Reviving a Dried & Live Sourdough Starter

(Eric) #1

This is the comment thread for the Breadtopia blog post originally published here:

To leave a comment, click the Reply button below

If you do not see the “Reply” button, you will need to log in or register an account. Please click the blue “Log In” button in the upper right of the page. :arrow_upper_right:

(Eltica) #2

Hello everyone,

I’m trying to revive a 15yr old dried sourdough starter a friend has given to me. I’m on my second attempt now, and I don’t really know what I’m doing wrong.

I’ve followed the instructions, and added 1/3 cup flour and a bit over 1/2 cup water to my bubbly starter. However, the starter didn’t rise at all during the day. It still has bubbles in it. I thought I might have made the starter too wet, resulting in gas floating to the top rather then trapping it in the starter, so I’ve added two tablespoons of APF to create a thick batter like consistency. I’ve only added the extra flour just then, so I don’t know the outcome yet.There’s bubbles currently present in the starter.

I’m not sure how I go from here though. Do I discard half of the starter and keep feeding it 1/3c flour and 1/2c water daily? Do I stir it twice daily and stop feeding it? Do I feed it daily and stir twice daily? Do I feed it twice daily? I’ve used water from the tap, which hasn’t been an issue in previous starters.

I hope you can help me out! I’ve got a little bit of dried starter still there, but I don’t want to waste a 15yr old starter!

Thanks, Ella

(Eric) #3

Hi Ella,

I wish I could give you specific ideas with some confidence. It sounds like your starter is really close to performing the way you want but it just needs some more babying. Keeping a healthy, vigorous starter healthy is a lot easier than getting it there in the first place. You somehow just have to judge how much to feed it and how often to feed it based on what it looks like and how it’s performing now. It can be a bit of a catch 22 if you don’t have a lot of past experience nurturing a starter back to full strength.

One small note. A little chlorine in tap water isn’t, by itself, normally likely to negatively impact a starter’s health significantly. But if your starter is struggling to achieve a healthy state, every little advantage you can give it might be worthwhile. Chlorine is in water because it kills microorganisms. Starter is a bunch of beneficial microorganisms. If you’re not filtering out the chlorine in your tap water, at least let it sit overnight so the chlorine will evaporate before feeding your starter with it. It couldn’t hurt and it might help.

(Svlizer5) #4

I used your technique to dry a starter for travel . It was a very healthy, 50 year old starter that has been fed with sugar and potato flakes. Should I use flour to revive it like you do yours in the video or use the potato flakes?

(Eric) #5

I would use wheat flour since the gluten in the flour will trap the CO2 bubbles from fermentation and create a bubbly, spongy starter (as long as the consistency of your starter isn’t too thin). It’s much easier to tell if your starter is ready for use when you can actually see it get spongy and rise well after feeding. I don’t think you’d have that with potato flour. Skip the sugar. It speeds things up but isn’t necessary.

(Svlizer5) #6

Hi Eric, Thanks for your reply. If I switch to wheat flour will it change the flavor of the old starter or is it a myth that ancient starters are better?

(Eric) #7

It might change the flavor a little. For the better I would think.

I don’t know about the ancient part. It’s a funny thing. You can look at yeast as being hundreds of millions of years old or how ever many seconds it takes to divide. The value of keeping a culture going for how ever many years is more of a romantic notion than anything else IMO.

(Otbterri) #8

Hi Eric I received your dry starter 4 days ago. I have followed all is the 1st day I have good air bubbles I am trying to baby it rather then give up on it. I started my second try yesterday using half ww and half ap both king Arthur brand as a back up in case the 1st doesn’t take off. I am weighing everything to make sure it is accurate. I bought my starter on Amazon if the dry does not go where do I get the live starter from?

(Eric) #9

You can get it here:

(kthymyrs) #10

I received my live starter 2 days ago. Of course I opened it immediately ( ok so I checked the tracking every day until is showed out for delivery I was a little excited for it to arrive ) I have been feeding it for 2 days now ( as per directions included on the package) it is bubbling wonderfully but not doubling have I done something wrong or does it just need more time and feedings?
Thanks in advance for any help

(Paul) #11

Bubbling and not doubling almost certainly means your starter is on the wet side - which can still work fine. If you want to see the volume double more easily, try using a bit higher ratio of flour to water when you do the feedings so the starter is on the stiffer side.

(jpj408) #12

Hello, I have a homemade starter that is about 4-5 months old. It has always been very healthy. Double to tripling after 1 feeding when removed from the fridge. Recently it stopped rising my bread. I thought I would leave it out and feed it regularly to perk it up. It’s been 3 days of twice daily feeding and I have just seen some bubbles, no rise. I added flour to make it thicker without change. I set the room temp for 74 today and still nothing. Tonight I put it in the oven with the light on and it started to rise. The starter temp is 90 degrees F. This seems to hot to leave it at, to me, but it seems happy. What temp starts to kill the yeast. Should I only feed once a day at room temps of 68? I can’t understand what happened to it!

(Eric) #13

I can’t tell but I do know that yeast won’t die until it gets to about 130ºF, so you’re safe at around 90.

(mcasbari) #14

I am SO glad I decided to buy your live starter and would encourage everyone to do so!
I’ve been trying to make my own for months and it just never turned out right. I received your starter a couple days ago and of course screwed up the initial feeding. Instead of following the instructions for reviving the live starter, I fed it as though I was ‘managing’ it (duh). Way more flour and water than I should have used just starting out. Of course I freaked out and resigned myself to throwing in the towel. However, I decided to leave it alone to see what it would do. I woke up this morning to a spongy, bubble filled container of starter that had doubled in size! You cannot imagine how happy I was to see it had survived my rookie move. This tells me its a strong, durable and healthy starter that was sent to me, and absolutely worth every single penny. You should probably be charging more! Anyway, thank you thank you thank you! I am so pleased and really looking forward to my first successful bread!

(cere) #15

I received my live sourdough starter 4 days after ordering ! Arrived in great condition. Of course I revived it immediately per breadtopia instructions at about 5 pm and it was doubled and beautifully bubbly by 7 am! A couple more feelings and I can’t wait to make bread. Thank you, so far this starter is great!

(dtomczak) #16

I just wanted you to know how happy I am with your live starter! You shipped it to me this past Monday and I received it 2 days later which was super fast! I fed it like you instructed in your video and this morning, Friday, I have fresh sourdough bread just out of the oven! I used a very simple beginner recipe as this is my first time making sourdough bread but I have to tell you it is way better than any store bought or even bakery sourdough I have ever had! I am hooked, thank you so much! Dora

(sierragt) #17

So I tried to start twice, both times on day 4 it’s grey and hairy. I thought maybe the first time I forgot to do a step correctly so I was very diligent the next time and same result. Any ideas? I only have one more try (well before I have to buy more starter) Lol.

(DrM0hawk) #18

I received my live starter, and it is alive and well. Pro tip: instead of trying to spoon the live starter out of the plastic bag it came it, I added the 2 tbsp water from the first feeding into the bag, mashed it until it was mixed in, and then was able to just pour it into a jar. Then I mixed in the 3 tbsp flour for the first feeding. Voila! Much easier than wrestling with the plastic bag to get the starter out. :wink:

(abread3) #19

I followed the written instructions but on day 3 it smelled a bit off and had just barely started to bubble. I moved it to a warmer location and the next day it started to mold. I watched the video and I’m starting over. Any idea why my first attempt might have failed? The only way I am aware that I varied from the instructions was a glass jar rather than a pinch bowl and it had more of a convex bottom.

(Eric) #20

Hard to know but it wouldn’t be the jar vs pinch bowl. Have you had any luck since you posted your question?