The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Neglected starter questions?

Michael 2003's picture
Michael 2003

Neglected starter questions?

OK, I left it in the fridge for a few weeks all by it self with no care at all.

I took it out and it looked funny, liquid on top and some discoloration "spots" on the surface both on the dry places above the liquid as well as under the liquid, but after I mixed it up it looked and smelled (yeasty) just like I think a starter should.

I added a little flour and it looked normal so will give it a try.

Now the questions.

1: Can a starter go bad and not be safe to eat?

2: If it can go bad, how can I tell?

rainwater's picture

I don't know all your answers....but I think I've read that it's a good idea to pour off the liquid that gathers at the top of the starter when it's been neglected.  It also sounds like your starter may need one or two more feedings to be "healthy/strong" for baking. 

xaipete's picture

I've also read that you just mix in the liquid (hooch). In any event, it should be fine after no more than 3 to 4 feedings every 12 hours.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Not only does it gross me out, I wouldn't want it in my bread.  Dive into the middle of the starter for the best part.  A firm starter sets up barriers to protect itself and prevent invasion of threatening "beasties."   The inside is most protected and there you will find a quite healthy looking very mature starter.  

Be careful when removing it to keep it clean from the outside parts.  Throw the rest into the compost, hooch and all.  Give this a little water and good feeding of flour to revive.

Maybe Debra Wink might know if the hooch is full of not only waste products but aggressive yeast & bacteria killing substances.


Michael 2003's picture
Michael 2003

Well, I just mixed it in and tossed in some flour and it took off rather well.

I then cut it in half and worked in some more flour into both.

I saved one as starter and let them both rise a couple hours on the front porch in the early afternoon heat and humidity.

The starter was put back in the fridge and the remainder was split with more flour including some brown rice flour added to both and some tomato paste added to one of them.

The resulting ciabatta (the only edible type of bread I seem to be able to make) had a dough that was so wet it would rather spread out than rise up, but was moist and tasty, well, sort of tasty.

I forgot to add salt, but it worked well enough!