How to Maintain Your Sourdough Starter


Once you have an established starter, it’s time to learn how to maintain your sourdough starter. This guide will tell you how.

Clean empty jar next to a used jar of sourdough starter

Before we dive into maintaining your sourdough starter, if you have not yet started your own sourdough starter, CLICK HERE to learn how!

Where to Keep Your Sourdough Starter

This depends entirely on how often you will use your starter. This is the hardest part, I think, of adjusting to having a sourdough starter in your life. You really have to learn where it fits into your routine. The question you need to ask yourself is, how often will I use my sourdough starter? This is imperative for learning how to maintain your sourdough starter.

I use mine all the time. I make a wide variety of sourdough products and use my starter almost everyday, at least every other day. So my starter lives on top of my fridge. I take it down, use it, feed it, and put it back. It’s decently warm up there but cool enough (at least now in the winter time) that it’s not using up it’s food too quickly and developing hooch. This system works well for me.

If you do not think you will be using your starter as often, you need to store it in the fridge. This will slow down the starter activity (i.e. how quickly it works through it’s last feeding) and means you won’t need to feed it as often. I’ve heard stories of people pulling their starters out a YEAR later, feeding it a couple times, and it comes back to life. The longest I’ve left mine in the fridge is a week. I think this is an amazing feature because it allows you to take a break without giving up your starter. If you’re new to the sourdough journey it can be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to give your starter a good feed and stash it in the fridge until you’re ready to revisit it.

What to Keep Your Sourdough Starter in

Here’s a picture of my mature sourdough starter that I just got up and took while writing this blog post.

Mature sourdough starter with a red arrow and plastic wrap covering

This is a wide mouth jar that I cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a rubber band. I have a piece of medical tape that I drew an arrow on and that is how I keep up with the rises and falls. I probably don’t need the sticker anymore, but I like it. For some reason it brings me joy when I look at it and see the rising progress.

I change jars every other week or so. I am in many sourdough groups and this topic is highly debated. Many people say they never change their containers. I find it gets gunky and honestly, my starter LOVES getting a new jar. When I switch her to a clean one and give her a fresh feed, she goes crazy! I have three of these jars that I switch between. It’s a great system for me that I really enjoy. You’ll have to find the right system for you.

You’ll also have to find the right sized jar. This wide mouth jar is the perfect size for the amount of starter I may need at any given time for my little family of two. I’ve used containers that were too small and the starter overflowed out of it. I’ve also used containers that were obviously too big. It will take time for you to figure out precisely how much starter you want to keep on hand at any given time and therefore the right sized container for it.

What to Feed Your Sourdough Starter

Now that it’s established, you can feed it a variety of things. I freshly mill my flour so I feed her a combination of freshly milled flour and organic unbleached all purpose flour. I have tried just feeding her my freshly milled flour and she does fine but for some reason she does enjoy a little all purpose. I also feed her using this spring water. That’s really high maintenance, I know. You can just use the filtered water from your fridge but DON’T use tap water. I almost lost her when I fed her tap water. Seriously, such a drama queen. She really thrives on the filtered water though and usually one of those bottles lasts me a little over a week. I’ll spend $2 a week for a happy starter, I don’t mind.

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Sourdough Recipes

The best way to figure out how to store and maintain your sourdough starter is to simply get started using it! You won’t know how sourdough fits into your routine until you start figuring it out. My recommendation is to research recipes you think you’ll like and start making them. This is the best way to start learning how much starter you want to keep on hand, how you want to store it, and how often you’ll use it. Here I’ll link to several recipes you can try out. Some come from my blog and the others come from Lisa of Farmhouse on Boone. She is a wealth of knowledge and has wonderful recipes.

NOTE: When you see sourdough versus sourdough discard. Sourdough/sourdough starter/fed sourdough starter are all terms referring to FED AND ACTIVE sourdough starter. Roughly four hours after a feed depending on the temperature of your house. Sourdough discard refers to UNFED OR INACTIVE sourdough starter. This matters because fed and active sourdough starter is used as a leavening agent, meant to provide rise. Sourdough discard is usually used just for flavor and nutrition, not as a leavening agent.

Farmhouse on Boone sandwich bread recipe:

Pizza crust recipe:

Drop biscuit recipe:

Farmhouse on Boone crackers recipe:

Flatbread video/recipe:

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