Well, so much for “zero doubts” in getting my dehydrated starter perky and going again. I said as much on my post on dehydrating the starter, and I figured after almost a year, it was time to raise the starter. I wasn’t successful.
This is what I began with, an airtight mason jar of dehydrated sourdough starter.
Day one, about 4:35 in the afternoon, I began with 1/2 cup of dried starter, 1 TB of ground whole wheat flour (aged about a week in the fridge), and about 1/4 cup of chlorine-free water, enough to get a nice pancake batter consistency. I kept it on the counter, covered with wrap, at room temperature. I put the lid back on the jar, and it resealed within three minutes. I thought the whole deal was pretty stinkin’ easy.
Day two, around 9:15 in the morning, I checked on it, but there was nothing. No real activity at all. For reference, all of my starters do very well at room temperature. This starter still smelled all right, so I decided to warm it up a bit, on the lowest setting, about 90 degrees in my dehydrator. That is how I initially got the starters going when I got them from Sourdoughs International. I checked on it three hours later, and at 4:00 I turned it off.
This was the best I ever got: a single weak bubble or two. After a while, I began to wonder if what I had was my original sourdough fermenting, or if I was fermenting whatever yeast I was catching from my environment. Still, I decided to let it sit overnight, hoping I would see a healthy frothy starter in the morning.
Day three: nope. I decided to toss this batch and began again at 9:25 in the morning. This time, I used 1/3 cup of dehydrated starter, 1/2 cup of chlorine-free water, and I used white flour instead. The “right” way is to use the same as the starter, in this case, whole wheat. However, I thought that perhaps the whole grain may be too overpowering, and I wanted to experiment. I also decided to keep it warm for the day.
Day four, 8:50 in the morning, and I was not impressed. Also, my jar never resealed, so that was an interesting experiment, too. I still had the one or two bubbles, though, so I left it out all that day and into the night.
Day five, there was obvious mold. Yes, something was growing but it wasn’t my sourdough! I started yet again with the last of my dehydrated starter (all fresh clean bowls in between of course). I used 3/4 cup starter, 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup chlorine-free water AND this time I added 1TB of apple juice. Perhaps it needed a little sugar to feed off of. I left it to warm until that evening.
Day six, it still didn’t look promising. Believe me, I was SO hoping for this to work! I left that morning for five days to Portland, Oregon, and left it out (covered). I figured it would either perk up or die.
Five days later, it was moldy and dead. And thus ended the saga of rehydrating my dehydrated starter.
I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I’m sure there are far more knowledgeable sourdough gurus who could chime in once they stop laughing It sure did dehydrate very easily, so this is my current plan:
1. Call up a couple of companies and see if they’ll share with me how they dehydrate their starters. Perhaps my efforts were too hot, but I’m not sure how I’d overcome that in the wet climate I live in.
2. Order me up some new starter and keep one of their dried starters for my backup.
3. Continue on my quest to share starters with my friends! Many of us are now using sourdough starters, and it is pretty nice to be able to share back and forth as needed. Like when I need a year off from a flavor and then want it back
4. Keep my starters going in the fridge, maintaining a rotation. Currently I have three going, but I’ve had four going and can definitely see doing more. It’s easy once it becomes part of the routine, and if you like to bake often. You can see how I juggle multiple sourdough starters here.
I hope you’ll learn from my failures, and if you are successful in resurrecting a homemade dehydration, I want to hear about it!