Can You Freeze Sourdough Starter?

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By Ross Young

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One thing you need for a fantastic sourdough loaf is a good sourdough starter. It isn’t easy to create and maintain your sourdough starter but it is essential to get that lovely fresh sourdough bread.

If you don’t have time to make sourdough bread but don’t want to waste all the effort that went into creating the sourdough starter you must be wondering, can you freeze sourdough starter?

Sourdough starter can be frozen for up to 1 year. The yeast will go into hibernation mode for a long time. This isn’t a quick process because when thawing because the starter will require food and time to grow again before using.

Does Sourdough Starter Freeze Well? Yes

Can You Refreeze Sourdough Starter? No

How to Freeze Sourdough Starter

Freezing your sourdough starter is the easy part. There is little effort involved in the freezing process. However, when it comes to thawing, it does require a little time and effort for it to be usable again. To freeze, follow the following process.

  1. Place into Container
    Put your sourdough starter in a suitable freezer-safe container. This needs to be a container with a tight-fitting lid with a little space in the top for the starter to expand a little.
  2. Label
    Pop the lid on and label with the contents and date.
  3. Freeze
    Put the container into the freezer and freeze until you need the sourdough starter again.
Can You Freeze Sourdough Starter

3 Tips for Freezing Sourdough Starter

Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing sourdough starter to have the best results:

If you find you regularly don’t use your entire starter you can divide it into portions before freezing. Pop it into several freezer-safe containers and freeze it separately. Then you can be sure you aren’t wasting any.

Think Twice
Only freeze the sourdough starter if you know you want the yeast to be dormant for a long time. It is a fair amount of effort to get your yeast to start growing again, and it’s much easier to handle if you put it into the fridge instead.

It will keep for a while in the fridge, and you may not need to worry about freezing it.

Only Freeze Lively Starter
Make sure your sourdough starter is well-formed and bubbling before freezing. You want to ensure that it is live and active enough to be able to come out of hibernation when you warm it back up again.

How Long Can You Freeze Sourdough Starter?

You can freeze a sourdough starter for up to a year. Perfect if you know you only need to make your sourdough bread now and then rather than bake it regularly.

You Can Freeze Sourdough Starter for up to 1 Year

How Do You Defrost Sourdough Starter?

It’s when it comes to defrosting your sourdough starter is when the work starts. You need the yeast to become active again before using, so it will take a while before you can start baking.

  1. Place into the Fridge
    First, you need to take it out of the freezer and pop it into the fridge. It’s important to allow it plenty of time to thaw out fully and slowly, so don’t try and speed this process up.
  2. Discard Half
    Throw half of the sourdough starter away and put the rest into the fridge.
  3. Feed
    As the sourdough starter thaws, you will need to start feeding it. Yeast is fairly hungry, especially when coming out of hibernation, so you need to restart a regular feeding schedule similar to the one you will have used to create the starter. On day one, as it thaws, feed it either once or twice that day.
  4. Continue Feeding
    After the first day, feed it once or twice every day until you see those bubbling signs of it becoming active again.
  5. Give it Time
    Allow the starter to grow, and when this looks stable, your sourdough starter is ready to use. This could take a few days from taking it out of the freezer.

Can You Refreeze Sourdough Starter?

In general, we wouldn’t recommend that you refreeze any foods and the sourdough starter is the same, although for different reasons.

This is a live yeast, and freezing is a fairly hard process, and the more times you freeze, the less chance you have to succeed.

Does Sourdough Starter Freeze Well?

It might seem counter-intuitive because a sourdough starter is a live yeast, but it does freeze fairly well. It isn’t an easy process because you need to give the yeast plenty of attention when you thaw it out, and there is always some danger of killing some of the yeast.

But, if you know the only other option is to waste it, it is definitely worth the effort to freeze it.

Related FAQs

If you’ve still got questions about freezing sourdough starter or sourdough in general, then these may help:

Can You Freeze Sourdough Loaf?

Sourdough bread can be frozen both as whole loaves and as sliced pieces. You ought to consider how you will use the bread before freezing it. If you only eat a slice every now and then, then you may wish to freeze it in slices. 

Place the whole loaf in a bag or wrap individual slices in cling film before bagging up. 

Can You Freeze Sourdough Dough?

That’s a bit of a mouthful! But can you freeze the dough? You certainly can. The process is much like freezing sourdough starter. 

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