There’s not much to this process. Just smear some fresh sourdough starter in a thin layer over a piece of parchment paper and let dry. Once dry, the starter will easily separate from the paper and can be ground up into small pieces and placed in a plastic ziplock bag.

Store your starter in the freezer for as long as you like. This is not a bad idea, as a routine measure, in order to backup your working batch of starter in case it meets with an unexpected demise.

Note: At the end of the video, I mention that you will find the video for reviving a dried starter below this one. I have since moved it here.

87 thoughts on “Drying Sourdough Starter For Long Term Storage

  1. Jesse

    Hi! Sorry if I missed this question already… I know it isn’t imperative that the dried starter be frozen, as I’ve migrated my starter around the world in a dried, non-frozen state… but how long do you reckon I can go without freezing? A month? Couple weeks? I feel good about a week, but not sure about longer.

    • Michael

      From what I’ve read about sporulation, I am confident that if kept dry they may never have to be frozen, I think freezing is just security. Last year I gave my brother-in-law a baggie of dried and frozen starter that was labeled “1990”. He’s making a lot of good sourdough bread with it, amazing.

      Good Luck

  2. Barbara Raber

    Wow! I love your web site. I have learned so much about starters. Made a starter about 6 weeks ago and it is doing wonderful. Have made bread with it 3 times so far and it is wonderful; can’t get enough of it. Next time I pour off some of my “mother” starter, can I use it to make a new starter using flour along with the water? In reading your web site it seems that alot of people swear by rye flour making it even more wonderful!

  3. Francesco

    Hello! Should I dry the starter right after feeding it, or a couple hours later, after it has doubled/tripled in volume? In the video, it looks like the jar is pretty full, but wanted to be sure.

    • Hi Francesco,

      After it’s doubled or so would be best so the population of yeast is higher.

  4. William Hull

    I just had to toss my very active starter that I made from some of your dried starter some months ago. Accident with a broken jar :(

    I had some that I dried myself so I got that going again and it’s been four days of twice a day feedings and very active, more than doubling in four hours or less. The volume is fine for baking now.

    Is there a recommended time or number of feedings until I can use it to bake again? Another way of asking does it take some time to get back to full maturity?
    TIA,
    Bill

    • Hi Bill,

      I think doubling in 4 hours is plenty indicative of a starter thats ready to use. I’d say you’re good to go.

  5. Margot

    Well my starter is just dandy, I have never measured anything just add water and whatever type of flour I fancy and thicken and thin the starter depending on what I feel for…… I make bread over a 2 or 3 day period with lots of rises, I use a multi grain porridge in the mix and my secret ingredient….. A can of cream corn at the end, it kicks off the rise like mad and adds a lovely flavour, I also make loose dough, no kneading and a final flour cap to be able to handle the dough and strengthen the rise…… Bake at 425 with water bath in the oven

    • Monica in Phoenix

      Margot, hope you are still on the website because you have gotten my curiosity up. Your comment “I use a multi grain porridge in the mix and my secret ingredient….. A can of cream corn at the end, it kicks off the rise like mad and adds a lovely flavor” intrigues me. Can you share your recipe? Sounds so good. Does the corn show in the baked bread?
      Must it be canned corn or could you puree in a blender/processor?
      Thank you, I am so enjoying the learning process of sourdough. So far good luck.

  6. katy

    could starter be dried at lowest temp in a food dehydrator, or is that too hot?
    thank you.

    • Yeast dies at 130F, so you’ll need to keep the temp somewhat lower than that.

  7. Rita Deason

    I purchased some starter from you awhile back but had to leave me starter when we vacationed in the winter. Now I am having trouble getting it started again. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks for a great website, also. Rita

  8. Patty

    Hi, Can I put the lid on my jar when storing the starter in the refriderator?
    Also, can you mix two jars of starter, if they were made just a couple of days apart?

    Thank you, Patty

    • Michael

      Yes, mine has the cover on, not much activity in the fridge to produce gas.

      You could mix the starters, but Dr. Wood of Sourdoughs from Antiquity instructs to toss out a lot of the starter when refreshing it. You could always dry and freeze the excess for the future.

  9. margot levy

    Hi there I have a happy little starter in the fridge but I would like to make it more tart, at present I use rye, whole wheat and white flour to feed my little pet but if you have any souring tips I would so appreciate that. M
    Also you might be interested I made my initial starter from scratch using an unpasturized sauerkraut juice ( a lactic acid fermentation) to kick it off….went crazy right away, it now lives in the fridge and every victim I can find gets to take home their own pet little……M

    • Michael

      In my experience it is the particular starter that is more or less sour than others. You can purchase varying starters. Also, if the early fermentation is done at higher temperatures, 85 to 90 degrees, the lactobaccillus is predominant and the result is more sour, but the tradeoff is that the yeast is inhibited and the resulting loaf will be more dense. I am working on a method from Nancy Silverton’s book “Breads from the La Brea bakery” to try to get the type of tough crust and large cells that I want.

  10. Anita

    I would like to send some starter by mail. It’s cold/winter, so would it be safe to just put some in a plastic bag without drying it and sending it on its way? Would probably be a 3 days trip or so….or do i absolutely need to dry it…???

    • Michael

      It’s really quite easy to dry. I have sent and received dried samples in the mail. Without drying I would say the odds are for DOA.

  11. Michael

    In the late 1980’s I got very interested in baking sourdough bread. I bought starters from around the world through Ed Wood’s “Sourdoughs from Antiquity” and had great success. (http://www.sourdo.com/) I even made an olive bread by culturing yeast that occur naturally on grapes (thanks to Nancy Silverton of L.A.’s LaBrea bakery and Julia Child). As a safety net, I dried samples of all of my cultures. Then I became busy professionally and didn’t bake for a while, plus my wife is on a gluten-free diet. I recently decided to do some sourdough baking so I revived a dried and frozen “Saudi” culture. Came back to life as original, very tart. The label on the baggie from the freezer read “Dried March 1992″. Wow.

    • SunGold

      Amazing that it lasted that long! I made a starter just two months ago and it’s as flavorful as any San Francisco sourdough I’ve ever had. This is fun!!!!

  12. Debbie

    I have a very simple question. I am about to use my starter for the 1st time, exactly how do I replenish or feed it in order to keep it going? Thank Debbie

  13. Linda

    I am thinking of freezing some of my starter, and in reading your instrructions, I did not see if it matters if it needs to be fed or not. Can you please tell me, thank you.

    • Hi Linda,

      As long as it’s healthy when you dehydrate it, it doesn’t matter if it’s been fed recently.

  14. JJ Lewis

    I would love to have the whole wheat starter recipe! :) I have been making breads of all kinds for years trying many starters. The one I use now I feed with flour and water. I am really interested in making Salt Risen Bread…..does anyone have a good recipe?

    • George Brock

      the issue of making salt rising bread is that it works at a very high temperature (115-120 degrees F) and uses hydrogen instead of CO2 to make it rise. the culture if you can call it that is milk based and is unpredictable until you figure out.

  15. I would use flour and water only to revive or feed starter. The main thing sugar does is speed up the fermentation process. So unless you’re in a hurry, I’m not sure there’s much need for it. Most of the time I’d rather slow the process than speed it up so more flavor has a chance to develop.

  16. Jean

    So, for a flour/sugar/water fed starter, would you recommend reviving it with a combination of flour/sugar/water in the same proportions as my normal feed, or still just use flour and water to revive? Thank you SOO much!

  17. Jean

    My sourdough starter is fed with flour, sugar and water. Most of the starters that I see being discussed are fed only with flour and water. Can mine be dried and stored in the same way?
    Jean

    • Hi Jean,

      Sure, the sugar shouldn’t change anything about the way starter can be dried and stored.

  18. Hi Miriam,

    That’s really interesting about how your grandmother and her mother stored their starter. Makes sense coming from that time. I think that may be how Flemish Desem starter and bread is managed, starting with balls of starter stored in flour.

  19. Wow, what a neat ‘foodie’ site. My sourdough starter is 52 years old. It was 20 years old when my friend gave it to me and her mother gave it to her – oh yes, she lived in California. You are correct that the taste takes on the local area. When living in the Iron ranges of upper Minnesota the starter took on the most ‘hearty’ flavor [the manganese / iron?] compared to living in Central and Southern MN [shale / lime] ‘smooth / light’ taste. I have frozen my extra sourdough. It is great to hear it can be dried also. My grandmother use to make a ball with the starter I gave her and put it in her flour can with a few inches of flour over it when she wasn’t using it often. She said that is what her mother use to do. Never tried it. I do let cream go bad to the point of putrid chunky every few years and use that for my milk addition. My recipe came with 1 milk, 1 sugar, 1 flour. Stir and leave set.
    Tried potato water but it never got foamy bubbles like it does with the milk.
    I came to this site looking for the nutritional value of sourdough, thinking it may have some of the good probotics in it…can’t do to much yogurt and no kefer. We make plenty of sourdough items pre winter to ward off any cold germs. Works every year.

  20. Hi Glenn,

    I guess I didn’t mention temps partly because I neglected to. But also because for almost all the recipes and purposes I cover on this site, any semi normal room temp will suffice. I know some bread books call for a precise temp for this that or the other, which may be important for trying to accomplish their specific objective, but I’m a lot looser than that. Sometimes when I look at a recipe and it has you jumping through all kinds of hoops, my eyes roll back in my head and I’m off to the next one. This site is mostly for beginners and I don’t want people to give up before they get started. I usually just focus on recipes and methods that are pretty easy and forgiving.

  21. glenn ashworth

    First thanks for the great site….my question is: why don’t you mention what temp you would like a starter that has just been fed and getting ready for a batch to be at while it reconstitutes? Also what temp to leave the first proofing in the bowl after you start the batch…some books suggest a “proofing box” to keep them at 80F or so…your instructional videos which are great, don’t seem to mention temps???
    Thanks again,
    glenn….

  22. Hi Brain,

    I’m not aware of any methods. The dry starter would have to revive and gain strength before it would leaven effectively. I’d be surprised if it would work since it takes several days for this to happen.

  23. Brian

    Hi there!
    Just wondering is there any method of using this type of dried sourdough in in a bread dough without having to revive it? or would the flavour be completely compromised?

  24. George Brock

    thanks for all the helpful ideas on the web site

    I was especially grateful to be able to replace the bottom of my la cloche at a reasonable price

    I have a sourdough starter that consistently will leaven 100% whole wheat; let me know if you want to try it

    the variety of no knead recipes offered is a welcome addition to my arsenal

    {=}==

    George

  25. I have by mistake stored starer in the bottom left drawer of my desk… 1 year & 2 months later, I found it… That drawer never gets looked into…. BUT that starter is ALIVE!!!!!

    It’s the 1847 Oregon Trail, guess those old roots go deep. It revived very well, although I have to admit that to date, it does not have the flavour of “Eric” that I have been tending to for a year now. Maybe it’s just my local bacteria & yeasts. I am being patient with it. It has a very sweet rather than sour smell.
    The bread tends to be a tad bland.
    I hope it develops a good flavour and scent – but after 2 weeks of daily 12 hr feedings, it can’t compare to my little batch of “Eric” that blossomed nto a full flavoured lovely SD starter right out of the gate….

    Just to be safe, I keep a batch of frozen batch of dried “Eric” in the freezer. Hope this helps.

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