I've been nursing a sourdough starter for well over a year now, ever since a friend gifted me a portion of hers. If you must know, his name is Mr. Funny Pants and he's the closest thing I've had to a pet since my hamster died when I was 9. So I care for him quite a bit.
So when my husband and I began to plan our move from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina, Mr. Funny Pants was one of the first things I worried about — aside from leaving all our family and friends behind and packing up our whole lives, of course.
I store my starter in the fridge and feed him weekly, so I had no idea how he'd fare on a long-distance move and then an arrival to a bare kitchen that could take a few weeks to get fully up and running. Then I discovered a little secret: I could dry him in order to preserve him long-term.
Drying Your Sourdough Starter Is the Best Way to Preserve It for Weeks (or Even Years)
I had heard about freezing sourdough starter for long-term storage, but that wasn't in the cards given my 10-hour car drive across five states. So I searched the internet for a better option. What I came upon was this ingenious tip from King Arthur Flour: Dry your starter.
King Arthur Flour suggests spreading your active sourdough starter out thin on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and letting it hang out at room temperature for a few days until it's completely dry and brittle. Then you'll be able to break it up into "chips." The chips can be stored in an airtight container pretty much indefinitely, as long as they're kept in a cool, dark place, like a pantry (or, in my case, a moving box).
Once we were finally settled in Charlotte a couple of months later and I was ready to bake again, I simply rehydrated the chips. It involves a little water, flour, and time, but in less than a week I had an active sourdough starter again, ready for baking. Now I have him back in the fridge on his usual weekly feeding schedule, but I'll no doubt turn to this method again for our next move.
Get the tip: Putting Your Sourdough Starter on Hold from King Arthur Flour
Have you dehydrated your starter before? Share your experience in the comments!