As the first Twice as Tasty Sourdough Giveaway Experiment comes to a close, there’s only one word to describe it: success. When I announced that I would be sharing my sourdough starter for free, people immediately began sending me their SASEs and joining in the project. When I extended it a second month, even more envelopes requesting sourdough began to appear in my mailbox. Many of the new proud owners of a sourdough starter have been sharing their experiences and photos with me over the last month. I’m excited to share some of these with you and show you how easily new bakers took to their sourdough starter.
I began sharing sourdough starter in 2014, almost as soon as my culture was fully active. The more I used it and shared it, the better my starter looked and tasted. But those initial handoffs had to be done in person, limiting my ability to pass on the sourdough love.
In 2017, I began to experiment with ways to dehydrate sourdough starter. A dehydrated starter is easier to share, and it can be stored until the recipient is ready to activate and use it. It seemed the perfect way to share the wild yeast across distances, even continents. Once I discovered an effective way to dry it, I tested the second step: rehydration. The dried starter immediately responded and returned to its active state. Success. Which meant it was time for the real test: If I sent the starter and rehydration instructions to someone new to sourdough, would they be able to wake up the culture?
Last month, I launched the first Sourdough Giveaway Experiment. Some of the Twice as Tasty sourdough starter traveled just a few miles from its source; other batches are still making their way across the country and Atlantic Ocean. Most packets went to people who don’t bake often and who were new to working with wild yeast. Here are some of their results.
Every person who has received and activated their dehydrated Twice as Tasty starter has told me they had no problem waking it up—in some cases, it literally jumped up. One starter was left near a hot water heater and became so lively it overflowed its jar. “I rewarded it for its good behavior with more space and love/food,” wrote Vicki of Kalispell, Montana.
Another batch of dried starter, fed and left to warm on top of a gas stove with a pilot light, perked up instantly. “One day and my starter is off and running!” wrote Karen from Seattle, Washington. “Worked like a charm. Now to find a second quart jar!” Other participants in the experiment had similar results, using words like “happy,” “exploding,” and “eager to please” to describe their new culture.
Once the starters were lively, their new owners got down to the baking. A few people were hesitant to start too big, but their first rounds of pancakes were so delicious, they were quickly moving on to bread. Suddenly my inbox was full of photos of beautiful loaves.
It’s been exciting to see the growing confidence of these new wild-yeast bakers. Some have become so interested in sourdough that they’re keeping multiple starters, featuring different grains or flour-to-water ratios. Others are continuing to spread the sourdough love by sharing their starters—a practice I highly encourage. One active starter has already journeyed with its new owner from Montana to California in a small plastic jar tucked into check luggage. “It expanded slightly but did not burst (unlike the huckleberry bag…what a mess!)” its owner Alanna reported.
I’m thrilled with the feedback from the first Sourdough Giveaway Experiment. Since January is Sourdough Month at Twice as Tasty, I plan to continue the experiment again in January 2019. A huge thank you to everyone who participated this year and shared their stories and photos. If you received sourdough starter this year but have not activated it, your comments are welcome here, and you can share your photos in the Twice as Tasty Facebook group. And if you missed out on this giveaway, you can still receive sourdough starter by signing up for a Twice as Tasty workshop. No matter how you received your starter, I hope you continue to share your sourdough adventures with Twice as Tasty readers and to share your starter with friends.
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