Where should one store a sourdough starter?
If you plan on baking fresh bread daily, you can just leave your starter on your counter. I would recommend a plastic container with a lid. You take out what you need for baking, and 'refresh' with equal parts flour and water, stir well and cover. It will be ready for your next day's baking.
For those who are weekend bakers like myself, I store my starters, yes, I have more than one, in the refrigerator. By storing the starter in the refrigerator, it stays fairly dormant, and need only to be 'refresh' once a week. A sourdough starter is pretty resilient, only way you can really kill it is by heat or by soapy residual left on your container or mixing spoon. I use a wooden spoon that is hand washed with no soap and only for the purpose of stirring my sourdough starters. Another tip is to leave wood utensils out of the dishwasher, wood acts like a sponge and tend to soak up all the soapy detergents in your dishwasher.
If you neglect your sourdough starter, when you open up your container, it will have a layer of watery gray liquid that smells like alcohol. It's still alive, it just need to be refresh. So simply pour out the watery liquid, throw away half of your starter and refresh it by adding in equal parts flour and water. It should wake it back up and you will be able to bake the next day.
How do I know if a starter has gone bad?
Your starter should have a clean, sweet smell, if it smells like mold or there is green and black stuff growing in it, throw it out. Somehow, a bad strain of yeast got into your starter and it is no longer fit for making bread.
Is bread the only baked item we can make with a sourdough starter?
The answer is no, there is so many possibilities, it is only what you limit your self to. I found a wonderful Sourdough Chocolate Cake recipe from King Arthur flour, you would not believe it was made with a cup of sourdough starter in it.
|From Sourdough Chocolate Cake|