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Freezing Herman – Your Herman Starter Can Be Frozen

Freeze your Herman starter Your Herman Starter Can Be Frozen

Many people have written in or left comments asking asking whether Herman can be frozen. Some people want to freeze some of the final cake to be eaten later but many more of you have asked about freezing the divided portions at the end of 10 days.

In the article How To Make Your Own Sourdough Starter For a Herman The German Friendship Cake I started by saying that I wanted to experiment with some of the issues arising from your experiences; no bubbles, freezing, not stirring for a couple of days and so on. I made the starter from scratch, following the instructions here. You will find that this recipe for a Herman starter makes enough mix that can be divided as if on day 9 of the cycle.

Banished To The Frozen Wastes

I divided my starter into four; I kept one to bake with, gave one away then froze the other two. I put them into plastic containers (an old takeaway container and a small tupperware type container) and left them in the freezer until yesterday. From 2nd May 2012 when I made the starter to now that makes 23 days or three weeks. The portion that I kept ended up becoming a really tasty strawberry and white chocolate Herman. On day 9 of that cycle I gave the other three portions to friends.

This week the friend to whom I gave one of my starters told me his wife wanted another one. Her Herman turned out so well that she wants to make another. Here is where the experiment comes in. Would my frozen Herman starter have survived his arctic holiday? Had all of his bubbles disappeared, just like the frozen peas, pizza and ice-cream had disappeared from our freezer?

Judgement Day

Luckily my wife had taken my Herman starter out from the freezer by mistake, thinking it was a cheese sauce she had made. So by the time I got home from work he was already thawed out but still had his lid on. I removed the lid from the plastic container and looked in on Herman. I was relieved and pleased to see a lot of bubbles! In fact there were more bubbles in this than there had been in the other starters from which he was spawned.

I gave him a stir and left him overnight with the lid loosely covering him. This morning I came downstairs to see him bubbling away quite nicely before giving him a stir. I will just check him again now…

 

Comparing this starter to the ones on day 1 a few weeks ago, you can clearly see the difference. On the left is my original starter and on the right is the sibling from the frozen north.

I am actually quite pleased to see this result because when I made the starter a few weeks ago I was disappointed that there were not as many bubbles as I had previously experienced. I was reassuring to see a Herman who was alive and well!

I conclusion, to all you who ask “Can I freeze my Herman starter?” The answer I can give you is YES, you can and he will will probably be more alive and refreshed than ever before. Advice from elsewhere states your sourdough starter should be refreshed (fed) after thawing. In my opinion he looks perfectly fine and I would be tempted to either start from day 1 of the cycle or start from day 4 with a feed just to bulk him up again with a feed.

Please comment below if you have any thoughts, advice or further findings.

39 Comments on Freezing Herman – Your Herman Starter Can Be Frozen

  1. katie hucknall // 25/06/2012 at 16:30 //

    i have divided him i to the portions you have stated I’m planning on putting 2 portion in the freezer how long do i keep them there for please as i don’t want him to be in there to long n die
    please get back to me asap thank you katie hucknall from birmingham (united kingdom)

  2. Herman came out of the freezer and sat in the sun with the edge of his lid up. Now defrosted, I’ve added half a feed which I shall take into consideration when I make him into Double Chocolate Cake tomorrow. Fingers crossed he’ll start bubbling.

    • I make sourdough all the time. I love that I can make it wuhiott any sugar and that the rise time is more flexible (longer) than yeast breads. I’m looking forward to trying your recipe and Ruth’s as well.

  3. Jean Ross // 29/06/2012 at 18:43 //

    Can you freeze portions that are not from the starter mix, its just my neighbours were not all bought on the idea and i have 2 portions left… or should i just bin him? any help would be great…. thank you

    • Stuart // 01/07/2012 at 20:33 //

      Yes you can freeze them.

      • Pretty good actually, shall have to play arou d with the sudruoogh portion though as it generates enough left overs to give out three more lots of sudruoogh which is going to add up really quick

    • Ahhhh I wondered what this was. Some pelope at work have been doing this. I was asked if I wanted to do one but declined, not in the mood for baking these past few years!

  4. exapp // 02/07/2012 at 09:44 //

    My first attempt spread itself all over the oven and was undercooked. When I had cleaned up the mess I finished it off in the microwave which turned out well. Would you expect the finished cake to freeze satisfactorily?

  5. ladyswan17 // 04/07/2012 at 20:55 //

    I followed the instructions exactly with my friend Herman, but was unable to pass on my divided dough. I wish I had known beforehand it could be frozen. I therefore cooked my 3 dough Hermans to give away as cakes. I divided it into various well greased and floured, foil containers (ex curries) and 2 silicone ones. It took me hours and hours to cook them. I could not get them to “set” and they seemed rather moist. When I eventually got them “cooked” to my satisfaction, I could not get them out of the foil without leaving a lot of cake behind. Its really sad that I then had to eat this residue before I could wash the containers. It really was a chore. Although I felt really justified because I can’t abide waste, I also felt a little unwell.
    By the time I finished, I only had 6 Hermans to give to new families and one container (couldn”t eat it all) of broken cake. Plus the the 2 silicone which came out clean. I realise I will have to try harder with my next Herman (my freezer is full). Yummy!

  6. ladyswan17 // 04/07/2012 at 21:03 //

    I wish I had known before I cooked Herman that he could be frozen. I did not have time to find adoptive families. I cooked all of him to give away. I didn’t have enough tins and used ex curry foil containers and two silicone ones. It took hours to cook him but eventually i got him ready to leave home. He left behind lots of reminders of his presence which I had to eat. (cna’t abide waste) I felt ill but justified. Will do better next time. Yummy!

  7. ladyswan17 // 04/07/2012 at 21:09 //

    I did not know Herman could be frozen and cooked all of him ready for adoption. He left a lot of himself behind which I ate (cant abide waste). Felt justified but sick! Will do better next time. Yummy!

  8. Russell // 18/07/2012 at 09:27 //

    Yeasts are actually very difficult to kill off altogether, they’ll tolerate a lot of different kinds abuse before giving up. This is one of the reasons sough dough recipes/starters keep going for so long. There is an artisan baker near me who told me recently that his sour dough “plant” was started by his grandmother and has been going continuously ever since. Tell you what, his granny had good taste buds….

  9. Hey Danielle, isn’t sourdough ftsnataic? I’ve had my starter for nearly a year now, and every loaf just gets better and better. I make sourdough pizza bases every week and I just can’t have any other pizza anymore.Did you name yours? Mine’s called Steve

  10. Chrissie // 23/07/2012 at 17:27 //

    Wow Thanks!
    Knowing I can freeze my Herman is great – Takes the pressure off finding enthusiastic recipients or making up four cakes when I am (supposed to be dieting).
    I will bake one up and freeze the other three for baking at a later date.
    If they work out well I will do another batch so I can give a Frozen Herman to unexpected visitors to take home.
    Fingers crossed that it works

  11. Tania // 31/07/2012 at 09:05 //

    Ive just clocked that some one is making a double chocolate Herman, HOW???
    I made an apple, sultana & cinnamon one and it was delicious, I will say it took nearer 90 minutes to cook than the 45 recommended

  12. rachel // 07/08/2012 at 20:08 //

    Tania it’s probably too late now but there are loads of recipes around he makes a really great carrot cake!!
    if he takes too long as 1 big cake just make 2 smaller ones or some buns! when i did the carrot cake there was so much mixture i made 2 cakes (in loaf tins) and 12 buns!! didn’t take too long and the buns were ready quickly so had something to nibble while waiting for the cake =) yum!
    also my mum and me will be feeding hurman smaller amounts so he only splits into 3 and just taking it in turns each week to feed the 3rd 1 and cook 1 each…that way we don’t have to keep finding people to pass him on to!
    great to know if we nee a break we can freeze him though!

    • Diana // 17/10/2012 at 08:20 //

      I’ve had a jar of ‘Herman’ on the go for ages now. I just feed him every few days with a quarter cup of flour, sugar and milk. Every week or so I make a cake using half the quantities suggested and vary the theme a bit. That way there is no waste and a lovely cake for the family to enjoy.
      Herman rocks!

  13. Cici // 08/08/2012 at 08:15 //

    How long can I keep my cooked Herman in the freezer? I have made my first one and he is delicious but I don’t want to eat him all in one go!

  14. I’ve just got my first Herman. If I freeze a portion on day 9, when I defrost it can I just continue with day 10 and bake a cake with it?

    • Stuart // 17/08/2012 at 14:33 //

      Yes, that’s not a problem. Leave him over night though to make sure he is still alive after thawing.
      Either continue as day 10 or start from day 1.

      Stuart

  15. Magi // 25/08/2012 at 08:35 //

    Interested to know what to add to ‘basic Herman’ to make a chocolate version. Also, has anyone tried ginger? If so, how did it turn out?

  16. Georgina // 09/09/2012 at 13:33 //

    I was given a Herman 28 years ago by my aunty. I have lost count as to how many I have made in that time ! About 4 weeks ago I forgot what I was doing (it happens often) and used all of Herman. I was then asked for a baby Herman so I started a new one from scratch and Herman was reborn! We have had chocolate , banana, orange, lemon, mixed fruit pink Herman’s I have tried all the differant combernations and my family and friends love them all I have never frozen him I just make more cakes and always line the tin with grease proof paper well greased! Always turns out well for me 😀 I am registered blind now and my children, all of whom have left home and married and got children of their own expect a Herman when we visit them or want to go home with a ready made one when they come to us! Just thought I would share my story with you. X

    • Stuart // 10/09/2012 at 20:42 //

      What a lovely story. I have emailed you Georgina.
      Thank you

      Stuart

  17. Magi // 10/09/2012 at 14:45 //

    Thank you, Stuart. I think I’ll do ginger next; I think making Herman cake could turn into a bit of a fixation if I’m not careful.

  18. Caroleve // 15/09/2012 at 16:27 //

    I was given a Herman starter not having heard of it before. I followed the instructions and ended up with a fabulous cake. I swapped sultanas for raisins and did not use spice – but it was gorgeous. I have just baked another in a meat dish lined with non-stick foil – fabulous. I came on the web to see if the three other starters can be frozen – yes – great. So I will try it and also experiment with other flavours. Thanks everyone for the info.

  19. Rebecca // 03/10/2012 at 15:37 //

    Can you freeze the actual cake after it has been cooked? And if so does it still taste as nice?

    • Stuart // 05/10/2012 at 12:19 //

      I know you can usually freeze other cakes and they defrost OK. I haven’t frozen a Herman cake yet – he usually does’t last long enough!

      Stuart

  20. Jenny // 16/10/2012 at 13:29 //

    I froze half of my herman cake about 2 months ago and just defrosted it last week and it was as delicious as it was when just baked! I had already cut it into portions before freezing so it thawed overnight.

  21. Carole // 16/10/2012 at 13:40 //

    Yes you can freeze a cooked Herman and he defrosts perfectly well.
    Also for any coeliacs out there you can also make a gluten free Herman by starting with GF flour and yeast in the starter and then continuing with GF flour throughout the process and GF baking powder when baking. It comes out very well! Any given away will also return to ‘normal’ when fed with ordinary flour.

  22. denise cunliffe-turner // 18/10/2012 at 14:07 //

    I was given a Herman by my niece and had great fun sharing it with friends and making cakes, one was a disaster. Going away last September put one starter in freezer and forgot it was there until two days ago when someone asked me if I had any left. Surprize – that’s what that little box is. Out it came, sat it on the side to thaw and it started bubbling. It is alive- great. Now what do I do? I’ve given it sugar. Now do I add milk or water? There seems to be some debate about salmonella so I’m not sure.

  23. Georgina Kemp // 15/11/2012 at 20:34 //

    Just taken my herman out of the freezer having had him there since the spring. Hoping for the best!

    • C. Kelly // 17/12/2012 at 08:04 //

      Did he survive? I’ve taken mine out after a similar period and it doesn’t look like hes made it. No bubbles 🙁 no growth 🙁 got to start from scratch.

  24. H.Carter // 23/09/2013 at 19:35 //

    I just took mine out after the better part of 9 months in my freezer.. he has defrosted and we DO have bubbles… going to watch him and see how he does.

    • Stuart // 23/09/2013 at 19:40 //

      Good stuff,

      Thanks for letting us know. What recipe are you going to try?
      Stuart

      • H.Carter // 24/09/2013 at 16:26 //

        i’m not very adventurous, we like raisins and apple with cinnamon, so i tend to stick to that recipe.

  25. Karen // 20/10/2013 at 00:35 //

    A friend was giving a Herman cake but I ended up looking after it so when it was ready to be baked I had three big cakes, one disappeared the day it was made, one I cut in half and gave to my mother and brother in law and the third I cut up into pieces and froze so far no complaints on the freezing. I am going to give the freezing of the recipe a go, fingers are crossed. Will let you know how it turns out. A really great recipe.

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