When I first decided to learn to make sourdough bread I looked everywhere on the net to learn how to make it. There are heaps of sites out there with expert advice on how to create a sourdough starter from scratch but my first two tries ended up with something that smelled really bad.
Then I found you could buy dried sourdough starter and have it mailed to you and at about the same time, Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial asked me if I wanted some of her Priscilla starter. I jumped at the chance and soon I received a small ziplock bag filled with dried sourdough powder.
She sent instructions on how to turn that powder into ripe, bouncy sourdough starter that makes the BEST bread. Celia has instructions on that too.
The dilemma for me was now that I had this starter I named Esmerelda Pissemeyer, what if I killed it? We all have very busy lives and mine is no exception and I worried that I’d kill my starter through neglect. Off I went to the net and learned freezing starter isn’t a very good idea but drying worked. I found sites that recommended pouring the starter onto baking paper and leaving it to dry. In places that are very dry, it might take a day or so but areas of high humidity like where I live, it could take several days to fully dry to crackly stage.
While I love my starter, the idea of having it laying out on the kitchen table for days didn’t excite me. Then while looking in the laundry room cabinets for something, I looked up and saw my dehydrator. It has a very low heat setting and I figured I’d give it a whirl. I grew lots of bubbly starter and after cutting the baking paper into circles to fit the dehydrator, I started painting it on with a pastry brush. I did all 6 layers and set it on low and walked away.
I figured it would take days but it was just one appliance and it wasn’t on the kitchen table but lo and behold, it was 100% dry in less than a day. It peels off the baking paper in a whole sheet like this. I just fold them over and squoosh them into the food processor. Just a bit of a whizz and it’s ready to bag up.
It’s not necessary to pulverize it like I did, you can bash it with a rolling pin or just break it up but I find it reconstitutes much better when it’s been whizzed in the food processor. I’ve kept it for months in the refridgerator and the freezer and it keeps just fine. No more worrying that I’m going to kill my starter and then have to beg someone for another piece of Priscilla.
Plus, it means that I always have some dried starter to share with friends.
Want Some Free Dried SourDough Starter?
Several weeks ago I won this dehydrator from Bobbi at Bam’s Kitchen from Crazy Sales in Sydney. As I mentioned, I already had one so I phoned Celia to see if she had bought one yet and she said no, so I packed it off to Celia. A few days later, I received another one from Crazy Sales with a request to test this one out. So I did. All the starter in this post was dried using this Dehydrator. I set it between 30c and 40c. As a result, I’ve got quite a lot of dried starter and if you’d like some Esmerelda, daughter of Priscilla, send me a message through my contact page.
How to Reconstitute Dried Sourdough Starter
First thing in the morning, in a medium sized bowl, empty the packet of dried starter (about one ounce/30 grams). Whisk in 1/4 cup of filtered water (yeast doesn’t like chlorine) and 1/4 cup of bread flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap and leave on the countertop.
At noon, whisk another 1/4 cup of filtered water and 1/4 cup of bread flour into the mixture. Cover and leave on the countertop.
Before going to bed, whisk 1/2 cup of filtered water and 1/2 cup bread flour into the mixture, cover and leave on the countertop all night.
In the morning, you should have a bubbly starter ready to use. If not, keep feeding until it comes to life – it could take 2 days. Mine is always quick.
Once your starter is alive and bubbly, pour off a small portion – 1/2 cup or so, and feed it 1/4 cup filtered water and 1/4 cup of bread flour. Whisk, cover and place in the refrigerator. Feed it every week and it’s fine to pour off all but 1/2 cup or use it to make sourdough pancakes.
To Make Your First Loaf of Sourdough Bread
The remainder of the starter in the bowl can be used to make your first loaf of bread. Here’s a link to Celia’s Sourdough tutorial and instructions on how to make your first loaf.