Earlier this week I talked about how to dry sourdough starter for use later. Today we will cover the question: Can you freeze sourdough starter? It’s easy! I’ll show you how!
After I made my first sourdough starter and realized that it was quite a bit of work and used a LOT of flour in the process, I began to worry about killing this starter baby of mine! I wanted to figure out ways to preserve it so that if I accidentally used it all or killed it, I could easily get back to baking without starting all over again.
Earlier this week, we covered how to dry sourdough starter for later use. Today I’m going to deal with a question I had – can you freeze sourdough starter? Yes you can! Follow along for a really simple way to preserve starter in the freezer.
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How to freeze sourdough starter
Step 1 Feed the starter
I always start this process off with a freshly fed, bubbly starter. I usually feed my starter with about 100g starter, 100g filtered water and 100g of unbleached flour. Let it sit for 6-8 hours until it has doubled and it’s all nice and bubbly.
For this process, I normally use a quart sized mason jar and this King Arthur flour. Once I feed it, I use a rubber band to mark the top of the freshly fed starter. That gives me an indication of where I started.
Then I come back and check it in about 6 hours to see if it has doubled. The mason jars make it super easy because the measurements on the side help me to see how much it has grown. If it hasn’t doubled, give it a couple more hours!
Step 2 Freeze it
This part is super simple. Take a few tablespoons and put it in a small, air tight jar. I always use glass to store my sourdough starter, so I use a jelly jar for this part.
Put a lid on it and pop it right into the freezer. You will want to put it into the coldest part of your freezer. I make sure to keep mine in the back, away from the door.
Since I’m preserving this for long term use down the road, I know it’s going to stay in there a long time. Because of that, I don’t want it to experience a lot of temperature fluctuations as I open and shut the freezer daily.
You will want to make sure that you only fill the very bottom of the jar and leave lots of room. Since it’s freshly fed, it may continue to grow a little bit before it freezes, so I leave plenty of room just in case.
How to use frozen sourdough starter.
Once you’re ready to use the frozen starter, pull it out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for an hour or two to defrost.
You’ll want to pop the lid open at this point. When it begins to defrost, it may continue to feed on the flour you gave it before you froze it, so it may build up gas pressure.
After it reaches room temperature, feed that baby! I would recommend taking the full amount of starter and putting it into a quart mason jar to feed it. That will give it room to expand.
It normally takes me a few days to get this starter energized again. The first time I feed it, I let it sit out for 24 hours. Then I just add another 100g of filtered water and 100g of unbleached flour along with everything else, mix it all up, and let it sit out another 24 hours.
Keep doing this process until it doubles in size in 6-8 hours. It may take a few days to get it going again. That’s ok! Frozen yeast takes a little while to reenergize.
Is it better to freeze sourdough starter, or dry it?
I don’t think I’d say one is better than the other. I find that freezing sourdough starter is really simple and easy to do. On the other hand, drying sourdough starter is a little more complicated and takes longer. Additionally, if it doesn’t dry completely before you store it, mold can grow in the airtight container.
However, when you feed it and get back to using it, dry sourdough starter comes back to life WAY faster! So I guess it depends on if you want to spend time on the front end of the process or on the back end of the process.
I usually have a bit preserved each way so that I have a back up of my back up! I do NOT want to go through the process of making that culture all over again 🙂
So, can you freeze sourdough starter? Absolutely!!! Have you tried it? Did it work for you? I’d love to hear!