After successfully creating My First Sourdough Starter, Seymour Bubbles, I have been able to keep him alive and revive him! Seymour Bubbles is now 2+ months old. He has been revived at least 4 times since his inception.
To Keep Alive
I feed whenever I need to make a loaf or make use of the starter. I feed once, wait 12 hours, then feed again, and immediately store in fridge. Using this method, I have been able to revive him 2 weeks, 4 weeks, even 6 weeks after hibernating him.
1/4 Cup Starter + 1/4 Cup Water + 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
Yields 1 Cup Starter
Mix well to make sure all the dry flour is wet and there are no pockets of dry flour. Cover loosely. Place in a warm-ish area. I place by the stove. (I may reduce it down to 1/4 Cup Starter + 1/4 Cup Water + 1/4 Cup AP Flour to yield 3/4 Cup of Starter)
To Revive (and Minimize Discard Waste)
I usually revive my starter when I need to make another loaf! I try to do this strategically to avoid discard waste. I will revive with two recipes in mind, Sourdough Discard Pizza Dough and Vermont Sourdough Bread. Which means I will require 1 Cup + 1 Tablespoon of Starter.
Here are the steps I follow:
- Remove 1/4 cup of the starter from fridge and feed it (using the above recipe). This feeding will yield 1 Cup. Return the remaining 3/4 cups starter to fridge. This “discard” of 3/4 cups will be used to make the pizza dough.
- When starter is ripe, about 6-12hrs (doubled in volume + nice and bubbly), remove 1/4 cup, feed this 1/4 cup again, and immediately refrigerate. This will be the starter that hibernates.
- This will leave another 3/4 Cups of discard. Remove 1 tablespoon to be used to create the levain for the Vermont Sourdough. Feed this as directed by the recipe to create the levain. Then, add enough discard from the fridge to this new discard to create 1 Cup for the Pizza Dough. Create the pizza dough with this discard immediately.
- This will leave about 1/2 Cup of discard to throw out. Or find a recipe that can use 1/2 Cup discard.
- Optional: Don’t throw it out. Just use all the combined discard (~1.5 Cups of discard) to create the pizza dough. And decrease the amount of added flour required in the recipe by 1/2 cup. This will leave no discard to be thrown out!
*It’s always good practice not to throw out viable starter until you’re sure your feeding took. In case there was a mistake or mishap! This way you could start over if disaster strikes!
Other Ways to Manage Starter and Minimize Waste
- Use the hibernating starter directly from the fridge until there is only 1/4 cup remaining. When starter is down to 1/4 cup, revive it by taking it out of the fridge and feeding it. Just ensure to keep track of how much starter is left. *Always leave at least 1/4 cup of starter in hibernation (to be used for feeding and continuing your starter).
- Now your hibernating starter will only be 1/4 cup when it’s time for revival! The initial revival will yield another 1 cup of starter. Remove 1/4 cup, feed it again, and refrigerate. This final feeding before returning to fridge for hibernation will leave 3/4 cups of discard.
- Now you can plan ahead further by only reviving your starter when you need to use 3/4 cups of live starter!
I’ve so far had good luck with using starter directly from the fridge. If for some reason the starter is not showing activity, go through the revival process above until it becomes consistently active again before using. Trying to save the starter is always better than starting a new one. Aside from the time it takes to create a new starter, a strong starter takes time to cultivate. The older a starter is, the more robust it is!
Most recipes will most likely require a levain. This levain will most likely only require a small amount of starter (like 1 tablespoon). So chipping away at your hibernating starter is very feasible.
Storing Your Starter
I store in a plastic takeout container. The kind egg drop soup comes in from the chinese takeout! They’re the perfect size and easy to keep clean. I cut a few slits in the top for it to breath but otherwise I make sure the lid is on tight to keep it clean.
I also use them to create my levains.