Keeping Your Sourdough Starter Alive While You’re On Holidays

Going away? Don’t forget to give your sourdough starter a little love! We show you how to keep your sourdough starter alive while you’re on holidays.

Is your sourdough starter like a child or pet to you? Well, maybe not quite! But for those of us who bake the slow way our sourdough starters can take on a bit of a life of their own. Which is not surprising, because they are alive! Which means just like pets, gardens and houseplants, they need to be taken care of if we’re going away.

So you’ve landed on a great starter, but now you’re headed off for some R&R? There are lots of options to keep the good bacteria you have cultivated going strong to keep your sourdough starter alive.

How to take care of your sourdough starter when you go on holidays
Photo by spurekar used under CC license via Flickr

Fridge it

This is an ideal option if you’re just popping off for a weekend away. But fridge your sourdough for a week or more and it’s going to need a fair bit of coaxing to come out of hibernation. Which isn’t so great if you’re hoping to jump straight back into baking when you get home.

Sourdough starters can keep a surprisingly long time in the fridge. We’ve known ours to be left with no love for months and still come good. But you will need to be ready to scrape off any mould that grows on it while hibernating, and spend a few days feeding and discarding in order to get it healthy again.

Freezer it

If you don’t want to spend time reviving a refrigerated starter, freezing can be a great alternative to help keep your sourdough starter alive. Your starter will ferment more slowly than it would if you refrigerated it, and bounce back a bit quicker once defrosted.

Dehydrate it

Dehydrating starters is a common way that sourdough cultures have travelled around the world.

A well dehydrated starter can be rehydrated once you’re ready to bake again. And it will last many months on the shelf with no power required to keep it cool.

Many bakers dehydrate their starters as an “insurance policy” if anything happens to their sourdough culture in it’s day-to-day baking life.

To dehydrate, spread your starter out thinly on greaseproof paper or a silicone baking sheet. You can put in a dehydrater on a raw food setting to dehydrate, or simply leave it out on the bench in warm weather for 12-24 hours or until completely dry.

Store dried sourdough shards in an airtight jar or container. You can also mill it to a powder for easy rehydration.

How To Care For Your Sourdough Starter When You Go On Holidays By Rebecca Siegel via Flickr
Photo By Rebecca Siegel used under CC license via Flickr

Take it with you

That’s right, a well-travelled sourdough starter is a “cultured” starter! When taking a sourdough starter to a new place there is always a risk you may change it’s cultural make up with local yeasts in the air or different water. You can bring your own water to counter the risk of the former. Otherwise always boil and cool water used to feed it when travelling.

Taking a starter with you will mean you have an abundance of spare starter while on holidays. While it’s probably not convenient (or desirable) to be baking whilst travelling, you don’t have to waste it.

Sourdough pancakes, crumpets or muffins are all delicious breakfast treats that can be made with sourdough starter and very little effort.

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