The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Drying a starter. Is it possible?

Damp Patch's picture
Damp Patch

Drying a starter. Is it possible?


I've recently discovered this website and think it looks fantastic.

I've just been wondering recently if it is possible to dry, and therefore keep indefinitely, a soughdough starter.

If you were to spread some starter out on a baking tray, let it completely dry out for a few days and then flake it into an airtight bag, would you then be able to bring it back to life at a much later date?

Has anybody tried this as I'm tempted to give it a go in case I ever kill my starter.

Thanks, and I look forward to learning a lot more from this site in future.


Devon, UK.

totels's picture

Absolutely possible, dehydration is how many companies sell starters via mail-order.

Chocolate and Zucchini recently outlined the process:

taramills's picture

Great question Tom! A big thank you to  'totels' for answering this. I've recently just taken up the sourdough bug, and I've also asked myself this question as i live in Oz but am from the UK and will be away for long periods of time back in Blighty.   Once my starter, ( known to those that love him,as Dennis..and yes i know he's supposed to be a she!) has been up and running for a few months i will do the same... 

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

There have been more than a few threads about this same subject. If you use the search feature at the top left of the page, you'll find out that lots of us have posted about using the method you describe. It works so easily and well enough that many think that everybody should be drying their starter for the same reason you mention. So go for it!

pmccool's picture

but be aware that you won't have a package of "instant" starter.  The rehydration/recovery stage may take 3-4 days before the starter is back up to strength for baking.  That beats not having a starter at all.  Just be sure to calibrate your expectations.


Damp Patch's picture
Damp Patch

Thanks for the replies. I'll be trying this over the weekend.

I should have guessed someone would have asked about it before and checked it out first!




jackie9999's picture

I dried some not too long ago using this method


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and spread thin for best drying results.  As soon as it's leather hard, it releases from the paper and can be turned over.  Crush and store airtight in a cool dark place. 

That reminds me I should go dry some more...

RuthieG's picture

I have been using Carl's starter as well as my own for a long time and I always keep some of Carl's starter dried.  I hate the idea that I might let it die so I always keep it dried.  I just spread it out thinly on foil or parchment and let it dry.  When it is dried, I pull it off the paper, freeze and save.

houstonwong's picture

Works a charm. And revives nicely in 24-48 hours.

I spread mine real thin on parchment paper and let it dry in the oven (off, of course) for 2-3 days. It was 100% hydration like thick batter so was easy to do with a spatula. Then I stuck it in a ziplock and crunched it to flakes before freezing it.

3 months later, my starter mysteriously died and would not come back despite 2 weeks of intensive care. So I mixed a tsp of the dried stuff with a tbs of water and tbs ap flour. Fed with same 24 hours later. Lo and behold, rise! Kept feeding 12 hours at 1:2:2 after that and interestingly, it smells exactly like my old starter did 3 mths ago (the pre-death starter changed smells during the iterim before its demise). In fact, might be even more active than ever.


Hope that helps. Good luck.