Natural starter cultures generally stay at an optimal health level if they are fed or recultured on a regular basis. But what if you need to take an extended break or leave town? For the occasional break, natural starter cultures such as heirloom-variety yogurts, sourdough, kombucha, and kefir grains can be safely put on hold with just a few simple steps.
To take an extended break from working with a sourdough starter, place a snug lid on your freshly fed sourdough starter and place the container in the refrigerator. Gluten-based sourdough starters will generally keep for up to a few weeks in the fridge although we do not recommend storing a sourdough starter for more than a week on a regular basis. For more information, consult our article on Taking a Break from Making Sourdough.
If you are working with an heirloom-variety culture, the method used for putting the starter on hold will depend on how long you need to leave your yogurt or buttermilk. We provide complete instructions onTaking a Break from Making Yogurt. Our heirloom buttermilk culture can be placed on hold using the same methods.
When using an heirloom cultured buttermilk starter, the starter can be frozen, for short-term breaks, or dehdyrated when a longer break is needed. Consult our article Taking a Break from Making Buttermilk, for more information and instructions.
Kombucha is often the easiest culture to take a break from, as the culturing time is longer than that of other starter cultures. However, when necessary, there are a few options for Taking a Break from Making Kombucha.
Milk Kefir Grains
The simplest method to preserve milk kefir grains is to place the kefir grains in fresh milk, cover the container with a snug lid, and place the jar in the fridge. For complete instructions, read our article How to Take a Break from Making Milk Kefir
Water Kefir Grains
The simplest method to preserve water kefir grains is to place the kefir grains in fresh sugar water, cover the container with a snug lid, and place the jar in the fridge. For complete instructions, read our article How to Take a Break from Making Water Kefir