Can you freeze your sourdough starter?
Barbara asked this simple question recently.
Yes, absolutely you can!
Some people just put the sourdough starter as-is in a bag in the freezer.
While that works, I’m going to suggest a better way to do it…
My way takes up less space and is easier to share with others.
Join me for today’s #AskWardee to find out the best way to put your sourdough starter “on hold” in the freezer.
I broadcast #AskWardee live each Wednesday at 10am Pacific (1pm Eastern) on Periscope and Facebook Live. Both the podcast and video replay of this week’s show are below. Enjoy!
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Can you freeze sourdough starter?
My Answer: Yes, You Can!
Although you can take your sourdough starter and just freeze a blob of it in a baggie in the freezer, I’m going to suggest a better way.
Dry it first.
If you dry it first, it takes up less space plus… it’s way easier to share.
I have a little pouch of dried, crumbled sourdough starter in the freezer, and I am always sharing flakes of it with people.
You simply can’t do that easily with a frozen-solid mound of batter. 🙂
Over time, you can expect some loss of life with the beneficial organisms your starter contains. However, there are plenty organisms left to revive it.
(I have starter in the freezer that’s like 5 years old, and it still revives.)
Here’s How To Freeze Sourdough Starter
If you don’t yet know how to make a sourdough starter, here are our simple, easy instructions.
- 1/4 cup sourdough starter — 3 to 4 hours away from its last feeding yet was fed within the past 12 hours
- parchment paper (preferably unbleached)
- dehydrator tray or baking sheet
- dehydrator (optional)
Spread 1/4 cup of sourdough starter on a parchment paper lined dehydrator tray or baking sheet.
To dry at room temperature. Dry in a clean area, at room temperature (between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit) until dry. After it develops a dry skin on top, cover with a light cloth to keep dust and bugs away. If the temperature is much lower than 70, mold may be an issue when drying. If the temperature is much over 80, the organisms may die during the drying.
To dry in a dehydrator. Put the tray in the dehydrator and turn the dial so that the dehydrator just barely turns on. Depending on thinness of starter, drying should take 6 to 10 hours.
When dry, break up into smaller pieces and transfer to a freezer container or freezer bag. Store the dried starter in the freezer for up to a year, give or take. There’s no scientific answer for how long this should last, so it’s best to repeat this process at least yearly with fresh starter. Better safe, than sorry.
For better preservation, double or triple bag the dried starter flakes… or even vacuum-seal them!
How to Revive Your Dried, Frozen Sourdough Starter
1st feeding. Put about a tablespoon of dehydrated starter flakes into a clean, quart-sized, wide-mouth Mason jar. Add a scant 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Give the flakes about 5 minutes to soften up.
Then add 1/4 cup of whole wheat or whole spelt flour, and mix vigorously, incorporating much air into the mix. Cover with a cloth napkin or paper towel, secure with a rubber band, and place in a warm area or room temperature area for about 12 to 24 hours. The mixture may or may not be bubbly after the first feeding.
2nd feeding (12 to 24 hours later). Mix in 1/2 cup (scant) water and 1/2 cup whole wheat or whole spelt flour, once again stirring vigorously to incorporate much air. Cover and return to the warm spot for 12 hours.
All other feedings. Repeat feeding 1/2 cup (scant) water and 1/2 cup flour every 12 to 24 hours until the mixture is light and bubbly and smells sour. Discard starter as needed, before each feeding, throughout this process, keeping the amount of starter (before each feeding) around 1 to 1-1/2 cups.
- How To Make A Sourdough Starter
- Sourdough A to Z eBook & Video Package
- Sourdough A to Z eCourse
- Food Dehydrator
- How To Choose The Best Dehydrator
More Sourdough Posts from the #AskWardee Show:
- Does Sourdough Bread Get Moldy? +Troubleshooting Dense Sourdough Bread #AskWardee 110
- 11 Tips For Lighter, Less Dense Sourdough Bread #AskWardee 053
- When Is A Sourdough Starter Ready For Baking? #AskWardee 145
- Sourdough Troubleshooting: How To Know When Your Starter Is Strong Enough For Bread-Baking
- Sourdough Tips, Troubleshooting & Frequently Asked Questions (KYF092, 167)
- The Best & Healthiest Flours For Sourdough #AskWardee 065
- Can I Feed My Sourdough Starter Different Flours?
- Feeding Your Sourdough Starter… More Than Just Flour! #AskWardee 150
- Is Aged Flour *Really* Better For Sourdough? #AskWardee 122
- Can I Use Reverse Osmosis Water For Fermenting, Culturing, & Sourdough? #AskWardee 138
- How To Transition A Sourdough Starter To Einkorn #AskWardee 069
What Is The #AskWardee Show?
The #AskWardee Show is the live weekly show devoted to answering your niggling questions about Traditional Cooking: whether it’s your sourdough starter, your sauerkraut, preserving foods, broth, superfoods or anything else to do with Traditional Cooking or your GNOWFGLINS lifestyle.
I share tips and resources, plus answer your questions about Traditional Cooking!
When: Wednesdays at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
Where: @TradCookSchool on Periscope or Traditional Cooking School on Facebook
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How do you put your sourdough starter on hold? What method do you think is the best way to freeze sourdough starter?
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Thank you, Wardee, for this information and the “rebroadcast”. You have “solved” another real food mystery–preserving sourdough starter. God bless you for this information and all of the information you share.
Mary M Ellis says
I forgot a sour dough starter in the back of my refrigerator for over a year. It is in a sealed glass jar. It had separated into two layer: a brownish liquid on top and a thick doughy mixture on the bottom. It smell beer-like. What should I do to get it ready to use? Thanks Mary
Millie Copper says
You may be able to revive this starter. Here is what I’d do: pour off the hooch (the brownish liquid layer) then give it a good stir. Pour in your water then stir again. Then add your flour for feeding and stir again.
Cover it loosely with a cloth and leave on the counter (someplace warm). Feed again in 12 hours, then again 12 hours later.
You should start seeing bubbles and some action. If you do, continue feeding every 12 hours until it is revived and smells yeasty but fresh and pleasant (a little like beer is okay).
~Millie, TCS Customer Success Team