Like a doghouse for your dog, your sourdough needs a place to live too. Since practically anything can serve as a vessel for your starter, there are lots of choices. My experience has helped me to narrow down what makes a “good” home for your starter.
An obvious feature is that it must be able to hold liquid. A less obvious feature is that it must not be able to hold air. This may sound a little screwy at first, but let me explain. You are adding flour and water to your container, which ends up being basically a thick liquid. You want that to stay in the container. Then the yeast is making bunches of air, which needs a way to get out of the container to keep it from blowing up. Okay, probably not literally, but if you open it under pressure, you may and up with starter on your walls or face, and that’s no fun.
My first sourdough starter lived in a ceramic container that was similar to what you might use as a sugar container that sits on your counter. There were two problems I had with this arrangement. First, the lid was held on with just gravity. There was a lip to keep the lid centered over the top of the container, but nothing to hold it down. Thus, the jar could not live in the refrigerator door because the lid would flop off every time you opened the door and sometimes when you closed it. The second issue was that you can’t see through ceramic. I’m sure someone says that sourdough starter doesn’t like light, but since mine always lives in the fridge, that wasn’t a problem for me anyway. Without being able to see what your starter is doing, you really can’t know when it’s starting to go off the deep end with some problem or other.
For my second starter, I adopted a glass flip top container. This approach is so much better because of the opposite of the problems mentioned above. You can see what’s going on, and your lid won’t flop off. I recommend these glass jars with those metal flip lock style lids. (Which are the exact ones I’m using for my starter.) I recommend you buy the 2-pack of jars because every now and then it is a good idea to clean out the jar the starter is living in.
For example, if your starter over-expands and squeezes out of the jar down the side. I found the easiest approach is to simply dump the starter that is left on the inside of the jar (don’t use the stuff stuck to the outside of the jar after an explosion) into the second jar. Then all you have to do is clean the first jar and put it somewhere until you want to swap back.
Please note: The jars I recommend ship with the rubber seal in the jar instead of attached to the lid. Do NOT use the seal! As previously mentioned, you want air to be able to move in and out of the jar. I threw my seals away since these jars are the forever home for my starter and won’t be used for anything else that would need the seals. If you get a different jar, be absolutely sure you remove the seal from the lid before you use it for sourdough.
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