Don’t shake the starter before feeding. Pour the dark liquid that forms at the top between feedings down a sink drain or disposal. It takes a strong arm to stir a whole jar of starter (3 cups) and added flour and water. The directions that follow are for feeding one-half of the starter at a time, to make it easier to stir.
Hold the jar with the starter above a large mixing bowl. With a rubber spatula, go straight to the bottom of the jar and then scrape the sides. The starter will “let go” a little. Pour one-half of the starter into the large mixing bowl, leave the other half in the jar. Stir the starter in the mixing bowl with the spatula for about 30 seconds. Add a total of 1 ¼ cups of whole wheat flour and 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ cups of filtered or purified water in SMALLER INCREMENTS. Add a heaped ½ cup flour first and stir until the starter is mixed well and absorbs the flour. Then add ¾ cup water. Let the starter absorb the water for about one minute. Stir until there are no lumps.
I usually rinse the jar at this time with hot water and let it soak until needed to re-fill. You don’t have to use soap. Don’t use a dishcloth or scrubber inside the jar.
Add another heaped ½ cup flour to the starter and then stir; add ¾ cup water and then stir. The starter should be slightly thin, like pancake batter. Add additional water, as needed, to achieve the right consistency. The heaped ½ cups of flour will measure up to the 1 ¼ cups needed to feed the starter.
The soaking jar should be ready to rinse with cool water and re-fill with the starter. You might have to use your finger to soften the hardened line inside the jar where the top of the starter was. Pour the starter into the clean quart-sized jar up to the 3 cup level, cover with parchment paper, and screw on the ring. Place the jar in the refrigerator.
Repeat the feeding process for the other half of the starter. Pour into a clean quart-sized jar, cover with parchment paper, screw on the ring and place in the refrigerator.
If there are more than 6 cups of starter when the jars are filled, the excess can be poured into a trash can.
If using filtered or purified water, a refrigerated whole wheat starter needs to be fed every four days. If tap water is used, the starter needs to be fed every 3 days. Do not leave starter sitting outside the refrigerator longer than 1 hour. The refrigerated whole wheat starter is active at 37 degrees. When vacationing, get a neighbor to feed your starter. Or, after it is fed, one to two cups of refrigerated starter can be frozen in a freezer type plastic container for up to two weeks. It will come back to life when thawed in the refrigerator. Additionally, it can be dried into flakes in a very thin layer on a cookie sheet, stored in a jar or plastic bag, and then re-constituted.
©2015 Sharon D. Monson One copy may be printed for personal use only. No distribution is allowed. All commercial rights are retained.