Hey Starter-Alongers! How are your starters? Mine was bubbling and happy on Day 11, and I fed it again with one ounce of water and one ounce of flour.
At this point, you can continue feeding regularly and harvesting starter when you want to make bread, pizza crust, waffles, and other sourdough products. As long as you feed it regularly, it can keep you company on the kitchen counter for as long as you like. Of course, if you don't harvest regularly, that jar will start getting full and your starter will start crawling out of its containment an making a mess on the counter.
To slow down the starter's need for feed, all you have to do is refrigerate it. I always feed right before refrigerating so it has enough food to last in cold storage, and then I check on it the next day. If there was a lot of activity over night, I give it another feed and stir, just to make sure everyone's tucked in and full, and then I forget about it.
Many sources say that a starter can last for up to a month in the refrigerator, but I've left them for up to three months and I've been able to revive them with no trouble. The longer they've been semi-dormant, the longer it takes them to revive, so it might be three days worth of feeding on the counter before you can bake with a seriously sleepy starter. On the other hand, you might like the flavor of your starter better after it has had some quality time in the cold. Mature starters are more than just time-savers—there is a difference in flavor and texture between a brand new starter and one that has matured for a while.
If you're only storing your starter in the refrigerator for a week or so, the starter will bounce back much quicker than one that's been neglected, but of course you can continue feeding it or pop it back in the refrigerator for a day or two until you're ready for it.
The amount of starter you choose to store is up to you, but quite often I store a very small amount after harvesting most of what is in the jar. That way, when I start feeding the stored starter I have plenty of room in the jar for expansion. If I need more starter for my next baking project, I just feed more often to get to the level I need for the next harvest.
Here's what the harvested mixture in the bowl looked like in the morning:
About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. She launched the blog Cookistry and has now joined the Serious Eats team with a weekly column about baking.
Sourdough from Scratch
Day Zero: What You'll Need »
Day 1: A Half-Ounce Flour and an Ounce of Water »
Day 2: No Feeding, Just Stirring »
Day 3: Feed Me More Flour! »
Day 4: 100% Hydration »
Day 5: Keep Feeding and Stirring! »
Day 6: Keep Stirring and Feeding! »
Day 7: Feed and Wait »
Day 8: Getting Close! »
Day 9: First Harvest »
Day 10: Second Harvest »
What Happens If You Neglect Your Sourdough Starter »