Our sourdough starter cultures are shipped in a dehydrated state to reduce the danger of spoilage in transit. Activating the culture is an easy process and takes just a few simple steps over a few days.
Activating Sourdough Starter
Place the contents of the packet into a clean one-quart (or larger) wide-mouth canning jar or similar container.
Add 1/4 cup tepid (room temperature) water and mix well. Add 1/4 cup whole wheat flour and stir vigorously. Be sure to incorporate a significant amount of air into the mixture.
Cover loosely (a towel secured with a rubber band or a plastic lid just set on top but not secured both work well) and place in a warm area (70° to 85°F degrees) for approximately 12 to 18 hours. The warmer the spot, the quicker the starter will activate. An oven with just the pilot light or oven light turned can work well as does a high shelf or a food dehydrator with low temperature setting. Be sure to verify that the spot where your sourdough culture is sitting is within the 70° to 85°F degree temperature range. Temperatures outside that range can be problematic for activating the culture and can even damage or kill the culture.
Mix in 1/2 cup water and scant 1/2 cup flour. Be sure to incorporate a significant amount of air into the mixture. Cover and return to the warm spot for 12 hours. Be sure to use a large enough container and place a cloth or paper towel under the container as active sourdough starter may bubble over.
Discard all but 1/2 cup of the flour and water mixture. (See the pancake recipe on page two for a way to use extra discarded sourdough starter.) Mix in 1/2 cup water and a little less than one cup flour. Repeat this process every 12 hours until the mixture becomes light and bubbly. If the mixture is kept quite warm, this process may be concluded within the first several days. For cooler spots, it may take several more days to complete the process. It is common for sourdough starter to take 3 to 7 days to activate.
Once the starter is bubbling reliably within several hours of being fed, feed the starter for two more cycles then either begin baking with it or cover loosely with a lid and place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake with it. The lid may be tightened once the mixture becomes dormant and minimal carbon dioxide is being produced.