The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

old starter

jenniferw's picture

old starter

Hey Everybody,

Im very new to using sourdough and had some given to me last October. I had been feeding it faithfully with water flour and sugar. But I started getting lazy and forgot about it and havent fed it at all (its sitting in the back of my fridge) for probably two months. Is it a gonner or can I revive it somehow? Id hate to lose it! Thanks for your help:)

LindyD's picture

Hi Jenniferw,

I'd feed it - but I've no idea why you are adding sugar.   I'd discard 50-75% of the old culture and refresh it with a mix of organic rye and an unbleached, unbromated flour.

Continue the refreshments for a few days and you should be good to go.

Had you baked with it before stashing it in the cooler?

jenniferw's picture

Ill do that.. Yes I had baked with it alot and it turned out the best- textured bread Id ever made. Maybe this isnt a "true" sourdough... but I was told to add a cup of flour, cup of water or milk and 1/4 cup of sugar once a week (and that I could either store it in the fridge or at room temperature) Is that uneccesary? Id seen recipes online with similar instructions so didnt think anything of it.

Mason's picture

Hi Jennifer.  

What does it look like?  If it's just think and soupy, with a layer of grayish liquid on top, it's probably revivable.  I have left starters for longer with no unrecoverably ill effects.

But first, stop giving it sugar.  It's not necessary, and I suspect will probably make the fermentation produce more alcohol than it should.  The yeasts will get drunk and lazy and you will never get them to do any work ;-).

A sourdough starte should need only flour and water.

The best thing to do is to stir all the liquid (alcohol the microorganisms have produced) back into it, and then take a very small portion of it, and elabrate that.  (Keep the rest until you are sure this feeding worked.  Then try again if it doesn't.)

I use a somewhat firm starter.  Try 1 oz starter, mixed with 2.25 oz water, then stir in 3 oz flour. Mix for a minute, rest it, then knead with wet hands on the board or in a bowl for a minute or two.  

Or if you prefer a wetter starter use 1 oz starter with 2 oz of water and 2 oz flour.  Stir well until strands of gluten start to develop.

Leave covered (but not tightly, so gas can escape; I use plastic wrap that I poke in one spot with a knife) at room temperature until doubled and bubbly; probably 12 hours or more for this first feeding in a while.

Then take 4 oz of that starter (discard the rest) and feed again. Firm: add 9 oz water, and 12 oz of flour.  Wetter: add 8 oz each of water and flour to 4 oz starter.

It might pay to do this last feeding again (4 oz starter) discarding the rest to make sure it is good and vigorous before using to bake with.

Good luck.

jenniferw's picture

Its medium-think with quite a bit of the liquid. Thanks for spelling it out for me, your instructions will be very helpful!  By the way what difference is the end result when you use a wetter rather than firmer starter?