The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hooch already?

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spsq's picture

Hooch already?

2 winters ago, rookie baker here starts and maintains a starter, easily.  Threw it out after the winter just b/c I wasn't using it enough in the summer.  Silly me!!

Last fall, tried twice and couldn't get one going - kept turning black and STINKY.  Didn't mind - too much...

Now, I'm really eager to start and KEEP one.  Started yesterday with 100% freshly ground (by me) ww flour and bottled spring water.  Developed hooch within 8 hours!  This morning, more hooch.  Smells like sprouted wheat.   Is this unusual?  Does a layer of hooch stop the oxygen/wild yeast  from getting to the flour?  I have it in one of those glass jars with a rubber ring, though not  clamped shut.  Should I remove the ring?  Add a grain of yeast?  Stir frequently?

Also, what are the concerns about home ground flour for making starters?  After reading the thread about wheat weevil eggs and an old one about mouse droppings, I'm kind of freaked out.   Maybe that had something to do with my starters turning black last year?




Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I don't think it's hooch that you're seeing, but rather, just the liquids you've put in it. Sounds like it is a fairly high hydration? When there is no bubbling action to keep it churned up, the flour will settle out. It's nothing to be concerned about, and it won't stop anything. Just keep feeding it once a day.

You don't need to remove the rubber ring, unless you decide to clamp the jar shut. Just make sure the pressure can escape. Home ground flour is fine. The black starters, were probably overcome by mold. If you feed this one every day, mold shouldn't be a problem. But if the watery liquid on top turns gray-black, that's okay, as long as it isn't fuzzy. Lactobacilli can produce black pigments under certain conditions, and it isn't harmful.

Keep the faith :-)

Ford's picture

I agree with Debra Wink: she's an expert.

Mike Avery has a great website devoted to sourdough that you might want to view.  There is a section devoted to starting starters.


spsq's picture

Thank you!