One thing I haven't yet tried in my sourdough journey has been drying my own sourdough cultures to preserve them. It's a useful security measure in case anything happens to your continuous culture - if you forget to feed it so it dies for example, or if your dog eats it all, or something like that. I'd heard it was pretty easy so I decided to give it a go.
You have to make sure your starter culture is healthy and active to start with. It's a waste of time to dry a weak and inactive starter. I dried my San Francisco starter because I used up all the dried starter I was sent from America, and wanted to keep a store of it.
1. All you have to do is spread out a teaspoonful of sourdough starter onto some kind of paper, such as greaseproof paper or baking paper. I used waxed paper, simply because I had some already. Spread it pretty thinly because it will dry quicker and more evenly that way
2. Once you have a thin even layer of sourdough on a piece of paper, place it in a safe place to dry out. I put mine close to a radiator, out of the way of prodding children.
3. It dried out overnight, crinkling up the paper as it did. You can see it in the photograph on the left.
4. Once it was dry I crumbled it into flakes. You only need a small pinch of these to make a new starter, because the beasts will multiply very quickly once you start feeding them. To reconstitute it, mix a pinch of dried flakes with a couple of tablespoons of cooled boiled water. Leave it for a few hours, then feed it a dessertspoon of strong white bread flour and half a dessertspoon of wholemeal or rye flour. Add a bit more cooled boiled water and stir well, then cover. Feed it this way two or three times a day and you should soon have a healthy active sourdough starter which will make delicious bread.
5. I stored the dried flakes in a plastic bag, clearly labelled. There's no way I'd be able to guess what these beige flakes are in a few months' time - they look like a lab sample of someone's horrible skin condition. I'll try to reconstitute them in a few weeks, just to test that it works. But I have great faith that it will. That's how the starter was sent to me in the first place.