LABs at room temp
Hi all - I'm trying to see if I can find a way to create a starter that can be sold online and won't potentially die during shipping / storage. I see that both Breadtopia and Cultures for Health offer dehydrated starters on Amazon. I tried the Cultures for Health one and it smelled very funky after I revived it, came out in a dark color. I've had different starters over the years and this definitely wasn't just an over-ripe starter.
I was under the impression that even if you dehydrated a starter, if you don't keep it refrigerated, the LABs will die within a week or so.
So I'm curious if anyone has thoughts on how these dehydrated starters are made to stay at room temp, and/or what may have caused mine to somehow get contaminated. I fed it just like I would feed my own starter, same flour, same water, etc.
Revive a dried starter which can sometimes take a week or more. Or one can create a starter from scratch which often takes a week or more. I'm of the opinion that if one spends a few days reviving a starter then it's tantamount to making a new one.
So why dry a starter? If for whatever reason it does "survive" the drying then of course it's an advantage. But too often (not all the time but often enough) people spend just as long reviving it. So another reason is that it gives someone the confidence to persevere where in the past they've given up too quickly.
Can one send a "dried" starter that will survive shipping? Of course! Send flour :)
Flour is practically dried starter. It has everything one needs to make a starter in dry form. Just add water.
Yes - but I once bought a dried starter and it was ready to go in just a day or two. Much faster than the usual ~ week or more needed to make a starter...
I have made a starter in a couple of days with flour. Both are rarely the norm though. More often than not they seem to need as much time as each other.
i’ve never started a starter from scratch but i’ve dried and revived mine a number of times (twice myself — once just for curiosity, once after a 2 month trip — and three times were friends i sent it to in the mail who revived it). in all cases it took just a day: a few hours for the flakes to dissolve in water and then one or two 12 hour feedings and it was behaving like a starter. that’s my norm; yours sounds unusual.
i keep my dried starter in the freezer, but when i’ve mailed it it took ~3-5 days to get to its destination, so that would have been at “room temp”.
to the OP: i wonder if you got a bum batch from cultures for health. if i were curious about shelf stability of dried starters, i’d start drying some of my own and do some experiments.
edited because: i remembered that the OP has a starter and is just curious how to successfully dry one.
Making a starter from scratch and reviving from dried it depends on time be it age of flour to how long it's been dried for. It is very common to see people struggling for days in both cases as we have seen on this forum. Whatever the case if it does take days then one has made a new starter.
P.s. I've never bought dried starter but have seen quite common issues with those who have. I just think flour is 'dried' starter.
well, 12-24 hours is not “days”, and that’s typical for my dried starter to be ready to bake with. if you are saying it is typical for you to start a new starter and have it ready to bake with in 12-24 hours, then i think that’s pretty extraordinary.
i agree that anyone taking multiple days to see activity from a dried starter is effectively starting from scratch. i think we disagree about how typical that experience is.
if i went just by the experience of people who come to this forum (which is almost all people who are having problems— why else come here?), i would think starting a sourdough starter took weeks and worked about 10% of the time. 😆
That too isn't common for store bought dried starter where days seems to be norm for quite a lot of people. Some starters I make are quick and others more slow. Luck of the draw I guess. But what I am saying is IF it takes days then it's a new starter.
I would imagine if it took a few days to get a dried starter going then they wouldn't take to the forum either. After all if you look at these instructions they do pan out over days.
Is a factor and can reach dangerous levels high enough to kill yeast, not necessarily bacteria. I have witnessed first hand misshandling of yeast arriving dead into a store or placed into a store front window. I especially am suspicious durring warm or summer months during transport in a truck, front seat of a car or anywhere where the temp goes above human body temperature. Control of temps at home is another situation all together.
Reputable sourdough companies give best results with dry starters when shipped in the cooler months of the year or when the transporting people are aware of heat exposures and act accordingly. My suggestion would be to ship during cooler temps or in winter. Make use of warning labels on the package. Make use of insulating yet biodegradable packaging that might prevent high temperature swings aquired in trucks, mail trucks, mailboxes, cars, and exposure to sun (heat build up) or any heat source.
Consumers should be aware of when the starter is shipped, where it is stored and protecting your prize when transporting it home. Keep a watchful eye on it and transport yeast and sourdough starter wet or dry next to cold items like butter and milk. Avoid hot cars and warm handbags.
Another point to make is even if the starter has been exposed to heat and yeast is killed, the pH level when revived with a small amount of flour and water in small amounts can set up the beginning requirements to jump start the starter past the leuconostic beginning phase of a newly made starter. Dead funky yeast is still containing minerals/food newly forming yeast in the fresh flour can digest. Important then not to discard too early. This naturally may take longer if original yeasts were not exposed to excessive heat.
I exclusively store my starters buried in flour nowadays:
Storing these jars at room temp means they may get unwanted fungi etc and would spoil, so recommended they be kept in the fridge, but no need to freeze.
They revive relatively quickly, even a one month old jar can revive enough after 12 hours to proceed directly to levain building and the resultant levain has strong vigour in the bake.
So I contacted Cultures for Health and they told me that they store the product refrigerated prior to shipping, and also there's some fine print on the back of the package that says "refrigerate for long-term storage" and apparently since I didn't refrigerate it for 2 weeks, that basically meant that I may have ruined it.
Also, I was feeding it side-by-side with my own wild starter which may have caused some contamination.
But in all my research I have not come across any ways to store LABs at room temp, seems like that's still a technology waiting to be found. So I simply misunderstood the product instructions.
That being said: storing it in flour is an interesting idea