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I bought a starter from a bakery, and I think I overfed it overnight. It overflowed from its jar. What should I do now?

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  • I been baking with the same starter for a few years now, and found this strategy to work really well: very little waste, and I keep the starter in a pint mason jar in the fridge: youtu.be/xBvvlcdO93I?si=Cc53fygrgWVevo9G&t=108 IMO it's not necessary to have complicated feeding strategies or to keep large amounts of starter on hand. Oct 29, 2023 at 14:18
  • Book recommendation: "A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking" by Ursula Vernon. It's young-adult fantasy, and good, as well as somewhat relevant. Oct 30, 2023 at 17:57

2 Answers 2

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All you need to do is clear up the mess, and make use of the active starter. Maybe find a bigger jar as well.

You've got a good healthy starter by the sounds of things. If it's from a bakery it's probably used to being used daily; home bakers often keep starters in the fridge. For example I take mine out a few hours before feeding, assemble my loaf another few hours later, then put it back in the fridge. It will evolve for your kitchen anyway, but if you do go for fridge storage, it will have to adapt a bit more.

Cleaning it up isn't all that easy. It ideally needs to be really wet but really dry means it can chip off surfaces.

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  • If it has dried out, I would highly recommend soaking the object/area with water before trying to scrub it off. Dry starter is like cement. Oct 30, 2023 at 19:10
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    @preferred_anon I have solid oak worktops. They don't like being soaked for long, so any spilt starter that doesn't get wiped up promptly has to be knocked off, and dry is better than damp. Then the last bit can be scrubbed
    – Chris H
    Oct 30, 2023 at 21:10
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What you do should now? You should be happy to have a good and active starter, clean up the mess and proceed feeding what’s left in the jar - with a larger jar or less starter.

Seriously, apart from the mess, there’s nothing wrong. I guess it’s happened to most of us, me certainly. A well-fed, active sourdough will easily double in volume and depending on its characteristics (they can behave differently, due to the particular composition of yeasts and bacteria) and environmental factors, I have seen some almost tripling.

So I never fill my jars more than 1/3, maybe 2/5 if I have a particularly sluggish one on a cold day. A lid can help prevent overflowing to some degree, but it shouldn’t be tight-fitting and it will not work if there’s a lot of expansion.

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  • I assume by ‘clean up the mess’, someone should just save the uncontaminated bit that stayed in the container, and not try to save the portion that overflowed.
    – Joe
    Oct 28, 2023 at 18:29
  • @Joe good point - edited.
    – Stephie
    Oct 28, 2023 at 20:04
  • Thank you all. 🙂 and it looks great today...has holes and looks active. I changed to a bigger jar...used a circular piece of parchment paper and only the ring from the jar to cover. I'm taking a part away and then feeding. I'm new to this, soo learning by doing!
    – Michelle B
    Oct 28, 2023 at 22:44

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