Sourdough starter cultures are living organisms, made up of wild yeasts and bacteria, and require regular feeding to stay healthy and active.
If a sourdough starter is left without feeding, the yeasts and bacteria will eventually become dormant or die off, making it difficult to revive the culture. However, the length of time that a sourdough starter can be left without feeding can depend on a few factors:
- Temperature: If the sourdough starter is kept in a cooler environment, it will ferment more slowly and can be left without feeding for a longer period. On the other hand, if it is kept in a warmer environment, it will ferment more quickly and will need to be fed more frequently.
- Strength of the starter: A strong, active sourdough starter that has been recently fed can tolerate a longer period without feeding than a weak, struggling starter.
- Type of flour: Whole grain flours have more nutrients for the yeasts and bacteria to feed on, so a sourdough starter made with whole grain flour may be able to go longer without feeding than one made with white flour.
Generally, it is recommended to feed a sourdough starter at least once every 1-2 weeks to keep it healthy and active. However, if a sourdough starter is left without feeding for several days or even a few weeks, it may still be possible to revive it by gradually feeding it over several days and allowing it to ferment and develop again.