The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Introduction and question

Janetmv's picture
Janetmv

Introduction and question

I’ve been lurking on this site about 2 years. I’ve learned so much about sourdough and have had great success with recipes on this site.  I’ve had a 100 percent starter going for 2 years. I converted some of it into a stiff starter some time ago. I took it out, fed it and stored it back in the fridge for about a month. I took it out this morning, and the top was completely dried out. I stored it in a one cup mason jar covered with a plastic lid -it was about 1/4 full. I was able to save 10 grams. Fed it 10 grams of water and 30 grams flour. I’m letting it rise, but when I store what I don’t use, do I need to put plastic wrap directly onto dough, or was the jar I used just too big? I didn’t have this problem the last time I took it out.

Ford's picture
Ford

You do not need to put t he plastic directly on the starter, nor has the starter been hurt by being dry.  In fact, dried starter is a good way to store an emergency supply of starter.  Just spread some starter onto a sheet of parchment paper and let it dry at room temperature (about two days).  Crumble the dried starter and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until needed.  When needed, simply wet the dried starter and feed with water and flour.

Ford

Janetmv's picture
Janetmv

Thank you. I have actually dried some of my 100 percent starter as backup. I just never experienced having the top of my starter getting dried out in the refrigerator and was wondering if perhaps I wasn’t storing it properly. So is this normal behavior for a stiff starter?

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

Usually my stiff starter develops a layer of hootch on top if I leave it too long. I have one in the basement refrigerator that has been there for months, maybe a year and there is a grey layer of liquid on top. 

I don’t use that one, I keep my leftover Levain in the upstairs fridge and end up using bits of that to build up a levain. Every so often, I throw in extra bran or flour to thicken it up but this is really a haphazard maintenance thing. They are a lot hardier than we give them credit for. 

I suspect your jar was too big and it wasn’t sealed well so your starter dried out. 

Janetmv's picture
Janetmv

Thanks. I’m also wondering if maybe my starter was too dry to begin with. I followed what King Arthur website recommended for a stiff starter, which I believe was at 50 percent. They also used oil in their container, which I will not do, as I don’t want to add other ingredients to my starter. It looks like, through some searches on this website, that many are keeping them between 60 and 70 percent hydration. I have to do a little math to figure how to get it there. I did increase the hydration in my last feeding. I may give it 2 more feedings to slightly change the hydration  before I use it.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

especially if you use bits of it to build up your Levain. Just make it thick like a pudding (I hope you are American because if you are from the UK, this won’t make sense) or a cake batter, and keep it in the fridge. 

That being said, make sure that you follow the hydration called for in the recipe fairly closely. For example, if the recipe calls for 100 g of 100% hydration levain, you can take 10 g of your thick starter and feed it 50 g each water, & flour and that will give you a bit more than 100 g of 100% levain (the extra is because there is always some left stuck to the sides of the container). 

Janetmv's picture
Janetmv

Yes, I am American, so that description is helpful. I would say my stiff starter is definitely thicker than pudding right now. I’m looking to make txfarmer’s fluffy white bread. I’ve successfully made it several times using my 100 percent starter and was curious if I would find any difference using a stiff starter as she suggests. I guess I’m in the mood to experiment.

Gill63's picture
Gill63

I would expect the top of a 50% hydration srarter to be drying out after that time. I typically use my starter at that hydration since bringing the current one back from my Richard Bertinet course about a year ago. He recommends increasing the volume of starter before leaving it for an extended period, and then lifting/scraping off the dried top to get at the good stuff in the middle- which I’ve certainly done and used straight away on returning from a 3 week break, without having to refresh.

Janetmv's picture
Janetmv

Thank you. That does make sense.