Saturday, October 11, 2014

Adventures in Sourdough, Part 1

Discovering sourdough, all aspects, is very much an adventure.  It seems quite wasteful to toss out a portion of the dough, just to feed it.  It's a much better service to feed my family, friends, and myself.  Suddenly, our bill for flour and butter has increased along with the need to bicycle away in the evenings.  But it's so worth the effort and extra calories.  Even then, using the starter is not always practical.  So we dry it.

Magic Man and I travel - a lot.  Often not together.  Maintaining the starter can be challenging.  Asking Magic Man is probably not the best idea either.  He has other things far more important than playing with paste.  He'd rather eat the paste than tend to it.

My supplier, Mr. M tells me I can freeze starter, thaw it in the fridge overnight, and feed the next day.  I discovered we can dehydrate starter, crumble and store in an airtight jar until needed.  Mr M was a happy camper... literally.  He loves to camp and now he can have his sourdough pancakes on the trail.

It's quite an easy process, along with a few memorable lessons, to dehydrate starter.  Let's begin...

First, feed the starter and when its happy, stir it down.  On a sheet of plastic (I used gallon sized freezer bags) or sil-pat, spread the starter just as thin as you can.  Then spread it a little more.  The air temp should be warm.  I oh so wisely chose to use my dehydrator set on low, taping the plastic to the trays.  That was good... and bad. 

Starter spread on plastic freezer bags
In 30 minutes, it was evident the dehydrator was drying quickly.  I smiled and walked away, proud that I was so darned clever. 
Starter after 30 minutes of drying
Something told me to check back sooner, but instead I returned three hours later.  The starter had "drawn up," pulled up the tape causing the starter to crumble.  When I opened the door to the dehydrator, I was blasted by a cloud of sourdough snow.  There were flakes everywhere. There was enough dried starter left on the trays for experimenting - without have to recover the delicate flakes from the floor. 

Next time, the dehydrator will run for 1 hour, we'll pull the trays and crank up the heat.  Then we'll turn off the machine, return the trays, and let the starter continue to dry in the warmed box.

To use, mix a little warm water with the starter flakes.  Slowly add water until the mixture is pancake batter consistency.  Let the mixture sit a few hours to activate.  Use in your favorite recipe.

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