Posts filed under ‘Sourdough Starter’
Your starter can probably be revived. A bit of greyish to brown or yellow liquid on top is no problem at all just pour it off if it seems suspect. Most likely it is the hooch and does not technically need to be removed. I pour it off about once a week, when my starter is being fed daily, and stir it in the rest of the time.
A small amount of mold around the edges of the container is not too big of an issue, just pour out your starter and scoop about a tablespoon of “clean” (mold free) starter into a new container and feed.
If it happens to be really iffy, (is that a word) you can literally wash it. I took one I thought was a gonner, put it in a glass jar, and rinsed it off. Since the starter is pretty thick before you feed it, it will not dilute until you stir the liquid in, especially if you are somewhat quick about it. So rinse, swirl, pour and do it again if necessary. Then if you need to you can even take a small amount of the “cleaner” stuff and start to feed that as I mentioned before to be extra sure.
Next time when you’ve got a larger amount of some good stuff pour it out onto parchment paper and let it sit overnight (it will smell sour as it dries). In the morning you can pick up the parchment paper, crumbling the sourdough into little pieces and put your dried starter into a baggie just in case your active batch gets ruined.
Our whole family has been pretty sick for weeks and I completely neglected the sourdough starter on the counter. The smell is now pretty strong and the “hooch” on the top (mixture of alcohol and water produced by the starter) is quite dark so I thought about throwing it out. I decided to research a little more before I got crazy. After all, sourdough has been resting on counters for much longer than mine in much hotter climates and I’m sure when that was the only way to make bread you didn’t just toss it if you missed a couple days. I found a discussion about how to tell if your starter is bad and got some pointers there. I still think my starter is on the verge of too stinky but am “washing” it like one of the writers suggested.
Mid-week last week I ran out of milled flour and being sick I didn’t have the energy to drag everything out so I just dumped in some sorghum flour I had. That turned the starter a brownish orange color and the hooch produced the next morning was much darker and has been since, I wish I would not have done that. If I “wash” my sourdough I’m planning to go with half brown rice and half white rice this time and am considering using starch as well. I think the mixture has been too heavy to produce a good loaf of bread. I am also very determined not to let it hibernate in the refrigerator until I have come up with a good recipe for bread because I don’t want to spend the time getting it going again. In my reading I noticed that even with a suspected “bad” starter you can pull a tiny amount out and feed that to keep the same starter going. Maybe after a bit I will have enough to dry some and we can try sharing it to see if that will work.
A couple of notes:
As I get familiar with my starter I can tell how she is “behaving” and realized that in my climate I needed to switch from using more flour than water back to simply 1:1. I actually quit measuring and if it looks too thick (lumpy, hard to stir) I add more water if it is too thin I use more flour. It really is quite friendly and forgiving. You may have to experiment to get a good “pancake” like consistency but if it doesn’t seem right just try, don’t fret.
I also read that unless you leave it in over 100 degree temps. almost nothing else will outright kill the starter although metal utinsels and container will inhibit yeast growth.
One lady even mentioned putting oatmeal in her starter in a pinch. I am not suggesting it (also be aware that you must buy certified gluten free oats) but what I’m saying is experimenting can’t hurt. I just tried using corn starch since I still have not milled flour.
When in doubt give her a new home. I was not sure about the strange color and smell to the liquid so I poured it off this time. I read that some people always pour it off. I was in the habit of stirring mine back in and will do so again unless I experience this problem again. I found a “clean” edge of the bowl to pour the whole thing into a new container. After removing the hooch I could tell that my starter was not bad, the mixture underneath did not smell as strong and had that yeasty bread smell. I have high hopes for my “washed” starter now.
A starter kept in the refrigerator is said to only need once a week feeding or even less. A glass mason jar would be a good container for this kind of storage and then you can pull the starter out the night before you want to use it, immediately feed it and then use it the next day.
For more info here is a Q & A on Sourdough that I found very helpful.
Happy fermenting and keep checking back, I am feeling much better and with the fresh snow outside it’s still baking weather up here in the North!
How to make your own gluten free (or gluten full) sourdough starter in just 1 min a day.