The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Saving a whole wheat sour dough seed culture???

guerrillafood's picture

Saving a whole wheat sour dough seed culture???

I am reading Peter Reinhart's "WHoel Grain Bread" book, and have made the Whole Wheat sourdough starter culture that goes into making a mother starter. I used the pineapple juice method and the culture is bubbly and frothy, just like the books says. My only problem is, after the last phase of feeding the culture (5 day process), it says proceed to making mother starter, or refrigerate for up to 2 days before making mother. Well, I am not ready to make a lough of bread, I just want to get my sourdough starter into "holding mode". Do I need to proceed on to the next step and make the sourdough "mother" (which is a signifigant addition of flour and water) or do I just keep throwing away half of the seed culture and refreshing it with equal amounts by weight of whole wheat flour and water?




JERSK's picture

  I am not sure what you mean by a significant amount of flour and water. One conclusion I've come to though is, if you know you're not going to use your culture for a while,  reduce the amount of it. You don't really need to save more than an ounce or two. You still have to feed it, so the amount you throw away is significantly less. When it comes time to make bread you may have to do two or three feedings, I do anyways, so you only use a little more than the amount of flour going into the recipe. It seems to be a more economical way of doing things and takes up less room in the fridge. Why do you need to keep 8 oz. of starter around just to make a loaf of bread or throw away lots of starter just to keep it on hold? of course if you're just getting a starter going, than it may be a one time loss and than you can reduce the amount of mother for preservation. When you're in a mode when you're going to make lots of bread you can always increase the mother.

guerrillafood's picture

I think my biggest problem is with terminology. Here's what I've done...


Day 1 & 2: 28.5 g (3½ Tbsp) Organic Rye Flour + 56.5 g (¼ cup) Unsweetened organic pineapple juice.

Mix and cover, room temperature for 48 hours. Stir (oxygenating the wild yeast) three or four times a day.

Day 3 & 4: 14 g (2 Tbsp) Organic Rye Flour + 28.5 (2 Tbsp) Unsweetened organic pineapple juice.

48 hours.

Day 5: 42.5 (5¼ Tbsp) Organic Rye Flour + 42.5 (3 Tbsp) Filtered or Bottled Spring Water (still)

24 hours.

Day 6: 56.5 g (7 Tbsp) Organic Rye Flour + 42.5 g (3 Tbsp) Filtered or Bottled Spring Water, 106 g of the previous starter (roughly half)

Over the next 24 hours the starter doubles in volume.


It then says that I should either refrigerate the Seed Culture for 2 days or go ahead and make the Sourdough Mother.

Okay, so what I've made so far is a seed culture. Now, I don't want to make any bread today. Do I go ahead and make the Sourdough Starter, which would involve the following...


298 g (2 1/3 cup) rye flour + 227 g (1 cup) Filtered or Bottled Spring Water + 100 g (2/3 cups) about half the seed culture from above.

...and a 4-8 hour rest before making the final dough??? Basically, should I be trying to feed and maintain the Seed Culture or the Sourdough Mother?

Also, the consistancy of the sourdough... right now my "Seed Culture" that is in the fridge is the consistancy of loose pancake batter. Is this too thin?

I know this is a lot of questions. I just don't understand why books always seem to leave you hanging on these things. Peter Reinhart, seems to be a lovely man, with a pure heart for baking bread. I am just maybe not as careful a reader as I thought, but I just can't find anywhere, where he says at which step to stop and go into "holding" mode with your sourdough.



KipperCat's picture

I eventually converted mine, but first I went ahead and made the whole mother, which I actually baked from a few times.  I think that the book says the mother starter will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, though it will need refreshment before use.  I'm pretty sure that I kept some more like 3 weeks before refreshing and had no problems.

Sorry no definite answers, but at least that's what I did. I now keep just 15 grams of starter, which has been fed with 30g water and 50g flour, which means 95 grams (about 3 ounces) of starater.  I could probably keep less, and may try that.