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How to Dry Sourdough Starter

I going to show you how to dry sourdough starter. Why? Because drying is the best way to preserve your sourdough starter for the long term.

an image of a jar full of dried sourdough starter chips

So you’ve jumped on the sourdough bandwagon, YAY! It’s so much fun, isn’t it?

But, there are times when real life interferes and you may not be able to bake for quite a while. Or maybe you want to share your starter with a friend who lives far away. Or maybe you just really hate to discard that discard.

The solution is this incredibly easy-to-do process for drying your starter. Once the starter is completely dried, your hard-won wild yeast goes dormant. The dried starter chips can then be stored indefinitely.

You can also pack some chips into a small envelope and mail them to a friend. I mailed some to my daughter who lives 3000 miles away. It’s a nice way to share from afar.

two photos showing fed and unfed sourdough starter ready for drying on a sheet pan.
I dried both a sourdough discard (left) and recently fed starter (right). Both dried well and were easy to revive. The discard did need an extra feeding before it was active enough to bake with.

FAQs about drying sourdough starter and preserving sourdough starter:

Can I dry sourdough discard or does the starter need to be fed?

I dried both a recently fed starter and sourdough discard which hadn’t been fed in over a week. I was able to revive both, but the dried sourdough discard did need an extra feeding before it was ready to use.

Can I use the oven to dehydrate sourdough starter?

Yes, but don’t turn on the heat. Use the convection fan without heat or just leave the tray in the cool oven with the oven light on.

Can I use a food dehydrator to preserve sourdough starter?

Yes.

Can I just leave the starter out in the kitchen to dry it?

Yes, it may take a bit longer but just leave it out at room temperature until it is completely dry and brittle. The time will vary based on the ambient humidity in your kitchen.

How long does dried starter keep?

Indefinitely.

How do I use dehydrated starter?

Add water and flour and wait for it to come back to life. Follow the instructions listed below.

a jar of dried sourdough starter chips behind a container of revived starter

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dried starter chips spilled from a jar

How to Dry Sourdough Starter

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 5 minutes
Drying Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 10 minutes
Difficulty: easy

Drying is the best way to preserve your sourdough starter for the long term.

Materials

  • Active Sourdough Starter

Tools

  • Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment paper
  • Half sheet pan
  • Small spatula

Instructions

To dry the starter:

  1. Line the sheet pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. The silicone mat works best so use it if you have one.
  2. Pour the starter onto the sheet pan and spread it out to a thin, even layer.
  3. Place the pan in a cool, dry place, uncovered. I put mine into the oven with the convection fan on and no heat.
  4. After 18-24 hours check the starter. It should peel off the mat. If underneath the starter is still moist you can peel it off, flip over the pieces and leave them to continue drying.
  5. The starter is ready when it is completely dry and crisp. The texture should be like a potato chip which snaps when broken into pieces. You should have half the weight that you started with. If you started with 12 oz of starter you will get 6 oz of dried starter. broken chips of dried sourdough starter on a silicone lined baking sheet
  6. Break the starter into chips and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
  7. The dried starter will keep indefinitely.

To revive the dried starter: (yield 9 oz of starter)

  1. Place 1/2 oz (14g) of starter chips in a plastic or glass container. Pour 1 oz (28g) of warm water over the chips and stir to cover the chips with water. a plastic container with dried sourdough starter chips covered with water
  2. Cover the container and set it aside until all the chips have melted into the water. This usually takes about 3-4 hours. The starter will not look active at this point.
  3. Add another 1/2 oz (14g) of warm water and 1 oz (28g) of unbleached flour to the starter. Stir to combine. Cover and set aside for 4-6 hours. Now you should begin to see activity in the starter. a plastic container with rehydrated sourdough starter and flour being mixed in
  4. Add 3 oz (84g) of warm water and 3 oz (84g) of unbleached flour to the starter. Stir to combine. Cover and set aside for 3-4 hours or until the starter has doubled in size and looks quite active. sourdough starter in a plastic container with mark showing how much it has risen
  5. If after 4-6 hours the starter still seems sluggish, discard all but 3 oz of the starter and do one more feeding.
  6. Use in your recipe as needed.
  7. The amounts listed can be multiplied out to yield more starter.

Did you make this project?

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