The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do you clean your sourdough container before each feeding?

nougat's picture

Do you clean your sourdough container before each feeding?

I noticed some books recommend feeding a starter by removing a bit of it and placing into a new or clean container and then feeding. All of the data I have collected over the years used to state to keep your starter in the same container over time as that aged sourdough on the sides of the container will add to the tang of the sourdough.

Even Zoe in Artisan Bread in Five recommends to not wash your dough bucket between batches.

I'm doing an experiment now where I broke up my rye sourdough into two batches and am putting one in a clean container with every feeding and the other stays in the original container. So far no taste differences.

What are your thoughts? 

Prairie19's picture

I've always used a clean container to feed my starter and another clean container to save a portion (about 60 grams) for the next use.  I bake a loaf every week or so, and refrigerate my starter between baking.  I use a liquid starter at 125% hydration. It's a year and a half old and is very active with no off flavors or odors.

Since I keep my starter for 7 to 10 days between baking, I think using a clean container helps keep the starter free from molds and other harmful contaminants.  Don't know about flavor though.  Keep us posted on your experiment.





GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture

it hastens the hooch production....something that I DON'T want.  Also, I live in a very warm area and find that my starter develops rather quickly, especially as the temps near, or reach, 100 degrees by mid-afternoon.  Keeping my starter on the countertop is not an option as summer approaches.  I'd vote for a clean.

PaddyL's picture

For my buttermilk starter, I use the whole thing, or rather refresh the whole thing, last thing at night, wash the container, then in the morning I take out two cups for the bread and put the rest back into the container and back into the fridge.  For my other white starter, the one that's completely commercial yeast free, I just take out about half, pitch that out, and add some flour and water to what's left in the container, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise during the day.  Then I'll take out what I need to make a primary batter that sits overnight, so I don't wash out the original container, and I've had no problems at all with it.

metropical's picture

I've kept mine is the same large jar for 7 years or so.  It's a variation on the LaBrea grape starter.  I have no idea what the hydration is or was.  But it's like a thick shake.

Sometimes I may not use it for a month.  The hooch develops.  I add the flour and a very little bit of water with no bad tastes or oders.  The breads are still quite nice.  The only bad thing is I can only keep them on the counter for 5 days at most.  In the summer 2, then it's into the fridge.


give me liberty and a 5lb bag of flour

suave's picture

Yep, mine goes into a clean jar every day.


Yumarama's picture

I take my mother jar out of the fridge, scoop out the 30g I need for the next feed into a small bowl where I'll add the water and flour. I then either toss the rest into the recycling bin, into the pancake reserve jar if that needs topping up or use it for the weekend's bread. The mother jar, now empty, gets a quick rinse, just so it's not too grungy. It's purely for esthetics. Once rinsed, in goes the new starter, it sits out for an hour or so to give it warm time to grow a bit, then back into the fridge till next weekend.

Beyond that weekly quick rinse, I haven't washed the jars, meaning scrubbing with soap or putting in the dishwasher, since the cultures started to develop properly.


LindyD's picture

When photos of jars of starter have been posted at TFL, they were so slick and clean that I was beginning to feel like Madame Grunge when I looked at mine.

Wanting to be neat like the experts here, I took a deep breath and moved my starter to a clean jar. It smelled differently immediately and took a couple days to get back to normal.

I haven't changed jars since but I have changed the way I remove the starter for use or refreshment. I've found that using an ice cream scoop dipped in water adds to my neatness factor so I no longer have strands clinging to the sides of the jar. I also use a wet spatula to tidy the glass sides. I have no molds or hootch, so I'm content to leave things as they are. If my starter's happy, I'm happy, and the heck with appearances.



somegeek's picture

I scrape down with a spatula immediately following the removal of my portion of starter. Seems the rubber band and saran wrap on the top of the jar locks in moisture so anything on the side of the jar is somewhat soft and easy to scrape down into the starter.

Wet spatula is a good idea too. :)

possum-liz's picture

My starter is at 100% and it lives in the fridge. I only ever wash the jar when the gunge builds up around the top--maybe every 6 months.


KosherBaker's picture

My starter container gets washed only once a year. :) Right before the holiday of Passover, because I'm not allowed to have any leaveners in the house for a week.. Other than that it stays in the fridge all year round.


Marni's picture

I didn't see any mention of dried bits of starter around the edges of the container.  I try to scrape the sides down when the starter is wet to prevent this, but  the rise and fall and spooning etc. always leave some residual bits.  My starter's not very old and I play around with the flours in it, so I don't have a good idea of the effect on taste, but I wash out the plastic tub it's in (Does anyone else use plastic?) with HOT water and sometimes soap every few uses. That could be three times a week or once or twice a month.


merrybaker's picture

that something will contaminate my starter. So I refresh in a clean jar, while keeping some back unrefreshed. It's unlikely they'd both meet with catastrophe at the same time. Kind of a belt and suspenders thing.