The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Have I killed my starter?

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Kelly1960's picture
Kelly1960

Have I killed my starter?

Well, now that I understand what the numbers mean (1:1:1, 1:2:2, and so on), and also realized I could reduce the amount of flour I was using (waaaay too much), I ended up running out of unbleached AP flour tonight and fed my starter with rye flour as it was the only unbleached flour I had and, well, that's all I can come up with.  I have no other excuse.  So, is my starter going to go into shock or starve to death tonight.  Will it totally reject the rye as the wee bacteria colonies have never been fed that as a fuel.  Im feeling like a terrible bacteria parent.  Should I just hang my head in shame, have a funeral for my 21 day old starter, and begin again tomorrow?

Any ideas out there?  I was planning on baking my second tartine loaf on Saturday.  Phooey.

 kelly

PeacockSwag's picture
PeacockSwag

considered as a good/better/best flour for starters. It should be fine!

Kelly1960's picture
Kelly1960

Thanks for your response.  I had read that rye was a better starter in several posts/blogs, but since I had began my starter on unbleached AP and stoneground whole wheat, I wasn't sure if going to straight rye would be advisable.  I ran out of the AP, had never heard of anyone using straight whole wheat as a starter, and had a "what the heck" moment.  We'll see if "Bertha" is still breathing (and bubbling) tomorrow.

Darwin's picture
Darwin

My lil starter seems very happy when I give it rye, bubble everywhere :)

BreadBro's picture
BreadBro

I see a lot of posts about people worrying they killed their starters. You should know that killing a starter is a very difficult thing to do accidentally. Short of dumping a cup of bleach into it, in almost all cases you can revive even the most neglected starter.

I'll agree with the above posts. Rye flour has a lot more food and natural yeast than white flour, and is pretty good for the starter.

lepainSamidien's picture
lepainSamidien

Starters are hardier than we often give them credit !

I left a little sub-colony of starter in my parents fridge for about 8 months, no feeding (my parents went gluten-free for a short time following its creation . . . oh, the Horror ! the Horror !). I popped that sucker out, drained off the gray water collected at the top, discarded about half, and put it on a regiment of Rye feedings. Within a day and a half, the thing was swaggin' like a champ !

Although Rye will alter the flavor profile generated by a starter (different yeasts, proteins, starches, etc.), it will not ruin it. In fact, Rye is like steroids for a starter; I've found the levains I make with Rye flour always a little bubblier, a little funkier (in a good way), than those made with just wheat.

BarbaraNH's picture
BarbaraNH

So I've been nursing my first sourdough starter for almost 3 weeks now but something just isn't right.  It doesn't look very 'vigorous'.  It went through the various stages I read about, but it seems a bit flat with not much change in a long time.  It's frothy on the top but not thick and bubbly throughout.  It has a nice, fermented smell and a sharp, slightly sour taste.  But the consistency is wet, like batter.  And it doesn't seem to rise very much. 

I've been feeding it daily.  At first I added 4 tbs of flour (first whole wheat, then bread, then plain AP flour) and 4 tbs of water, but in the past week I've reduced that to 3 tbs of flour and 1 tbs of water to try to make it thicker (I've poured off half twice).  Right now the whole thing comes to about 1 cup.  It has never been in the refrigerator and the kitchen temperature's been, say, 65F (maybe lower at night) to about 72F.

Should I give up on this batch and start over?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Instead of dumping half, take out a level tablespoon and then give it the 3 tbs flour and 1 or 2 of water.  Feed it again when it has peaked.

BarbaraNH's picture
BarbaraNH

Thank you!  I was hoping I didn't have to throw it away.

For future reference, is there some rule about how much flour to feed a certain quantity of starter?

I really appreciate your help!

 

 

 

BarbaraNH's picture
BarbaraNH

Thank you!  I was hoping I didn't have to throw it away.

For future reference, is there some rule about how much flour to feed a certain quantity of starter?

I really appreciate your help!

 

 

 

chris319's picture
chris319

Forget about bubbles; what does it smell like? Does it smell of yeast? That is your goal.

What has been successful for me is to make my starters "sticky but not stiff" and able to be easily stirred.

I just started a new starter with a different kind of flour than previously and it mysteriously turned watery, something my previous starters had not done. My cure was to add flour to bring it up to the "sticky but not stiff" consistency and it is now starting to smell of yeast.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

would be not to feed a starter less than the starter itself. 

There are always exceptions so it helps to pay attention to the yeast as Chris writes.  You may find that when the starter is cold the starter flour and feed flour are about equal.  In warm temps, you may want to reduce the amount of starter to feed and/or increase the amount of food.  Food amount varies when your ambient temperatures vary.  A wetter starter tends to ferment faster than a thicker starter.  

Wetter starters also tend to rise less as the batter cannot hold the gas as long as thicker more glutenous starters.

Mini