The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Levain storage

228_BREAD's picture

Levain storage

Hello all, 

What is the best way to store my active levain if I'm only baking say once a week and how should I do it?  It is currently sat in a six qt tub waiting to be used, but I'm not sure what to do with rest after Ive used a small portion for my bread. 

sorry if the question is too vague. 


DavidEF's picture

If you can take the time to refresh it before baking, one easy way to store it is to keep it in the fridge. You would feed it and make sure it's active, then put it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Depending on your starter and your particular schedule, you would take it out one or two feeding cycles before baking. For instance, if it is fed 12 hours at a time, take it out 12 or 24 hours before you are going to bake. Feed it as soon as you take it out, then 12 hours later, if you are satisfied that it's ready, bake with it. If it's not ready at 12 hours, feed it again and bake after 12 more hours. Of course, you will have to work out these details yourself by trying it different ways. And you can adjust it to fit your schedule. For instance, feed it only enough for six hours at a time, if it takes two feedings and you only have 12 hours of lead time. The bottom line is that the starter will be less active in the fridge, which is good for storage, but not for baking. If you can make it work with your schedule, it will make less (or no!) waste, and keep for longer periods of time than keeping it at room temps.

228_BREAD's picture

Thanks DavidEF so I can keep it in the fridge in bulk and refresh say 100g each time I want to bake, and this won't do any damage? 

dabrownman's picture

and keep 80 -100 g of 66% hydration starter in the fridge.  I was finishing up my 3rd week with this batch and have baked 4 loaves of bread out of it  using 10 -15 g of starter seed each rime to build a 3 stage levain for each bake that was about 150 g of levain after being built,  had about 40 g left so I can still get another loaf out of it easy and refresh back to 80-100 g. next week.  I call this the no maintenance, no feeding, no fuss, no muss no waste starter schedule.  Works great a a very sour starter.levain and bread results,

I kept it on the counter for years, was a maintenance nightmare, required frequent feedings and lots and lots of waste.  No more

Happy baking

WoodenSpoon's picture

I keep my chef in a small loose lidded mason jar in the fridge, Then two days before I plan to bake I build up a portion of the chef and allow it to ferment at room temp over night, then one day before baking I elaborate the 100% hydration chef into a much firmer levain and allow that to ferment overnight. then the next day I bake! Though this takes a little time I dig it as it allows me to maintain a very small culture and easily build it up whenever I want. 

timko's picture


Perhaps consider  a smaller quantity at room temperature?


Another way to think about this problem is to consider keeping a much quantity at room temperature and feeding daily.

I have found that keeping my levain in the fridge results in me having to

  1. plan to revive and build the strength of the levain
  2. consider with more care the acid balance that is effected by temperature.

Perhaps consider reducing the quantity of levain to about 1 tablespoon of starter with about 2 tablespoons of flour adding water to the desirable consistency.

Discard and feed at dinnertime.

 This has kept my levain going strongly for a couple of years now and I feel I have reduced wastage.