Once you’ve ordered your starters, it’s important to know how to store them, and how to store the resulting cultured foods, to get the maximum benefit from your purchase. Our cultures do have a “best by” label, but it also helps to know the general expiration period for the cultures and the products they make.

The following information indicates how long you can expect cultures to be good at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer from the date of production. These times are given as a recommendation based on our experience with the cultures. Local conditions, including temperature and hygiene, may shorten or lengthen the time that your cultures remain viable. When uncertain, refer to the "best by" label on your cultures.

 

Jump to: Yogurt | Kefir | Buttermilk | Kombucha | Cultured Vegetables | Cheese | Sourdough | Soy Cultures

YOGURT CULTURES

Direct-set cultures (Traditional Flavor, Mild Flavor, Vegan)

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 weeks
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 6 to 12 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12+ months
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 112°F

Heirloom Thermophilic Cultures (Greek, Bulgarian)

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 9 months unopened
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12 months unopened
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 112°F

Heirloom Mesophilic Cultures (Viili, Filmjölk, Matsoni, Piimä)

  • At room temperature (68° to 77°F): 3 to 4 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 9 months unopened
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12 months unopened
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 77°F

Homemade Yogurt

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 6 hours (may remain edible for longer)
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 7 days to maintain re-culturing viability; 2 weeks for edibility
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 2 to 3 weeks to maintain re-culturing viability; 1 to 2 months (like ice cream) for edibility
  • Storage recommendation: Refrigerate

KEFIR GRAINS AND CULTURES

Dried Milk Kefir Grains

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 12 to 18 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 18+ months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): not recommended
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 85°F

Milk Kefir Starter Culture

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 weeks
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 6 to 12 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12+ months
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 85°F

Milk Kefir Grains in Milk

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 2 days
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 1 to 2 weeks
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): not recommended
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 85°F

Homemade Milk Kefir

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 1 to 2 days
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 2 to 3 weeks
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 1 to 2 months or longer (like ice cream)
  • Storage recommendation: Refrigerate

Dried Water Kefir Grains

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 12 to 18 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 18+ months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): not recommended
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 85°F

Water Kefir Grains in Sugar Water

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 days
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 2 weeks or more
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): not recommended
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 85°F

Homemade Water Kefir

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 days
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 2 to 3 weeks
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 1 to 2 months (like ice cream)
  • Storage recommendation: Refrigerate

BUTTERMILK AND SOUR CREAM

Buttermilk Starter (heirloom)

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 9 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12+ months
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 80°F

Sour Cream Starter (direct-set)

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 weeks
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 3 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12+ months
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 80°F

Homemade Buttermilk

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 4 to 6 hours (may remain edible for longer)
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 7 days for heirloom variety to maintain culturing viability; 2 weeks for edibility
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 2 to 3 weeks to maintain re-culturing viability; 1 to 2 months (like ice cream) for edibility
  • Storage recommendation: Refrigerate

Homemade Sour Cream

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 4 to 6 hours (may remain edible for longer)
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 1 to 2 weeks
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 1 to 2 months (like ice cream)
  • Storage recommendation: Refrigerate

KOMBUCHA

Dried Kombucha Starter Culture (Scoby)

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 weeks
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 9 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): not recommended
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 85°F

Active Kombucha Starter Culture (Scoby) in sugared tea / kombucha

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 45 days
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): not recommended
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): not recommended
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 85°F

Homemade Kombucha

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): varies, depending on taste preference
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): varies, depending on taste preference
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 1 to 2 months (will lose carbonation)
  • Storage recommendation: Refrigerate

CULTURED VEGETABLES

Caldwell’s Vegetable Starter Culture

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 6 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 2 years
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 2 years
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 110°F

Body Ecology Starter Culture

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 6 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 8 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12 months
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 110°F

Cutting Edge Vegetable Starer Culture

  • In the refrigerator (≤39°F): 12 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12 months

CHEESE CULTURES

Direct-set Starter Cultures

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 weeks
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 6 to 12 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12+ months
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 110°F

Homemade Cheese

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): A day or two, depending on the cheese
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 2 to 3 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): Up to a year
  • Storage recommendation: Cool, dry location, or refrigerate. Soft cheeses will keep 2 to 3 weeks; hard cheeses will keep for 2 to 3 months. Depends on the cheese and how it is wrapped.

SOURDOUGH

Dehydrated Sourdough Cultures

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 12 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 12+ months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12+ months
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 90°F

Active Sourdough Starter (wheat and similar flours)

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 8 to 12 hours between feedings; can last up to 24 hours
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 1 to 2 weeks between feedings; can last up to 6 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): A year or more, but may take several feedings to revive
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 90°F

Active Sourdough Starter (rice flour)

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 8 to 12 hours between feedings; can last up to 24 hours
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 1 to 2 weeks between feedings; can last up to 6 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): A year or more, but may take several feedings to revive
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 90°F

Homemade Sourdough Bread

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): A week or two
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): Unopened, up to 6 months; opened and in a closed container, a month or more
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): Up to a year
  • Storage recommendation: Room temperature (2 to 3 days) or refrigerate (up to 2 months, sealed) or freeze (up to 6 months)

SOY CULTURES

Natto Spores

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 weeks
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 6 months or more
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 6 months or more
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 105°F

Koji (Brown Rice or Barley)

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): about 6 months
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F) (recommended): 2 years
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 2 years
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 105°F

Tempeh Starter Culture

  • At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 3 to 4 weeks
  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 6 months or more
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 6 months or more
  • Maximum culturing temperature: 90°F