How to Create Sourdough Insurance


Keeping a sourdough starter can seem like a big commitment, but it’s actually not as big of a deal as it seems.

Yes, you have to feed your starter, but if you store it in the refrigerator this needn’t be more than once per week. Yes, you must check on it every now and then to ensure it is healthy, but again this doesn’t mean every day. Yes, you want to make sure you give it a proper environment by not exposing it to extremes in temperature or a lack or excess of humidity, but that is simple enough.

So, what’s the big deal, right? One thing that some bakers fear more than anything when dealing with sourdough is simply killing the starter and having to start over. Once you have built and maintained a starter that gives you consistently beautiful loaves of bread, losing that starter through forgetfulness or circumstances beyond your control can be quite disappointing. Even devastating some might say.

Thankfully, there is a way to achieve a bit of sourdough insurance if you will. By using the following method you can capture the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts that make your particular sourdough starter fantastic.

And it really is this simple:

  1. Spread a bit of your fully active sourdough culture on a piece of parchment paper, a plate, or other flat surface.
  2. Once fully dried the starter should separate from the surface and can be removed.
  3. Crush or grind the now dried sheet of sourdough.
  4. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. You could even store it in the freezer for extra insurance.
  5. This dried starter, if kept in the proper conditions, should keep for years. See the directions on reviving a dried starter when you want to put it back to use.

When to Implement Sourdough Insurance

If you’re not as attached to your sourdough starter as some then you might be wondering why you would want to go to such extremes to back up the starter you have going now and could replace at any time by simply starting another.

You’ll want to dry some of your starter when…

  • You’re going out of town for an extended period of time and won’t be able to care for your starter.
  • You wish to switch the flour you are using to feed your starter.
  • You are moving out of town and will either not have the time to care for your starter or are concerned that you will not be able to give it an ideal environment.
  • You would like to take a break from baking with your sourdough starter.
  • You have a major life change in the works such as the birth of a baby or a large time-consuming event like a wedding in your near future.
  • You love your sourdough starter and all of the bread products it produces enough that you aren’t willing to risk any damage that can occur.

Whichever of the above scenarios apply to you, be sure to implement your sourdough insurance sooner than later. Don’t regret not performing the simple sourdough dehydrating process outlined above when you had the chance.

Artisan Sourdough Bread

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Sourdough Starters

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