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Yes, It Is Possible to Freeze Your Sourdough Starter - The Soul & Science of Sourdough

Yes, It Is Possible to Freeze Your Sourdough Starter - The Soul & Science of Sourdough
From The Kitchn - November 14, 2017

One of the most important discoveries we made while developing and refining the recipes in Modernist Bread is that yeast is among the most resilient life-forms we have ever encountered (and we encounter many in our lab, which we share with a bunch of biologists).

As it turns out, freezing temperatures do not kill all the yeast and lactic acid bacteria in a preferment or starter. Some die, but most remain dormant while frozen. The key is to know how to "wake it up" properly and to feed it well so it comes back strong and ready to leaven.

Yes, You Can Freeze a Sourdough Starter

There are a lot of great reasons to try freezing your starter. Using a frozen preferment affords an almost instant starter; even with the added thawing and feeding time required, it provides a significant time savings over starting one from scratch.

Having a preferment ready to go is convenientyou can freeze it in portions and just thaw what you needand it frees you from a feeding schedule. There's no need to worry about entrusting someone with your starter when you go on vacation.

Our experiments demonstrated that a frozen starter will perform well for up to two weeks after freezing it. Eventually the ice crystals in the frozen preferment grow big enough to damage the yeasts and bacteria, rendering them useless for leavening. If you have starter that has been frozen for more than two weeks, you can still use it in combination with commercial yeast. The less-active starter will still provide your bread with complex flavor, and the yeast makes the dough rise.

Working with frozen starter is simple, although freezing your starter involves more than throwing it in a jar and stashing it in the freezer. Here are a few easy tips to get you started.

1. Freeze your preferment immediately after you make it.

2. Divide the preferment into whatever weight you would typically use.

3. Thaw just what you need.

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