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Please help me!

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averydryfino's picture

Please help me!


Can someone help me?

I have tried three differnt sourdough recipes, and a starter I boiught. All have failed in the same way. The most recent attempt was made using the orange juice/rye that ladysourdough suggested.

Again, on day 5, this thin yellowy liquid appears on the top of the starter. I can't seem to stop this from happening.

Some help would be *really* appreciated!


LindyD's picture

The liquid is a sign the culture needs to be fed.  Dump out 75% of the culture and refresh it.  If  you have organic rye, great.  If not, use unbleached, unbromated bread flour.  I'd ditch the juice and use water.  

Keep it warm (75F-80F) and wait for it to rise.  When it has, do the same thing over again.  Every day.

It will take at least two week for it to reach equilibrium.


BvN's picture

Lactobacillus, like moss, is local (as measured in feet). If it is going to do well, it's already there. I wouldn't use starter that originated more than a block away :-)

At some point, you are going to have to learn "the care and feeding of Lactobacillus". Lots of good stuff on this site about that.

I persue sponge, rather than starter. The liquid is a sign of a stuck fermentation. Some micro-organism is not happy and, as with babies, probably needs to be fed :-)

Ford's picture

A little acid is helpful in starting a sourdough culture.  I noticed an off-aroma (like salt-rising bread dough) when I started with whole-wheat flour and water alone.  The bakers at King Arthur Flour  discovered this was due to a strain of bacteria called leuconostoc that seems to be more prevalent in flour now than it was formerly.  This bacterium is self-destructive as it produces acid that inhibits its growth.  Apparently, the bacteria are not harmful.  Four remedies are readily available: 1/ keep feeding the culture (whisking to aerate it); 2/ add a slight amount of acid (a few drops of vinegar, or a pinch of citric acid, or a pinch of ascorbic acid); 3/ start with canned pineapple juice (acid enough to inhibit the growth of these bacteria) instead of water; or 4/ start with rye flour and later switch to wheat flour.

It will take a couple of weeks before the culture is active, and a couple of months before it has reached its full potential. 

I do not discard the "hooch", but stir it in with the settled solids.  It does have flavor.  I do know that others advocate discarding it.  To each his own.  The sourdough community is full of contradictions.  I use a very high hydration starter, about 190%, but most of the comunity uses 100% or less hydration.

I wish you happy sourdough baking.  There is nothing like it, once you get started.



Ford's picture

One further thought:  Go to

Mike Avery is quite knowledgeable and practical!


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


averydryfino's picture

Thanks, that's really very helpful. I really appreciate this. Will keep you posted!