The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter Maintenance

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faro's picture

Starter Maintenance

I'm getting ready to try the Sourdough Lady's starter and have a few questions.

1.  Once you get the starter going is it necessary to use juice rather than water?

2.  Can you keep it in the frig or freezer, if so how?

3.  I've read "Bruce's Daily Bread," from the web, and I'm looking for a starter that would be good for digestion.  Jacques de Langre's direction are intimidating and would like to hear other view points.  Short of buying a grain mill and growing my own wheat, I would like to be able to bake bread that is good and good for me. 

I look forward to any help to get me going.  I am really tired of eating breads that taste to heavily of yeast. 



TableBread's picture

I used honey in my starter. This is what Richard Bertinet in his book Crust suggests. The main point is to give the little young yeasties something to eat on their way to adulthood. I have read the final product will reflect the ingredient you use (honey or juice) although I haven't noticed yet.




cmoewes's picture

You can refrigerate your starter, it will slow down their reproduction and allow you to cut down feed to 1-2 times a week. However, if you do this, you need to take the starter out of the fredge 1-2 days before you want to use it to bring it back to active culturing.

 As for a freezing, I have read that you can do this, say if you have a very good tasting starter going, you can freeze a piece of it in case the mother culture dies. Yeast doesn't get killed when frozen (otherwise we wouldn't be able to have frozen bread dough) but I haven't done it.


faro's picture

Thanks for the good information!

Sean's picture

I now have a nice bouncing baby whole wheat starter that's almost two months old that I made using Peter Reinhart's directions in his whole wheat book. You may want to check the library or your local bookstore if you don't already have a copy.

 In short, it starts with whole wheat flour and pineapple juice. I keep it in the refrigerator and feed it weekly when I make a whole wheat sandwich loaf. Feeding right now is water and whole wheat flour.

faro's picture


Thanks just the info I was looking for.

SourdoLady's picture

Good luck with your starter (it's pretty foolproof)!

Answers to your questions:

1. Yes, you should switch to water after the first few days of pineapple juice. Bottled spring water is the best to use. Well water is also fine. Be careful of tap water because it is chlorinated. Chlorine will dissipate upon sitting out overnight but if your water treatment plant uses chloramine, it does not dissipate and can kill your starter.

2. Yes, you can keep it in the fridge once it has matured (about 2 weeks from starting). That is the best way to store it between uses. It is preferable to feed it once weekly but it can live for weeks without feeding (although it won't be real healthy if neglected for a long time). As for freezing, I never do but some have had success with it. I have read in some writings from the pros that some sourdough strains will survive freezing and some will not. With that in mind, I would keep a backup in the fridge or dried until you are sure it will withstand freezing.

3. The nutritional values of sourdough are the same for all sourdoughs. It is the fermentation process which is responsible for the benefits. For the maximum benefits, in addition to using sourdough you should also retard your dough overnight in the fridge or a cool (unheated) room before baking. This allows the new flour which is added when making the dough some time to ferment also. Soakers and bigas are beneficial when using whole grain flours and whole grains, seeds, etc.

faro's picture


Thank you so much.  This is a great site.  I hope to be on the Sourdough path soon after Christmas.