If you want to keep an Amish Friendship Bread starter but don’t want too much of it, or if you’re keeping a careful eye on your pantry ingredients, here are three solutions to help you reduce your starter or keep a small amount of starter on hand:
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- Freeze excess starter to use when you’re ready (recommended).
- Work on a 7-day, rather than a 10-day, feeding/sharing/baking schedule.
- Reduce and maintain your starter amount by half.
Method 1: Freeze Your Starter (Recommended)
This is the easiest and most stress-free way to keep a starter without worrying too much about it. You won’t be feeding it while it’s frozen, and it can be kept up to 9 months in the freezer, sometimes longer. When you’re ready to bake, just pull a bag out the night prior or even a couple hours before. If you don’t plan to bake every 7-10 days, this is the best option for you.
Learn how to freeze your starter here. You’ll need freezer-grade 1-gallon Ziploc bags for this.
How it works: For as long as you have starters in the freezer, just remove one when you’re ready to bake (let it thaw before using, but you don’t need to feed it since it was fed just before you froze it). When you are down to your last 1-2 starters, remove 1 bag and treat it like Day 6: give it a Day 6 feeding after it’s thawed, and then continue mashing daily until Day 10. On Day 10, feed your starter, remove one cup to bake with, then freeze the remaining starters.
Method 2: Follow a Weekly Schedule
Another option is to adjust your schedule. Instead of feeding your starter on Day 6 and Day 10, which will leave you with 4-6 cups of starter on Day 10, you’ll feed and bake Amish Friendship Bread over a one-week period.
How it works:
- Once a week, feed 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk to your 1 cup of starter. Mix well. You’ll have approximately 3 cups of starter once everything is combined, maybe a little more/less.
- Bake with one cup immediately. (-1 cup)
- Save one cup if you plan to keep baking. (-1 cup)
- Give away or freeze any remaining starter away. (-1 cup)
Method 3: Reduce Your Starter By Half
Some people assume that feeding their starter less (less frequently or with less ingredients) is the best solution. It might work for one or two feedings, but ultimately your starter will die out. Even worse, you’ll risk having a starter on your counter that doesn’t have live organisms keeping it healthy, which means potential spoilage or contamination.
Amish Friendship Bread starter is a type of sourdough starter. It needs to be maintained at the proper feeding ratios, or there won’t be enough “food” to go around. One cup starter is the sweet spot, but if ingredients are tight, try this:
- Using an active starter, stir well then remove 1/2 cup and put in a new bowl. Bake with the remaining starter or freeze for future use.
- Add 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup milk, and stir well.
- Store in a warm place.
- Move to a weekly schedule of baking once a week.
There are a few risks with this method. If you don’t have an active starter to begin with, your starter could die out. It’s important to take good care of your starter since you’re dealing with much less of it, so keep an eye on it and make sure you see some kind of activity throughout the week.
Starter storage containers
Less starter means smaller storage containers. You all know that I’m a fan of Bormioli Fido glass jars with the wide mouth (the one I recommend often is the 67.5-ounce jar), but I have a bunch of these 50.75 ounce-jars with the chalkboard labels because they only cost about $5-6. Lately, they’ve been selling out of sourdough jars everywhere, so you can use a mixing bowl or large container (glass recommended over plastic), or stick with a gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag. The key is to have enough room for your starter to comfortably double in size on its active dats.
If you’re not sure what kind of storage container to use (bag, bowl, or jar) this post might help.
Tutorial – How to Make a Smaller Amish Friendship Bread Starter
- ½ cup Amish Friendship Bread starter
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup milk
- Using an existing Amish Friendship Bread starter that's been properly fed and maintained, stir well and then remove ½ cup and place in a new jar, mixing bowl or Ziploc freezer bag. If you would like to use up the remaining starter, bake with it, share it, or freeze for future use.
- To the ½ cup Amish Friendship Bread starter, add ½ cup flour ½ cup sugar, ½ cup milk, and stir well.
- Cover loosely with a dish towel or plastic wrap. If your jar has a latching lid, leave the lid cracked open. Store your starter in a warm, draft-free area of your kitchen.
- Stir your starter daily and move to a weekly schedule of baking once a week. On your baking day, feed your starter 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. Stir well and remove one cup for baking. You should have a little over 1 cup of starter remaining in your jar, bowl or Ziploc freezer bag. If you have excess starter, bake with it, share it, or freeze for future use.
- Repeat step 4. If you ever need to take a break, freeze your starter.
If you still have questions about reducing your Amish Friendship Bread starter or keeping less of it on hand, drop them below!
I would like to start some friendship bread. How do I make the starter?
I just read that I should not use metal with these start’s and I have been using a metal soup ladle to remove from the jar. Have I ruined it? Also how long can one last on my counter if I haven’t used any and my jar is almost full? Can you have too large amount, will it off set the ratios of feedings?
Sorry for all the questions. I have just had this start going for a while.
Thank you for any advise it will be gratefully appreciated!
Due to a milk allergy……can I make this dairy free?
I received a 1 cup starter and was going to do a smaller batch. On day 6 I fed it 3/4 cup each flour, sugar and milk. I got off on my days and ratio and accidentally fed it 1-1/2 cups each flour, sugar and milk on day 9 (one day too early and 50% more flour, sugar, and milk than I should have)…now what. Will it still work? Should I still divide 1cup per bag on day 10?
Hi Becky! It should be fine. It may be a little less active and sluggish for a bit, but as long as it looks and smells healthy it should be okay. This post should help with making sure it’s still good: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-good-vs-not-so-good-amish-friendship-bread-starter/ Let us know if you have any other questions!
Sharmen Oswald says
I have an Amish Friendship Bread recipe that yields 4 starters per recipe. I’ve been baking from the recipe for over a year, keeping one starter for me and giving away 3 starters. Now everyone I know has the starter and no one wants anymore starter. I am now stuck with 8 starters, way too many for me to manage. Is there a recipe that yields just one or two starters? I do not want to freeze any starters at this time. Yours Truly, “Over Run with Starters”
Laura H says
On the regular schedule of 10 days, how many days past day 10 can you safely delay baking if you cannot bake that day?
Hi Laura! As long as you feed your starter on day 10, you don’t *have to bake on day 10. However, you will have to keep feed your starter a larger amount (1:1 ratio to the size of the starter) of flour, sugar, and milk because your starter will be larger. You also can probably get away with not feeding (or baking with) your starter for several days. However, because every starter and kitchen are different, the amount time you can get away with not feeding will differ from starter to starter. If you’re wondering if your starter is still good, here’s a great tutorial: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-good-vs-not-so-good-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
Hi-I have 2 bags of day 10 starter that is healthy but has not been fed since day 6. Can I freeze these bags? Or should I treat as day 10, add 1.5 c milk, sugar and flour and then divide? And then freeze…thanks fir advice!!
Everything I’ve read says to freeze after having fed starter within 24 hours…
Hi Kristen! If you didn’t feed them on day 10, I would feed them now, then freeze them. As far as how much to feed them, I would feed them a 1:1 ratio with how much starter you have in your bags (e.g. if your bag has 1 cup of starter, then I would feed it 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and one cup of milk). Let us know if you have any more questions!
Hi! I was given a starter and bread that included 10 days of instructions from this website. However the Day 6 feeding is omitted; day 6 is just another mush the bag day. On Day 10 it is fed 1.5 cups of flour, sugar, and milk, then divided into 4 1-cup portions to use, give away, etc. Does this sound correct? Is this another a method of making less starter? If I had added the day 6 feeding it seems I would end up with more then 4 bags in the end, right? I have made one and given it away. I hope omitting the day 6 feeding didn’t mess it up, because the one I got was scrumptious! 🙂
Hi Jessica! If it still looked and smelled alright, then it should be ok! You may want to feed it on the weekly schedule going forward, instead of 10 days before feeding it. Here’s a great post about how often you should feed your starter: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-how-often-should-i-feed-my-starter/
Let us know if we can help with anything else!
My family absolutely LOVES our Amish Bread and have done about 4 rounds so far…..problem now is that I have ran out of people to give the bags to and hate wasting ingredients. How can I slow or cut back on this process so I can continue just for my family and or stop completely. Any suggestions? Thanks everyone!
Hi Amanda, freezing and taking out starters when you need is probably the easiest way to not have as much starter on hand. Another option for baking less, but still having a starter more or less “on-hand” is refrigerating it. Here’s a great tutorial on how to do this: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-store-my-starter-in-the-fridge/
Let us know if you have any other questions!
Amanda Whitfield says
I am new to making this bread. I received a starter from a friend and went through the whole 10 day process and baked 2 loaves of bread and had 4 starter bags that no one would take so I kept them and mushed the bags and fed them and then on my second round I had 4 bags I was working with. on day 10 I used 2 of my starter bags and made like 12 loaves of bread and had 2 new starter bags and still had not done anything to my other 2 starter bags that were left! I have starter running out of my ears! I have been reading about freezing your starter and I am a little confused. Ok so if it is day 10 and I feed my starter and then divide into 4 bags and bake 2 loaves. Can I freeze all of the starter (4 bags) and when I want to make bread just take a bag out of freezer let it thaw and make the bread recipe with it without having to feed it since it was feed before i put it in freezer? Then when I get down to last bag in freezer take it out let it thaw and treat it like day 6 and feed it and then on day 10 make 4 more starter bags and make bread? Did i understand this correctly? Bc I don’t want to keep feeding and end up throwing away starter bc milk sugar and flour gets expensive! Thank you!
Hi Amanda! It sounds like you are overflowing with starters (a good, but sometimes frustrating thing). Yes, you can take your starter out of the freezer and bake with it as soon as it’s thawed, if that’s what works for you. However, the only caveat we would add is if you are trying to bake a recipe that requires a rise with your starter (traditional breads and rolls), you will need your starter to be more active than one that has been just defrosted (even if you fed it right before you froze it). But other recipes should work great! Happy baking!
I feed mine 1/2 and keep in the fridge. Pull it out the night before I want to bake. It’s very healthy and I’ve had it for almost a year.
Thanks for sharing, Micki!
If I am using method 2. I feed it once a week but what day do I feed it, then after I feed it what day would I use it and split it up?
I am moving from a 10 day cycle to this and I am just now on day 10 so I’ll be freezing it and bringing my starter I am keeping back to one cup.
If you are using method 2, you would feed it once every 7 days and use it to bake with/split it up immediately after you feed it.
Hi can we use swerve or monk fruit sweetener in the starter instead of sugar? Thanks and love you site
Hi Annette! We haven’t tried either of those sweeteners in the starter before, but you can always experiment! You could also omit the sugar if you are trying to cut down on the sugar amounts. This may help, as well: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/afb-starter-sugar-free/
If I choose to store it in a jar, how do I “mash” it daily per instructions on baggie starter? Would I just need to shake gently? Don’t do anything to it until time to feed it? Or something else?
Hi Mitzi! You can just give it a good stir if you’re keeping it in a jar!
Tonya Scott says
I don’t want to create starters. How do I adjust on dat 10? Normally I’m adding a cup of milk, sugar and flour dividing and then adding those again at a 1 1/2 cups. Can I just add 1/2 cup of each and not divide into starters?
Hi Tonya! The best option is probably to freeze your starters and use them up as needed. Once you get to your last bag (if you wish to keep a starter going) you can do a full Day 10 feeding to that starter. Keeping a smaller starter is a good option if you want to keep one on the counter, however, it does require more maintenance. Here’s the post for freezing your starter if you’d like to try that method: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-storing-amish-friendship-bread-starter-for-future-use/
I really want to have the flexibility to bake whenever I want and not constantly have extra to deal with. But I’m concerned my method will not work. Will you please give me your insight?
About a week ago, I saved 1/2 cup of starter on Day 10. After a couple of days it started to have the acetone smell, so I added 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 flour and 1/2 sugar. When I wanted to bake with it, I removed 1 cup of starter, baked with it, and then fed my remaining 1/2 cup starter with 1/2 cup milk, flour and sugar all over again. My starter has been constantly bubbly. By doing this method, I never have more than 2 cups at a time in my jar.
Will this work?
I had an issue with my previous starters. Both smelled like nail polish remover.
I chucked one of the starters but removed a cup from the other and added one cup each of flour, sugar and milk. Was that right? What should I look for to know if it is saved? It’s resting in a gallon bag.
I also today made a starter from scratch. I let it sit fora couple hours and then it began to rise! Yay! I moved that starter to a gallon size bag. Is that right??
I’m not sure what happened to my previous starters. We followed the directions. One bag inflated with gas but not as much. The other starter Did nothing. With these new starters I moved them to my stovetop.
I am trying to get the recipe for smaller starter and print it. I try tried the pass work and it did not work. Please send the password happy starer int he form it should be. thanks you
Darien Gee says
Hi Jeanne! There is no password needed to print this, but I just added a recipe card so that should make it easier. Let me know if this works for you!
Erica Mueller says
My fridge died, and with it, my frozen starter. It was too much, anyway. In starting over, can I cut the ingredients from the get-go? If so, what are the least amounts I can use?
How do I know if my starter “died”?
On day 5 (2 days ago) it wasn’t doing much and on day 6 (yesterday) when i opened the bag it had a faint acetone smell. I’ve seen you mention that before- so I fed it and transferred it to a large glass jar on my counter that has a lid that I put on loosely. Today it is bubbling again so I stored and don’t smell the acetone but it also doesn’t have the full yeasty smell it did in the
I like the idea of having less starter. I think on day ten, I’m going to only keep half the amount and feed half the amount. I don’t know enough people to give some starter to. I’m done with work in 2 weeks and don’t know many people at home who bake. So knowing that I can keep less starter is an option, will be ideal for me.
I do have 2 bags frozen rn too. I love baking muffins and want to try to play around with the AFB cookie recipe and my own cookie recipe I love more than any other cookie recipe I’ve ever used. If it turns out well, I’ll share it with you all. 🙂
I’ve frozen extra starter and let it come to room temp. and start bubbling and then bake.
Haven’t had any problems baking that way
Darien Gee says
Hi Flora! Great! Freezing (and then thawing) your starter is the best way to go!
I actually had some starter frozen and have decided to start baking again since I’m home sheltering in. I took the bag out and fed it. Now I’m thinking I should have waited until Day 5 to feed? Or how and when do I feed and start baking after taking out of the freezer? Thank you!
Darien Gee says
Hi Debbie! Feeding it right away is what I recommend, and you treat your starter like it’s Day 6 when you take it out. And you can bake at anytime, or wait until Day 10!
I keep a small starter and have for months. I keep a base amount of 1/4 cup. On day 6 I add 1/4 cup of each ingredient. On day 10 I add 1/3 cup plus 1 TBSP of each ingredient. I have enough on day 10 for 1 C of starter and 1/4 C of starter to begin again (plus a small amount I put in the bread or throw out). I use the regular 10 day directions.