If you’ve baked Amish Friendship Bread before, you know that it doesn’t take long before you have Amish Friendship Bread starter coming out of your ears. You’ve run out of friends to give baggies to and you’re all baked out. Plus the ongoing care and feeding of Amish Friendship Bread…yes, you need an AFB vacation.
So you visit our FAQs and see that you can freeze the starter. What?! And once you freeze it, you can fuhgettaboutit. Seriously?!
Yes, seriously. Not only that, the starter will keep indefinitely, as in years. You put 1 cup of starter in a gallon-sized freezer Ziploc, label and date it, and stick it in the freezer. Adios!
Fast forward ten years. It’s 2025, and you’ve craving something sweet. You dig around your freezer and behold…a bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter dated 2015. (Mine is dated 2013, but you get the idea). It’s like a dream come true. So what now?
It’s time to revive your starter and get baking.
First, dust off the ice crystals and let the bag thaw at room temperature in a large mixing bowl on the counter.
You have a few options here:
- Treat it like it’s Day 1: Run through the 10 days as if you had received your starter from another person. The instructions are here, or
- Treat it like it’s Day 6 [RECOMMENDED]: Add one cup sugar, one cup milk and one cup flour. Squish for the next four days and then follow the directions for Day 10 (result: patience is a virtue, but you’re back on an AFB cycle of feeding, care, dividing, baking. You’ll also have leftover starter to share or freeze), or
- Treat it like it’s Day 10: Once the starter is thawed, about three to six hours, you can bake with that one cup of starter (result: immediate gratification, but no starter left), or
- Treat it like it’s Day 10: Once the starter is thawed, about three to six hours, add 1 ½ cup each sugar, milk and flour. Mix well then divide into 1 cup bags to give away (or re-freeze). Continue following the instructions for baking (result: immediate gratification with starter to keep or give away).
If you choose options 3 or 4, you are ready to bake once your starter has thawed. Some people like to let it thaw overnight to give the starter a chance to fully wake up and get active again, but it rarely does without a good feeding so don’t expect to see loads of bubbles, if at all. Once your starter is thawed, give it a good stir, and you’re off.
If you choose option 2, here’s the play-by-play of what I do:
Once it’s thawed or thawed enough to pour into the bowl, in it goes (use 1 cup of frozen starter only). Give it a good stir. It’ll look like runny pancake batter with little to no bubbles. The smell shouldn’t be sharp, like acetone or nail polish remover, but yeasty (the smell may be faint). If your starter looks discolored or has an unfamiliar smell, discard it and make a new starter from scratch.
Add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk and 1 cup flour.
Give it another good stir until all ingredients are incorporated (note: it’s okay if it’s a little lumpy). I used natural cane sugar here, so its brown instead of white.
Cover with a loose dishtowel or plastic wrap. Place out of the sun but on your kitchen counter in a draft-free area or in an unused oven (just don’t forget about it or preheat the oven by accident).
The next day, there should be bubbles. Give it a stir. Still look flat? Give it another stir, and a little more time. If your starter was good going into the freezer, it should perk up soon. In fact, you might see it doing this fairly soon …
Here’s a close up …
And the next day …
Keep stirring. Continue through until Day Ten, following the instructions for feeding and dividing your starter. You’ll be baking in no time!
IMPORTANT! In order to successfully revive a starter, it has to be ACTIVE and HAPPY right before you freeze it. Usually freezing within 24 hours after a freezing is perfect, when you have bubbles and growth and general starter happiness. If you have a flat and unbubbly starter, freezing it and then reviving it if a gamble. Maybe it’ll perk up, maybe not, so make sure your starter is in a good place before it goes in for the deep freeze.