The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Starter Mother Maintenance

Piper's picture

Sourdough Starter Mother Maintenance

I am a newbie to sourdough mother starter, so if these questions seem obvious, apologies.  

How often should a mother starter that is kept in the refrigerator be refreshed when not regularly baking?

Can a mother starter that has been in the fridge for 3 or 4 weeks looks dry on top and has some dark areas (oxidation?) be refreshed successfully or is it compost? Don't want anyone to get sick.

The background: I made the ww starter as per instructions in Peter Reinhardt's Artisan Breads Everyday and was refreshing and baking regularly for about a month and also separated some of the starter into separate containers. Then I got busy and let the starter stay in the fridge without refreshing for the last 3 or 4 weeks.  One small container molded, so that got composted. One container has bubbles, but looks a little dry on top and is dark in places  (oxidation?)  and am wondering whether it can or should be refreshed. The glass jar that it is in is the old fashioned type with a glass lid held on with a wire, but no rubber gasket to allow for a little air.

If it matters, I live in Seattle where it is currently cool and rainy.


golgi70's picture

Odds are you can bring it back to life.  Take the tiniest bit.  Say 1/2  tsp (5g) or so and add 50 g flour and 50 g warm water. .  Once its healthy at a feeding of 1:2:2 seed:flour:water by weight should be peaking in 6-8 hours.  I've brought back some funky cultures so i'm sure you can too.  

Good Luck


aroma's picture

.... converting it to a rye based starter - they are much less trouble to look after and work really well, even with white flour

cerevisiae's picture

I shoved one of my starters in the back of the fridge and forgot about it for about a year, and was able to revive it with regular feedings, kept at room temp, over the course of a few days. So just a few weeks of neglect shouldn't be a problem.

golgi70's amounts and ratios sound pretty good, so just go with those.

dabrownman's picture

at 66% hydration and am now up to  6 weeks between feedings.I use 10-20 g of it to bake with and when it gets down to 10-20g I feed back to 100g -120 at 66% hydration - no worries.  The longer it sits in the cold the more sour it gets and the better bread it makes.  I call this the No Muss, No Fuss, No Maintenance, No Worries Starter.' 

Happy Baking