starter so an hour or two on the bench would be fine.

If on the other hand I wanted to use it the next day I might let it rise to almost its maximum amount before placing in the fridge for use the next day.

It is all about judging the amount of time and food it will require to stay active. If you are going to store it long term again, perhaps drop the hydration down to 50% to slow it down and build it with a smaller amount of starter. I have also seen people advising making a larger amount for long term storage.

Hope this helps
Phil 

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Thanks for your advice, Phil.   So if you let the starter rest on the bench for an hour or two before placing it in the fridge, what do you do with it when you take it back out?  Let it finish rising?

I did not know you could store a starter that had almost fully risen in the fridge to bake with the next day.  I had started to wonder how the pioneers did it -- they certainly weren't feeding their starters twice a day and throwing away all that flour!

After just two feedings, my starter is ready to go.  I spiked the flour with some rye and that helped it become active pretty quickly.

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

After a week in the fridge it should be almost fully risen ... if not, take it out and let it come to room temperature for an hour before feeding it.

I doubt the pioneers used fridges :) ... I reckon their bread would have been pretty darn sour and inconsistent :)

Cheers,
Phil