Freezing a starter for safeguarding


Hi all,

I was sick last night and all I could think about was what would happen to my starter if I am too unwell to feed it!!

I would like to freeze a portion to safeguard it, incase I get ill or injured.

At what stage should I freeze it and should I put it into a zip lock bag? How long will it last in the freezer for?

Many thanks




345 users have voted.


Midnite Baker's picture
Midnite Baker 2011 September 15


 After you have given it a feed and it has "simmered down", take some of it and spread rather thinly on waxed paper to dry.  When dry, just crumble and put your dried starter in a paper envelope. Then store it in a dry place. Your choice as to how much you dry but I would dry 2 or 3 tablespoons.  Hope this helps. Stay well and Happy Baking. M

countrygirl1 2011 September 16

Thanks MB,

Great advice, but what do you mean by "simmered down". Does that mean after it has risen and fallen (normally 24hrs after feeding)?

Please let me know as I am very new to this.

Many thanks

D's picture 2011 September 16

Hi D


You are many options for storing your sourdough.  You can put it in an airtight plastic pot or glass kilner jar and just pop it in the fridge with a label saying "do not throw away".  I found a part of mine (from 1857) that had been in the fridge for 5 years and it came back just fine!


You can put some in a little pot and pop that in a little zip loc bag and freeze it.  Normal freezer temperature is fine.


You can also simply dry it as the other contributor suggested.  I am not certain what she means by "simmer down" but you can simply scoop some out at any time and smear it on some grease proof paper and, indeed, as he/she suggests, let it try and then crumble it into a jar and seal it.  Rehydrate in flour and water.


Alternatively, if you live in Sweden, you can take it to the sourdough hotel! Read about that here:


Your starter is really robust - far less likely to fall ill than we are!

Kind regards, Jane Mason

Karina 2016 May 18

Thank you for all the tips! I will be returning to Australia from Denmark shortly and have been given a 25 year old Danish rye starter that I'm too fond of to leave behind. I will give these ideas a go and hope the starter can survive a 30 hour transit... 

farinam's picture
farinam 2016 May 19

Hello Karina,

I have sent 'as is' starter (100% hydration) through the mail and carried it in luggage for several days with no ill effects just in a jar with a lid (not super airtight) and enclosed in zip-lock bags(s).  Obviously you don't want it leaking into your delicates in transit.  You would need to declare it at Oz as it classifies as a food-stuff and it could get confiscated but then again it might not.  That's likely to be a bit of a pain if it is in checked-in luggage but you could probably take it in carry-on as long as the quantity was below the minimum per container.

If it did get taken away, then you can start yourself a good old Aussie starter which will be just as good, if not better, than the one you have.

Good luck with your projects.


Midnite Baker's picture
Midnite Baker 2011 September 17



Your question "Does that mean after it has risen and fallen (normally 24hrs after feeding)?".   Yes, that is what I meant.  Sorry for the confusion.  M                                      


Franz 2011 September 17

Hello sountrygirl1.

Whichever course of action you adopt ,make sure that the starter is at its optimum maturity. Depending on your room temperature that would be around 6 to 8 hours after feeding. Spread your liquid starter out as thin as possible, it will dry much faster After drying you could grind the starter before putting it into the freezer, or grind it when you want to bring it back to life. You can keep it in the  freezer or fridge, it works both ways. Make sure you lable it. I lost one Russian starter which was not labled properly in the freezer. My wife did not know what it was and thru it out.


indica 2011 September 18
why not just leave it in the fridge? I sometimes only use mine once a week, feed it and put it straight back in the fridge. It never fails.
zarniwhoop 2011 September 20

To answer your original question: if you freeze it, it will probably die :-(

 I have an aversion to keeping a starter that needs to be regularly fed (it's not just the "be around to feed it" problem, it's the "keep adding flour, but throw most of it away if you aren't baking" problem - I only bake for myself, and don't have any use for large amounts of bread). So, my main starter is a wholewheat 60% hydration, presumably just natural yeasts. This lives in clingfilm in the top of my fridge door (about 7°C), and typically stays there for up to a month before I refresh it.  To bake is a two-day process - first day, refresh the leaven, 24 hours later make the dough and save a quarter of the leaven [ or, for white dough, add 24 hours to refresh a piece of the refreshed leaven - this white dough is *very* sour, so needs more salt when made into loaves ].

I also make (rather less often) wholemeal rye variants - this is a 100% hydration, but I add extra (mineral) water to dilute it to 200%, then store it in a glass jar at the bottom of my fridge (about 6°C). This is a much more lactic starter (from time to time I add organic plain yoghurt), and it often looks disreputable by the time I come to use it, so that I have to discard some crust - I don't bake for sale, so I *can* do this at home :-) Again, one day to refresh, a second day to make the loaves.

 One day, a refreshment will undoubtedly go wrong. So, earlier this year I tried freezing a portion of each (60% and 100%). Both failed to become active when refreshed and defrosted. So, for me the worst case is that I'll be without sourdough for a few days (wheat) or up to a week (rye) - I just use whatever natural yeasts are on the (organic, wholemeal) flours that I use, and so far they've always fermented using my current "recipes". Indeed, at one time the only sourdough I made was (rye) pain d'epices, and I made that from scratch each time - although it did fail a couple of times, that's what made me first try a wholemeal wheat levain. But meanwhile, I've managed to keep my current starters in use for 3 years or more - actually, probably more than 5 years for the wheat.

 For me, a more pressing worst case is that I'm currently without my wholemeal sourdough because I can't find the time to commit to two consecutive days ! Fortunately, my spelt and rye loaves are generally useful, unlike most of my wholemeal rye variants which are heavy in seeds / grain flakes and only really useful for breakfast.

 The bottom line is that you have to find a method that works *for you*. Meanwhile, good luck with not becoming too sick to feed your starter!

 ĸen - still meaning to post recipes, and pictures, "when they look a little bit better" 8)



VWFeature 2016 November 23

About flying- if you carry-on, be sure it's less than 90cc/3 oz for TSA.

I carried some dough home from Turkey in my checked bag before the fake pseudo-revolution.

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