This is a post I did several years ago but it’s so important if you love sourdough bread to be able to save the starter without having to keep feeding it.
Once you get an active starter that you really like, and they all have different flavors, if you’re anything like me, you worry a bit about something happening to it. I know that I can stick mine in the fridge for several weeks and leave it alone and then with a bit of TLC, get it back to the state where I use it every day or so.
I keep a jar in the fridge and usually toss it after a few weeks and put fresh in there. That’s just my backup starter. The one I am mostly working from sits on the counter and gets fed every day or every other day. Some instructions will tell you that a starter sitting out has to be fed twice a day. So far, I have not and mine is fine.
Another thing I do that makes me feel pretty secure, is that I keep some of my starter, dried, and in the freezer. Here’s how to go about drying some of your starter.
Simply smear a bit of it on plastic. It can be plastic wrap or something that’s plastic and easy to manipulate so that the dried starter can be peeled off. I use my King Arthur pastry sheet.
If smeared thinly, within a few hours, it’s completely dry and will pop off on it’s own.
At this point, it resembles a thin potato chip. I place them in a zipper bag.
Using my hands, I crush the dried starter.
It can be crushed as fine or as coarse as you’d like. Next time I get the Food Saver out, I’ll place this zipper bag into a vacuum seal bag and seal it. In the meantime (and after it’s vacuum sealed), it will be stored in the freezer. It will keep at least a couple of years in the freezer but at least once a year, I go through this process again and make sure I have a good sample in the freezer.
We also want to be sure we label these bags. I’d hate for someone to go digging through my freezer and find some unknown white powder in a zipper bag! 🙁
Current update: Just a few weeks go, since I had tossed out all my starter many months ago, I grabbed some dried sourdough from the freezer and rehydrated it. I simply put the dried flakes into a bowl with a bit of warm water and flour and stirred it. Every day, I would stir it again, then add equal parts of the “starter” to fresh water/flour. Example: 10 grams of starter, 10 grams of water, 10 grams of flour .. it could be 5 grams of each or 20 grams of each.
Once I got that starter going nicely, I smeared more of it onto waxed paper, let it dry and it had already separated from the paper.
I crumbled it and into a freezer bag it went.
There it will stay til I need it again.
It’s like a sourdough safety net!