Drying Sourdough Starter For Long Term Storage

There’s not much to this process. Just smear some fresh sourdough starter in a thin layer over a piece of parchment paper and let dry. Once dry, the starter will easily separate from the paper and can be ground up into small pieces and placed in a plastic ziplock bag.

Store your starter in the freezer for as long as you like. This is not a bad idea, as a routine measure, in order to backup your working batch of starter in case it meets with an unexpected demise.

Note: At the end of the video, I mention that you will find the video for reviving a dried starter below this one. I have since moved it here.

{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth Hurst February 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I have by mistake stored starer in the bottom left drawer of my desk… 1 year & 2 months later, I found it… That drawer never gets looked into…. BUT that starter is ALIVE!!!!!

It’s the 1847 Oregon Trail, guess those old roots go deep. It revived very well, although I have to admit that to date, it does not have the flavour of “Eric” that I have been tending to for a year now. Maybe it’s just my local bacteria & yeasts. I am being patient with it. It has a very sweet rather than sour smell.
The bread tends to be a tad bland.
I hope it develops a good flavour and scent – but after 2 weeks of daily 12 hr feedings, it can’t compare to my little batch of “Eric” that blossomed nto a full flavoured lovely SD starter right out of the gate….

Just to be safe, I keep a batch of frozen batch of dried “Eric” in the freezer. Hope this helps.

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Rose Williams February 9, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I have a doubt… Is it necessary to keep the dry sourdough mixer in the freezer/fridge? Is there any method to preserve without refrigeration? Thank you so much for your help.

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Breadtopia October 8, 2009 at 10:34 am

Hi Dejitaru. That’s really interesting and surprising about bread in Japan. Those little ovens sound like they could be big hit here among home bread baking enthusiasts. Thanks for the write up.

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dejitaru September 28, 2009 at 1:34 am

Hi Eric,

thought i’d share some recent experiences. we just spent an extended period of time in japan. which involved not only long-term-storage for my starter, but some long-term-storage for the bulk of our belongings. ;)

i didn’t want to lose my starter, as i had been baking with it for quite a few years now. found your videos on drying and reviving starter, tried it out, and i was baking bread in japan the whole time. thanks!

we’re back now, and i still had some of my dried starter left, (starter that made the trip there and back) so, i tried reviving it here. no problems. took about 4 days until i had nice amount of lift and a nice sweet, yeasty smell. (about the same amount of time it took in japan to revive)

i only make 100% whole wheat bread, and my starter is 100% whole wheat. no problems at all reviving with just whole wheat flower and a little sugar.

japan was very interesting as far as bread making goes. the sheer variety of wheat flours available was mind boggling. one store i went into must have had about 20 different wheat flour blends all for specific purposes. (baguettes, sweet bread, croissants, etc.) and all with the gluten content clearly labeled on the package. getting whole wheat or flours made with different grains was a bit trickier… japan is still very much a white-bread country, as far as bread goes.

japan also has these great little convection ovens (about 1.5 to 2 times the size of a microwave oven), many of which have steam injection systems! i don’t think that that feature was intended for bread making, but it sure helped out with the crust. :)

another thing that never ceased to amaze me was the quality of the bread in japan. getting a decent baguette just about anywhere was extremely easy. even some of the big French boulangerie like Maison Kayser and Paul have opened up shops there. you could almost forget that you’re in a country that considers rice as it’s main carbohydrate. ;)

once again, thanks for all of the videos. they’ve kept me happily bread making on two continents.

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Breadtopia July 31, 2009 at 5:03 am

Hi Craig,

Good thinking. But the dry starter would have to be reactivated first. It takes at least a few days to bring the dry back to a usable form, probably too long a time to reliably use as is in place of commercial yeast.

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Craig July 31, 2009 at 3:28 am

Hi there,
First of all I just want to say great video. I am currently drying some of my starter for long term purposes due to my leaving to school. But I am curious about one thing. Can the dried starter be a substitute for commercial yeast? If so I am wondering if there needs to be more of the dried starter than commercial yeast. Any comments or responses will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
C. Kadoya

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Sara Keeth July 11, 2009 at 9:38 am

I have never used a dried starter but from what I read here, it sounds pretty easy. If you have some you need to get rid of, I’ll take it, but I am mainly just looking for a wet starter to get going. It’s been a long time since I baked regularly and I am looking forward to it! You can email me at SLKeeth AT gmail dot com. (Sorry about the funny email format, but I’m always trying to foil spammers…)

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Bettie, Dallas TX July 10, 2009 at 5:17 pm

I do! Do you want some dried starter, too?

Bettie

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Sara Keeth July 10, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I am wondering if anyone in Dallas has a cup of starter you would be willing to share?

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Bettie, Dallas TX June 14, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Instead of parchment paper, I use the plastic-like liner from a cereal box. It is sturdier than the parchment and the dried starter comes off very easily. Plus, it’s free!

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Breadtopia May 19, 2009 at 4:44 am

I think it’s more a question of whether on not you are able to revive it. If you can restore it to its former glory, then use it.

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Tamara May 18, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Hi,

I froze my starter (not knowing it needed to be dried first) about 3 months ago. I have left it in the fridge lightly covered for 2 weeks now. Is this safe to use?

Thanks.

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Bob Packer March 12, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Michael,

Will be glad to trade, but not sell. I have about 20 different ones that I have collected. They range from ultra mild to very, very strong flavored. I have a potato flake based starter (Spuds) that is fed with sugar that I use for “sweet breads”. If you go to my site, http://www.allthingsbread.bravehost.com, you can find my “Basic” recipe. There are a number of others, as well. As well as tips on the care and feeding of starters (B>MY WAY.

Send me your mailing address to oldcampcook(@)yahoo(.)com and let me know what you would like to try and how many you want.

Bob

Bob

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Michael Pease March 12, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Bob
may i ask what other what other sourdough cultures do you have working, and would you be interested in trading or selling some of your other cultures as i am always looking for different flavors for my breads. I no that each culture has its own flavor even the 2 Amish potato cultures i have give you different flavors the 1 is not a true sourdough as it starts with a small amount of store yeast, but works very well. I would be very interested in getting some from you thank you.

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oldcampcook March 12, 2009 at 9:17 am

Michael,

I think the rye is what really gives your starter a big boost. Using white flour, it seems to take a bit longer. When I started mine, I think I watied about 7 days before I used it. Still using the same starters plus I have about 20 others that I have collected.

I am doing a lot of Jewish Rye lately. Matter of fact, had Rueben Sandwichs with some of my Rye bread last night.

Bob

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Michael Pease March 11, 2009 at 11:56 am

Hi Bob
I got in to sourdough baking about 2yrs ago now and really enjoy it. I have learned some real valuable things about sourdough over time as all of my baking is of the old style. My children will not eat store bought bread anymore as they say Dad it just dose not taest right. My original starter came from an Amish recipe. This recipe uses nothing like pineapple juice to get it going, it uses distilled or purified water organic or whole ground flour of what ever verity you like but you must use a little rye flour in your first mix as this really help to make wild yeast grow. With having done this I have had great results, with in 10 to 24 hrs after starting the culture I have a very good starter that will blow the lid off the bowl.

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Ruth Hurst February 9, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Bob,
Excellent, I’ll look them up and try them out!
Thanks so much for the advice.
Take care,
Ruth

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Bob Packer February 9, 2009 at 10:37 am

Ruth,

If you want to really thrill your guests, try that Basque Sheepherder’s loaf. Baked in a large cast iron oven, it makes a loaf that weighs about 4 pounds 11 ounces. And a very good bread.

I bake that Basic every weekend, using 3 different starters, plus usually a Jewish Rye. I also keep the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes in my fridge so I can bake just about any time.

Bob

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Ruth Hurst February 6, 2009 at 9:47 pm

WOW! I am So happy I found this site. I’m learning so much!

Yesterday I started a batch of starter from a dried tablespoon or so that I had dried approx 1 1/2 years ago and had put in a drawer. It’s alive! The original batch made quite a few nice loaves (a little on the mild side for my liking, but it was a good learning process) life got a bit hectic and the main batch didn’t survive. (I was so happy that I had dried a bit of it.)

I am very curious about the other flavours you speak of.
Now that life has settled down a bit, my mind turns to bread and I will certainly soak up as much as I can from this site & Bob’s too.

Bob your basic recipe looks great. I was looking for a recipe that would make more than 1 or 2 loaves and there it is! The guests at our Lodge (and of course my family too) will be SO happy. Thanks!

Happy Baking, take care.
Ruth

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oldcampcook January 10, 2009 at 11:11 am

Brenda,
I am going to jump in and answer for Eric.

I dry and ship starters all the time. I do not vacuum seal them. I just put a Tablespoon in a zippy bag about a third the size of the one that Eric sends his in.

Just make sure the starter is THOROUGLY dry to prevent any possibility of mold.

I have dried starters that are over a year old and they revive with no problem.

Bob

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Brenda McCormick January 10, 2009 at 10:43 am

Eric, question, if I dried my (or should I say your) starter, lol, and put it in a vacuum sealed bag, do you think it would make it? We are going to be relocating to a different state and wondered if anyone has ever tried the vacuum sealed method before in lieu of the freezer method.

bren

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Bob Packer December 26, 2008 at 7:18 am

Dana,

If you will email me your mailing address, I will send you some of my “Spuds” potato flake starter. Easier than starting your own.

If you go to my website, I have several recipes posted, but I will be happy to load you down with recipes via email, also.

Bob

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Dana Pearson December 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Bob Packer…could you please send me some of your milder yeast recipes and a couple stout ones…ty..

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Dana Pearson December 22, 2008 at 5:41 pm

could someone please email me the recipe for using potato flakes to make a starter from or post it on here,,ty,,,Dana

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Bob Packer October 31, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Eric, old bean, would you be kind enough to send Lanna my email address, please?

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Lanna October 31, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Bob, where do I find your e-mail address?

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Bob Packer October 28, 2008 at 10:48 am

Now, Eric, I never said I wasn’t a shady character. I just said you would vouch for me (that can go either way!)

Bob

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Breadtopia October 28, 2008 at 10:42 am

Gee, I don’t know. Seems like a shady character to me. But then anyone who’s that into bread has to be a little off balance. ;)

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Bob Packer October 28, 2008 at 10:40 am

Lana,

If you want, I will send you some of mine. What I send depends on what strength of flavor (is that an oxy-moron?) you want. I have from mild to pretty darn stout.

You can email me your mailing address. I think Eric will vouch for me! LOL
Bob

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Lanna October 28, 2008 at 10:25 am

Thanks so much for the information!

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Bob Packer October 28, 2008 at 10:09 am

I have dried starters that I have kept in ziplock bags on the counter for well over a year.

Two of them, a white flour and a potato flake based starter, I originated mysefl in Feb 07.

Others (I have about 20) I have collected from other people, revive, dry and send out upon request.

I do not freeze my dried starters, but I think that is a good idea. I have frozen some of my wet starters and need to pull them out and see if they are viable. They have been in the freezer for about six months.

Bob

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Breadtopia October 28, 2008 at 9:56 am

Wish I could. That would be interesting to know. I’ve revived dried starter stored in a freezer for over a year, but that’s the extent of my experience in this area.

Anyone else?

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Lanna October 28, 2008 at 8:25 am

Can you tell me how long dried sourdough starter will last if left out? For example, if abandoned on a counter for several years exposed to ambient air (in a dry climate), could it be revived with proper care and coaxing? Conversely, if a lump of “yesterday’s dough” is left on the counter, how long can it be used as a starter before it goes bad (if it does go bad)? I am in the midst of a book project and need to know if either of these scenario is possible.
Thanks so much.
Lanna

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Bob Packer October 24, 2008 at 10:33 am

Gail,

A bit late, but if you will email me, I will send you a gluten free starter and bread recipe. Please bear in mind that this is not a Tried and True recipe as I have not tried it, but it sounds like it will work.

I also have some of my potato based starter (affectionately known as “Spuds”) that I will be happy to send you if you send me your mailing address.

Bob

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Gail September 2, 2008 at 4:44 pm

I was researching the internet trying to find a good bread recipe for my daughter who has celiac disease and needs a gluten free diet. I was interested in the potato starter recipe but I could not find one on the website. I have never made a sourdough starter and I am desperately looking for gluten free recipes for breads that taste good and are not heavy and dry. I appreciate any help you can give.

Thanks

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esther March 1, 2008 at 2:43 pm

So, on the subject of potato starter…for my gluten free friends…..is it made in the same way as with flour? Just add pineapple juice and follow the same instructions??

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Bob Packer February 13, 2008 at 9:52 am

I dry my potato flake based starter all the time to send to other people. Dry it just like you would straight flour based. In reviving, use potato flakes to revive, instead of flour. I use about a tablespoon of starter, one cup of warm filtered water and about 3 Tablespoons of potato flakes and one-third cup sugar.

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breadtopia December 27, 2007 at 12:43 pm

I’ve never tried a potato based starter but I don’t see why the drying technique wouldn’t work the same.

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bananna December 27, 2007 at 1:41 am

My sourdough starter is potato flake based instead of flour based…will the drying method work for that as well?

Also have you ever tried the potato based starter, is there a major taste or texture difference? Thanks!

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breadtopia September 20, 2007 at 10:08 am

Hello Rider,

You can start with any quantity of dried and just follow the instructions here: http://www.breadtopia.com/starter_instructions
to restore to normal.

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Rider Cariño September 20, 2007 at 9:52 am

If I need 1 cup of sourdough starter not dried, then what quantity of dried starter do I need and how I restore to normal?

Rider.

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breadtopia August 3, 2007 at 9:46 am

Phil,

Okay, I used 82g of wet starter and ended up with 48g of dried starter. Which makes sense considering the hydration level of my starter. So, in my case, I think 46g wet would have made about 27g dried. Most people are going to get different results because of the moisture content of their starter.

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breadtopia July 31, 2007 at 4:04 am

Hi Phil,

It’s not a silly question, I’ll just don’t think I can venture much of a decent guess. I need to make up some more dried starter in the next few days. Hopefully, I’ll remember to take some measurements and report back.

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Phil Link July 30, 2007 at 7:10 pm

Hello Eric,
This may seem like a silly question, but can you estimate approximately how much live sourdough starter is needed to create say one ounce ( 27 grams) of dried, powdered sourdough?

Thanks,

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breadtopia May 31, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Hi Mary,

All you have to do is mix in less water when you feed your starter. For every cup of flour I feed my starter I add somewhere around 2/3 to 3/4 cups of water. That gives it the thick consistency you see.

Thanks for your nice comments!

Eric

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Mary Lair May 31, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Sir, I was told of this website from a friend in Missouri, who has been wanting me to sent him a starter. I have been using the same starter for twenty years plus, and mine is not thick like yours, what can I do to make it that consistency.I live in Ky. and I need to mail it to MISSOURI. I love the website, it is so interesting. I’m like a kid in a candy shop, so much I just don’t know where to start.
ML

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breadtopia February 11, 2007 at 7:57 pm

Thanks Josie. At present, the best thing is to email me which items you wish to order with your town and postal code and I’ll email back with instructions. The procedure is not difficult, it’s just that I have to check postage for international orders manually.

Sorry for the hassle. I’m working on the fix but it’s going to take a while.

Eric

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Josie February 11, 2007 at 7:29 pm

Love your site. Fabulous. Please give your Canadian readers information re ordering supplies. Would appreciate it very much. Thank you.

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breadtopia January 22, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Thanks Ray

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Ray Cudd January 22, 2007 at 9:44 pm

very good video,it is certainly easy to follow .keep up the good work

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