Yesterday I shared a handful of ways of how to store and preserve sourdough starter so that you can save and preserve your sourdough starter in case you need some. Today I want to share how to dehydrate sourdough starter for long term storage.
I want to share 2 different ways of dehydrating sourdough starter that are easy and you can do it at home without any fancy equipment. One method uses an oven to dry it out and the other is a method using just a rubber spatula. Dont worry I will explain this!
Most sourdough fanatic bakers spend a lot of time working with their bread recipes to create amazing, flavorful loaves. Sourdough baking can be a time consuming process, and its something that I personally love. But, at some point, any baker will need to put their sourdough baking on hold, which means storing your sourdough starter for future use.
While there are a couple of ways to store your sourdough starter, today we are going to talk about my favorite ways to store mine so that I can use it well into the future. It is also a great thing to do to have a backup in case something catastrophic happens to your start.
Some of the things that can happen are that your starter can get moldy, which is kind of a death sentence. I have also heard of people accidentally baking theirs in the oven, when storing it in there to keep it warmer. Another thing I have seen happen is dropping their sourdough glass jar, which can result it the end of your start.
Dehydrating your sourdough start is a great shelf stable way of preserving your sourdough starter for years.
How do you dehydrate a sourdough start:
This is the first method of how to dehydrate your sourdough starter. Read the instructions below.
Prepare Your Sourdough Start
First, you want to prepare your sourdough starter. You want to feed it with flour and water as if you are going to bake with it. If your start is in the fridge, bring it out, feed it and let it come to room temperature. let your start sit until it becomes active and bubbly.
I like to use a sheet cake pan or a cookie sheet pan and parchment paper(you can also use a silicone mat). Take about 1 1/2 cups of sourdough starter, or as much as you need depending on the size of your pan. I use 1 1/2 cups to fill a large baking sheet completely.
Apply the Sourdough Start to Your Pan
Lay a piece of parchment paper on your pan. Pour the sourdough start on the pan and using an offset spatula or a rubber spatula spread the start out over the paper. You want to spread it into a very thin layer. Just enough to cover the parchment paper.
Dehydrate Your Starter
Place your pan in the oven and if you have a convection fan setting, turn that on. If not, its okay. I like to turn my light on as well as the convection fan.
*You can also use a food dehydrator if you have one, but there is no reason to buy one just to do this. *
Using both of these methods, it will dry in just a couple of hours. If you have a very low setting like 90 degrees on your oven you can set it to preheat for just a couple minutes and then turn it off. This can add just enough heat to dry it without ruining the start.
Store in an airtight container
Once the starter is completely dried, break it into small pieces and store the dried starter chips in an airtight container in a cool, dry place like a pantry or cupboard.
You can also store your dehydrated starter in the freezer.
Storing your sourdough starter long term like this is a great way to preserve your sourdough starter for years. The key is to make sure that your starter is completely dry.
Second Method to Dehydrate Your Sourdough Starter
I came across this method during my daily discards and feedings. I felt like I was wasting my starter that was stuck on my rubber spatulas. I decided to try drying that out and using it as a backup.
This is great if you do not want to dry a bunch at a time or if you just aren’t in the mood to so a large batch of sourdough starter.
What I do is when I feed my sourdough starter, I take the rubber spatula that I used to mix up my start and I place it in a mason jar with the handle part in the jar. The rubber part will be sticking out of the jar.
Spread the start evenly on the silicone spatula and let it air dry. This usually takes a couple of hours to do. The start will fall off the spatula. You can then store this in a glass jar. I have a separate glass jar sitting by my starter that I use to add the dried starter too every day.
It is a more slow accumulation of starter, but what it is doing is saving that sourdough starter that would go to waste. Once my jar is full, I put the lid on and store the dry sourdough starter in my pantry.
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How to Rehydrate Your Sourdough Starter When Ready to Use
Add your dehydrated starter to a jar and add water to it and stir it occasionally until the starter is completely dissolved. Then you will need to feed it with equal amounts of flour and water.
Once you have fed the starter equal parts flour and water, let it sit in a warm spot to allow it to grow easier.
Store it in a glass jar. I like to use a mason jar. You can cover it with a towel and use a rubber band to hold it in place or you can poke some holes in your lid to allow for air flow.
You can also feed it twice a day to allow it to wake up a bit faster. This can help the start to get going. I would recommend not discarding for the first couple of days, so that your start can grow strong. Dont fret though, you will soon have an active sourdough starter.
It may take a few days and maybe even a week to get it active, but once it is it will be a great mature starter which is better than starting from scratch. If you start from scratch it will take you months before you have a strong enough starter to actually bake bread.
Capturing this wild yeast called sourdough is an incredible journey and I have thoroughly enjoyed every part of it. Making sourdough bread is a blessing to me and my family.