The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

What Makes Best Starter Containers?

crustic's picture

What Makes Best Starter Containers?

I am currently in the middle of my first two sourdough starters ever.  I have to say they both seem to be developing nicely but as I continue to divide and feed I really feel I could have used better containers.  One is a medium size mixing bowl and the other is a large wide 4 cup measuring cup.  The measuring cup seems to be about the right size and shape although the book I am reading suggests a "beaker".  Of course I haven't seen a beaker since 7th grade science class so was wondering what other people recommend.  I have also hear someone mention mason jars which seem to be just about perfect as well although maybe not big enough.  I would love to hear what others recommend.


AnnieT's picture

Check out thrift stores for jars like the Italian one shown - here they go for $1.50 to $2.50 - then throw away the rubber seal so that the starter can breathe. My favorite is a French jar which is wider at the top which makes adding flour easier and neater, A.

placebo's picture

The canning jars I have are, in fact, that very brand. I started off with a 0.5-liter jar, which proved to be a tad too small for the amount of starter I wanted to keep, so I got the next size up. Eventually, I realized I was wasting a lot of flour maintaining so much starter. Nowadays, I keep about 60 to 80 grams of starter in a 0.2-liter jar.

clazar123's picture

Any jar with a lid will do. I have used many containers of the years but I always seem to end up in a pint,widemouthed glass jar. Sturdy,easy to clean,easy to work in, right size when I build up for a larger bake. Alternatively, sometimes I just keep about 2-3 tbsp starter in a smaller 4 ounce wide mouthed jar. This is also the hospital jar when I am trying to get a starter back from going "off".

Use what you have-no need to buy anything.Unless you buy some food item for the container-I've done that. Bought 12 cans of water chestnuts once because I needed the cans for a baking project. Much cheaper than buying specialized tins and we eventually used all those water chestnuts. :) The baking project turned out perfect,also, and I still have the tins.

dabrownman's picture

2 sizes of re-purposed store bought cake frosting containers.  The taller one is from whipped frosting.  Tall one is for building levains small one is for starter storage in the fridge.  You can see through them and put the rubber band at the level of the levain or starter know when they double easy enough.  They are wide mouth, made from heavier duty plastic, have good lids, no glass to break and they wash up easy too!

davidg618's picture

of seed starter in the refrigerator, in a 8 oz. canning jar. (peaked, it would fit in a 4 oz. jar.) I build all baking levains from seed starter; the most seed ever needed so far is 40g. I bake sourdough weekly. I make enough extra levain to completely replace my seed starter every week. I feed 20g of ripe levain 1:1:1, and put it back in the refrigerator: my seed starter for the following week.

Like others have said, any lidded glass container will do. Don't seal the lid tightly: even in the refrigerator, the yeast expels gas.

David G

Heidela123's picture

Quart mason jar loose plastic lid When out tightened up in storage

Felila's picture

The large kind, for two pounds of yogurt. I cut an X in the lid for ventilation. I have four,  and transfer the starter to a clean one when I feed it.

I don't like all the printing on the plastic and will be switching to some plain white tubs left over from pitted prunes. As soon as I eat enough prunes. 


Floydm's picture

A yogurt container is all I am using at the moment too.  Not as aesthetically pleasing as the glass canister like Janet points to that I used to use, but I can't say my starter is any worse for it.  

Pretty much anything non-metal and not completely airtight but "airtight-ish" will do.


dstroy's picture

It helps that he's drawn a funny cartoon on his little "bread beast" container so that the rest of the family doesnt accidentally end up taking it in place of their yogurt ;)

cranbo's picture

I use the Fabri-Kal clear plastic deli containers, usually pint-size, but quart size occassionally if I need a big build. They are inexpensive, and quite durable/reusable:

Glass canning jars are great and durable but I hate dealing with the lids; too loose potentially attracts flies flies or dries it out, too tight and it could explode. Nothing dramatic has ever happened with those Fabri-Kal deli containers. They can puff up with little damage, and will fly off pretty gently if too much pressure does build. 

Heidela123's picture

In 30 years of using glass jars starter has stayed in the same one for almost the 30, none of these things has ever happened.

They go in pressure canners unless the jar is compromised I really can not see it exploding from yeast? No drying out, I have lived in many climates but longest here in a temperate ...hydration is where it should be, besides dry starter is super easy to correct.

I can see the condition of my sourdough better in glass, clean the plastic ( never ring ad disk lids

Not to argue, just want to mention,good canning jars are perfect sourdough containers, but so is anything else mentioned here!

My friend keeps hers in a marmalade crock on the counter with a saucer on it, for as long as I remember.

davidg618's picture

Hi, Heide,

I agree with all you said, and I'd like to add I advocate leaving the lids a bit loose to allow gas to excape not to prevent exploding canisters, but to maintain a constant environment. I've not seen any erudite writings on the effects of increasing gas pressure, or increasing carbonic acid on the yeast and bacteria, but I'd wager there is some.

David G

dabrownman's picture

tile floor this year getting it out of the door of the fridge.  My apprentice had to strain a small amount to get the glass out of it  so that I could get it going again.  Will never use glass again:-)

jcking's picture

Discard metal lid, keep screw on ring, cover jar with folded damp paper towel (prevents crusting) then plastic wrap. screw on metal ring, poke tiny hole in plastic wrap allowing any gas to escape.


Janetcook's picture

I like the LeParfet SUPER canning terrines found HERE.  The ones I prefer are round so are much easier to clean than the ones that a square shape.  (The round ones are towards the bottom of the page and the word SUPER is in the name.  If you look closely you will see the difference in shape.)  

I also love that the lids are attached so I know where they are when I need them.  They come with gaskets but I don't use them because I want my yeasties and beasties to have air.

They are also made of good heavy glass which I prefer over using plastic containers.

Have Fun,


jackie9999's picture

I use the plastic ziplock containers.  I feed my starter every 2nd day in the winter and every 1 1/5 days in the summer...I can stretch it out by 1/2 a day, but by then it's looking a little hungry :) The starter sits on the cool basement floor between feedings in one of these handy little containers and once a week it gets cycled for a clean one.

aloomis's picture

Take and toss sippy cups.   The holes in the spout are just enough to let the starter off-gas.  They're about 8 oz, which is about right for my starters.

jaywillie's picture

I use these small containers from Snapware. I've gone through a variety of other containers and have found these to be best. I feed once a week (when not using it to bake in a week) and store mine in the fridge. (I keep a rye and a wheat starter going.) These containers are the only ones I've found to be really airtight in the refrigerator and that can go through the dishwasher. They are more expensive than Ziploc and other thin containers with push-on lids, but I just waited for them to go on sale at my local store. They work really well for me.

msgtdoug's picture

Something that is free and recycled!   In other words, the 1 quart soup containers from most Chinese take-out restaurants.  They're inexpensive, easy to clean, and don't seal so tightly that the lid wouldn't pop if needed.  You can see through them, so seeing what your starter is doing is easy, and they're almost universally available.

Wild-Yeast's picture

Cambro "Food Squares".  See through has proven invaluable and they're dishwasher safe. They can be ordered on the internet - just search for Cambro Food Squares [lids are sold separately].

The larger size [1 Gal/4 L] size is great for bulk fermentation of 2 - 1Kg loaves. When the 2 Liters of dough rises to the top it's doubled in bulk...,


jaywillie's picture

Cambro products have many uses for bread bakers, and they are fairly inexpensive. Unless you live far from a city, there is no need to order online -- they are available at any restaurant supply store. In my experience, most of these stores "look" like pro-only stores, but they're not at all. Just walk in and buy. They'll be happy to take your money!

Be aware that the clear Cambro polycarbonate is not BPA-free. If that matters to you, go for the translucent polypropylene, not the clear polycarbonate.

Juergen's picture

I use the 1.6 liter container from the 'Clip & Close' series by the German brand Emsa. I find them to be very easy in use and of very high quality. They're made in Germany and BPA free. Here's is a video on these containers as well: I would expect these to be available in North-America as well.


Graid's picture

I have one in a kilner-style glass jar and the other in a plastic lockable box similar to the one above. The plastic box one is FAR easier to access and feed because of the wider opening at the top. I would recommend using a container that doesn't have any sort of a bottle neck effect going on, even a minor one can make things irritating.

Is there any reason glass is usually recommended, and not plastic?