preserving starter in fridge


Hi everybody, I have a one month old kamut  starter 50% hydration. At the moment I stir it twice a day, and every two days I feed it, kkeeping it out of the fridge. How should I preserve it? I mean, I would like not to feed it so often, even if beacause it is a little too much acidic, I should feed it daily. What if i would take it into the fridge?

-when should I take it off from the fridge when I have to bake?
-when should I take it off from the fridge when I have to feed it?
-how often should I feed it?

135 users have voted.


eyendall 2011 March 20

 I don't use Kamit but what I do with my flour or rye cultures(your starters) is keep it in the fridge and replace half of it every four or five days at 100% hydration. Seems to work for me.

The day before I want to bake bread I take a 100g or so of this culture, add 200g of water and 300g of flour, mix thoroughly, and put in fridge overnight. This become my starter or 'preferment' for adding more flour and water, and salt the next morning to bring the dough up to the desired weight at 65-70% hydration. Fold; allow to rise; fold again and shape; let rise; then bake.

Note distinction between 'culture' and 'starter'. 

kammie 2011 March 30

Thanks for a most interesting web site. One of the things I have decided to do is too take up bread baking as a  lifestyle lift. I am a little bit overwhelmed at this point, to say the least. If I am not ready for "pain-de-champagne", but where to begin? I live in Indiana, where it is a good deal more humid than Washington. How does this affect my results, and are there necessary modifications I need to adhere too? Your article made me smile. I remember using a starter back when girls had to go to Home Economics class. I didn't bake for a while but kept adding to the starter. It got so out of control I probably could have baked bread for the entire town.

pollyanne 2011 April 11

 If I might add my question to this thread, I also want to know optimum treatment for keeping starter in the refrigerator.  I have now two strong, several month old starters, one whole wheat, and one half white/half whole wheat per Chad Robertson.  I have also now reached a sort of regularity with baking, and will probably only be baking with one or the other starter every week-and-a-half to two weeks.  So clearly I don't want to keep it at room temperature and feed and discard every day.  


My question regards when to place in refrigerator, after feeding.  Should I put it in there just when it has reached optimum ripeness?  (In other words, when I would typically find it ready to bake with if it were my levain?  Or should I wait until it has become mature before I put it back in the refrigerator?  It sounds like from Tartine that I should not really keep it in the refrigerator as a general rule, because it fosters the more acidic cultures.   Currently I combat this by getting it out of the refrigerator a day or two before I plan to bake, and refresh it a few times in advance of using it to make the levain.  Any comments would be much appreciated.  Thanks very much.

rossnroller 2011 April 11

[quote=pollyanne]Currently I combat this by getting it out of the refrigerator a day or two before I plan to bake, and refresh it a few times in advance of using it to make the levain.[/quote]

That's just what you should be doing - then after you've used your starter whack the remainder back in the fridge until the next time. Also, most of the time, you don't need more than 2 or 3 feeds to get your baby ready for action. Depends on how long it's been stored and your room temperature.

I wouldn't worry too much about acidic flavours developing during fridge hibernation periods. Fairly insignificant effect in my experience. Most of the time, factors such as bread formulae, process and ambient temp have more of an influence on flavour profile and crumb texture.

I should add, though, I don't have any experience with kamut starters. That may be an important proviso.


pollyanne 2011 April 12

 Thanks so much, Ross.  Especially good to know about the limited effect of refrigeration in your experience.

kc0kdh 2011 July 23

I just started my love affair with home made sourdough a couple of weeks ago, so I'm still learning.  When I'm ready to bake is it important to pull some culture off of my mother culture or can I just proof the mother, use what I need, feed it and put it back in the fridge?  Also, since I'm baking a lot right now I understand it's ok to keep the culture out, but how often do I have to feed it?  Is once a day ok or does it have to be fed every 12 hrs? 


Thanks in advance,


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 July 23

Hi Lance,

Basically you can work either way.  Most people seem to like to prepare a 'starter' for their dough making.  This just makes sure that the culture is good and active much the same way that the yeast recipes have you put the yeast pre-mix aside until it is bubbly.  If you are confident about your mother culture then you could use it direct and feed up the balance for next time.

On the matter of frequency of feeding, if the biota run out of food, they become dormant, they don't die (at least not for a long time).  However, if it has been a while between feeds, it might take a few feeding cycles to restore full activity and then the more frequent feeds might be in order to accelerate the process.

If you are baking frequently, by all means keep your culture on the bench.  The fridge merely slows the process down which is convenient if you are not using it so frequently.

Keep on bakin'


kc0kdh 2011 July 23

I have a mother culture tucked away in the fridge for safe keeping and your advise helps since I'm still working out my "system.".

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