The Fresh Loaf

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Freezing sourdough starter

bboop's picture
bboop

Freezing sourdough starter

I just read that you can take your extra sourdough starter, freeze it flat, and whack off a piece as needed. What a great idea. Cannot source this, sorry, as I read a lot here and there, but mine is frozen now and I'll let you know how it turns out. Anybody?? Surely the California gold miners did not baby theirs.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

You dont normally find anyone recommending freezing starter but it works! You'll find that most people recommend drying out starter for long storage. However I have frozen some in the past (couldn't be bothered with the whole drying process) and worked very well. You will have to give it a few feeds to bring it back to good strength but actually it springs back to life quicker then dried starter. Not sure if you can keep it as long frozen but certainly will last quite a while. 

dobie's picture
dobie

Good question bboop

AbeNW11 - Can you recall how long is was frozen before you reconstituted it? I recall someone on forum recently saying freezing it would not work and I was wondering if it might just be a matter of time frozen.

I have some dried and fridged from 6 months ago, but I have not yet tried to reconstitute it. I was thinking I should feed it (as it was born, 100% hydration AP) and do the same (seperately) without, as a standard.

Maybe I'll freeze some and test at 6 months, 1 year, etc. It would be interesting to know if and how viable it is.

If anyone has already done this, please advise, I would hate to waste time re-inventing the wheel.

dobie

 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Hi Dobie,

I've done both. The one I froze was for 3 weeks while I was on holiday. Fed my starter, allowed it to activate and bubble up (but not peak as I wanted it to not run out of food before I froze it - just my own whim here) and then took some off and froze it as a back up. Activated quite quickly. 

My friend once gave me some dried starter (which I believe can keep for a long time) and I activated that. Took a few days to "wake up". Thought it was dead but just left it and gave it some time. 2-3 days later it came back to life. Gave it some more TLC and it was fine. 

But can a frozen starter last as long? I don't know. 

dobie's picture
dobie

Good to know AbeNW11

Any idea how old the dried one was and was it fridged or frozen?

And yes, the question remains; when frozen, how long is it viable?

Thanks,

dobie

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Dried one was a 5 year old starter but recently dried. The way to dry it out is to spread it out on a baking sheet and allow it to dry then you can grind it into a powder but he gave it to me unground. More like a dried out wafer. 

My frozen one was my own (1 year old at the time) and froze very well due to high moisture content. Like a block. 

Only way to find out is to experiment or find someone who has done it for a long time. 

Best of luck Dobie. So much to learn. I'm always a student. 

dobie's picture
dobie

Yes AbeNW11 - Students always.

I didn't mean so much the age of the original starter, but how long it had been stored, either dehydrated or frozen. I read that your frozen was for about 3 weeks.

Any idea how long the dehydrated one your friend gave you had been dehydrated for (I'm thinking 'recently' would be a month or so?) and was it frozen, fridged or room temp. I've heard of people doing them all three ways.

It would be good to figure out the best way for long term storage and I don't have much of a clue. Maybe we'll hear from someone who knows further.

Thanks

dobie

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

I'm not sure about that Dobie. 

Got the impression he dried it out just before he gave it to me but dont know for sure.

It was room temperature that's for sure. Dried hasn't got to be frozen. 

There is sure to be someone on here who knows the science :)

dobie's picture
dobie

Thanks AbeNW11

That is helpful info. Mine too is 'chipped' rather than powdered. I may just reconstitute it this week just to see how 'dehydrated and fridged for six month's activates.

I'll probably feed my starter a little more generously this week and freeze up some cubes and (tick, tock) let time run it's course and try to reconstitute one every 6 months or so.

God, I hope somebody has already done this before and knows for sure.

I can tell you this; if you leave a starter in the fridge and ignore it for a year, you might as well start all over rather than try to feed it back to life. At least that's been my (shamefull) experience.

dobie

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Rehydrate, feed it then wait! Give it a stir every now and again till it wakes up. Only once it is awake continue to feed it. 

I imagine a year in the fridge (how did you manage that? :) ) is beyond repair. 

Well its late now. Interesting discussion! 

Gnite

dobie's picture
dobie

AbeNW11

I was out at sea.

dobie

greyoldchief's picture
greyoldchief

I just recently activated some dried starter that I dried August 2008.  Took a couple of days but it's doing well.  I just took some starter, spread it out on parchment paper and let it dry out for 2 or 3 days.  I then ground it up and kept it in a covered jar.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Activated in the same time frame as the one given to me and yours was dried 7 years ago! 

 

greyoldchief's picture
greyoldchief

Surprised me too.  I forgot to mention that i kept it in the freezer.  It was originally some dried starter that i received from "Carl"

 

dobie's picture
dobie

Hi greyoldchief

That is so good to know. Was it kept at room temperature?

Thanks

dobie

dobie's picture
dobie

Thanks greyoldchief

Frozen. Got it.

You have just saved me years of experimentation.

dobie

bboop's picture
bboop

Interesting, thanks for the good feedback. I put it in a large ziplock on a cookie sheet, so that it froze very thin. I have also frozen buttermilk for dark rye and that works very well too. Love this group. thanks

 

dobie's picture
dobie

bboop

Thank you for the question. It needed to be asked.

Speaking of buttermilk, I froze some up in ice cube trays at least two years ago (as well as yogurt) that I am still using as seed for new brews. Both are working fine.

dobie

bboop's picture
bboop

Oh good idea, freezing in ice cube trays. We do lime juice like that too, for water or margaritas. 

dobie's picture
dobie

mmmmm, margaritas.

bboop's picture
bboop

They go nicely with fresh bread...

drogon's picture
drogon

I've not froze sourdough, but have frozen kefir - and revived it 2 years later, although it did take a week or so of feed/discards with milk to get it fully going again...

For just a few days, I'd not bother - for even a few weeks I'd also not bother - just keep in the fridge. For a long-term backup (which I do not have), I'd dehydrate some and keep it in a sealed bag...

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

Thanks Gordon

Was the frozen kefir of the 'grain (Mother)' or was it of that which you would drink?

BTW, what is the difference in the Lacto's between Kefir, Buttermilk, Yogurt, Sour Cream, Sourdough Starter and others? They seem so similar, but are apparently different. I don't know.

Thanks again,

dobie

drogon's picture
drogon

It was the grains in some milk I froze - should have clarified that.

And I've no idea about the different types of LABs - I'm not that fond of kefir and fermented foods in-general (apart from bread & beer! :-) however my wife is and her sisters family practically lives on the stuff...

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

Thanks Gordon

As much as I love kefir, I've been hestitant to brew it myself. First because, well, now I would have another pet to feed and care for and I know sooner or later it would sit forgotten in the fridge and die off.

But knowing I can freeze some grains and bring it back to life, I'm a lot more willing to do so.

I have brewed it from store bought drink. An ounce or two to a quart of milk, much like feeding a starter. The person who showed me how to do that warned me that you could only do that 5-6 times before the LABs eventually grow 'out of balance' and it doesn't taste right. It never does seem to grow 'grains' tho, yet I have followed her advice succesfully.

I wonder if these various LAB brews are accompanied by yeast? If so, I wonder if you could raise bread with any of them? Even if not, I wonder what they would do to a starter if added?

From my very limited cheesemaking experiences, I remember there are mesophilic and thermophilic LABs, the former growing better at lower (about room) temperatures and the later at warmer ones (90-100F as I recall). I wonder how that all relates to sourdough starter?

I'll search around the forum, wiki and google and try to find out (unless someone knows).

Thanks again.

dobie

 

AmyofEscobar's picture
AmyofEscobar

Dobie, Yes, kefir contains both LAB and yeasts, and it *can* raise bread, but apparently it doesn't do a great job. See this post: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24164/kefir-sourdough-starter-initial-observations-and-concerns

On freezing starter, I would be concerned that the lower temp kills the LAB, though preserving the yeasts, so you end up with essentially yeast cake. Can anyone verify that?

Also, try making kefir you guys! Easiest fermented dairy product out there, and way healthier than yogurt from my understanding. We brew it once a day in summer, every 2 or 3 days in winter. Use whole milk, and don't forget to chill it overnight in the fridge. It starts out slightly cheesy taking but then develops into creamy dreamy goodness, though if you don't like sour foods, you'll only like it with loads of honey.

 

 

Kpsnell's picture
Kpsnell

I thawed frozen sourdough starter that was over one year old. It took a few days of feeding to revive but going strong now. It had not been dried out, just wrapped in plastic.  So glad I froze some because mold had overtaken the neglected refrigerated starter