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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

If you find this information helpful, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review!

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?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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Rita Jackson

Sunday 7th of February 2021

I found some dried sourdough starter in my cupboard. Thank you for the directions. I am trying to revive it. Today 7 February 2021.

ponyboy

Monday 23rd of November 2020

please learn to provide proper units of measure. learn the difference between volume and weight and when to use which.

ie: 14 grams of water?! your article while probably helpful reads ridiculously fast.

Liz Reynolds

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

no need to be rude., Instead of learning about sourdough you need. learn to be polite If you are unhappy with the way the author writes recipes simple go to another site. Sourdough really isn't rocket science. .It has been around for centuries and they certainly did not have the conveniences for measurement that are available today I appreciate the authors willingness to share her thoughts and ideas

John

Tuesday 15th of December 2020

I always measure my water in grams. One millilitre of water is 1 gram in mass (ok - pure and at standard temp, etc., but it's close enough for the kitchen to always assume this). A recipe given in baker's percentages assumes the water is being weighed just like everything else. In fact, the only time I don't weigh an ingredient is when I have a recipe from an American that I know just scoops flour and gives the measurement in volume. I have found that in that case, weighing the flour will result in too slack a dough/batter -- so I'll follow the scoop method then. Otherwise -- weigh everything -- it's much more accurate. I have verified the volume of several kitchen wet measuring cups I have and have found the markings to be as much as 1 fl. oz. off. That may not sound like a lot, but it can make the difference between success and mediocrity.

Tina

Saturday 28th of November 2020

For the case of water volume always equals weight and so it is proper to use either! And I find it actually easier if water is measured in weight since I am already using a scale for the sourdough starter and/or flour etc when baking and don't need to take out a measuring cup just for the water. This way I'll have more working space ;)

And EIleen thank you for this how-to, I'm gonna make a few dry starter batches to send out for Christmas!

Eileen Gray

Monday 23rd of November 2020

There's no need to be rude. I weigh water in grams all the time when I'm feeding my starter.

Danielle

Thursday 19th of November 2020

Thanks so much for this post! I hope you can help!

I dried my starter in a thin layer on parchment and kept it in my oven (off) for 18 hours. I just peeled it up to flip any still moist pieces and some moister bits have almost a brown but greenish tint on the underside. Is this normal? It doesn’t look like mold, but just made me nervous...

Eileen Gray

Thursday 19th of November 2020

It's hard to say without seeing it, but when I dried mine the top and bottom sides were different colors. The top got a kind of grayish/beige color and the underside was whiter. I'd be surprised if it would grow mold within 18 hours. Were you drying active starter or a more dormant discard? Discard can become grayish if it's been unfed. Are there any off odors or does it just smell fermented? My first suggestion would be to let the underside finish drying and see what it looks like. I dried one of my trays at room temp for several days and didn't get any mold at all. In the end, if you're still nervous maybe you can just break off the discolored pieces and use the rest?

Jenni

Saturday 14th of November 2020

What setting would I use on my dehydrated?

Eileen Gray

Sunday 15th of November 2020

I don't have a dehydrator so I couldn't say. Anyone else know?

Laura Lee

Friday 30th of October 2020

I have a convection oven, but am not aware of a way to turn on the fan without the heat. How did you do this on your oven? Do you just have a setting on it for fan only?

Eileen Gray

Friday 30th of October 2020

I can turn on the fan without heat in my oven. You could also just leave the tray out at room temperature for a couple of days.