How to Revive Your Dehydrated Sourdough Starter
- Small glass jar with lid
- Small spatula or spoon
- Basic kitchen scale
- 5 grams dried sourdough starter (half the bag)
- Unbleached white bread flour or all-purpose flour
- Filtered, room temperature water (***avoid using cold and chlorinated water)
- Day One: Combine 5 grams dried sourdough starter (half the bag) in a small glass jar. Add 25 grams water and stir until the dry starter is completely immersed in the water. Cover with a lid and allow mixture to sit for 30 minutes to one hour to dissolve. Then add 20 grams of flour and stir until thoroughly combined and mostly smooth. Cover with a loose fitting lid and store at room temperature for 24 hours.
Note: We are using slightly more water than flour for the first feeding to allow for increased activity for the natural yeast and bacteria.
- Day Two: Transfer 10 grams of the starter mixture to a clean glass jar (discard the rest). Add 25 grams of water and 25 grams of flour and mix until thoroughly combined. Cover with a loose fitting lid and store at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Day Three to Day Five: Repeat the steps above from Day Two.
- By Day Five you should start to see signs that the starter is active. There will be bubbles throughout the mixture, it will smell ripe and yeasty and it should double in volume around 6-12 hours after feeding (dependent on house temperature and humidity). If your starter is not yet this active, continue the above feeding schedule for a couple more days. Once the starter is active, you can start using it for baking and maintain regular daily feedings.
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 starter should be doubling (or even tripling) in size after feedings. Depending on your house temperature and humidity, it may take your starter 6-12 hours to double in size. Directly after feeding, you can place a rubber band around the jar to mark the level of your starter. This will allow you to see how much your starter is rising and falling over a 12-hour period.
- The starter should be bubbly, fluffy and elastic.
- The starter should smell ripe, yeasty and a little sweet.
- If you’re unsure if your starter is ready, you can try the float test!
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.