Put your starter on hold

Or, I have a life outside the kitchen!

There will come a time when you need to take a break from sourdough and put your starter on hold. Vacations, distractions, whatever. Or maybe you want a backup, just in case something goes wrong. Or you want to share your starter with someone far away. How to send it? How to store it for months, for years even?

Dry it.

Feed your starter and let it ripen as if you were going to use it. At its peak, transfer it to parchment paper on one or two cookie sheets. With a spatula, spread it into a very thin layer, the thinner the better. I used only one sheet because I just wanted a backup and a way to mail it to a friend. I put mine into the cold oven and cautioned everyone to not turn it on without taking out the cookie sheet. Room temp is okay but if the kitchen is cold, turn on the oven light to warm it a little. Takes a day or so.

When dry, it will be easy to separate from the paper and it will be easy to crumble in your hands. You can’t over-dry it so give it more time if in doubt. Crumble into small pieces and store in an airtight jar and label carefully. Send yourself a text or email, telling you where you put the jar. (I need that. You might not.)

Reviving dried starter

Place about 25 grams (1/4 cup) into a jar. Add 50 grams lukewarm dechlorinated water and make sure all the crumbles are submerged so they will dissolve. Stir occasionally for several hours until most pieces are dissolved. Mix in 25 grams flour and cover tightly. Let it sit in a warm place (oven light) for about 24 hours or until bubbles are at surface. Mix in 25 grams flour and 25 grams water, making sure all flour is wet, for about 8 hours or until it is very bubbly. Feed again with 25 grams flour and 25 of water. No discard yet. After about 12 hours you’ll see it has risen and fallen. It is now ready to continue as your starter on its regular feeding schedule. Start with a discard and feeding.

My pint jar of stored starter:

dried starter

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