The most important question for me when we’re looking for the best containers for sourdough starter is: do we need to buy some specific containers or jars for sourdough starter or can you use whatever containers you have around the house?
The truth is that you don’t need any kind of special container, especially if you just plan on making a starter as your first attempt, for a single loaf of sourdough bread. If you’re just experimenting, use whatever you have in the house.
As long as it’s slightly large and transparent, you can use whatever empty container you have in the house. It can be a large jar or it can be a large plastic bowl.
Just don’t use metal because the starter is acidic and it can react with certain metals. That’s why we either use glass or plastic containers.
If you aren’t planning on using the container as your permanent levain bucket, the concern about which container would be best isn’t that important.
What I mean by a permanent levain bucket is that you plan on using the container/jar to continuously keep the levain active and ready for baking.
If you plan on making a sourdough starter just to bake once, then you don’t need to concern yourself all that much with what container you’re using.
However, if you are looking for the best containers for sourdough starter as your permanent levain bucket then you’ll need at least two containers of the same size.
More importantly, one these containers for your permanent levain needs to have a lid.
Best Containers for Sourdough Starter: Plastic Containers & Best Jar for Sourdough Starter
I’m going to make a simple suggestion: before buying the jars or plastic containers for your levain, check out which recipe you plan on following.
You’ll get to easily establish which are the best containers for sourdough starter for you by consulting the levain recipe that you plan on making.
There are so many variations for those recipes that I can’t simply say that there’s a single best container that you should use. It doesn’t work like that.
Some recipes will call for a small, clear bowl and that’s all they’ll mention because the starter is made just for making one loaf.
Others will just mention using a large jar but a large plastic container will work, too.
And then there are recipes that will explicitly say that we need to use a 6-quart clear round tub.
And if you want to make a permanent active levain that is stored in the refrigerator to be used whenever you’re ready to bake sourdough breads on a regular basis, then you need a second 6-quart clear round tub with a lid.
Thus, a second container with a lid is needed if you plan on using it as a permanent levain bucket that is kept in the fridge.
By the way, if you don’t want to trouble yourself with making a starter by hand, you can check out my reviews for Zojirushi bread makers to see how a bread machine can make sourdough starter and then bake the bread for you.
1. Weck Jars 745 – 2 Sourdough Jars with Glass Lids
I will admit first that I love the way these weck jars with their easy-to-handle glass lids look. They’re just gorgeous. In my opinion, they’re prettier than mason jars.
A jar will also be easy to store in the fridge because it won’t take up much space at all.
A user who loves these weck jars as the best containers for sourdough starter mentioned that they didn’t manage to use mason jars successfully to make levain. But these weck jars work perfectly.
Thus, if you have the same unsatisfying experience with mason jars as the best jar for sourdough starter, then you should consider these Weck jars.
The 1 liter (33.8 oz) capacity is really great. Most amateur bakers will do very well with this size.
The mouth measures 3.875 inches.
It also has a 5.75 inches height.
Overall, this size is suitable for holding a sufficient amount of sourdough starter. If you need a bigger size, you should buy the 1.5 liters weck jars.
They’re also made from eco-friendly and sturdy glass.
You can freeze them or pour hot liquids in them and you don’t have to worry about the glass breaking.
They’re also dishwasher safe.
The only thing I could mention as a con is the price. They’re about 2x more expensive than mason jars.
In my opinion, the price is worth it. We get 2 big jars with the perfect wide mouth to feed the starter without problems and you can reuse these jars as many times as you want. You can also boil them for a deep cleaning, free from contaminants.
If you plan on using jars, you can also check out this recipe for making your sourdough starter in a jar.
2. Cambro 6 Qt Round Container with Translucent Lid
Now it’s time to see which are some of the best containers for sourdough starter if you’re looking for plastic containers.
In my opinion, the Cambro 6 Qt Round Container with Translucent Lid is really perfect. Especially if you’re making a levain recipe that starts off with 500 grams (3 ¾ cups plus 2 tbsp.) of flour with 500 grams (2 ¼ cups) of water.
Nevertheless, Cambro has a variety of sizes for their round containers with translucent lid.
You can choose smaller containers, like 2 quart or 4 quart if you’re making a starter recipe with smaller quantities of flour and water.
Just keep in mind that if you’re planning on using this Cambro 6 Qt Round Container with Translucent Lid as a permanent levain bucket that you store in the fridge, you’ll benefit from buying 2 of these 6-quart round plastic containers.
The container is made from polypropylene material. This is BPA-free and stain-resistant plastic. It won’t be harmed by food acids, oils, and alcohol.
The plastic can withstand temperatures from -40 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
It also comes with a pair of handles for easy transport.
If you feel like you need an even bigger size for your levain, you can buy the Cambro 12 Qt with Lid, although I don’t imagine that many people will go for making a starter with 1000 grams of flour.
3. Bormioli Rocco Fido 33.75 oz Jar
Another great option as a fantastic container for sourdough starter is this square jar from Bormioli Rocco.
I love the way it looks and the blue lid is just gorgeous. It’s an even more beautiful jar than the weck thanks to that blue lid that contributes to 99% of its charm.
However, I just have one minor complaint to make.
For a bit more money we can get 2 weck jars of the same size.
Or, for little less than the price for one single Bormioli Rocco Fido 33.75 oz Jar, we can buy 2 mason jars.
The idea is that this Bormioli Rocco Fido 33.75 oz Jar is not cheap.
Moreover, if you need a big size for your levain, check out the Cambro 6 Qt Round Container with Translucent Lid that I reviewed above.
Other than the slightly higher price, we can’t really complain about this Bormioli Rocco Fido 33.75 oz Jar.
People absolutely love using it for their sourdough starter. It won’t take up much space at all in the fridge.
The jars are made from Italian glass. They’re perfect for storing and for making levain. The metal clamp is easy to use.
You should also pay attention to the fact that the jar is dishwasher safe but without metal wire and rubber gasket. You have to remove those.
4. DuraHome Food Storage Containers with Lids
To balance the reviews once again, we should review another plastic model as one of the best containers for sourdough starter because we already saw 2 of the best jars for levain.
If you need plastic, Cambro is the best manufacturer. That’s my favorite. But we should have at least a second option.
This second option is completely different from what Cambro offers because with Cambro we’re only buying a single plastic container that can measure 2 qt, 4 qt, 6 qt or even 12 qt.
If you’re looking to buy a very big set of plastic containers with lids for a pretty good price, then this DuraHome Food Storage Containers with Lids might be perfect.
I love that we get 3 sizes: 8oz, 16oz and 32oz.
The 16 and 32 oz ones are both perfect for sourdough, depending on how much starter you make.
This set is really great for people who want to combine sourdough starter making with containers that have multiple uses.
The biggest advantage for this set is the fact that we get 44 pieces of food storage containers with lids for a very good price.
We buy 16 sets of 8oz, 16 sets of 16oz and 12 sets of 32 oz. They’re pretty great.
They’re also described as being sturdy heavy-duty containers that are made of high quality 100% food-grade BPA-free polypropylene.
This DuraHome set is also designed to withstand freezing temperatures for extended periods of time. Thus, if you also need containers to freeze bread dough or pizza dough, this set is good for that, too.
5. Mason Jars Wide Mouth 32 oz
Can you really make recommendations for the best containers for sourdough starter without mentioning mason jars?
Still, weck jars are my actual favorite for levain making.
However, mason jars are a very good choice if you’re looking for a more affordable option. Plus, there’s a good chance that you already have some in your pantry.
You can also use big coffee jars for making sourdough starter, as long as they have a wide mouth. That would mean that you wouldn’t have to pay for new jars.
How to Choose the Best Containers for Sourdough Starter
Let’s quickly talk about things like container size, glass or plastic, lid or no lid in order to further understand which sourdough starter containers would be best.
1. Container size
The whole idea when you’re looking to use the best containers for sourdough starter is that it should be big enough for your levain.
Thus, before buying the best jars for sourdough starter or plastic containers with a lid, you must check out the levain recipe you’re trying to make and see which size would work as your permanent levain bucket.
The sourdough starter that you’re trying to make is the one that will dictate which container/jar you’ll end up using. Basically, the answer for your search is found in the levain recipe that you’ve chosen.
Small, clear bowl
If you were to follow the recipe from Tartine Bread by Robertson Chad, then you will discover that the container used to feed your culture and develop your starter is simply a small, clear bowl. The bowl can be any simple, transparent container that you have in the house.
There’s no need for a lid, you can cover it with a kitchen towel.
That’s because in that book, the starter is made just to make a basic country bread recipe. This is not a recipe for a permanent levain that you continuously keep active and ready for baking.
In the case of a permanent levain, you’ll need two big containers with a lid.
When you’re making just a small levain batch, the only thing you need to consider when picking a container is that even a small starter will double or triple in size as you feed it.
6-quart clear round tub
On the other hand, if you follow the recipe from Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish, then you’ll discover that you need a 6-quart clear round tub.
And you need a second 6-quart clear round tub with a lid if you want to keep a permanent active sourdough starter in the fridge to use whenever you want to bake a loaf.
6-7 cup containers with lids
Other recipes will mention needing two or three 6-7 cup containers with lids.
While other recipes will use jars like the ones we mentioned above: weck jar, mason jar or any other big jar with wide mouth.
There are many variations. That’s why I said that you can decide which are the best containers for sourdough starter for you based on the recipe that you’re following.
2. Lid or no lid for sourdough starter containers?
The lid is needed if you’re keeping an active levain in the fridge.
If you plan on using the container as a permanent levain bucket that is stored in the fridge, then you need a lid.
Otherwise, you can cover the bowl/jar with a kitchen towel or with coffee filter paper or even with a disposable shower cap.
There’s no need for a lid if you plan on making a starter just for a loaf of bread.
3. Best jar for sourdough starter or plastic containers?
Some of the best bakers will use plastic bowls or large 6-quart clear round tubs to make their levain.
Other recipes will mention that they prefer using a glass jar but that plastic containers will work just fine, too.
The size of the container is definitely more important and that’s decided by which levain recipe you’re making.
If you want to shop for the best jar for sourdough starter, a medium-sized one will work for most recipes.
Most starters can be made in 26-34 oz jars.
The jar must be wide-mouth.
32 oz wide mouth mason jars can also work to make sourdough starter.
1 liter (33.8 oz) weck jars are another good option.
64 oz jars or bigger are used by more experienced bakers.
Some bakers will prefer glass jars because they can boil them or wash them in extremely hot water. It’s a general cleaning to ensure that they are free from contaminants.
Others will prefer plastic because it’s easier to handle, there’s no risk of braking. If you have the tendency to brake glass often, maybe choose plastic over glass for your levain container.
In the end, the most important thing is for the container/jar to be transparent.
All in all, I hope that my recommendations for the best containers for sourdough starter can be of help to you but you must also check out with your levain recipe in order to determine which size would work best for what you’re making.