The Fresh Loaf

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Reviving my frozen starter

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kjknits's picture
kjknits

Reviving my frozen starter

I seem to go through spurts of feverish obsession with things. Knitting, sewing, bread baking. Actually it goes in cycles, because I always come back to those things, even if it has been so long that you'd assume I had lost interest. Of course, right now I'm all about the bread baking again (even though I always bake bread, the rustic type hasn't been in the forefront lately--till now). After hanging around these boards for a while, I decided I should really get my old frozen sourdough starter out and try baking with it again. I made it in early 2004 following the instructions in the KAF 200th Anniversary book. It's just a plain old flour-and-water starter, no com. yeast in it. It was nice and active and I baked quite a few rustic loaves with it, and even some English muffins (from a great recipe on the Baking Circle board, I will find it and post it later if that doesn't violate any copyright rules). But my husband wasn't into the sourdough flavor, and then my son turned into a toddler, and my interest and time dwindled. So I froze it.

Fast forward to this morning. I took that guy out of the freezer and gave it a good look. I had labeled it with a note that it was 8 oz by weight. I removed the lid (it was in a GladWare container) and it had some ice crystals on the top surface, so I scraped them off. The bottom of the starter looked like it was kind of freezer burned. But I put it in a clean glass bowl and let it thaw. Once it did, I stirred in 8 oz of flour and water (both by weight) and stirred till smooth. Then I put it in a wide-mouthed Mason jar and now it's sitting on the counter.

Several bubbles have developed in the midst of the starter that I can see around the sides of the jar, and it has some bubbles on the top surface as well. It doesn't seem to be rising at all, but I'm thinking that will take a few feedings. Am I right? Is there anything else I need to do with it, or anything in particular that I need to watch for? It smells good and clean and sour, and it's a pleasant color (just like bread dough). I have no idea what the hydration is, other than to say it's almost--but not quite--pourable, and I had to use a spoon to get it from the bowl to the jar. I can't wait to bake with it again! I want to make some pretty boules like these. They're just knockouts!

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

In my experience, reviving a dormant starter generally takes 24 to 48 hours. It is not uncommon to not see any bubbles at all for the first 12 hours. Good luck--I hope it gets going for you!

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Thanks for your input, SourdoLady! It's looking more alive now than it did a few hours ago--lots more small bubbles in the starter and some larger ones on the surface.  I'm going to dump half out and feed it again before bed.  It will be exciting to get out of bed and go see it in the morning!

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

with reviving your starter! I can see no reason why, after 2 or 3 feedings, it shouldn't be well up to strength again. Do let us know how you get on!
Andrew

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Thanks for the cheering section, andrew!  But so far, there has been little to no activity in my starter.  I must be doing something wrong.  I have been feeding it twice a day since Friday, dumping all out but 4 oz (by weight), then stirring in 8 oz water and 8 oz AP flour (KAF unbleached), both by weight.  It will start getting bubbly after an hour or so, but it isn't rising or doing anything to indicate much yeast activity.  I'm using room temp water filtered by my Brita pitcher.  Is there anything else I should be doing? 

I might just start a new one, maybe using Sourdolady's formula.  I have been offline, so I haven't caught up on how the trials are going.  I'm going to check that out next.

Katie 

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Just thought I would update my starter results.  I kept feeding my thawed frozen starter following the 1:2:2 ratio (which is something I have learned from reading here), twice a day.  For four days it did nothing but produce a few weak bubbles and develop a clear liquid on the surface a few hours after feeding.  So yesterday I started a new starter, 100% hydration with white flour (KAF bread, because that's what I had more of on hand without having to go out to the freezer).  I let it sit in its jar, loosely covered with a canning ring cap overnight.  This morning I fed it and left to go take the kids to see their Mimi (grandma). When we got home around 6:30 PM, that sucker had more than doubled and was full of bubbles.  Can it even be possible that I started a sourdough starter overnight?  I mean, that's just too easy!  It smells a lot different than it did this morning--sort of acidic, like a citrus juice, maybe.  It's sweet and sour.  it doesn't smell like wet flour anymore, that's for sure.

I'm really wondering if my frozen starter had a nasty bac in it.  It just doesn't seem like it could be easier to start a new starter than to revive one that previously gave me good results. At any rate, I threw my old one out and I think I will try to bake with this new one later this week. I guess that will give me the definitive answer to whether or not this guy is too good to be true!

Katie in SC