The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Killing the Baby

Jezella's picture

Killing the Baby

I must say that I'm absolutely fascinated by this whole bread subject and being new to the subject, have so many questions. Whilst reading here about starters that have been around, sometimes for many years, how do these remain alive. I tried one a short time ago and gave up as I felt I was trying to run before I could walk or in my case, walk before crawl.

The question here, is this. Many people refer to their starters like living beings and I smile at this as such tender loving care is obviously bestowed upon their loved ones. However, if a starter is growing well, how do you provide care and attention in times of absence such and whilst on vacation. Surely you cant take the baby with you. Perhaps some do. Would the procedure be to freeze the baby until return or would that kill your loved one.

Also, another question I have is, are you able to use discarded starter whilst in the process of creation. It seems a shame to discard the excess and this is why I gave up on my earlier attempt. If it can be used, what would it be used for? 

JMonkey's picture

Once it's going, starter is really resiliant stuff. I don't recommend doing this, but I've revived rye starters that had been left forgotten in the back of my fridge for nearly 3 months. If I'm going on vacation, I'll just put some in the fridge. I'd have no qualms leaving it there for a couple of weeks. And though I feed mine daily, for those who don't bake as often, it probably makes more sense to keep the starter in the fridge and feed it once a week or so. If you want to bake with it, feed it a couple of times on the counter beforehand.

As for usese for the discard, I save it in my fridge to make sourdough English muffins or sourdough waffles. There are also good recipes for sourdough pancakes out there, though those usually require a wet starter, in which case, if your starter is firm, just add water and mush it until it looks like ... welll ... pancake batter. 

Have fun!

Jezella's picture

Thank you JMonkey for the tips. Always in the pasts I would have been very cautious about something bubbling in the fridge as needing to be thrown out. Having said this, I was delighted with my previous attempt of a started and in particular with the aroma. I'm delighted the hear that I can in fact keep this a considerable time as I live alone and can't eat enough bread. The links you have provide are much appreciated and especially as I hate wasting food. 

leostrog's picture

So, I make exactly as JMonkey - I put leftovers of starter in container, adding once a week a new portion. After my container is full, i thawed it and make pancakes, for example. For decreasing of sourness , I add a pinch of sodium bicarbonate.


Jezella's picture

The tip about the use of sodium is much appreciated. So far I have not produced anthing that requires a started as all my bread have been produced with instant yeast. The us of the word sour concerns me slightly as I'm not sure I desire a sour taste. Having said this, I'm under the impression that the taste is not so much sour as the word implies. Many thanks.

grind's picture

I have used my left over starter by making bread.  It's used mostly for flavor and texture and I add some commercial yeast for the lift.

Jezella's picture

Thanks grind. I had a feeling that this would be possible and on my next loaf I shall try this. At the moment the freezer seems to be getting a bit full with bread so need to eat much first before my next experiment.

Nickisafoodie's picture

in the "search box" and you will see tons of posts on how starters work and how to maintain.  The tutorial section on this web site gives good info too, as do many of the bread books such as Hamelman's "Bread" or Dan Leader's "Local Breads".   With an hour of reading you will be a pro and the subject of starters will go from "intimidating" to "piece of cake"!  Follow some of the proven recipes posted and you will be baking like a pro...

Welcome, Good luck, it will come...!

ars pistorica's picture
ars pistorica

The stress-response mechanisms built in to most of the key lactic-acid bacterium commonly found in the starter microflora are wonderfully adapted to various, sudden shifts in change in the organism's environment.  Most bakers will recommend the refrigerator, but this negatively impacts a starter and may eventually change the nature of the starter altogether in a way that you might as well just establish a new starter (despite what many bakers tell you, none of them can see what's going on on the inside, and that's what really counts).  Dehydration proves to be the best way of indefinitely storing a starter, and, once the water activity is low enough, the starter can be frozen.