The Fresh Loaf

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reviving a neglected starter.

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bayoubakery's picture
bayoubakery

reviving a neglected starter.

OK... I was bad. I got sent out of town for work and my starter languished in the fridge for 3 weeks.

For the last week I have been trying to revive it without much luck.

Have been discarding and feeding twice a day with equal weights of flour and water with no activity at all.
No bubbles at all. It has a nice odor. No streaks or discolorations. Just sits there like a nervous prom date.

Any suggestions to save it? Or did I kill "The Beast" as we call it here.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Refrigerated starter comes back rather quickly and doesn't take too much abuse.  What was the fridge temp by the way?    Three weeks is no big deal.  The trick is to start in and give the starter time to react and grow before feeding again.  

If you still have some of the 3 week starter, take a bottom sample of that, double the amount with water and add flour to make a  sloppy dough.  Let it stand until it peaks and falls down.  Repeat.  

If you don't have old starter and still watching the prom queen.  Leave her alone.  Cover & Let her ferment in a warm spot above 75°F for a day or two.  A little on the thin side helps.

How was the starter fed before refrigeration?

Now, give us more detail about the feeding... amounts of starter to what kind of flour and type of water.  Taste the starter and report.  :)  (I'm a little bossy.)  That will help us help you.  

 

bayoubakery's picture
bayoubakery

Alrighty then.

I don't have any of the original 3 week starter.Fridge is about 40 degrees.
The starter is the consistency of pancake batter at this time.
The house temp varies from 70 to 80 degrees. (The AC is struggling in this 100 degree heat)

I have been discarding about half of the starter and feeding 1/4C gold medal all purpose flour and 1/8 C tap water.
Same flour and water I used originally to create the starter 6 months ago.

I tasted the starter just now and it is very sour/tart. Almost vinegary.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

now to get the yeasties!   let it sit.   mark the level.  The idea is now to get yeast numbers up.  

If you just fed it, give it a little more flour so it is closer to a soft dough.  Then watch to see how high it rises during the day.  Room temp if fine.  When it starts to fall down, reduce to 1 tablespoon and add 1/4c water and 1/2 cup flour.  Watch it and feed when it reaches peak and starts to fall down.  Keep track of the time it takes to the first peak.  It should improve with each feed.

bayoubakery's picture
bayoubakery

ok thanks a million. I'll report progress as things go.

bayoubakery's picture
bayoubakery

I have discarded and fed it twice now. (Once last night and then again this morning.) There are some signs of life!

There are a few bubbles. Not a lot but it is giving me hope that I will bring "The Beast" back from the brink of death.

I am just getting bubbles, not a lot of rise yet. Will keep at it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

(no matter how small) and wait until it falls back.  Some bubble activity might be just bacterial in nature, you want to have yeast aromas and tastes before reducing and feeding again.  

Patience is everything, please forget the 12 hr scheduling for a few days.  If it rises and falls back in 8 hrs, then refresh, don't wait the 12 hrs.  If it takes 16 hrs, or 24, wait before refreshing.  You are basically starting a starter again.  When the yeast gets a firm footing, it will then take off quickly in your heat and the waiting will be over.  Give the starter a chance.  

You may find that just adding flour to thicken and not discarding works better for the night.

bayoubakery's picture
bayoubakery

Still chugging along on this.
I have noticed a little yeasty smell returning. I still have the starter sitting out on the counter. I did add a little rye flour last night and this morning. Seems to be helping. Still very little activity at this time. It is coming back slowly.

Color is still good. Couple a days ago started to get a little hooch on top. I am guessing in about another week I will be back in business!

bayoubakery's picture
bayoubakery

It LIVES!!

Thanks Mini!!

My starter is alive again. It is currently bubbling like there is no tomorrow.

It took two weeks of nurse maiding to revive it. I can't wait to bake some bread with it. Might have to do that tomorrow.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Do keep on with feeding, rising, falling, discard and feed routine.   I've always been partial towards rye.  :)