drying starter

rossnroller
I'm aware that it's possible to dry starter and restore it to life months later by adding water.

I've got two great active starters going now after an intial battle to get anything happening, and would like to dry some for two reasons: 1. insurance against anything happening to my current ones 2. I have a friend in another state who wants to try sourdough baking but lacks the patience to make his own starter. I would like to post him some of mine, dried.

So, if anyone has successfully dried their starter and later restored it to life with water, wouldja mind letting me know how you went about the drying part please?

Cheers all
Ross
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Replies

dukegus 2009 August 1
I have never tried it, maybe put thin layers of it in the air? I mean when I knead some dough pieces that sometimes go all over the place, the next day it's dry like hell. I wonder if this is a way of drying, but I guess you must dehydrate it another way. And watch the temperature or it will dry. Though I think dry yeast can live in much higher temps but I'm not sure...
rossnroller 2009 August 3
Thanks for that link, PeteInAz. I'll try following those directions in the absence of any direct advice here from someone who is experienced in successfully drying their starter.

Cheers
Ross
ScottC 2009 August 11
If you have a local university, you can ask in their biology or medicine faculty... they'll probably have a freeze-dryer and they also probably wouldn't mind drying some batches for you.

Scott.
meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 12
[quote=rossnroller]I'm aware that it's possible to dry starter and restore it to life months later by adding water.

I've got two great active starters going now after an intial battle to get anything happening, and would like to dry some for two reasons: 1. insurance against anything happening to my current ones 2. I have a friend in another state who wants to try sourdough baking but lacks the patience to make his own starter. I would like to post him some of mine, dried.

So, if anyone has successfully dried their starter and later restored it to life with water, wouldja mind letting me know how you went about the drying part please?

Cheers all
Ross
[/quote]

It's pretty easy. Get a couple of dinner plates, line them with cling wrap, pour in just enough *newly fed* starter to make a thin (1/4 inch -- or less than one cm deep). Cover it with something to keep flies and creepy crawlers off, and put it in the oven with just the pilot light lit, or if your oven has one, the oven light. That will keep the temp at bout 85 - 90 degress F. It will take in total about 3 - 4 days. when it gets a hard brown crust on it after a couple of days, peel the cling wrap off and turn the patty over for another day or two. If you let it get *too* hard, it will be a real bear to grind up in a blender or food processor. Of course a stone mortar and pestle will grind up *ANYTHING!*

In return for this magical information, I propose a trade. I have two cultures, both heirloom. One from up around the Columbia River in Washington, and one from Humboldt County in California. I'll swap you a good start of each  (a level tablespoon) for a like amount of yours, assuming that you successfully dry your two cultures.

This deal will apply to anyone else on this forum, as well

DeeDee

Contact information is on my website at http://www.noseyparkernews.com., or just email me at editor@noseyparkernews.com
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 August 12
Welcome to the forum DeeDee.  I'm going to look over your website and maybe send you some of my dried starter.
rossnroller 2009 August 13
Good suggestion, Scott - will keep that in mind.

Hiya DeeDee,

Thanks for your precise drying instructions. Appreciate that.

I think I'll wait until the weather warms up a bit here, then give it a try. I'll feed back the results and if the drying works well, will take up your offer. I assume you're aiming to get together a variety of starters from different regions (and hemispheres!) - interesting idea.

How different are the breads when you do the same recipe using different starters, I wonder? Obviously, a rye starter will add different qualities and flavour from a white flour starter, for example, but what about two rye starters, say, from different areas? Have you tried out this sort of comparison in your kitchen?
meerbock's picture
meerbock 2009 August 13
I just posted five or six messages in another thread, links below:

http://sourdough.com/comment/reply/1695/12664
http://sourdough.com/comment/reply/1695/12665
http://sourdough.com/comment/reply/1695/12666
http://sourdough.com/comment/reply/1695/12668
http://sourdough.com/comment/reply/1695/12670

I think these might also be of interest to you.

Yes, I have even spent what I consider to be outrageous amounts of money to collect other international sourdough cultures. When I'm satisfied with my collection, I'll have a couple dozen separate and distinct cultures. After I've activated them and taste tested them, I'll simply freeze or dry the activated cultures and keep them to share or use. 

As it is, I use one culture, a very sour, traditional San Francisco culture for almost all my daily breads, and use the other, which is a very milky, or buttery tasting culture for things that need a sweeter, or less aggressive flavor -- breakfast sweet rolls, sticky buns, raisin bread, pancakes, waffles, monkey bread, and so forth.

When I'm showing off, I have a french boulangerie culture that I use to make baguettes and batards for personal gifts or for special dinners. I will expand my collection as I can afford it. As a retired and disabled former 'geekette', my income is limited, so I can't just order $200 USD worth of cultures that I'd dearly love to own and nurture.

I haven't got any rye cultures, although I use my sour culture to make Polish light rye. I flavor it with a TBS or so of dill weed, and two TBS of caraway seeds. Fennel seeds work, well, too.

I'm looking forward to obtaining a Russian culture that is specifically aimed at traditional rye breads, or whole wheat breads.

DeeDee

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