Knowing how and why to store your sourdough starter in the fridge is essential to avoiding sourdough overwhelm!
A starter left out on the counter needs to be fed at least once per day. Before you know it a week has gone by and you have a whole lot of sourdough to use up…perhaps too much.
Refrigeration is a fantastic tool for those of us who simply don’t bake everyday and do not need sourdough coming out of our ears!
Refrigerating a sourdough starter is like hitting pause in the fermentation process. It slows down significantly, thus making it possible to go a week or more without feeding the starter again (as long as it stays in the fridge the whole time).
What’s the point of putting a sourdough starter in the fridge? Why would I ever need to do that? If I want it fermented and ready for baking, shouldn’t I have it out at all times? We’re going to answer those questions and some others in this blog post. Find out exactly why you should store your sourdough starter in the fridge (not all the time, but in certain instances). You’ll also find more info about the health benefits of sourdough, how to make your own starter, and some yummy recipes the the very end!
Why to Put a Sourdough Starter in the Fridge
Refrigeration significantly slows down the process of fermentation. It doesn’t totally stop it from happening, but simply stalls it until your starter is back on the counter at room temperature.
The bacteria in the starter will continue to work (this keeps the sourdough alive), but the yeast will basically fall asleep until you bring it the starter out again.
Now, why in the world would you want to stall the fermentation process? Isn’t that the whole point of having a sourdough starter in the first place? Yes, of course it is, but certain scenarios arise in which you may find putting your sourdough in a refrigerated nap extremely helpful!
You may find refrigeration helpful if:
- You only use sourdough to bake 1 or 3 times per week.
- You’d like a break from baking and feeding your starter.
- You can’t keep using all your flour in order to feed it.
- You’re leaving for vacation.
- You’d like a breather from maintaining a healthy starter.
How to Put it in the Fridge
1. Give your starter a normal feeding (mine is 1/2 cup of filtered water and 1/2 cup of flour), mix it all together very well, place a lid or secure covering over the jar or container, and place it in the fridge.
Keep in Mind: you do not have to wait for the starter to double in size after the feeding before placing it in the refrigerator. Simply feed it and right into the fridge it goes!
2. Give it another feed every 2 weeks and place back into the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake again.
Keep in Mind: I suggest feeding it every 2 weeks that it is in the refrigerator, but it can last much longer than this, so don’t stress if you forget a feeding!
3. When you are ready to start baking again, just pull the starter out, give it a feeding, allow it to double in size, and begin baking!
How Long Does it Last in the Fridge?
Technically, it is best to feed your starter every two weeks that it stays refrigerated. Starters are also much more resilient than you’d think! I’ve known individuals who didn’t give it a feeding for months…some even years…and the sourdough survived.
Note that starters left alone for that long can pull through, but they will require quite a bit of nurturing in order to get them into good shape again.
Why We Use Sourdough
Sourdough is a fermented food, making it impressively nutritious. Your sourdough starter breaks down proteins as it ferments. This breakdown results in amino acids that are so much easier for your body to digest. Read more about this process and the benefits here.
How Can I Make My Own Sourdough Starter?
Interested in implementing sourdough into your kitchen? Here’s everything you need to know to get your sourdough starter going.
All it takes is flour, water, and about 7 days time.
I also answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about sourdough over here.
How is Sourdough Healthier than Regular Bread?
Read more in depth about the health benefits of sourdough here. I explain four reasons that sourdough is one of the healthiest breads you can consume, as well as describe how the fermentation process of sourdough works.
More on Sourdough
- Homemade Sourdough Tortillas
- How to Make a Sourdough Starter
- Naturally Sweetened Sourdough Pancakes
- Honey Sweetened Sourdough Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Sourdough Peanut Butter Crepes
- Sourdough Discard Crackers