The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Issues activating dried starter

hominamad's picture

Issues activating dried starter

I ordered the Oregon trail starter a while back and finally decided to activate it. I have a lot of experience with starters but never revived a  dehydrated one before.

I followed the instructions and have been slowly building it up for a week now. I see activity in the form of bubbles but the starter is not rising at all after feeding. It also doesn't have the smell I'm used to from my other starter.

Wondering if I did something wrong or maybe if the dehydrated starter was bad? Do you need to keep the dry starter cold or frozen? I have had it at room temp for over a year. Wonder if that's the problem?

idaveindy's picture

I used to use Carl's Oregon Trail starter.

If remember correctly, it took a few days, maybe 4, for the dried culture to "bloom", then another 3 or 4 days before I baked with it.


- did you use chlorinated tap water?  That would kill it. Use bottled spring water, not bottled filtered/purified water.

- distilled water is also non-optimum.

- if you have to use tap water, let it sit overnight in an open container to let chlorine evaporate.

- if your tap water has gone through a typical (for United States) household "water softener" system, that would also be non-optimum. Use bottled spring water.

- Do not use bleached white flour.  

- Do not use an unmalted white flour. Boutique millers, such as Central Milling have some unmalted flours.  Not good for rehydrating, starting, or feeding a starter.  I bought some Arrowhead Mills Organic All Purpose flour that was on sale, and my starter didn't like it, and I looked at the ingredient list and didn't see any malted flour or amylase added. That would do it.

-  You could just be feeding it too much or too frequently, and thereby keep diluting  it, so the yeast and lab never get built up enough to create a bloom or rise.  If this is the case, do you have any left over dried culture to start over?

-  About a year ago was the sourdough craze, and the Oregon Trail volunteers were swamped.  You may have gotten a weak batch.  Get another sample.  Please include $1 donation, and a Padded SASE,   The chunky bits can tear through the baggie they use, and a regular SASE envelope.

- Carl's Oregon trail starter is very powerful.  But I just did not like the smell. Smells like a barnyard.  The bread made from it is fine.


It's worth another shot.  Good luck, and bon appétit amigo.

gerhard's picture

to do is show it too much love. Feed it and then start a schedule of stirring it.  Once you see activity discard a little and add flour and water and refrain from over doing the refresh too soon because you will be discarding the yeast and bacteria culture you are trying to strengthen.