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I was going to buy the King Arthur set of starter + crock, but the crock is on backorder, so I plan to instead locally source a vessel for the starter. What should I look for? Should I find a similar crock? A jar of some kind?

ETA: More specifically, what should I be looking for? Size? Materials? Lid type? I read elsewhere that I don't want an airtight seal; I'm looking for more advice like that.

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Jam jar works for me. –  nico Jan 19 '12 at 17:04
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6 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Admittedly I have only stored my starter in a glass jar, but I wouldn't want anything else.

You should look for a size that is neither too large, nor too small. It should comfortably hold your sourdough starter when you are simply feeding it - I usually store 200g of starter, at 100% hydration (100g flour, 100g water) or thereabouts. However, when actually making sourdough starter you make more - perhaps 400g or so, depending on how much bread you are making, plus you want to have something left to restart your bread. A typical recipe might call for 20% starter, so 200g for a kilo loaf. The other solution is to of course have two separate jars, and only use both when doubling for bread.

When I say it must be able to hold that much, I mean that it will have to hold it fully risen, which means around 2x to 2.5x of the original size. In addition, narrow and high is better than low and wide, since it makes it easier to tell how much it rises.

Also, you will want a wide opening, so that you can easily clean it.

As for covering it, I just use a sheet of plastic. Just take care not to get it gooey. It will hold in the moisture so the sourdough doesn't dry out, but won't trap the carbon dioxide.

Good luck

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as long as it's not airtight, in my experience you can use almost anything: a large jar with a loose lid, a tupperware container that has a small hole in it... that sort of thing.

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I use a mason jar with a loose lid. I wouldn't recommend a plastic container for long term storage- I've found they get really gross and hard to clean. –  Sobachatina Jan 19 '12 at 16:35
    
@Sobachatina That's exactly the kind of advice I'm looking for. –  Yamikuronue Jan 19 '12 at 17:04
    
i use a (hard) plastic container made for sourdough that i purchased from Leeners.com, and it's been easy to clean so far. but i understand the appeal of glass, too. –  franko Jan 19 '12 at 20:12
    
@franko- I used cheap plastic containers that discolored, etc. I suppose you get what you pay for. –  Sobachatina Jan 19 '12 at 20:28
    
My experience is airtight = bad – active sourdough tends to 'suffocate' and spoil without fresh air. I use a big glass jar covered only with a cloth or paper towel. Yes, dries out a bit, but what is a problem to add a bit of water and mix it from time to time. –  Jacek Konieczny Jan 20 '12 at 11:04
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I recommend the Harsch Fermenting Crock. I use the smallest one and it is pretty large, but I have never had a problem with my starter overflowing. The water seal on this crock lets gas out and provides a good seal. I always worry about using glass jars. You can't seal too tight or they might explode. I also don't want bread that tastes like the inside of my fridge. They are expensive and I have not been able to find an alternative. However, if you are serious about maintaining a starter I think it is worth it.

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I use a regular wide mouth canning jar with an inverted coffee filter over the top, secured by a canning jar ring. It's worked great for me. if the coffee filter ends up getting stuck, as they eventually will, I just replace it with a new one. The filter breathes and also allows more yeast to get in.

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I use a 64 oz pickle jar and store it in the refrigerator. I take out starter out of it for recipes. Each day I put in 1/2 of my starter that I feed every 12 hrs and I use the oven light to keep the smaller jar at a constant 75 deg. I stir the larger starter jar before putting it back into the refrigerator to add air. I have had great results using this method. I tighten the lid AFTER I know there's no gases being formed.

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The question is about what makes a good container, not how you use it or where you keep it.... perhaps you should expand on why the jar you use is a good choice to improve this answer. –  SAJ14SAJ Feb 16 '13 at 22:46
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The starter is acid so do not use any metal. I like to use a one quart cylindrical crock which I cover with a loose fitting saucer/plate. I have been experimenting with starters of varying degrees of sourness. I keep each batch in a separate pint jar with loose fitting lid to let the CO2 out. Don't want the starter to explode out when the lid is removed. The starter is sticky so wide mouth containers are easier to extract the starter from and clean.

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"Metal" is not accurate. You probably don't want to use copper or aluminum, but you can store it in stainless steel without a problem. You can store things with even more acid than sourdough in stainless steel as well. –  paul Feb 18 '13 at 23:09
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