To store your starter at room temperature: Stir the starter well and discard all but 4 ounces (1/2 cup). Add 1 cup water and flour. Mix until smooth, and cover. Repeat every 12 hours. Remove the starter you need to bake your bread when it’s expanded and bubbly, then feed the remaining starter immediately; continue with your normal 12-24 hour schedule of feeding.
To store your starter in the refrigerator: Take the starter out of the fridge. There may be a bit of light amber or clear liquid on top (called the Hooch). Either drain this off, or stir it in, your choice; it’s simply a byproduct from the fermenting yeast.
Remove all but 4 ounces (1/2 cup) starter; see “tips,” at left, for ideas on what to do with it. Add the flour and lukewarm water to the remaining starter. Mix until smooth, and cover.
Allow the starter to rest at room temperature (about 70°F) for at least 2 hours; this gives the yeast a chance to warm up and get feeding. After about 2 hours, refrigerate.
To ready your refrigerated starter for baking: Take the starter out of the fridge, discard all but 4 ounces (1/2 cup), and feed it as usual. Let it rest at room temperature for about 12 hours, until bubbly. Repeat as necessary, every 12 hours, until you notice the starter doubling or tripling in volume in 6 to 8 hours. That means it’s strong enough to leaven bread.
For the final feeding prior to baking, add enough flour and water to use in your recipe, with a little left over to feed and maintain the starter for the next time you bake. For instance, if your recipe calls for 1 cup (about 8 ounces) starter, add 4 ounces each water and flour. If your recipe calls for 2 cups (about 16 ounces) starter, add 8 ounces each water and flour.
Once the starter is bubbling and vigorous, remove what you need for the recipe and set it aside. Feed the remaining starter as usual. Mix until smooth, and allow the starter to work for about 2 hours at room temperature before putting it back in the refrigerator.