Sour dough breads and baked goods have been the norm around here for the past few years. While I love using it, I hate that I have a half gallon jar of starter hogging up space in the refrigerator. It does not seem like much space but it is and, I have vowed that once this fridge dies, I will no longer have one. Learning to make do without one is a goal that we have for ourselves over the next couple of years. Getting the sour dough starter out of there is a good start.
I remembered reading about dehydrating sour dough starter back when I first began using it regularly again. I had since forgotten where the information was on it so a few weeks ago I asked some net friends about it. After following instructions given to me, I have since dehydrated all of my starter and now use powdered starter for all my needs. It is much less mess, and for me much easier to remember to make into the sponge for baking needs. I can mix up the powder, let it sit and not think of it again until I am ready to create something. I do not have to worry about bringing the starter to room temp, mixing the sponge and then adding to the starter. I also know that I have approximately 60 recipes that can be made from one jar. It will be easy to know when I need to dehydrate more and that it too can be made from the powdered starter. The powder makes it much easier to store long term or to mail to friends or even take on camping trips to use while there.
When I dehydrated my starter, I made it very thick first so that I could spread it like a thick paste onto my drying sheets. I simply used large cookie sheets with plastic wrap covering them and then smeared the starter on the cookie sheer to about a 1/4 inch thick. I also tried wax paper but, again, that stuck to the end product and was not fun to peel off. I slid my trays under the wood stove and allowed them to dry slowly over the next couple days. Once dry, I put the pieces in to the food processor, ground them into flakes and put in to airtight containers for storage.
To use them, put one tablespoon of flakes with one tablespoon warm water to dissolve.Then stir in 1 cup room temp water and 1 and 1/4 cups flour and mix well. The end result should be like pancake batter. Cover lightly (not air-tight) and leave out on counter. Allow to sit for 24-48 hours. You should see the normal bubbles covering the surface and the volume will have increased slightly as well. This is your working, fed sponge so use it as you would in any sour dough recipe.