Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Storing Starter Cultures

With holiday travel looming closer, I'm finding "sitters" for the cat and the chickens (we're taking the dog along), and realized I should make a note of how I take care of my microscopic "pets" while I'm gone.

Starter cultures don't usually need a babysitter if you go on vacation, but here are a few tips for keeping them healthy and happy while you're gone:

Sourdough: I generally just feed my starter and put it in the fridge, tightly covered. (I try to use up all but about a cup of the starter before I store it, just to conserve space.) When I get back, I pull it out, feed it, and give it at least four hours to get back up to room temperature and "wake up" again before I use it for baking.
You can also freeze a portion of your sourdough starter; again, just bring it back up to room temperature before you feed it. It may take a couple of days to get back up to full strength again.
Yogurt: Unless you're planning to be gone for more than a week, yogurt doesn't usually need any special treatment. It will easily last a few weeks in the fridge (although it's best if you make a new batch right before you leave, so it will be as strong as possible when you return).

Buttermilk: This is pretty much the same as yogurt; it should last just fine in the fridge.

Both yogurt and buttermilk can be dried for longer storage if necessary.

My sourdough and yogurt, all ready for their nap in the fridge while we're gone!

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