Rehydrating a Dried Starter

Maybe you bought one of our kits or maybe you dehydrated a starter yourself or maybe you find yourself in possession of a crumbled off white mass proclaiming to be wild yeast…how then do you get from that to this?

When you dehydrate a starter, all of the water is removed and the yeast and bacteria mostly go dormant, waiting for their next feed. It is a good way to ship or store starter for longer periods. Some people even use dried starter as a seasoning for food! But what if you want to make bread from it?

To start with, you are going to want to wake up your starter with a bit of warm water, with “warm” being around 80F/30C. Throughout our bread making, temperature acts like the break and the gas on your sourdough - cold temps slow things down and warm temps speed things up…not too hot though as hot water can kill the yeast in your bread!

If you have bought one of our starters, I add the water straight to the small jar and let it sit for about 15 minutes to soften up.

Once that has softened, you want to go ahead and do what you can to break up the starter. You want as few lumps as possible. It’s totally ok to use an immersion blender or whisk, if it is being stubborn, but it will break down eventually.

Once its all mixed through, you will add 125g of strong bread flour and 125g of water to your starter in a larger jar. Give it a good mix. This is feeding your starter. The flour contains lots of food for the yeast and bacteria and the water helps keep the correct ph and gives the little yeastie beasties a solution to swim in.

Remove the rubber gasket on your jar and give it a cover so that air can get in and out, but the starter is protected. Place somewhere warm for 24 hours.

Hopefully, the yeast will have started to wake up. You will see bubbles on the top and you may see a layer of liquid on the top of your jar. These are all signs that the starter is waking up.

You are then going to begin a process of discarding and feeding your starter.

What is Sourdough Discard?

Sourdough discard is the part of your sourdough starter that you get rid of when you feed it. When your starter is ripe and ready to go, this “discard” is what you can use to make your bread, but sometimes it maybe isn’t right to bake with. You still need to get rid of some of your starter or else you will end up with buckets of it and the feeding proportions won’t be right.

While you can absolutely throw this starter away, you can also use it in a range of baked goods like cheese scones. I often substitute it for yoghurt in baking that has another rising agent like bicarbonate of soda (bicarb or baking soda) or baking powder.

This discard and feeding process is one you will use over and over again, until your starter is ready to bake with.

  1. Remove 200g of the starter from your jar.

  2. Feed 100g each of strong bread flour and warm water

  3. Cover and place somewhere warm.

You are going to repeat steps 1-3 until your starter is ready to bake with. You are looking for a range of signs that the starter is ready to go:

  • It will be bubbly

  • There may be a layer of liquid on the top (this is called hooch and a good sign your starter is hungry”

  • It may double in size about 4 hours after feeding

  • it may float when a small amount is put in water

  • It will smell fruity and sour

  • Gluten will develop, so when you stretch it out, you get long strands of starter connecting your spoon and your jar.

You may get some of these signs and not others, that is totally normal!! Our starter NEVER has doubled in size. Some people never have starter that floats (because they use a wholewheat flour or less water or just because!). You are looking for a range of signs and that there are changes in the starter, rather than any one check box that it is ready.

If you ever struggle to get your starter going, remember we offer a free starter first aid service to get you back and baking in no time!!

Tags: sourdough

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