The Fresh Loaf

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Oops! I may have destroyed my starter.

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conbrio's picture
conbrio

Oops! I may have destroyed my starter.

I have a two year old starter that has served me well.  This evening I was assembling sourdough waffle batter.  Since I'm a bit lactose intolerant I usually substitute rice milk for regular milk and it always works great: light, fluffy, delicious waffles.  (My wife and 18 month old like them too.)  In a moment of inattentiveness, I poured the rice milk not into the waffle batter, but into my container of starter!  Darn.

After a few seconds of jaw-dropping disbelief, I poured off the rice milk and transferred the remaining starter to a clean container. I'm leaving it loosely covered out on the counter overnight to see if it will remain active.  I guess time will tell if it's okay or not, but do you think I've ruined it by introducing weird, undesirable bacteria?  If anyone's pulled a similar boneheaded move with their starter and has anything to share about recovering from it, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

Thanks,

Michael

 

 

phaz's picture
phaz

ouch, and wish I could help. but, would it be possible to remove some starter from below the surface, hopefully where the rice milk didn't get into the starter much? you could use a little of that, little as a teaspoon, and build it up again. you could use that as a back up just in case the milk does some damage - which I don't think you'll have a problem with anyway, it sounds like you got it quick, there probably isn't much in there anyway. do let us know joie it goes. I'm sure others would be interested, and good luck! hate to see a good starter go

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

If bacteria were that easy to kill, antibiotics would be free.  Unless you know something about rice milk that I don't, I agree with Mini that your starter will shrug off that tiny insult with a grin.  Just refresh your "contaminated" starter (take out ~10 gr of it) and add water and flour to that as your normally do (i.e., whatever hydration you normally maintain it at).  Put it in your favorite starter growing spot and let it do its thing.  Might take another refreshment for your starter to get its mojo back, but I doubt even that will be needed.

Every time I think I've nuked my starter (usually because I've left it at warm (summer) room temp for a day or two longer than I should have without refreshment), I just think It's been a long time since I made a new starter -- I'm out of practice.  Maybe this will be an opportunity.  In every gram of flour, there's a new starter waiting to be born.  Nothing to worry about.

Tom

Gramma Berries's picture
Gramma Berries

Except he sniffed out instead of in....  Should be interesting. My starter is still alive.  It's going to be a family secret. Lol

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Feeding your starter the same old thing is the best way to kill it I'm thinking\ :-) I've tried killing mine every way possible and feed ti so much different stuff it can fend off anything.  It especially likes NF milk, whey and or potato water,  beer,wine, citrus juice, potatoes or potato flakes of any kind, any grain of any kind, any rice, many dried milled beans or any combination.

Vicious Babushka's picture
Vicious Babushka

I searched this on TFL but returned an error. I have a starter that I have been using since July, keep in the fridge, feed every 3 days. What if I want to go on vacation?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Rye and ww starter in the fridge and never feed it for 3 weeks.  I bake one loaf of bread out of it for 3 weeks using 10-20 g each time.  After the 3rd week I feed it back to 80 g over 3 stages and in the fridge it goes.   It could probably go a month easy at 60% hydration and 100 g where the last feeding is flour only and let it rise 25% before it hits the cold.  No worries

Vicious Babushka's picture
Vicious Babushka

Will it die?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Yeast likes 82 F the best and Labs prefer slightly higher 96 F   So on the counter top, the starter will love it much better than the cold if you want to promote yeast growth.  The problem is that since both yeast and labs are reproducing much faster at those higher temperatures you have to feed the culture more and more as it eats though its food faster and faster.  If you don't bake every day then it gets to be an expensive waste as most of the starter gets tossed and it takes more of your time.

 The fridge slows everything down but at 36 F the Labs while reproducing very slowly are reproducing 3 times faster than they do at that temperature.  So cold not only makes life much easier for starter maintenance and gets rid of the waste, it also promotes a more sour bred when it is inoculated with a starter that has many more labs in it than yeast.

I cal it the no feeding, no waste,  no muss,  no fuss starter than makes way more sour bread than any other i have found to date.  Some folks don't like sour though so..... to each their own

Happy baking

conbrio's picture
conbrio

I meant to post this a week ago.  As several people on this thread predicted, my starter is just fine.  I kept it at room temp for a few days, feeding daily, then transferred to the fridge, feeding a couple times a week.  I've baked a white whole wheat loaf, and made pizza and waffles with it.  Very alive.

Thanks everyone for your feedback and encouragement.

Michael

Txgrandma's picture
Txgrandma

I just returned from Alaska with a pint jar of starter that dates back to 1956 and possibly much earlier than that. We were travelling in a travel trailer so I kept it in the frig until we got home. A few days after getting home I took it out and placed it in a glass bowl and added 2 cups AP flour and 2 cups water. The following day at about the same time I removed 2 cups and fed it again 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. I have continued feeding but I switched to whole wheat flour for two days then I used AP the next time. My house is on the cool side so I heated the oven on 200 for about 30 minutes turned the oven off set the bowl inside with the door propped open. I then took it out and didn't notice any difference at all, no bubbles and no rise. I have fed it some more and now have it sitting on a heating pad on low with a towel over the pad. I have still noticed no difference and today I finally added 1 tsp. yeast. Have I ruined it permanently or can I save it and how do I save it. I will be so upset if it's beyond saving, I got it from some very special people and a special place. Please any help would be much appreciated.

Txgrandma's picture
Txgrandma

I apologize I think I posted my comment wrong. I'm new to this site and the forum.

phaz's picture
phaz

Try using about half the amount of water. You may not see a rise if the starter is too thin. A watery starter isn't strong enough to support bubbles. The added yeast will probably die of after a while. Sourdough starters are usually too acidic to allow commercial yeast to survive for long. You can try taking a tablespoon of starter and adding 3-4 tablespoons of flour and enough water to make a very wet dough and let it sit till it peaks. Then feed 1 part starter, 2 parts flour and again enough water to get that very wet dough consistency. I find it helps to "flush" out my starters every couple months. You would be doing the same with the above instruction. Starters are tough to kill. Many times I thought I had killed mine, only to find adding a little starter to a lot of food brings it right back to health within a day or 2. Hang with it, I sure wouldn't want to have to toss such a faithful beast!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

commercial yeast culture and not nuch eles.