How To Bring a Sourdough Starter Back to Life

When I was visiting family in the Midwest over Christmas, my aunt offered me some sourdough starter. She bakes with it twice a week to make bread for her family of eight, and was singing its praises. I accepted, and the jar of starter made its way all the way from Utah to the Pacific Northwest in one long drive. When I got home, I soon realized I needed to figure out how to bring a sourdough starter back to life.

You see, it had been fed a few days before we went home and put in the fridge. One the drive, it was kept in the cab of a warm truck. The drive was about sixteen hours long. I did not know at that point that a room temperature starter required more attention. So when I got home I just stuck it in the fridge and forgot about it for a few days while I settled back in.

The poor thing was starving when I got it out. The liquid on top was nearly black.

I tried to make bread. Technically I succeeded, but there was so little active yeast left in the starter that I had to let it rise for a full day and night. Even then it didn’t rise as much as I’d like. But it tasted alright when baked.

I know the starter needed some lovin. It wasn’t dead, but it needed some TLC. So day three of our sourdough series (here’s day one and day two) will be about…

how to bring a sourdough starter back to life after it's been a little neglected

How To Bring a Sourdough Starter Back to Life

Turns out, bringing a sourdough starter back to life isn’t that different from creating a new one.

Put it out on the counter so it will be at room temperature.

Twice a day, discard all but what you need for your starter, usually half a cup or a whole cup. I do a whole cup. Add to this a cup of whole wheat flour and a cup of water and stir it all in together. Cover with something breathable like a coffee filter or cheese cloth.

Continue this for a few days, until the starter is a bit foamy and grows a bit between feedings. I knew mine was really alive again when it started trying to overflow the jar overnight.

It went back in the fridge, and I had no issues with my next batch of sourdough bread rising. Remember in the fridge it only needs to be fed 1-2 times per week rather than daily, since the yeast grows slower at cooler temperature.

About Lee

Lee is the owner and author of Our Little Urban Homestead. She's a wife, mother, and Christian and enjoys reading, gardening, medieval reenactment, and many other hobbies and interests.

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