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How to Store Sourdough Starter

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Sourdough starter is a thick mixture of flour and water that becomes bubbly, thanks to the fermentation process. It is used to create delicious sourdough bread, pancakes, waffles, pizza crust, and even cake! In today’s blog post, we will be discussing the best ways to store sourdough starter (refrigerating, dehydrating, and freezing) so you can continue using it for many years to come. Let’s get started!

Two jars of sourdough starter

If you are lucky enough to have an active sourdough starter, then you will want to learn how to store it properly so that you can keep it alive and use it often.

If you don’t have one, it is easy to make your own sourdough starter. Just head to The Feathered Nester’s fast sourdough starter recipe (linked) with step-by-step instructions and yours will be ready in a week.

WHY STORE A STARTER?

A sourdough starter is a living thing and, like all living things, it needs to be fed in order to stay alive. If you are not planning on baking sourdough bread or using your starter for another recipe within the next week or so, then it is best to store your starter in the fridge.

Refrigeration will slow down the fermentation process and prevent your starter from becoming too sour. Additionally, storing your sourdough starter in the fridge will prevent needless feedings when you are not actively cooking or baking with sourdough.

So, now that we know why we should store our sourdough starter, let’s talk about how to do it!

slices of Sourdough French Bread in a white dish with a partially cut loaf on a green and white striped napkin and glass jar of starter in the background
Make this Sourdough French Bread with your discard

HOW TO STORE THE SOURDOUGH STARTER IN THE FRIDGE

The best way to store a sourdough starter in the fridge is to place it in a glass or plastic container covered with a lid. The lid should not be air-tight as it needs a little air but we do not want pests getting into the starter.

Be sure to label your container with the date that you stored it so that you can keep track of when it needs to be fed.

To feed your sourdough starter, simply remove it from the fridge and add equal weights of flour and water. 

Since water weighs more than flour, feed it twice as much flour as water. Here’s my simple formula: ¼ cup starter, ¼ cup warm filtered water, and ½ cup of unbleached all-purpose flour.

Stir well and then let it sit at room temperature for a few hours before returning it to the fridge.

a weck jar with an active sourdough starter

It is important to remember that sourdough starter needs to be fed at least once a week, even if you are not using it for baking. By doing this, you will ensure that your sourdough starter stays alive and healthy for many years to come. Plus, regular feedings keep it from getting too sour.

Keeping a Discard Jar

Since I bake infrequently, I keep a discard jar in my refrigerator. It’s perfect for recipes that use a large amount of starter like sourdough pancakes and waffles.

Every few weeks, I add a tablespoon or two of water and two to four tablespoons of flour to the discard jar to feed it.

a collage of my favorite sourdough supplies
Shop my favorite sourdough supplies here https://a.co/0bF0AZy

HOW TO STORE A SOURDOUGH STARTER LONG TERM

You’re probably wondering where to store the sourdough starter if it’s not in use. After all, it’s a living thing that needs flour and water.

Let’s say you’re going on an extended vacation. Or you decided to cut back on your carbs or go on a keto diet. All of those things have happened to me.

Luckily, how to store sourdough starter is easy!

If you are not planning on using your sourdough starter for a long period of time, then you can freeze or dry (dehydrate) it. This will prevent the starter from going bad and preserve it for later use.

When frozen, sourdough starter can last for several months. When dehydrated,  it can last for over a year. However, it is best to use a frozen or dehydrated sourdough starter within 3-6 months for the best results.

Below are the steps on how to freeze and dry out your sourdough starter for storage.

how to store sourdough starter tells you how to store starters like these for long term storage

FREEZING SOURDOUGH STARTER

Another way to store your sourdough starter long-term is to freeze it. To do this, simply place your starter in a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. This will keep it safe from frost.

Be sure to label your container with the date that you stored it so that you can keep track of when it needs to be fed.

When you are ready to use your starter again, simply thaw it overnight in the fridge and then feed it as usual.

DEHYDRATED SOURDOUGH STARTER

One final way to store your sourdough starter is to dehydrate it. 

To do this, simply spread your sourdough starter on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate it at 115º Fahrenheit for 24 hours. 

Or, spread it thinly on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.

drying out sourdough starter on a sheet of parchment paper

Let it dry overnight. I recommend placing the baking sheet in the oven (turned off) overnight with the light on (if possible). 

put the sheet of parchment paper in the oven overnight to have a dehydrated sourdough starter in the morning

In about 12 hours or so, you will have a dehydrated sourdough starter to break into pieces and store.

dehydrating your starter as a way to store sourdough starter long term

Storage Tips:

Once it is fully dried, you can store it in a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

Write on the container or add a slip of paper with the weight of measurement of what you added to the container.

Measure or weigh the starter before drying. That way you will know how much water and flour to feed it when you rehydrate the starter.

Use no more than ½ cup of sourdough starter for drying out sourdough starter.

rehydrating dried sourdough starter Tips:

To rehydrate your sourdough starter,  feed it normally. If your starter was ½ cup before you dehydrated it, add ½ cup of water, and 1 cup of flour. 

If you use a weighted measurement, then it would be the original weight before drying, with equal weights of water and flour. 

Use your starter to make these delicious sourdough recipes:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

I accidentally stored my sourdough starter in the fridge a little too long. How to revive it?

If your sourdough starter has been stored in the fridge for too long and has become inactive, there are a few things you can do to revive it. First, remove it from the fridge and add equal parts flour and water. Stir well and then let it sit at room temperature for a few hours before returning it to the fridge.

If it has a gray or dark layer on top, remove that before feeding. Also, drain off any excess liquid on top of the sourdough starter.

I have a very sour starter that I have stored in the fridge for a couple of months. Is it worth using again or do I need to throw it away and start over?

If your sourdough starter is very sour, it is probably still active and can be revived. Take off the top layer and save about ¼ cup of it. Then feed it with ¼ cup of warm water and ¼ cup of all-purpose flour. 

See if it doubles in size in 6 hours. If not then I recommend keeping it at room temperature and feeding it daily until it is bubbly and doubles in size within 6 hours. After that, it can go in the fridge for weekly feedings.

Can I use the sourdough starter straight from the fridge?

Yes, you can use the sourdough starter straight from the fridge. However, you may need to add a little more water to the starter to make it more liquid. Also, you may want to let the starter sit at room temperature for an hour or so before using it to help it become more active.

How long can you keep sourdough starter out of the fridge?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including how often you feed your starter and how warm or cool your kitchen is. In general, however, most sourdough starters can be stored at room temperature for 2-3 without going bad. If you plan to keep your starter out of the fridge for more than a few days, however, you should consider feeding it daily to keep it healthy.


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