To clean or not to clean, that is the question! Anyway, here’s the answer to many sourdough starter questions regarding keeping things clean and hygienic. So should you clean your sourdough starter jar?
Yes, for a powerful starter, keep your jar as clean as possible. Sourdough feeds on bacteria, but it only wants the good minerals that are found in fresh flour. Dry starter at the top of the jar won’t get consumed and will likely attract unhealthy bacteria into the ecosystem which weakens the sourdough’s leavening abilities.
It’s not necessary to clean your sourdough container every day. If you make a lot of mess, you may choose to do so, but you don’t need to. Once a week is perfect for regular use. Fortnightly or monthly is fine if you keep your starter in the fridge.
Use the same jar every day and try to keep it clean. Note the weight of the empty container before starting. This means you will be able to make accurate measurements when refreshing. Simply weigh the jar and deduct the weight that it would be empty to know how much existing starter remains.
Transparent containers such as glass jars or plastic containers are perfect for sourdough, but you can use anything with a lid! Choose a solution that’s easy to clean and remove the starter, such as one with a wide opening and rounded edges.
Absolutely! Kilner jars are a rounded shape that makes them perfect for sourdough starters. They look gorgeous too, especially if you have a collection of starters! The square jars can be a little tricky to clean and feed your starter in. Try to get the rounded jars if you can, but there’s nothing a good soak won’t fix!
Yes! Mason jars are the perfect container for a sourdough starter. Use a wide mouth Mason jar if you can as they are easier to clean, feed and pour starter from. There’s no reason not to use one!
Providing the plastic used is food safe, yes! Plastic containers are more flexible than glass. The extra flex makes it easier to clean any dried sourdough starter from the edges. They also won’t shatter if dropped!
If your jar is full of dry flakes of starter or if your starter is struggling to rise, you should change the container of your sourdough. Keeping your starter clean prevents bad bacteria from entering which will help its leavening ability.
Yes! Your starter risks infestation by flour flies or other bugs if it is not covered. Loosely tighten the lid of the container to let a little bit of air escape that’s created by the yeast.
Further reading: Sourdough starter troubleshooting
Tighten a jar till it’s just tight, then give it a quarter turn to loosen it slightly. The opening should be sealed so nothing can fall or fly in, yet loose enough to allow gas to pass. Carbon dioxide is created through the fermentation process therefore if the container is air-tight, fermentation halts or the jar can explode when pressure rises. Some bakers sandwich a sheet of kitchen paper between the seal to prevent it from being too tight.
After reading this article I hope you’ve understood why you should clean a sourdough starter jar and when to do it. If you want a top guide on how to do it, see my how to clean a starter jar article.