If you have started you own sour-dough starter or levain following MY RECIPE, you have read that there is always a risk of losing your levain by not feeding it, by seeing it polluted by bad bacteria (very rare because levain has very powerful good bacteria fighting the bad ones efficiently), by dropping the bowl on the ground or with a well intended friend who washes it off thinking it is rotten yoghurt :(
Cloning your levain is a must. And it is pretty easy! The ideal day to do it is a hot or at least dry sunny day.
All you need is a whisk, a spatula, some baking paper and 1 or 2 glass jars with lids such as Bonne Maman glass jars.
First of all you need to use your levain at the peak of its fermentation. When is looks like a swollen bubbly mousse. This is when it is the most efficient. Mix your levain well. A whisk is a good tool for that.
Then, you will spread a thin layer of levain all over the baking paper leaving an edge to grab the paper.
Paper will get wrinkled in the process. Don’t worry, it is supposed to happen.
I have covered 2 papers the size of an oven tray.
Place the papers on a warm and sunny spot.
Pretty quickly, the levain will start to dry and crack. The complete drying process will take between 10 hours on a very hot and dry day and 2 or 3 days. Make sure that the flakes are VERY DRY before proceeding to the next step.
Clean and dry 2 glass jars very well. Use a dry tea towel or leave in the sun to make sure there are no drops of water left in the jars and lids.
To avoid any mess, grab a rectangle of cracked and dry levain.
Place the rectangle in the jar.
Push with your finger to make smaller flakes and add more rectangles, push more, etc, until you fill up the jars.
When you have pushed all the dried levain in 1 or 2 jars, screw the lid on and keep in a dry place forever….
Now you can keep your levain for yourself or share it with friends and send it by post (check the rules on food shipping within your country and of the country of destination).
To REHYDRATE the levain flakes all you need is to add an equivalent weight of flakes and lukewarm water (not too warm!) in a small glass jar or bowl with a lid. Let the flakes soften and melt. The follow the usual feeding instructions from my RECIPE. Start with 50g of flour and 50g of water, etc.
I hope this helped!
NOTE: do no use an oven or any device which would heat the levain. It would kill some or all of the good yeasts and bacteria. Use the sun, this is the best way to do it.