The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How would I dry starter out in the oven

Lechem's picture
Lechem

How would I dry starter out in the oven

Was going to go to Miami a few weeks ago when Irma put a stop to that. Going this Wednesday instead. If anyone is in the Miami beach area I'm up for a meet. Will be there Wednesday evening till Monday afternoon. 

I'm very confident my starter will have no issues while I'm away but why not dry some just in case. 

How would I go about drying starter in the oven. I live in London so don't have the time for air drying it. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Hmmm, I'd be careful about using the oven. Do you know how hot the oven gets with the light on and the door closed? If it's not much above 80F then maybe. I find if I smear the starter fairly thin on a piece of baking parchment laid on a baking rack it dries quite quickly. You shouldn't need too much for an emergency backup, if you're leaving the rest well-fed (even buried in flour) in the fridge. As long as your tiny English fridge has room. :)

Lechem's picture
Lechem

If it doesn't take too long drying out starter sans oven. It's as simple as spreading some out on parchment paper and waiting? If it takes less than 24 hours then all will be good. 

My starter (and off shoot starter) are playing silly buggers today. Starter doing ok but a bit slow. Atleast it's rising. My off shoot starter which made good bread over the weekend and responded very quickly indeed has decided to go into hibernation. Literally from one day to another. Speedy Gonzales yesterday and Slow Mo today. Funny old things. 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Adding that once the very thinned out layer of levain is dried, it can be peeled off the parchment and then crinkled into small flakes, to be placed into a jar or zip lock baggie.  Some folks store the jar in a freezer, I don't.  

If you have a fairly low hydration levain - like 75% or 60%... it will keep in the back of the refrigerator just dandy for weeks as is.  My 60% lasts 3 months w/o a refresh, the 75%, at least a month.

Lechem's picture
Lechem

But I thought why not dry some. My main starter is 50% hydration and does fine for weeks in the fridge. I have an off shoot starter of 100% hydration that I thought I'd dry out. I think after both your recommendations that air dried is best and won't take too long. 

Thanks Alan. 

bread1965's picture
bread1965

Abe.. I haven't used my starter all summer. I didn't feed it once since the spring.. "stuff" was going on in my life which has now settled..  the weather in Toronto has cooled and it was time to get back to baking.. there he (charlie, my unbleached bread flour starter) and she (Astrid, my Scandinavian tall blond rye starter) sat in the fridge door looking so alluringly at each other.. so close and yet so far.. and then yesterday I pulled out charlie and gave him a pep talk and some water+flour.. it seems to have worked as I pulled out a bread flour/ whole wheat/ spelt 123 loaf out of the oven this afternoon. It wasn't the best loaf I've ever made, but all things considered.. good eats.. so don't bother drying out.. short of a Zombie Apocalypse these starters seem to have a life of their own! Travel safe and enjoy!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Don't know why I'm fretting. Not even going away for that long. However I do still wish to dry some for long term purposes just in case. I can put it in the cupboard and forget about it for a back up. I've heard stories of starters forgotten in the fridge and then people reviving them. I'm not concerned about my starter going dormant but rather of mould growing. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Rube Goldberg's picture
Rube Goldberg
Lechem's picture
Lechem

Thank you Rube.

hreik's picture
hreik

And then wrapped it in a cloth (cotton /linen mix) to store. Wadded it up and then put rubber band around the top to secure. I did it like they suggest at King Arthur Flour. http://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2015/05/01/putting-sourdough-starter-hold/

Good luck

hester

hreik's picture
hreik

Have a lovely and safe trip.

hester

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Miami here I come :)

Lechem's picture
Lechem

That's a very good write up on how to dry starters. What i'll do is start the drying process tonight and top back up what I've taken out. So i'll have some dried starter and starter in the fridge.

garybcookin's picture
garybcookin

I keep a backup in my freezer just in case. I keep it froze for about a year then I will pull out it and feed it a couple times until it is happy again then I put it back in the freezer. I have dried it and  to me the freezer is  less work and I know it works. I have dried it as well and had good luck it just took longer as I spread it too thick I think. I have a convection oven I use so I had the fan to help as well as it can keep temps low enough. I ended up letting it sit overnight on a speed rack to finish drying after a couple hours in the oven. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

and agreed. It does come back to life very quickly. Just thought I'd dry some this time. I've done as exactly you have described. It's spread thinly on the oven tray sitting in an off oven and should be dried before I go.

Thanks Gary.

garybcookin's picture
garybcookin

Just an FYI i felt like it took longer to  come back to life after drying. I was surprised how long it took to rehydrate and took a couple extra feedings compared to the frozen method but still a good way to store it. I have a batch sitting to see how long it will keep this way.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

dry before you left - I can attest that it is just fine to leave it spread out and drying / dried on the parchment paper while you are gone.  I tossed a light layer of cheesecloth over mine just to keep the dust off when I had to leave before it was fully dried (it was quite humid here at the time), and it was more than fine when I got back to it.

Hope you have a wonderful trip, and will be watching for that signature crumb to show up again on your return!

Best, Laurie

Lechem's picture
Lechem

as it would have been 24 hours atleast. It's now sitting in my oven and would have had atleast 24 hours to dry. I've been a bit unconventional and have used some tin foil instead of parchment paper. I know it is a big "no, no" when it comes to metals but tin foil seems to be non reactive and starters are more hardy than we think.

Thank you Laurie. Looking forward to some time off. Was actually supposed to go a few weeks ago but Irma saw to that.