Getting a sourdough starter can be difficult. Dried starters can be ordered from various places, such as Northwest Sourdough, King Arthur or Sourdo. These have to be activated and brought back to life. Ideally, a friend would give you an active starter. Once you get an active starter that you really like, and they all have different flavors, if you’re anything like me, you worry a bit about something happening to it. I know that I can stick mine in the fridge for several weeks and leave it alone and then with a bit of TLC, get it back to the state where I use it every day or so.
I keep a jar in the fridge and usually toss it after a few weeks and put fresh in there. That’s just my backup starter. The one I am mostly working from sits on the counter and gets fed every day or every other day. Some instructions will tell you that a starter sitting out has to be fed twice a day. So far, I have not and mine is fine.
Another thing I do that makes me feel pretty secure, is that I keep some of my starter, dried, and in the freezer. Here’s how to go about drying some of your starter.
Simply smear a bit of it on plastic. It can be plastic wrap or something that’s plastic and easy to manipulate so that the dried starter can be peeled off. I use my King Arthur pastry sheet.
If smeared thinly, within a few hours, it’s completely dry and will pop off on it’s own.
At this point, it resembles a thin potato chip. I place them in a zipper bag.
Using my hands, I crush the dried starter.
It can be crushed as fine or as coarse as you’d like. Next time I get the Food Saver out, I’ll place this zipper bag into a vacuum seal bag and seal it. In the meantime (and after it’s vacuum sealed), it will be stored in the freezer. It will keep at least a couple of years in the freezer but at least once a year, I go through this process again and make sure I have a good sample in the freezer. Hopefully, I will never have to use this but it’s simply my backup, to be used if I lose my starter.
We also want to be sure we label these bags. I’d hate for someone to go digging through my freezer and find some unknown white powder in a zipper bag! :(
There is information on this page for activating a dried starter, as well as how to care for a sick starter.