When you begin a sourdough starter it can become overwhelming trying to maintain it. If you keep it at room temperature it will need feeding with more flour and water at least once a day. If you live somewhere warm then you might need to feed it twice a day. The warmer the starter the more vigorous and hungry it becomes.
Store your starter in the fridge
To avoid becoming overwhelmed I recommend that you keep your starter in the fridge. It will be happy in the fridge between bakes. I have kept a starter in the fridge, neglected completely, for three months and revived it and ready for baking after three feeds. I would recommend though that you feed it at least once a fortnight to keep it happy.
I have a video that shows you what a rye, a wholemeal and a white sourdough starter looks like after ten days sitting in the fridge and how I revived it ready for baking with.
Prepare your starter for storage
To get your starter ready for its stay in the fridge it’s a good idea to give it a feed and let it get active before putting in the cool environment. When it is in the fridge its activity will slow right down, but it will carry on slowly fermenting it needs a food source to keep it happy.
Take 25g of your starter and add 50g flour and 50g water and stir vigorously. Cover well with clingfilm or a loose fitting lid. An airtight lid is not a good idea as whilst it is fermenting it releases gases. If these gases have no escape route the pressure can build and your container can explode.
Allow your starter to sit at room temperature for 4-6 hours until it looks bubbly and vigorous. Place it in the fridge and leave it until you next want to bake.
Get your starter ready to bake with
Take your starter out of the fridge the day before you want to bake with it as it now needs a feed and time to get vigorous and bubbly again.
You may notice that the starter has a crust or a hooch on the surface. See the video above to see what my starter looked like after ten days in the fridge. Scrape this crust or hooch off and discard. Some people stir this in, but I prefer to discard. This crust can have the beginning of mould spores and the hooch is very acidic. Both mould and high acidity has no place in my sourdough starter.
I take 30g of the healthy starter underneath the crust and place it in a clean container. Add 60g flour (of your choice, you may like a white, a rye or a wholemeal starter) and 60g of water and stir vigorously. Leave in a warm place for 6-8 hours. It may now be lovely and vigorous and ready for baking with. If not you can repeat the same refreshment. This time using the discard in another recipe. You starter should be ready to bake with after 6-8 hours in a warm room.
Want to learn more?
Take a look at our online bread courses. these are self paced so are perfect for learning how to make great bread all from the comfort of your own home.