The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

keeping sourdough in 34f/1c

sallam's picture

keeping sourdough in 34f/1c


Recently, I replaced my fridge with chest freezer that can be used as a fridge. Its minimum setting gives me a temperature no higher than 34-36f (1-2c). In the fridge, my 100% hydration sourdough used to peak and collapse as usual, because the temp was 43f/6c, I even used to put it back as soon as it is fed. Now in the new chest-freezer-turned-fridge, it hardly shows signs of activity.

Do you think I should keep it on the counter, after feeding, until it peaks before I put it back? I usually use my sourdough once a week.

And I have another question: does the characteristics or types of bacteria of the SD change when kept in such a low temperature?

sallam's picture

I tried a few different timings and settings, and I've settled on leaving the starter on the counter until it peaks fully, about 12 hours, due to its extremely cold temperature, then put it back in my 1c/34F fridge. In that kind of temperature it gets very dormant. It takes a week to even start to collapse.

It turned out, from my experiments, that this method has an advantage. In cooler temperatures yeast seems to develop faster than lactic acid , while LAB on the other hand seems to develops better in room temperature. So when we keep the starter most of the time in the fridge, it starts to lose its tangy flavor. Allowing the starter more time in room temperature with each feeding, gives it back some of its sour complex tangy flavor. This and retarding at very cool temperatures seems to strike a balance between a workable yeast power and a nice tangy flavor. And if I noticed over time that the LAB started to take over the yeast, I just allow it less time on the counter.

I don't feed my starter the usual way. Here is my routine: I keep 100g starter. Whenever I want to bake, I take it all to make a preferment, usually pouring 400g water in the jar, shake well then pour into a dough pan, add 400g flour, mix then pour 100g back into the jar. This way I make the preferment and refresh the starter both in one step. This provides my starter with food 8 times its weight. Quite a hefty meal.

AndyPanda's picture

I'm new to sourdough and trying to learn.  My sourdough starter is not very tangy and I'm trying to get it more tangy.  I read that by putting it in the fridge or someplace cool I would get more tangy as it grows slowly.  But you are reporting that in your fridge you get less tangy.  

IceDemeter's picture

understand your sourdough:

and the original thread referenced in that blog:

For the most part, it is easier to tweak the hydration / temperature / timing of the levain and the final dough for the richest sour tang and just settle in to a consistent maintenance for your starter that suits your schedule and environment, just as the original poster from this thread has done.

Hope you find these helpful!

sallam's picture

From my readings and personal experiments, the tangy acids' optimum growth temperature is around 37c, so I suggest you keep your starter on the counter for about 3 or 4 feeds (feed it when it peaks then starts to collapse). That should give it some tangy flavor.

Portus's picture
Portus  An useful website, and an interesting article that may assist you.