As I have mentioned more than once, I hate to throw away food. And if you follow most directions on maintenance of sourdough starter, as I have for many months, you discard about half your starter every time you feed it. You can make many things with the discard in addition to sourdough bread, such as pancakes, crackers, scones, waffles, etc., but what if you’re not in the mood to make any of those? I have recently been taught a different way to maintain the starter.
I suggest you keep your usual routine of starter maintenance going as a backup…just until you are satisfied this will work for you. I also strongly recommend you prepare some dried starter for backup. Click here for my post, Put your starter on hold.
Put about 25g fed starter in a jar. Put the jar in the fridge. This is the “Mother” from which you will make starter for your recipes. It will keep for a week or more. Some say four weeks, but I’ve never tried more than two.
When you start a recipe, whatever amount of starter is called for, add equal weights of flour and water to the Mother. I just did a recipe that called for 227g starter, so I added 114g water and 114g flour to my Mother jar.
Put it on the counter and when it reaches its peak, take out the 227g starter for your recipe. That reduction of 227g will leave about 25g in the jar, which will go back into the fridge until you need it for the next bake. I was surprised at how fast the starter grew with such a large addition of flour and water. My timing was a little off so I just put the peaked starter in the fridge for an hour to retard it.
Some recipes call for a levain to be mixed the night before. They usually call for a very small amount to be mixed with flour and water. When I do such a recipe, I just make the required amount of levain per the above instructions. After the overnight fermentation, I remove the required amount and put the Mother back in the fridge, just as above.
Here is my jar of Mother: Not much more than a smear of starter.