How to store your starter

 

What do you do when you know you won’t be using your sourdough starter for a while?

I get asked this a lot. Maybe you’re going on vacation, or about to celebrate some kind of big life event, or maybe you just need a break from that quiet little baby sitting on your counter waiting to be fed. 

As Pesach is approaching, a time when we eliminate all the leaven in our possession, I will be stowing away my little jar of ‘Chaos’ (yes, my sourdough starter is named Chaos!) and for the next week and half she’ll be kept tucked away and out of sight.

Instead, I look forward to the holidays when we’ll be eating Matzah gathered around the Seder table with my family and friends, reading the Haggadah, singing and celebrating the exodus of Egypt. 

Many who celebrate Pesach have asked for guidance on preserving their starter, so it lasts over the holidays. For those who can, preserving your starter may be beneficial rather than starting from scratch after the holidays. As an established starter will always be easier to use as well as result in tastier bread.

So here are two methods which you can use to store your starter before taking a break, so that when you return you can easily revive your established starter and get back into baking without starting from scratch.   

 Storing in the refrigerator

Storing in the refrigerator is beneficial over the dry method, as it will revive faster and allow you to bake sooner once you return. In order to store your starter in the fridge, all you need to do is prepare a stiff starter – feed your starter with 85% hydration (that’s 85% water to 100% flour).

  1. Feed your starter 100g flour and 85g water.
  2. Leave it at room temp for a few hours until it starts to bubble.
  3. Store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

Upon return, feed your starter as you normally would, (don’t forget to discard most of it), let it sit out on the counter for approximately eight hours. Repeat this process 2-3 times or until you find your starter is active and bubbly.  

 

 

Dry storing method

Alternatively, you can dry your sourdough starter into flakes and store it at room temperature indefinitely. To do this, you’ll need an active bubbly starter, a sheet pan, and parchment paper to line the pan.

  1. Pour some of your bubbly starter on the sheet pan and spread it out to form a thin layer.
  2. Leave at room temp for 12-18 hours or until it’s thoroughly dry.
  3. Once dried, break it up into little pieces and store in a jar until you are ready to use it again.

Once you are ready to use it again, you will need to re-hydrate the starter. To do this, feed your starter as you normally would, using your flakes as your existing starter, let it sit out on the counter for approximately 8-12 hours. Repeat this process 4-5 times or until you find your starter is active and bubbly.  

Wishing you all the best of health, and for those who celebrate - Happy Passover!

Happy break-ing!

 

P.S. I can’t give any guidance as to what’s right or wrong from a standpoint of Jewish law. That’s not my zone of genius, as they say. Some rabbis will tell you can sell and store your starter, some say you can’t.  Ask yours!

 

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