A sourdough starter is a live culture made from flour and water, where naturally occurring yeast and bacteria (mostly lactobacilli) create a fermentation that makes dough rise. It’s the foundation for sourdough bread, crackers, pancakes, waffles, and much more. Here is How To Use Sourdough Starter From The Fridge.
Sourdough starter is a living thing. It needs to be fed and monitored for signs of life and health. If you aren’t baking with it every day, then you need to know how to store it properly to keep it alive.
It was only after the invention of the refrigerator that we were able to keep our starters alive daily.
When I have a sourdough starter I am actively using, I feed it on the counter once per day. But what if you want to go on vacation or aren’t baking as much and don’t want to deal with feeding your starter? The fridge is a great place to store your sourdough starter when you’re not using it.
This is the most common and practical way we use sourdough starters at home. It is also the way that it was historically used. Keep in mind that this starter is not a true sourdough starter, in the sense of how we know it today.
How To Use Sourdough Starter From The Fridge
If your starter is just coming out of the fridge, take it out and give it one feeding with double-strength flour and water. That means 1/4 cup (31 g) of each for every 4 to 8 ounces (113 to 227 g) of starter that you have. This will help wake up your yeast and get things moving in the right direction.
If you have more than 24 hours before your final bake time, let it sit at room temperature for about 12 hours, then feed it again with double-strength flour and water. If you have less than 24 hours before baking, continue to feed at regular strength.
Here’s What You Need To Do
Take the starter out of the fridge.
Feed the sourdough starter with an equal amount of flour and water, by weight (100 grams each). Keep it covered and at room temperature for 24 hours.
Discard half of the sourdough starter and feed with another equal amount of flour and water (100 grams each), by weight.
Let it sit at room temperature for 6 to 12 hours, until doubled in size.
It is now ready for use.
Steps To Follow
1. Put your sourdough starter in a bowl that’s three times the size of the starter. Add equal parts water and starter, and mix well with a rubber spatula.
2. Leave the mixture uncovered at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours, until it becomes bubbly and active.
3. If you have time, repeat this process once more: Mix 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup starter (from the first feeding) in a clean bowl, cover loosely, and let sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours.
4. Now your starter is ready to use in your favorite recipes! Remember to save some for another feeding (and store it in the fridge after finishing your baking tasks).
Note: When your sourdough starter is not in active use, you can keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks. But to use a refrigerated sourdough starter, you need to first revive it with a process that’s similar to how you made your starter in the first place.
Liquid Forming On Top Of Sourdough, Is Bad?
Having sourdough starter in the fridge for the last couple of months and it’s got a layer of liquid on top! This is normal and you don’t need to panic.
This liquid is acidic, which is a good thing. It’s called “hooch” and it’s a byproduct of your sourdough starter being inactive for so long.
Just pour it off and stir your starter until it’s incorporated again. You can do this as many times as necessary before you feed your starter.
Can I Use My Sourdough Starter Right After I Feed It?
Yes, you can use it right away. If you are going to bake with it soon, I would let it sit out for about 12 hours to get back to full strength.
If you are in a hurry, though, go ahead and bake with the starter after 1-2 hours of feeding.
The sooner you use it, the better. You can use it immediately after feeding or even a day or two later. If your starter is very active and bubbly, you can use it immediately, if it’s not quite as active, give it an extra day or so to build up some strength.
The longer it sits in the fridge, the more “yeasty” it will taste. If you’re not going to use your starter for a few days, then it’s best to remove some of the “mother” that is floating on top and put it in a separate container in the fridge (to make sure it doesn’t go bad).
The idea of waiting a day or two is to give the yeast time to multiply and produce more lactic acid. This will help maintain a healthy culture of lactobacillus bacteria in your starter.
How Long Does A Sourdough Starter Last In The Fridge?
A sourdough starter lasts about 2 weeks in the refrigerator before you need to feed it again with flour and water.
This depends on how much activity there is left in your starter. Starters with lots of activity will keep longer than ones that aren’t as active.
It’s best to keep them in the fridge until they’re no longer active, then discard them so that they don’t continue to grow in the fridge and get out of hand.
I have kept mine in the fridge for up to three weeks and have never had any problems. You will know when your starter is bad if it smells musty or rancid.
A brand-new starter will likely die if kept for too long (more than a month or two). But if you’ve been using your starter regularly for several months without any problems, then there’s no reason why it should die from being stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
If this happens, just throw it out and start over with another batch of flour and water.
How To Stop A Starter From Dying In The Fridge
You can refrigerate your starter if you want to slow down its activity for a few days, but be sure to take it out at least once per week for feeding! If you want to keep your starter alive for longer than two weeks, try this method:
Remove some of your “mother” from your starter container with a spoon and place it in another container filled with flour and water. You’ll want to keep feeding this new batch every day or so until it has enough activity that you can use it again (about 1 week).