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?
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.