Last month, I went through the process of drying and restarting my apple starter so that I could share some of it with a hiking buddy. You can find the process for drying a sourdough starter here. In this post, I’ll continue the experiment and show you how to activate the dried starter.
After drying and restarting my starter several times, I ended up with a couple of jars of dried start. I stored one in the freezer and kept the other one in the refrigerator since I knew I would be using it right away.
How to Activate a Dried Sourdough Starter
What you’ll need:
- 2 teaspoons of dried starter
- Water (I used Spring water), but you can use tap water if you let it sit out to remove the chlorine. My tap water also has fluoride in it so I don’t use it for baking.
- Unbleached all-purpose or bread flour (I tested both, it worked with either flour, but some people prefer to use bread flour)
- Quart-size mason jar or glass mixing bowl
Mix a couple of teaspoons of the dried starter in a quart mason jar (or mixing bowl) with 1/2 cup of water at 95 to 100 degrees F. Mix briefly and let stand for 15 min.
Add 1/3 cup of unbleached bread flour (or all-purpose), mix well and proof for 24 hours at 85 deg. F. If you’re using a quart jar, the jar lid should not be tightened. During the first 12 hours the culture should be stirred once or twice as convenient.
At the end of 24 hours the culture should start to bubble, but it could take longer. Add an additional 1/2 cup of 85 deg. F. water and 1/2 cup of flour. Then stir vigorously to whip some air into the mixture. Return it to your warm place for 12 hours.
When the culture has a layer of foamy bubbles on the surface, it is ready to use. Some cultures will fully activate in 24-48 hours, but some may require 3 to 5 days.
If the culture is not active at this point, discard half of it and continue the feeding schedule.* During this time, keep the culture at 85 deg. F., add water and flour at about 12 hour intervals and stir briskly.
* Mine took about 5 days to activate. On days 3 and 4, I discarded half of the mixture at 12-hour intervals and fed it with ½ cup water and ½ cup all-purpose flour. By the morning of the 5th day, the culture was active and bubbly.
That’s it! My next experiment will be using the fed sourdough starter to bake some bread.
Now that I’ve tested the activation process and know it works, I can give some of the dried start to my hiking buddy. I put 6 teaspoons of the dried starter in a Ziploc bag. She only needs 2 teaspoons but she may want to experiment a bit.
Thanks for joining me in my experiment. Stay tuned to find out how it works in some sourdough bread.
Here are some of the sources I used for my experiment:
- I also consulted the book Classic Sourdough by Ed Wood. He doesn’t outline the process for drying a sourdough, just restarting.