Convert To Dry Sourdough Starter (No More Discards)

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If you’ve entered the world of sourdough, you know that keeping up with the sourdough starter can be a tiresome task.  It requires constant measuring & baking so you don’t waste your ingredients.  Switching from a wet to a dry sourdough starter will save you so much time and money!

pin for dry sourdough starter

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Why Do I Need A Sourdough Starter?

When you begin the journey of baking with sourdough, you must first make your “sourdough starter.”  This is the process of mixing flour and water and letting it ferment over days to weeks in order to create active yeast and good bacteria

The sourdough starter is what you will use to make your bread recipes rise, just like a packet of active yeast would do.

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What Is A Dry Sourdough Starter?

A dry sourdough starter is when you use a ratio with more flour than water to feed your already mature wet starter.  The higher ratio of flour helps keep it active for longer, which will in turn require less feedings.

Your dry sourdough starter can live in your fridge for months without feeding.  It’s also more potent, in a sense, so when you use it to bake with, you only need a tablespoon or two to start your recipe. 

Unfortunately, you can’t just start off with a dry sourdough starter.  You must go through the process of building up a wet sourdough starter to make it strong before you can convert it to a dry starter.  I would suggest using a wet sourdough starter for at least 3 months before converting to a dry one.

hand with ball of sourdough starter

How to Make A Sourdough Starter From Scratch?

There is a little more to making a sourdough starter than just putting flour and water together.  You need to discard a portion each day and replenish it with more flour and water as you make your sourdough starter stronger.  I had the most success starting my sourdough when I used Elle ay At Home’s Beginner’s Guide To Sourdough Starter.

How To Convert Wet Sourdough Starter To Dry Starter

Typically, when you feed a wet starter, you use a 1:1 ratio of flour and water.  The ratio is different for a dry starter, as you will use more flour than water.

To convert a wet sourdough starter to dry, you need to use 30g of sourdough starter, 50g of water, and 100g of flour.  Mix those all together to create a dry sourdough starter. 

It’ll be stiff and can be formed into a ball.  Place the ball of dry starter into a mason jar and lightly tighten a lid on top, but don’t fully tighten it.

jar of dry sourdough starter

Stick it in the fridge and give it 24-48 hours before you bake with it. You can keep it in the fridge and bake with it for several months before it will need another feeding.

Every other time I replenish it, I like to leave it out for 12-24 hours first to make sure that it is still active. I leave it on the counter and wait to see if it will expand and show air bubbles in it, which indicates that the starter is still active. See example below.

How to Replenish It?

When your mason jar is starting to run low & is almost used up, it’s time to replenish it again.  You repeat the exact same process as when you converted it before.

You’ll need roughly 30 grams of dry sourdough starter, 50 grams of water, and 100 grams of flour.  If you have less than 30 grams of dry sourdough starter, don’t worry, it should still replenish with no issues. 

Just use the starter you have left and add the 50 grams of water and 100 grams of flour.  30 grams is just a rough estimate of what is needed to get the sourdough starter fed and to keep it active.

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    If your dry starter has been in the fridge for more than 3 months without using it, I suggest discarding some of it and giving it a replenish to keep it nice and strong.

    Again, I’ll let it sit on the counter for 12-24 hours first to make sure it’s still active before I stick it back in the fridge.

    How To Bake With Dry Starter?

    Baking with a dry starter is very simple.  I especially like it because I feel like I don’t have to precisely measure it because it is nice and dense.

    For every ½ cup of sourdough starter that your recipe calls for, just substitute it with 1 tablespoon of dry starter. 1/2 cup of wet starter = 1 tablespoon of dry starter

    For example, if a bread recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sourdough starter, 1 ½ cups of water, & 4 cups of flour, you’ll scoop off 1 tablespoon of dry starter in place of the wet sourdough starter.  So, here is what you’ll mix together:

    1 Tablespoon of dry starter (roughly)

    1 ½ cups of water

    4 cups of flour

    tablespoon of dry starter

    For easiest mixing, I put the 1 tablespoon of dry starter in the water first and use my fingers to break it up and swirl it around in the water.  For even easier mixing, make sure to warm your water up to around 100 degrees so the starter will break up easier.

    As a quick reminder, I put this label on my jar lid so I can quickly see the feeding ratio and baking ratio.  Sign up for the Member’s Library for the free printable label.

    Tips

    • You can use any flour you prefer.  All-purpose flour works great.  I like using a mixture of rye flour and bread flour together because it gives it a robust flavor.
    • When making a recipe, use 1 tablespoon of dry starter for every ½ cup of wet starter that is called for.
    • Replenish your starter every 3 months or when you get down to 30g left in your jar.
    • Use warm water around 100 degrees for best results.
    • Your wet starter should be at least 3 months old before you convert to a dry starter.

    What to do if your dry starter dries out?

    If you accidentally leave your dry starter for too long in the fridge and it gets crusty, no worries! The quickest way to get it back up and running is to create a wet starter for a few days to make it nice and strong.

    To start – combine 30g of your dry starter + 50g water + 50 grams flour together. Let sit 12 hours. Then, you’re going to feed it like a wet starter, so discard half and feed it with 1 part water/1 part flour every 12 hours until it’s nice and bubbly! Convert back to a dry starter whenever it’s nice and strong.

    Why Switch To A Dry Starter?

    There are many reasons to switch to a dry sourdough starter.  First, it saves on ingredients because you don’t have to feed it every day.  Also, there isn’t any discard being wasted.

    It also saves you time because you can leave it in the fridge without maintenance for months on end.

    I also like using it because I don’t have to strategically plan out discard recipes to make each week in order to use up all the discard because I don’t like wasting it.

    In the long run, using the dry starter saves time, money, & mental energy.  You won’t regret switching to it!

    What If I Want To Go Back To A Wet Starter?

    You can easily go back to a wet sourdough starter whenever you’d like! This is the beauty of having a dry starter in your fridge.

    Just take 30g of your dry starter and mix it with 50g water + 50g flour. Then, you can discard and feed like normal every 12-24 hours until you have the amount of wet starter that you need.

    pin with sourdough starter label

    FAQ

    Does a sourdough starter need to be fed every day?

    When you’re starting a sourdough starter, you’ll need to feed it daily for at least 7-10 days.  After that period, you can keep it in the fridge and feed it 1-2x per week.  After your starter is mature enough, around the 3 month mark, switch it to a dry starter so you don’t have to feed it anymore.

    Do you discard sourdough starter every time you feed it?

    When you’re working with a wet sourdough starter, you don’t necessarily have to discard every time, but you’ll have to use more ingredients to keep up with it. Also, your starter will grow to a point where you might not be able to keep up with baking with it all.  It is best to discard some of it and make discard recipes so you’re not overwhelmed and wasting flour.

    If you switch to the dry starter, you will no longer need to discard at all. It is way easier to keep up with and doesn’t waste any flour.

    Why isn’t my sourdough starter rising?

    If your sourdough isn’t rising within 24 hours, then it isn’t mature enough yet.  You’ll want to continue discarding and feeding it for several days in a row to get it nice and bubbly.  I had the best luck when I used rye flour and bread flour to get my sourdough starter active, so you might consider trying different flours too.

    What is the ratio to make dry sourdough starter?

    To convert your wet starter to a dry starter, you’ll use 30g starter, 50g water, and 100g flour.  This is the same ratio you’ll use when you replenish it later too.

    How long can you have sourdough starter in the fridge?

    A dry sourdough starter will stay active in the fridge for several months and doesn’t need to be fed before baking with it.  If you’re working with a wet starter, you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of months, but you’ll need to feed it before baking with it.

    What is the minimum amount of sourdough starter to keep?

    30 grams of sourdough starter is a safe amount to keep when you’re feeding and replenishing.

    Can you feed a sourdough starter less?

    Yes!  Convert to a dry starter so you won’t need to feed it as often.  You can go months without feeding it if you’re using a dry starter.

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    Yield: 1 Jar

    Dry Sourdough Starter

    hand with ball of sourdough starter

    There are many reasons to switch to a dry sourdough starter. In the long run, using the dry starter saves time, money, & mental energy.  You won’t regret switching to it!

    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Total Time 5 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 30g wet sourdough starter (at least 3 months old)
    • 50g warm water
    • 100g flour (see note below)

    Instructions

    1. Mix the wet starter and water together.
    2. Add the flour and mix together until it forms a nice ball.
    3. Place in a mason jar and set on the counter for 12-24 hours to observe it and make sure it’s active. You’ll see it start to expand and show air bubbles. (You can skip this step, but give it 24-48 hours in the fridge before you bake with it).
    4. Store in fridge for several months and bake with it as needed
    5. Replenish it after 2-3 months or when you only have 30g left: combine 30g dry starter, 50g water, & 100g flour again to replenish.

    Notes

    • You can use any flour you prefer.  All-purpose flour works great.  I like using a mixture of rye flour and bread flour together because it gives it a robust flavor.
    • When making a recipe, use 1 tablespoon of dry starter for every ½ cup of wet starter that is called for.
    • Replenish your starter every 3 months or when you get down to 30g left in your jar.
    • Use warm water around 100 degrees for best results.
    • Your wet starter should be at least 3 months old before you convert to a dry starter.

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    6 Comments

    1. I’m wondering if this is what I have? I have to actually make a levain when I make something for the right ratio of water and flour to equal what most sourdough Recipes call for and I do store mine in the refrigerator.

      1. Hmmm… you might already be working with a drier starter if you have to use a different ratio than what typical recipes calls for! As long as you’ve found what works for you, I’d keep at it 🙂

    2. Typically I use grams for measuring my bread dough recipe how do I convert the tablespoons into grams?

      1. Hi Natalie! I just measured 2 TBSP out with my dry starter (which I used All-Purpose flour in this time around) and it was about 35g. Hope this helps!

    3. My question is how to make a levain from a dry sourdough starter? If you need 120 grams of levain, how much dry starter would you need? Thank you and I love the idea of using a dry starter!

      1. Hi there! Levains are not my expertise, but this is what I would do if I needed a 120g of levain: at least 10g of dry starter (roughly 2 teaspoons) + 55g water + 55g flour to make your levain. I love the dry starter because you don’t have to be too precise with it. You could choose to add the full tablespoon of dry starter just to be safe and ensure your levain gets nice and bubbly. Hope this helps! Happy baking! 🙂

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