“Sourdough Adventures”

Sourdough Boule
Sourdough Boule

Last year I decided to venture into the world of sourdough. I am gluten intolerant but seemed to do okay when eating sourdough. By trial and error, I found a loaf bread recipe that everyone enjoys. I will tell you more about that later.

Homestead and Chill has been my go-to website while working on our hobby organic farm and making holistic products so naturally I looked to them for guidance. They offered a dehydrated sourdough starter that was alive but dormant and could be reactivated. I purchased a packet and was successful at reactivating it. It’s still going! There was so much active starter that I decided to dehydrate my batch. After experimenting to ensure it was reactivated successfully I gave away dehydrated packets to family and friends.

Dehydrated sourdough
Our Farm Dehydrated Sourdough starter

Although I have made some adjustments, adding my images and thoughts, the following instructions from the Homestead and Chill website have been my guide.

How to Reactivate a Dry (Dehydrated) Sourdough Starter

Follow this step-by-step guide to reactivate a dry sourdough starter. The process takes about a week, but is very easy to do! By the end, a small amount of dry sourdough will transform into a voluminous, bubbly, active culture – ready to bake with. You can keep this starter for many years if you take care of it. Remember if you need to take a break you can dehydrate your starter (Google for instructions) and begin again at another time.

Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Activation Time 5 days 

Equipment

  • Pint-size glass mason jar and lid or similar (for initial activation)
  • Larger glass container, such as a 1 to 2-liter glass flip-top container (for ongoing starter storage)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbsp dried sourdough starter culture
  • white bread flour or all-purpose flour (amount varies with each step)
  • filtered room temperature water (non-chlorinated, avoid using cold water)

Instructions

Day 1

  • In a clean pint-size mason jar (or similar) combine 1/2 Tbsp of dried sourdough starter powder with 1.5 Tbsp of filtered room-temperature water. Allow the dry sourdough starter and water to sit for several minutes to soften and combine. Use a fork or spoon to stir it on occasion.
  • Add 1 Tbsp of flour. Mix thoroughly. (See consistency notes below)
  • Cover the jar with a lid, to prevent it from drying out. Set the container in a moderately warm location (70 to 75F is ideal). Come back in about 24 hours.
Let dehydrated sourdough sit in liquid for a bit then stir to dissolve
Day 1 Reactivation
Cover
End of Day 1

Day 2

  • Into the same jar as yesterday, add 1 Tbsp of flour and 2 teaspoons of water to the starter. Mix well.
  • Cover the jar or container again, and allow it to sit for another 24 hours.

Day 3

  • Repeat the same feeding process as Day 2 (1 Tbsp flour and 2 teaspoons water).
  • By the end of the day, you will notice that there have been signs of rise and fall because your jar will show where the starter expanded.
Day Three Reactivation
End of Day 3 Reactivation

Day 4

  • Today, add 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup water to the starter. Mix well.
  • Cover the container and set aside once again. Consider marking the level of the starter after feeding. It should rise quite a bit by this time!

Day 5

  • Transfer your starter from the mason jar into a clean mixing bowl.
  • Add 1 scant cup of fresh flour (just a hair shy of a cup!) and 1/2 cup of water. Mix thoroughly.
  • Transfer the starter into a new larger container of choice (such as a 1 to 2-liter glass flip-top jar). This will be the starter’s “forever home”. Set it aside at room temperature once again.
  • If your starter is actively bubbling, rising, and falling you have successfully reactivated the dry sourdough starter. When a starter rises to double its size and then stays elevated, that is considered “peak activity” and is ready to bake with. It will deflate after a few hours and should be fed or refrigerated.
New Home for Growing Starter

Mark your jar and watch it grow
Very Active Starter Ready for bread-making

Ongoing Starter Maintenance

  • I make sourdough bread once weekly and store my starter in the refrigerator until the night before I bake with it. In the morning, when it is at room temperature, I feed it to activate it.
  • If I don’t want to make bread I feed it anyway and leave it in the refrigerator. I add 1/4 cup flour and 2 tablespoons of water, making adjustments so that the consistency is similar to pancake batter.
  • If your starter has a bit of brown water on top of it, don’t worry just pour it off.
  • Discard some of your starter if you have too much of it. You can throw it away, feed it to the chickens, or use it in “Sourdough Discard Recipes”. One of my favorite discard Sourdough Granola recipes is linked below but there are many more that you can find online.

Notes 

Starter Consistency:  Every environment (e.g. different elevations and humidity) could also lead to starter variations. The goal throughout this process is to maintain a thick gooey starter. It should settle smoothly into the bottom of the container (meaning, not clump into a firm ball of dough like cookie batter) but it shouldn’t be easy to pour or runny like pancake batter. The sourdough starter should be somewhere in between. Eventually, an active sourdough starter will be spongy like marshmallow fluff. If you feel that your starter has become too stiff or too thin, add a sprinkle of flour or a splash of water until the desired consistency is reached. Do so in small quantities, such as a teaspoon at a time (especially in the first few days).

Troubleshooting: The home temperature will determine how quickly your sourdough starter grows- though there should be at least some activity, even in the coolest conditions. You can move it to a warmer location in your home. The jar can also be wrapped in a towel or heat mat but monitor the temperature carefully.

Links to my favorite recipes:

Making sourdough boules are lovely (pictured at the top of the page). You will need a Dutch Oven to bake it in. For ease in baking, I prefer the following whole wheat recipe which uses loaf pans.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf Bread

Favorite Whole Wheat Recipe

Sourdough Granola

Sourdough Granola
Crunchy and Tasty Sourdough Granola