HOW TO DEHYDRATE YOUR STARTER?

First things first. Why would you do it in the first place?

Reason # 1. Always have a back up option in case of emergency. Things don’t always go as planned, and it can happen that you lose your starter. It’s not common, but never say never. Either mould has grown on it, or you’ve dropped the jar on the floor and it broke or you’ve used it all up by mistake.

Reason #2. You can easily share it with friends, even when they don’t live nearby.

Reason #3. Any excess, also called the discard, can be dried and ground to powder. It can then be used for multiple purposes. I’ll cover that in a second.


STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS TO DRY YOUR SOURDOUGH STARTER

Step 1. Take some starter and spread it thinly on a parchment paper using a spatula.

Step 2. Let it dry for up to 72h (until it’s crisp). I leave mine on the counter, uncovered. The yeast and bacteria are best preserved when the starter is drying at its own pace, at low temperatures. Drying times depend on the temperature. The thiner you spread it, the quicker it will dry.

Step 3. Once completely dry, break it in small pieces (this is so satisfying) and put it in an airtight container (or zip bag), getting it ready for storage.

Step 4. You can store it in the cupboard (for several months) or in the freezer (if you not plan on using it for a long period of time).

[Tip! if you plan to reactivate it later or share with friends, best to dry your starter once it’s passed its fermentation peak, and not after it’s been sat unfed for days in the fridge.]


Need to reactivate some? It’s relatively easy.
Day 1, morning

In a jar, add 20g dry sourdough starter with 30g water. Make sure all flakes are covered by the water. Leave it to rest on the counter for a couple of hours until the flakes are soaked. It’s ok to stir from time to time to check on it.

3-4h later, flakes should be completely soaked, stir it well until completely dissolved, it will feel like a liquid paste. Add 20g flour and stir well, until no visible dry flour or lumps.  Loosely place the lid on the jar and leave it again on the counter.

Leave the jar on the counter until the starter has visibly grown in volume. It might double in size by the evening, depending on the temperature in your kitchen and the flour you use.

The time to reactivate your starter flakes will vary, and depending on how it evolves, you may consider one of the following routes.

Route 1

By Day 1 evening (or earlier) it doubles in volume, and then starts to collapse (lose volume), then you can feed again.

Keep 20g starter, discard the rest. Add 40g water and 40g flour and stir well. Leave rest on the counter, loose lid on. It will double in size by the next morning.

Next morning, Day 2, if doubled again in volume, take 30g starter, and 60/60g water and flour, as this will give you enough to make a dough should you want too. Once it doubles, you can either make your first bread with or move it to the fridge until you’re ready. In which case it will need an additional feed before dough preparation.

route 2

By Day 1 evening there are no signs of movement, leave it as it is on the counter till the next morning. No action.

If by Day 2 morning it doubles  in volume, then keep 20g starter, discard the rest. Add 40g water and 40g flour and stir well. Leave rest on the counter, loose lid on. When it doubles again, you give it another feed take 30g of starter, and 60/60g water and flour. Once it doubles you can either prep your first dough or move to the fridge.

If still no signs of increase in volume by Day 2 morning, do not remove from it, just add some more 20g water and 20g flour, give it a good stir and leave it on the counter. This should help it increase in volume, leave it for 24h if necessary. 

It should then double in volume, and you can safely do a 20g starter + 40g water + 40g flour. 

When it doubles again, you take 30g starter, and 60/60g water and flour, as this will give you enough to make a dough too once the starter has reached its fermentation peak.

If still no signs of activity, take 40g of the starter and add 40g water and 40g flour and let it rest until it doubles in volume or for 24h. Repeat this for a couple of days.

WHAT ABOUT THE EXCESS?

If you have discard and not sure what to do with it, just dry it (as described above).

Once dry, using a blender dry to fine powder. You can then use it instead of flour for the shaping of the dough (instead of the rice flour, which I would normally use). It’s coarser, so it doesn’t stick to the dough and it also gives a nice golden colour to the crust.

If you make sourdough pizza, you can use it for shaping and dusting the pizza peel instead of semola rimacinata.

And lastly, something I’ve read about extensively, you can use it to feed your plants with. Yes, that’s right, both indoor and outdoor plants.

This video might inspire you.

LOOKING FOR SOME DRY SOURDOUGH STARTER TO START YOUR JOURNEY?

For those based in the UK, I am more than happy to provide FREE dry sourdough starter, all I would ask you for is to cover the postage. If interested, get in touch via the contact form.