Choosing the best sourdough starter container-Want to find a jar for sourdough starter? Not just any container will work! There are certain things that a good starter jar for a home baker should have.
You’ve done it! You’ve made your own sourdough starter and baked beautiful loaves, cookies, brownies, and pretzels made with sourdough.
Now is the time to get better at making sourdough. Let’s talk about the best jar for sourdough starter.
Just like with any other baking tool or ingredient, a good starter container has certain qualities.
This guide to sourdough starter jars is all about getting better.
Why Does It Matter What Is Inside?
I’ll tell you a secret: the perfect sourdough starter jars is much more important to you than the starter.
Your happy colony of wild yeast and bacteria will do its thing in almost any container you put it in. Think of an Amish Friendship Bread starter. You can use a canning jar, a plastic deli container, or even just a Ziploc baggie.
But those of us who are serious about sourdough want something different for our starter. And I’ve found that the right container can make all the difference when I’m making sourdough.
I only care about how something works.
The first thing to think about is how big it is. Each baker keeps a different amount of starter on hand, so this is up to them. Some of you might choose the small starter with less waste, while others might bake a lot and keep a larger amount of starter on hand.
You’ll have to base your decision on the size of your starter.
At the very least, a sourdough starter should grow three times bigger. That’s the rule I follow, since each time I feed my starter, it grows by more than half.
You don’t want a container that will spill and make a mess on your counter or in your refrigerator. But you don’t want one that is so big that it’s hard to move and store.
I always take out and feed 50g of starter, and I’ve found that containers with a capacity of 16 oz (2 cups) work well for that amount.
When choosing a jar for your sourdough starter, you should also think about how clear it is and how long it will last.
You’ll want to be able to watch your starter ferment, so you’ll need a clear container. When fermenting anything, it’s important to be able to see what’s happening.
You can tell how the starter is growing by how many and how big the bubbles are on the side of the jar. You can also see slide marks and hooch on a hungry starter when the glass is clear. If the container was not clear, this wouldn’t be possible.
You also don’t want one that is easy to break or can’t go in the dishwasher. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wash yet another thing by hand!
Containers for sourdough starter can be made of either glass or plastic. They are clear, last a long time, and can go in the dishwasher. So, even though ceramic sourdough crocks are beautiful, I don’t think they are as useful as glass or plastic ones.
Let’s talk about shape now that we’re getting into the details of starter containers.
You should choose a jar that has straight sides and no shoulders. If a jar has shoulders or dents, it will be harder to work with. No one would want that!
Also, make sure the mouth of the jar is big enough for a spoon or spatula to fit in easily. Avoid shapes that look like squares and always choose a round starter container if you can.
If the mouth of your jar is too small, it is squared off, or it has shoulders, it will be hard to get your starter out, clean the jar, and feed it.
From what I’ve seen, the best shape is a clear deli container or a wide-mouth jar.
Cover Or Lid
It is important to have a lid or some kind of cover for the starter jar.
You should cover your starter well so that dust, lint, and other things don’t get into it. Fruit flies will also stay away from your fermenting starter if it has a lid or cover.
BUT! The lid can’t keep out air. You want to make sure there’s room for air to flow because the fermentation process of your starter makes CO2. Even if you don’t believe it, a sealed environment can cause an explosion.
Most deli containers come with a lid that snaps on but doesn’t seal out air. If you’re using a mason jar, you can either screw the ring on loosely, use a cloth or coffee filter and rubber band or the jar rings to secure it, or get a plastic mason jar lid.
Plastic vs. Glass
It’s a matter of taste, but I always choose glass over plastic. And no, it’s not just because I love mason jars so much!
Glass is easy to recycle, and jars can be used again and again and again for decades. Once your sourdough is done, you can use the jar to make pickles, keep fruits, store dehydrated foods, and more.
Glass is also good because it doesn’t have pores, so it doesn’t hold on to smells or bacteria like plastic does. We don’t want our starters to get any bad smells or dirt from the container they are in.
Glass is easy to clean and easy to sterilize. For tough, dried-on starter gunk, I find that a quick soak in warm, soapy water does the trick, but the average starter jar can go straight into the dishwasher and come out spotless!
The bad thing about glass is that a child or clumsy hand can break it. When the glass jar breaks, your starter is pretty much done for. It can’t be saved because it has glass shards that can’t be seen. If you use a glass jar for your sourdough starter, it might be a good idea to keep some sourdough starter for a long time in case something goes wrong.
Plastic is less likely to break than glass, so if you have kids or are often in accidents, it’s a better choice. It’s also often less expensive, so it’s a good choice for people on a budget. Plus, almost everyone has a plastic container lying around.
The problem with plastic is that it can get scratched, which makes it harder to clean. Scratches can be home to bacteria and smells that are bad for your starter.
If you decide to use a plastic container for your sourdough starter, make sure it is made of food-grade plastic, doesn’t contain BPA, and can be used more than once. I store all of my leftovers in the fridge in reusable deli-style containers. (Much to the dismay of my husband)