The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Drying starter

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Drying starter

Hello all.  I was wondering, when you dry your starter, in what state does the yeast end up.  Is it dormant? i would think so.  If  so, why is it so much easier to revive than when you initially make a starter from scratch?  Is it because the concentration of cells is so much higher in the dried starter than just flour?  And i would think so too.  I also read that only young yeast cells can go into dormancy when food runs out, and older cells will die.  Interesting. As for the bacterial,  Lactobacillus is a non-spore forming bacteria so it must die in the drying process.  When you revive your starter you  are counting on the bacteria in the environment/water to repopulate your starter again i suppose, but won't that affect the flavour of your starter at the beginning until  balance is re-established.  

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I smeared starter onto some parchment for drying in prep for taking it on a trip just today. I have no idea how it works but I revive it and it works. A few feedings and I have a starter-yeast and lactos.

mariana's picture
mariana

Hello loaflove, 

Some starters could be successfully dried and restored from dry state, but not all, definitely. It has to do with drying tolerance of the microorganisms. For example compressed yeast sold in store (fresh yeast) is not suitable for drying. It dies when you attempt to dry it at home. It is best kept refrigerated or frozen, never dried. So for dry yeast sold in stores scientists discovered two different varieties of yeast cells: one for Active Dry yeast and another - for Instant Dry yeast. 

Some microbes survive the drying process and stay dry for a long time, alive but dormant, and they are easily restored, while others might dry well, but are tricky when it comes to restoring them. They die when you soak the dry starter! They are not revived, but killed by it. Not every re-hydration schedule would work for them, sometimes the water temperature is wrong, sometimes, the flour is wrong, or duration of rehydration, etc.

Example is ADY and IADY, two dry yeasts from the store. One is ok with cold water, it revives very well (instant dry yeast), another dies in cold water, if you sprinkle dry yeast over cold water or milk, even if it's room temperature water, it's too cold for it. For it water must be just so, around 40-43C to successfully restore Active Dry yeast into active, moist form, ready for baking. 

Each starter has lots of different microbes living in it, sometimes dozens of different species or varieties of one species, both yeast and bacteria. Some will be lost irretrievably by drying, some will survive the drying and re-hydration. You can only discover from experience what really works for your personal unique starter in your kitchen. 

mariana

loaflove's picture
loaflove

Thank you for that.  So would you be wary of purchasing for example , the dry starter from Breadtopia? There are many good reviews on it and I almost bought it , until i decided to give my starter more time to mature and i'm glad i did because it's quite active now, finally, after over 2 months. i thought i'd dry some for back up or to send to someone.

BethJ's picture
BethJ

5 years ago I purchased dried starter from Breadtopia - still baking strong with same.  

loaflove's picture
loaflove

That's good to know in case anything happens to my starter and i don't feel like starting from scratch. Thank you

Benito's picture
Benito

You know the other thing that worked for me as a back up?  I travelled to Japan this past fall when we used to be able to travel 😟, and all my starter went bad.  It really smelled super off.  I had dried starter in my freezer, but I also had my sourdough discard.  The discard smelled more acetone than usual but it certainly wasn’t off.  I poured off the hooch, then took some of the discard from below and started to feed it watching it ebb and flow and after a few days it was going pretty well.  My first bake with it was underproofed, but after that it was fine and is still the starter I’m using now.  I haven’t dipped into my dried starter yet, but it is good to know that I have two back ups.

Benny

loaflove's picture
loaflove

I kinda thought the yeast in neglected starters in the fridge can survive for quite a while.  They just go dormant.  They're hardy. 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Nothing like a good experiment!

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Breadtopia has been around a while and has a great reputation.  I have not purchased anything from them so far, but I would not hesitate to use their dried starter.

I purchased and used three dried starters before I ever attempted to create my own starter from scratch.

I have made two purchases of "Cultures for Health" - www.culturesforhealth.com - dried starter from/through Amazon.  They were two different strains.  I accidentally killed off the first.  Then I bought ($1 "donation", actually) a sample from www.carlsfriends.net , which performed like gang-busters, but I just wasn't happy with the taste.  Then I bought another Cultures for Health of a different strain.   

Then, I finally got around to making one from scratch with home-milled hard red winter wheat, with a bit of orange juice for acid.