Reviving your Starter

by on May 13, 2017
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Historically some families used their starter as part of the filling between logs in their cabin.  When a new family moved in, they broke off a piece of their starter, gave it to the new neighbor, and filled in the crack with more starter.  Yes, it is that dry and that durable.

Reviving Sour Dough Starter

Whether you get your dried starter from Carl, Grandpa or another source, it will have to be reawakened before it can be used.  Here are “Step by Step” notes that are easy to follow.

  1. All of the steps are done with the mixture on the counter (covered) and NOT in the refrigerator
  2. Chop half a potato into dice-sized pieces
  3. Heat 1/4 C water in the microwave for about 30 seconds
  4. Mix the potato in with the hot water and let set until it cools (about 30 minutes)
  5. Meanwhile, pulverize (or break apart) your chunk of starter.
  6. Begin with 3 TBL of hot tap water and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of your starter.  Let stand for a few minutes to soften the start granules.
  7. Crush the granules with a fork, then mix in one tablespoon of flour.  You want the mixture to be like a thin pancake batter.
  8. When the mixture gets bubbly (overnight or 8-12 hours) put it in a little larger container.
  9. Stir in remainder of starter, 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of flour and 1/2 tsp sugar.
  10. When that mix rises up (4-8 hours) add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour.
  11. When this bubbles up (4-8 hours) you are nearly there.
  12. Discard half of the mixture, and add another 1/2 C water and 1/2 C flour.  Let ferment overnight on the kitchen counter.  You will have about one cup of very active starter that is ready for use or storage in your refrigerator.

It is now time to CLICK HERE to check out some recipes

The time between refreshments will depend mainly on temperature. You can expect the first sign of starter activity to take from four to 12 hours.


o I use the baby formula wrist test to judge the temperature of the water. A few drops on your wrist should feel barely warm or cold.

o A baby food jar and an 18-ounce peanut butter jar work well for the small and large containers.

o Established starter will do fine in any room temperature that is comfortable for humans. Warmer room temperature is helpful when reviving start, but do not go over 85ºF if at all possible. Cooler temperatures just extend the time required. If room temperature is under 68ºF, I find a warmer spot such as the top of my refrigerator or a cold oven with the light on.

o Vigorous stirring of the mixture from time to time will slightly shorten the time between growth stages, but is not necessary for success. I use this method to test start before shipping and just stir enough to mix the ingredients.

Regarding the vinegar “kick”, and the use of dry yeast in a few of the recipes Carl transcribed, we don’t do it, but heck, it might work for you.

Good luck with your sourdough,

Originally written by “Carlos” October 19, 2003

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