Dehydrating your sourdough starter is a clever way to maintain a “time capsule” of your starter.
When you dry out your starter you are essentially creating your own dry wild yeast which can be used in multiple ways as you do with regular yeast, but it’s YOUR YEAST 🙂 packed with fermented flour
As you might have seen on the market there are vendors selling these packets of sourdough starter powder. This “magic” powder essentially is dry yeast or dehydrated starter which is exactly what you are creating here.
How To Dry Out Your Sourdough Starter
This has to be one of the simplest things you will find yourself doing within your baking realm but most effective with so many applications later on. Let’s get to it.
- Take a baking sheet and place parchment paper on it or Silpat if you have one.
- Grab your sourdough starter or your leftover starter from your last feeding ( we have a great article on multiple uses for what do do with excess starter right here )
- Use a rubber/silicone spatula and spread a very thin layer of your starter on to the baking sheet
- Now let it dry out completely by leaving it out in dry place at room temperature. The time it will take to dry out completely will vary on the thickness of your starter and how dry or humid the environment is.
- once it is dry simply break it up to pieces or grind it into a powder.
That is it! Wham! Bam! Thank you, Ma’am!
How Long Does It Take To Dehydrate your starter
The amount of time it will take to dehydrate your starter varies on a number of parameters
- where you live – do you live in a dry or humid place
- how thick you spread out your starter on the baking sheet
- how hydrated was your starter to begin with
Generally speaking, it will take around 24 hours and up to 3 days to dry out your starter completely. Again all of the variables mentioned earlier can extend or shorten this process, BUT…
3 Tips On How To Speed Up The Process Of Dehydrating Your Sourdough Starter
Here are some ways you can speed up this process if you simply don’t have 1-3 days and need to get this done faster.
Following these 4 tips will enable you to dry out your starter in approximately 6-8 hours
- If you have a dehydrating machine use it! this is quite the obvious choice as this is what this machine was built for.
- Take your started and thicken it with more flour. Let it sit for about 2 hours and then spread it on your baking sheet. Essentially you are dehydrating it by adding drier ingredients thus decreasing the hydration level before you start to actually dehydrate it.
- Spread the starter out as thin as possible – honestly, it does not matter how it looks as you will grind this up anyway. Spread it out so thin that part of the parchment paper shows through. This will decrease the time it will take to dry out drastically.
- Stick the starter you spread out on your baking sheet and put it in your oven with the oven setting on convection but do not set the temperature. Leave it at 0. This will turn on the fan in your oven and the light as well. The light will provide some heat and the fan will speed up the drying process.
NOTE: Do not try to turn up the heat in your oven in order to speed up the process. Yeast will start to deteriate at 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Ferenheit. The temperature in your oven with the light on will be around 30 degrees or 85 degrees Fernheitwhich is the ideal temperature to cultivate yeast at.
How To Store Your Dried Up Starter
Now that you have your starter fully dehydrated you can either break it up to pieces or grind it up into a powder. I use my coffee grinder to grind it up. It literally takes seconds and I can store it in a small jar.
Take your chunks of dehydrated starter or powder and place it a tight air-sealed container or jar or a ziplock bag and store it in a dry cool place. Same as you would do with dry yeast.
I find that using it as a powder is more efficient than keeping it in large broken up pieces. The reason being is that it will save time when springing this dried up starter back to life as it will absorb water more quickly.
I must say though that leaving it in big chunks does make for a nice display and a conversation piece 🙂
Your dry starter will be good for at least 6 months and up to a year even more if stored correctly.
How To Spring Your Dried Out Starter Back to Life
Now that you have your dried out the starter and you want to create a fresh starter just follow these easy directions.
NOTE: This dry out starter will speed up the process. Contrary to many articles and conversations I have had and read, you do not need to use the same flour combination for your new starter when using your dry starter.
Your dry starter is only there to act as a way to speed up the process by introducing dry active yeast. It will not determine the flavor of your starter, it is the flours that you will use and the fermentation process that will do that.
- Take 25 grams or a tablespoon of the dry powder
- Add it to a small glass with an equal part of lukewarm water.
- Let it sit for about an hour or two at room temperature. This will ensure that your yeast has been fully hydrated and has “woken up” and will be easy to mix.
- Now you can mix the water and the hydrated yeast flakes.
- The yeast is now hydrated and ready for action
- Start your starter by picking a container or glass jar. Whatever you choose, use glass.
- Add 100 grams of the flour or flour combination of your choice.
- Add 50 grams of room temperature filtered water or natural spring water ( do not use tap water as tap water at first, as it has added minerals and chemicals that can harm your starter when you first start )
- Add the 50 grams of hydrated starter (from steps 1-4) and add it to the flour and water mix from steps 8-9
- Mix it all together
- Stick it in your oven with the temperature off but the light on for about 3 hours. you should see your starter active at this point and have some bubbles.
- Give the starter a second feeding adding another 100 grams of flour and 100 grams water and mix gently.
- Let is rest now overnight at room temperature and you should have a super-duper new starter ready for use.
You might want to ferment it and give your sourdough starter a few more feedings, this will help give it a deeper more sour flavor.
TIP: To help our dry east become even more active try replacing a small portion of the water with natural fruit juice like apple, orange, grape or whatever you have on hand.
Instead of using 50 grams of water ( in step 8 ) use 25 grams of natural fruit Juice and 25 grams of water.
These juices contain natural sugars that the yeast just loves and will make your yeast even more active.
The juice you use will have an effect on the flavor but only for the first day or so. After a couple of days of feeding your starter you will notice that the fruity flavor is gone and the flavor of the flour you used has taken over.
If your starter is not as active as you would like it to be, discard 200 grams of it and feed it again with another 50 grams of water and 50 grams of flour. Let it sit in your oven again for 3 hours ( the oven turned off but the light is on) give it one another feeding of 100 grams of flour and another 100 grams of flour and let it sit overnight. your starter at this point should be fully mature and super active.
Why Would You Want To Dry Out your Sourdough Starter?
- In case your regular starter suffered a massive accident be it neglect or you accidentally dropped it or any other reason your starter has been lost and you need a new one.
- If you want to start a new starter with different flour combinations
- If you need to leave your sourdough starter behind and have no way to keep feeding it for a long time be it a vacation, moving or any reason that you know you will not have time to give your starter that extra attention it needs
- General back up plan ( doomsday)
Uses For Dried Up Starter
This dried up starter can be used in multiple ways.
- Use it to start a new starter whether your old one has collapsed due to neglect or if you want to start another starter with a different flour combination.
- Use it as a flavor enhancer in recipes
- Use it as a yeast substitute in recipes
- Give it as a gift to friends and family
- Use it to dust your breadbasket for some added flavor