Storage of Starter


I have maintained a starter for a number of years. For most of that time, when I refresh, I would add the new flour and water, let sit out overnight to work and then store.  However, I now realize I can immediately return to refrigerator after refreshing and let it work more slowly in the fridge.  When I am not baking, I usually refresh once/week, and then more frequently when preparing to use the starter.  My question: is there an particular advantage to storing the starter (in the refrigerator) immediately after adding new flour and water vs. letting it work at room temperature and then storing?


shasta's picture
shasta 2013 April 15


My guess is that you will get several different opinions on this.
My opinion is a little in between. I feed my starter and let it set for an hour before I place it in the refrigerator for a week.

I feel that an hour allows the yeast and bacteria a chance to start their reactions before I slow them down. Any longer and they use up too much of the food I'm expecting them to live on for the week in the refrigerator. 

I also like to give my starter a few feeding cycles (at least two) after storage before I use it to bake bread. Then it gets at leas one more before it goes back to the refrigerator. All of this is to try to maintain a healthy balanced starter.

I'm sure there are many other methods out there that bakers have that work well for them.

gongoozler 2013 April 15

Hi Bayview (sounds like you come from the San Francisco area),

I normally bake every 5 days. I use some of my starter to make a preferment (which I leave overnight before using in my dough), feed what is left and put it straight into the fridge. I use a mini-fridge - main purpose: cooling beer :-) - which probably doesn't get as cold as a regular refrigerator. After 5 days all bubbling has subsided and there are signs of hooch forming, I just give it a stir and use it. This method seems to work fine for me.

Happy baking,


pontillius 2013 April 16

Hi Bayview,

Isn't there a world famous sourdough from San Francisco that's been kept alive for over 100 years?

I'm in England and new to this game and haven't had much luck so far. My first attempt used grapes but after a few days I got the dreaded pink colour. Bacteria! It smelt vile. I've just started another on off using organic rye grain that I flattened with a rolling pin and ground in a mortar then mixed with white flour. Let's hope it's more successful this time.

gongoozler 2013 April 17

I can answer that one: it's the Boudin Bakery at Fisherman's Wharf and it's mother dough has been going since 1849.

Regarding your starter problems, I have found that you only really need flour and water. I make a thick mixture using ordinary white bread flour (50:50 by weight i.e. 100% hydration or even thicker) and leave in a nice warm place covered with muslin for several days before discarding any crust that has formed and feeding with more flour and water. When it really gets going feed it daily for a week or so discarding some as necessary. Temperature is really important IMO and a little rye flour probably helps too if you have any. Alternatively a supplier like Bakery Bits can supply dried starter which is quite easy to reconstitute (but not as satisfying as going from scratch)

Good luck,



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