How to Revive Your Dehydrated Sourdough Starter
How to Know When Your Sourdough Starter is Active and Ready to Use
You will know your starter is ready for baking when it shows these signs:
The Float Test: To perform a float test, simply fill a cup or small bowl with some warm water. Spoon a bit of starter onto the water. If it floats, it’s ready to use! If it sinks, it’s not ready yet.
Or if it sinks, this could also mean that your starter is past its peak. The peak is when the starter has doubled (or more) in size after feeding (this takes 6-12 hours depending on your environment). For best results, you want to use your starter when it's at its peak!
How to Maintain Your Sourdough Starter
Now we will go over how to regularly feed and maintain your starter. I know it sounds funny to "feed" a sourdough starter, but we have to remember that it's alive! The starter is full of healthy yeasts and bacteria and in order to keep the starter active and happy, it needs fuel just like us.
The ratio you feed your starter will be dependent on the amount of starter you need for a recipe. But I have outlined a basic 1:5:5 feeding ratio below that works for most people. The 1:5:5 ratio (by weight) means 1 part sourdough starter to 5 parts water to 5 parts flour.
Regular Feedings (1:5:5 ratio): In a clean glass jar, combine 10 grams of starter with 50 grams water and 50 grams of flour. Mix until thoroughly combined and mostly smooth. Cover with a loose fitting lid and store at room temperature until starter reaches peak activity. This will take 6-12 hours depending on the environment. This feeding ratio provides 100 grams of starter to use in a recipe with 10 grams left over to feed and continue the cycle.
You want to feed your starter every day (every 24 hours) to keep it established and strong. You can feed the starter at any time of day and shape the feeding schedule around your routine depending on when you plan on baking with it. Personally, I like feeding my starter right before I go to bed. By the time I wake up it is bubbly and ready to bake with!
Get to Know Your Starter
Everyone's sourdough starter will behave a bit differently because everyone's environment is a bit different. A sourdough starter is a living culture meaning it reacts to its environment including the temperature, humidity, season, flour type, water, and even the microbes provided from its owner (yes, your own microbes affect your sourdough starter- how cool)!
Because of this, no two starters will be the same which makes it impossible for me to tell you exactly when your starter is ready and exactly when it will be at its peak. This write-up is a great place to start and get you on your way, but now it's up to you to get to know your starter and to learn its love language (and don't forget to name it)!
I also regularly share sourdough tips and recipes on my Instagram page @evolvingautumn, so make sure you're following along to get the latest updates.