Dehydrating and Activating Sourdough Starter
At some point, I get tired of taking care of my starter. It's a weekly commitment and sometimes life is just too busy. Putting your sourdough on hold could not be more simple.
The Starter needs to be at it's peak of activity before you dehydrate so if your starter is in the fridge, take it out and allow to warm up to room temperature for 4-5 hours. If the starter is rising well, than take a sheet pan covered in parchment paper or a silpat and spread 1 cup of starter as thin as you can with a spatula. Allow to air dry for at least 24 hours until brittle and there are no wet or spots that bend. Snap apart into shards and put into a jar with tight fitting lid. I like to put the shards into my blender and pulverize into a powder. Label and date jar. Store in a cool, dry, dark place until it is needed again. Just not in the fridge!
Take 1 oz. or 1/4 cup of the dried starter and mix with 2 oz.( 1/4 cup) warm water. Stir for a full minute to help get it dissolving. It will take more occasional stirring over the next 3 hours before it really starts to dissolve.
Without discarding, add 1 oz. flour and let sit at room temperature (about 80-85 degrees is best) for 24 hours.
You should see some bubbles. This means it is coming back to life! Without discarding,
add 1 oz. flour and 1 oz. water. Let sit at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
Repeat process again; 1 oz. flour and 1 oz. water without discarding. Let sit 8-12 hours.
Discard all but 4 oz. starter and add 4 oz. flour and 4 oz. water. Now it's ready to begin it's regular feeding schedule of 1 part starter:1 part flour:1 part water.
Congratulations! You have activated your dried starter. If you plan to bake every day, you can leave it on the counter and discard/use the starter every day. Feed with the 1:1:1 ratio after you remove what you need to use in your recipe.
If baking once every 7-10 days is more your speed, put it in the fridge! There are different approaches out there on how to do this but my preferred method is to put my starter directly in the fridge right after feeding. The cold slows down the “eating” process like slow motion. When I want to use it, I pull it out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temp for at least 4-5 hours. (or the night before) It will begin to rise noticeably and then you are ready to make your recipe.
For example, my recipe calls for 1 cup of sourdough. I pour out 1 cup of my starter and make my recipe as directed. I weigh what is left and there is 5 ounces of starter. This means I will add 5 ounces of water and 5 ounces of flour. If you don’t want to end up with that much starter, you can discard more before feeding but keep at least 4 oz.