Here is my step-by-step guide for how to clean a starter jar or container. No matter what container you store your sourdough starter in you are going to want to remove all the dirt and bacteria from it so your sourdough can prosper! If you know how often you should clean your sourdough starter container and you are ready to do it for the first time (or first time properly!), follow this guide:
Step 1 – Find another container for the starter
The first thing you need to do is find another bowl, cup or jar to store your starter in. Having 2 identical containers makes things easier, but you can store your starter in pretty much any clean, food-safe container. A cup covered in plastic wrap will be fine.
Step 2 – Transfer the starter
Feed the starter in your clean container using your normal refreshment ratio. If downsizing to a small jar temporarily you can use the same ratio as usual with smaller amounts.
Step 3 – Scrape out as much starter as possible from the jar
Dry unwanted starter is hard to clean with a cloth. Try to make things easier for yourself by removing as much starter from the jar as you can. Use a spoon to scrape the unwanted starter. You can also give it a rinse under the tap to remove any loose bits in the container.
Step 4 – Wash in soapy water
Use your standard washing-up detergent and warm water with a cloth to remove the dirt. I’ll often leave the jar to soak in the water for 30-60 minutes before returning to it to remove the stubborn bits of dried-on dough.
Step 5 – Clean with baking soda to remove any residue
Rinse the container under the tap. Next, half fill the container with water and add a teaspoon of baking soda. Give it a stir and gently rub the sides of the container with clean fingers to remove any more dirt. If you have a lid to your container you can give the jar a shake like you would shake a “jam-jar salad dressing”. Give the container a rinse under the tap to remove any residue left.
Step 6 – Air-dry the container
Drying the container with a tea towel has the potential to transfer bacteria or fibres which might hamper the healthy bacteria that you want to cultivate. For this reason, it is best to air-dry the container
Frequently asked questions about cleaning a starter jar
Once fully dry, either use your empty starter jar or place it in a dust-free environment. It’s best to leave the lid lightly on top to prevent contamination whilst allowing any remaining moisture to escape.
Providing the container that you store your starter is clean it will rise. In large production bakeries where the flavour and the production time uniformity are important, sterilising the equipment is something to consider. It is not necessary to sterilise a starter jar at home.
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Hi Gareth! I think your starter suggestions & tips are amazing. I have a sourdough starter that 1 of my daughters crafted in a Home Ec class in 2009 & I have never cleaned my container…yiiiikes! I’m almost afraid to do it now. I am enjoying your website & Facebook page too.
Thanks & love from the mountains of New Mexico.
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baking coach, head baker and bread-baking fanatic! My aim is to use science, techniques and 15 years of baking experience to help you become a better baker.