How To: Dehydrate Sourdough Starter

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Are you a sourdough aficionado looking for a clever way to preserve your beloved starter? Dehydrating sourdough starter is perfect solution for those wanting to hit pause on their baking journey.

You’ve finally baked your way through all the sourdough recipes the internet has to offer. You’ve mastered the art of the cold proof, your bulk fermentation is on point, and you’ve experimented with every possible flavor combination under the sun.

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Understandably, you might be feeling like it’s time for a little break from the world of sourdough. But what about your precious sourdough starter? Fear not, I’ve got the perfect solution for you – dehydrating your sourdough starter.

Sourdough starter in a mason jar with a spoon in it.

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What Is Dehydrated Sourdough Starter?

You might be thinking, “Wait, dehydrated what now?”

Well, we love our own magical concoction of flour and water that ferments over time to give us the natural yeast needed to bake delicious, tangy sourdough bread, right?

But here’s the thing: maintaining a sourdough starter requires daily feedings and care, which can be a bit of a commitment.

Enter dehydrated sourdough starter.

It’s essentially your mature sourdough starter that’s been allowed to dry out completely, then broken up into flakes or ground into a powder. This storage method ensures that all the beneficial microbes like yeast and bacteria are present and accounted for throughout the entire process.

The beauty of this dehydrating sourdough starter is extending its shelf life. Unlike its liquid counterpart that needs constant attention, this dried version can be stored for an extended period of time without any maintenance.

Think of it as a hibernating bear—it’s in a deep sleep until you’re ready to wake it up with a splash of water and a good feeding of flour.

Ground dehydrated sourdough starter in a jar and on a spoon.

Why Dry Sourdough Starter?

Why go through the trouble of preserving sourdough starter? Well, if you’ve spent weeks (or even months) nurturing your starter, it can feel a bit like you’re losing a loved one when you decide to take a break from baking without a plan for your fermented friend. Preserving it allows you to keep the friendship going!

Drying sourdough starter is a fantastic way to put it into a sort of suspended animation. It’s like giving your starter a well-deserved vacation while you take a break from your baking adventures for whatever reason.

Then, when you’re ready to don your apron again, you can easily rehydrate your starter, and once revived it will be ready to leaven bread again.

Dried sourdough starter in a bail jar.

More Reasons To Dehydrate Starter

  • A back up plan! Things happen, mistakes get made, starters go bad, and you may not want to start from scratch. Having a dried starter handy can get you back up and running quickly after a catastrophic loss.
  • Moving or long term travel – it’s much easier to transport a dried starter than the liquid version that requires regular maintenance.
  • Sharing your starter, much like moving or travel, it’s much easier to give the gift of a powder instead of goo!
  • It’s summer holidays and you are BUSY with the kids, the animals, and your homestead, and you’ve got no time to bake bread, besides, who wants to run the oven at 450f when it already feels like 450f in the house!

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Pros + Cons

Pro:

  • Easy to do.
  • Requires no special tools.
  • Excellent method for long term storage.
  • Great way to share your starter.
  • Both starter and discard can be dried.

Con:

  • Takes a while to air dry.
  • Dried discard may need 1 -2 extra feedings to be revived vs active sourdough starter.
  • Fed and bubbly starter is difficult to spread thinly.
  • Dried starter chips take longer to rehydrate and revive than a powdered starter.
Dried starter in a glass jar.

Tips + Tricks

No. 1 –> If you’ve got a food dehydrator, feel free to use it to help speed up the process, but it’s super important to keep the temperature low to prevent harming the microbes. Aim for room temperature, or as low as your dehydrator can go. Keep it below 90f.

No. 2 –> Use a high quality parchment paper as cheaper stuff can rip or tear and you don’t need pieces of parchment in your starter!

No. 3 –> Actively fed sourdough starter revives more quickly, but is more difficult to spread and dry while unfed discard is easier to spread thin but requires an extra feeding or two when rehydrated. Which ever method you choose works!

No. 4 –> Try to dry your starter somewhere with good airflow, a closed cupboard would be poor choice, but an unused corner of the raised bar would work great!

No. 5 –> Higher humidity will increase the drying time, so if at all possible, choose the dry your starter when it’s not raining or super humid in your house.

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How To Dehydrate Sourdough Starter

This is an incredibly easy process and if properly stored in an airtight environment, the dehydrated starter should last indefinitely.

  1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper sheet.
  2. Spread a dollop of starter or discard in a thin layer – the aim is to dry the starter quickly, so thin layers are best.
  3. Set aside in a safe place to dry naturally, this could take up to 3 days. If the top layer is hard and dried after day 2, peel it from the parchment or silicone mat and flip it over and allow it to dry for another 24 hours to ensure the entire thickness is completely dried.
  4. Break the dry starter into chunks or process it in a blender or food processor into a powder before transferring to an airtight container for long term storage.
  5. Condition the dried sourdough starter. Each day for 7 days, shake the jar and watch for signs of moisture on the outside of the jar. If there are signs of moisture, it needs longer to dry. If there are no signs of moisture, it can be safely stored.

Storage

Once your starter is fully dehydrated and broken into small pieces or ground into a powder, transfer it to an airtight container, like a glass jar with a tight lid, or a plastic container with a good seal. You want to ensure it’s airtight to prevent any moisture from seeping in.

Now, where to put it? You have a few options here. If you’re planning on using your dehydrated starter in the next few months, your pantry or a kitchen cupboard will do just fine. The key is to keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

But what if you’re looking at a longer hiatus from your sourdough adventures? Well, then your freezer is your best friend. If you store dehydrated sourdough starter in the freezer, you can extend its shelf life even further, up to years! Just make sure your container is freezer-safe and you’re good to go.

Reviving Dried Starter

It’s no good to preserve sourdough starter if you can’t reawaken it easily! Reviving dried starter is as easy as feeding.

  1. Add 50 grams of starter to a small bowl, and add 50g warm water (80-85f), stir well.
  2. Allow it to sit and rehydrate for 12 -24 hours.
  3. Weigh 50g of the starter/water and feed the starter with 50g water and 50g flour every 24 hours until bubbly and active.

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Sourdough starter in a mason jar with a spoon in it.

Dehydrated Sourdough Starter

Allyson Letal
Unlock the secret to preserving your sourdough starter by learning how to dehydrate sourdough starter! This guide will show you the simple yet effective steps to dehydrate your starter, perfect for saving it for future baking projects or sharing with other bread lovers. No more wasting or starting from scratch.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Dry Time 2 days
Total Time 2 days 5 minutes
Course Preserved
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 228 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup sourdough starter active, or unfed discard

Instructions
 

  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper sheet.
  • Spread a dollop of starter or discard in a thin layer – the aim is to dry the starter quickly, so thin layers are best.
  • Set aside in a safe place to dry naturally, this could take up to 3 days. If the top layer is hard and dried after day 2, peel it from the parchment or silicone mat and flip it over and allow it to dry for another 24 hours to ensure the entire thickness is completely dried.
  • Break the dry starter into chunks or process it in a blender or food processor into a powder before transferring to an airtight container for long term storage.
  • Don't forget to condition. Each day for 7 days, shake the jar and watch for signs of moisture on the outside of the jar. If there are signs of moisture, it needs longer to dry, if there are no signs of moisture, it can be safely stored long term.

Notes

Storage

Now, where to put it? You have a few options here. If you're planning on using your dehydrated starter in the next few months, your pantry or a kitchen cupboard will do just fine. The key is to keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
But what if you're looking at a longer hiatus from your sourdough adventures? Well, then your freezer is your best friend. If you store dehydrated sourdough starter in the freezer, you can extend its shelf life even further, up to years! Just make sure your container is freezer-safe and you're good to go.

reviving dried starter

It's no good to preserve sourdough starter if you can't reawaken it easily! Reviving dried starter is as easy as feeding.
  1. Add 50 grams of starter to a small bowl, and add 50g warm water (80-85f), stir well.
  2. Allow it to sit and rehydrate for 12 -24 hours.
  3. Weigh 50g of the starter/water and feed the starter with 50g water and 50g flour every 24 hours until bubbly and active.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 228kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 7gFat: 1gSodium: 4mgFiber: 2g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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