Welcome to the 6th Annual Sourdough Giveaway! I’ve been sharing my starter every January since I started this blog, but last year’s giveaway broke all of my records, with 154 sourdough packets leaving my kitchen and heading out into the world.
Many of those packets went to readers of my Twice as Tasty column in the Flathead Beacon, so thank you for supporting local journalism, as well as reading my column and blog. Twice as Tasty starter has now traveled to Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Slovenia, and throughout the United States, and I hope to share it with even more new sourdough bakers this year. Request your starter by the end of January to get in on the sourdough adventures.
Learn more about my sourdough starter in my column. I’ll happily send you sourdough starter through January 31, 2023. Join the 6th Annual Sourdough Giveaway here. Once you start baking, don’t forget to share your creations.
Getting Started and More
If you’re new to baking with sourdough, waking up a dormant starter, or looking to expand your sourdough repertoire, here are some links to helpful information already on the blog:
- Rehydration instructions for Twice as Tasty sourdough starter (PDF)
- Photos of the rehydration process
- Caring for Starter
- Reasons to Bake with Sourdough
- Tips for Sourdough Bakers
- Common Questions from New Sourdough Bakers
- Reviving Ugly, Dormant Starter
You can also find plenty of sourdough recipes in the recipe index.
Sharing Your Starter
If you already have an active, healthy sourdough starter, I encourage you to get in on the spirit of this month’s giveaway and share it. The easiest way is to scoop some of your starter into a jar and hand it to a friend ready to join you in sourdough baking, along with care instructions and perhaps your favorite recipe. But you can also do what I do: dry your starter and mail it to a friend, along with rehydration instructions (you’re welcome to pass on mine).
Drying your starter is also a good way to store it in your own kitchen if, say, you’re going to be traveling the world for a few months or just need a long break from baking over summer. You can then wake it up when you’re ready for a new round of baking, again using my rehydration instructions.
I’ve tried two similar techniques to dry starter, and I recommend using a food dehydrator if you own one with a setting well below 130°F (the temperature at which the yeast will die). A dehydrator needs minimal monitoring and is unlikely to pick up household dust. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use the open-air method I explain below in Tips & Tricks.
Ready to give it a try? Full details are below, but here are the basics:
You just your starter, parchment paper, dehydrator trays (or baking sheets for the open-air method), a spatula, and a storage jar—plus a little time.
1. Feed your starter.
2. When bubbly, spread it on parchment-lined trays.
3. Let it dry until brittle.
4. Remove and store.
Dehydrating Sourdough Starter
Feed your starter and let it start to bubble. Cut parchment paper into sheets that fit your food dehydrator’s trays. Use a spatula to spread the starter as thinly as possible on the parchment, filling as many trays as you like. Unless you’re drying all of your starter to store it long term, leave some starter in your jar and feed it again for your next baking day.
Set your dehydrator to its lowest setting (preferably below 100°F), add the trays, and let the starter dry for several hours or overnight, until the starter is brittle and peels easily off the parchment. Turn off the dehydrator and let the starter sit until cool.
Remove the dried starter from the parchment, breaking or crushing it into chips small enough to store or share. Transfer the chips to a glass jar with an airtight lid (like I recommend for pickles), and store it in a cool, dark place.
To share the starter, weigh out 15 grams of chips and place them in a zip-close bag, gifting one packet per person, along with rehydration instructions.
Tips & Tricks
- If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can use the open-air method instead: Feed your starter like you would for dehydrating, but cut the parchment to fit baking sheets and secure it with binder clips before spreading on the starter as thinly as possible. Let the trays sit in a warm room until completely dry; this may take several days in a humid house. When brittle, crush and store the dried starter as outlined above.
- You don’t need to dry a lot of starter if you just want to store a little for yourself or to share with a friend or two, but you may need to stack a certain number of trays on your dehydrator for it to function properly; check your owner’s manual to be sure.
- Your dehydrator tray size affects how much starter you can dry per tray, but here’s an idea of volumes: On my dehydrator, I can spread about 90 grams of bubbly, active starter per tray, which reduces to about 45 grams of dried, brittle starter chips. I can share these with 3 people as 15-gram packets, which is plenty of starter to wake up and start using.
- When I give away dried Twice as Tasty starter, most recipients report waking it up in just a couple of days, even after it’s been stored for more than a year. Hopefully you’ll have the same success rate.
Need starter? The 6th Annual Sourdough Giveaway runs through January 31, 2023. Get your free sourdough starter here.