The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter was accidentally put back in the fridge immediately after feed – is it ruined now?

Michelle.H's picture

Starter was accidentally put back in the fridge immediately after feed – is it ruined now?

hi everyone,

I have recently discovered the wonders of sourdough baking and have so far made 3 delicious loafs from my home made sourdough culture which I made from flour, water, air and love : )

I keep the mother starter in the fridge, feed it twice at 12 hour intervals when it is left out in room temperature before being put back in the fridge and I make a Leaven and bake once a week.

My question is this – I have been away on holiday so I asked my son to look after the Wednesday feed. He put 50g Mother Starter in a new jar and fed it with 40g water and 40g flour and left out in room temperature for 12 hours before feeding it again as per my instructions – the problem is that rather than leaving it out for another 12 hours after the second feed he put it straight back in the fridge (immediately after feeding it) – will this damage the starter somehow?

What is best to do now?

1. Leave it as it in the fridge until I come home and can feed it twice as usual next Wednesday?

2. Shall he take 50g from the starter now and feed it twice straight away

3. Something else?


I would be very grateful for some advice





richkaimd's picture

I believe you are far too worried about exactness in the care of your starter than you need to be.  It's much harder to kill your starter than you might think.  For example, I once gave my brother a bit of my starter with instructions for its care.  He promptly put it in his fridge and forgot about it.  At least three months later he found it in the back of the fridge.  He'd done nothing with it in the meantime.  I told him to throw most of it away, add some water and some flour, mix it, then leave it on the counter for a day.  It perked right up.  You can refresh your starter right now and get back into your routine, or you can change your routine to refreshing it only on the day before you bake.  I sometimes even forget that last step and use the nonrefreshed starter when I bake.  You simply don't need to give that much thought to it.

Michelle.H's picture

Thank you so much for your kind advice – much appreciated ----

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

when it comes to the next feed just take it out and leave it at room temperature. Now if it has been made dormant straight after feeding then when it warms ups it will continue to ferment. Leave it till you see it has matured then carry on feeding. If it has been fed, refrigerated straight away and it hasn't fermented properly in that time then should you start discarding and feeding etc then you'll whittle down the yeasts within the starter. Like people do in days 3 - 5 in that quiet period when making a starter in an effort to "wake it up".

If you're really unsure then what you can do is half it. Leave on half out at room temperature without feeding it and see what happens over the next 12 - 24 hours. And feed the other half.

Michelle.H's picture

Thank you so much,

yes this is what I was thinking of doing (just feeding it like normal next week and hope all goes well).fingers crossed --

WatertownNewbie's picture

One thing that caught my eye was your ratios. Do you usually add 40 g of fresh flour to your 50 g of starter as a refresher?  (And 40 g of water too.)  Typically I have seen suggestions (or recommendations) that the added flour be at least double the amount of starter.  For example, I keep 30 g of starter and add 60 g of flour and 60 g of water each morning when I am refreshing my starter.

As for the refrigeration, I agree with the comments already made.  Starters are remarkably hardy.  The one thing you might notice is a bit more fluid buildup on the surface, so just drain that off when you take the starter out of the fridge.

JustJoel's picture

I really don’t know what part of the math I messed up. Obviously either the flour, the liquid, or the yeast amount. I made the dough in the bread machine on the “dough” cycle. At the end of the cycle, the dough was pushing on the cover of the machine too much yeast. I though it was a lot when I added it in. Maybe I calculated the yeast at 30% instead of 3%? Maybe because I used bread flour instead of AP? Did I miscalculate the poolish? I dunno, I’ve been failing math since the second grade!

Any way, after the final proofing, I knew something, somewhere went terribly awry! And when it came out of the oven? Sweet mother of Abraham! It was the braid that ate Paris! Mark and I laughed so hard that we almost passed out! To be honest, I havent tried it yet. It’s supposed to be a twisted brioche babka with boysenberry jam, and chopped toffee peanuts and toasted almonds (PB&J, get it?). After it cools, I’ll let you know how it tastes (if I dare approach it with a knife! It may attack!).

Shoot. I can’t figure out how to post a pick from photo library. You’ll just have to take my word until I learn how. Trust me, though, these two loaves combined are nearly as big as 18 pound terrier! 

dabrownman's picture

I keep my whole rye starter in the fridge for up to half a year on purpose taking 10 g a week out to make a loaf a bread.  it is far too stupid to know or care that it is even cold:-)

Michelle.H's picture

Haha thanks : D

Karen H.'s picture
Karen H.

For the first year I had my starter, I fed it obsessively -- same time every week, using very precise measurements.  Now 4 years later, I'm so relaxed about it that it's laughable.  (Sometimes it isn't fed for 3-4 weeks!) It's fine -- every time I feed it and use it, it's better than it was before.  I have a friend who has been using his starter since his college years (he's 70 now); he didn't know you were supposed to feed it between uses.  (He just hauls it out and feeds it when he wants to make bread).  Maybe we're both extraordinarily lucky, but I tend to think that starters are pretty robust!


Michelle.H's picture

Thank you for this very helpful advice Karen – Yes you are probably right in that you will relax more the longer you have been baking Sourdough and learnt how to master the technique.


i just fed it again as usual the following week when I got back and my bread turned out as delicious as always : D

Michelle.H's picture



can anyone advice on what type(s)?of beer which would suit Sourdough bread (to put in the dough) or if there is any types you should avoid..?

i don’t really drink beer myself do don’t know much about it...


many thanks



Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I've done a Guinness loaf before as I thought it'd be great flavour and I was right. But you can experiment. 

Can't go wrong with a beer that has malt taste. 

BreadBabies's picture

I have 2 starters.  One I fed appropriately. The second one, I mindlessly used the water from a glass I had been drinking out of rather than the the purified water I had set aside.  No issues.

Those things are resilient.