The Fresh Loaf

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My sourdough starter went funky...

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amazonium's picture

My sourdough starter went funky...

I had a great sourdough starter going and something went wrong. I treated it lovingly- never allowing anything but a wooden spoon to touch it, used the same kind of flour to feed it, only used bottled water, and still it went all wonky. I had the mother in the frig and one starter that I kept going on the counter since I bake almost daily. Last week I noticed gnats buzzing around the starter and when I took off the lid it had a nasty smell- my daughter said it smelled like dirty sour feet- ewwwww. So I discarded it, scrubbed the container squeaky clean, and took the other starter out of the frig to get it going. Last night I checked it and it too had that same weird smell. I fed it anyway and this morning it appears to have died- no activity whatsoever and a gluey consistency. What is going on? I assume I have a rogue bacteria that is invading it but how can I preent it from happening again? I had a packet of Goldrush dried starter that I started this morning. I used a different bowl and utensils but will this be enough to keep the bad stuff from getting into it? I have had a heck of a time getting a good starter going. Errrrrr. I am bowed but not broken! Any info would be greatly appreciated!



Nickisafoodie's picture

A couple of suggestions: 1) do not use a wooden spoon, prone to collecting bacteria in the pores, use a stainless spoon or silicone scraper to mix.  2) use rye flour even if using white flour in your recipes, more condusive to fermentation, 3) follow the directions of any of more popular books on this web site, or google starter care and you will find tons, 4) use a stainless, glass or clear acrylic container with a rubber gasket lit that opens up with a latch (like the canning jars of old days that had a hinges lid), most stores like Bed and Bath have these or Walmart.  Crocks can hold bacteria expecially if there are microscopic cracks...  Good luck!

LindyD's picture

What type of bottled water are you using?  Sometimes the process used in bottling water removes all the minerals and you wind up with a blah clear liquid.  Is there a reason you aren't using your own tap water?

There's no reason to use a wooden spoon.  Your culture won't react if a stainless steel, plastic, or rubber/silicon spatula is used.  Actually, those types of material are a lot easier to keep clean than wood is, which is a favorable environment for bacteria since wood (unless it is very hard) can be easily penetrated.

Before tossing your stinky culture, I think you should take a tablespoon of it and mix it with some rye flour as a refreshment - but don't use your wooden spoon.  I would also aim for a stiffer culture.  Give it a few refreshments and see what happens.

Good luck and keep us posted.