The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starting Over

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brewninja's picture
brewninja

Starting Over

So after a few weeks neglect in the fridge, I attempted to bring my starter back to life.


It had a good bit of hooch, and smelled pretty intense.


It was slow to rise, but eventually did the job.  But the aroma/flavor was crazy; this intensly sour, nail-polish like character dominated.  And the consistency, was all goop.  I keep it around 66% hydration, but this was like pancake batter.


I tried feeding it daily for about a week. But after each rise, the same nail-polish fruity (almost banana) aroma, and sticky goopy consistency, as though all the gluten was completely melted.


What happened?


Did some crazy bacteria/enzyme/yeast take over my beloved starter?


It seemed like it would be impossible to make bread with this, so I dumped it all (though i slightly regret it, some of those fruit aromas were very interesting from a brewer's perspective).  I had frozen some healthy starter back in February, and I am attempting to bring this back to life.


Wish me luck.


I am curious though, if anyone has experienced anything similar to this, and if there might have been any chance at a resurection.


-Gerard

JessicaT's picture
JessicaT

What was your feeding schedule like?

brewninja's picture
brewninja

I typically fed it at a 1:2:3 ratio weekly-biweekly, then refrigerate; and the above was happening at this schedule.


When I tried to really get it going, I was feeding 1:2:2. I tried making a firm starter from this and it was all goop after fermenting.

amolitor's picture
amolitor

One thing that's happened to me with firm starters is (I am pretty sure, anyways) too much acidity. Makes it turn goopy. This basically means things are too ripe/old -- whether it started out that way, or just aged into it.


 

copyu's picture
copyu

Stir vigorously, immediately, and then again, once it's at room temperature.


Throw away 80% or so and feed generously with whole wheat or rye flour, the coarser the better...You might also want to increase the water, temporarily, for a quicker result...


Feed three-four times over the next couple of days and stir as often as you can. It should come good!


DAMHIKT! ["Don't Ask Me How I Know This"!]


Best,


copyu [occasional starter abuser]

brewninja's picture
brewninja

Thanks a lot!


Will try to keep her going :)

msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

When following your fix, is any of the starter discarded during each of the new feeds as listed, "3-4 times over the next couple of days"


Thanks, Jean P.

copyu's picture
copyu

Because you throw away so much at the start, it might be a little 'sluggish', but if the correct beasties are still alive they'll usually recover and the starter should increase in volume a bit. Stirring occasionally between feeds does seem to help in my experience. 


You can discard less than half for the first couple of feedings if there hasn't been all that much 'action' as it means there's still food available for the yeast and there won't be as many dead/expired yeast cells to get rid of...Does this make sense?


Cheers,


copyu

msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

Copyu,


Thanks for answering my question about discards when making the starter. Your explanation did make sense to me, in a way. As a person that only has made a starter from a cookbook that does not require builds, I am new to this type of starter. The starter I have is about 3 yrs old and I refresh every 10 days if I use it or not. I saw this "build method" on a site with the Breadchicks and so much was thrown away, I just stuck with my own.


I do have 2 of Peter Reinharts books and of course he uses the builds so I am going to try it. Mark Sinclair shows a build that involves 7 days, feeding twice a day and only using 1/3 each time, throwing away 2/3 each time. Its confusing to me at the moment.


But I do enjoy and learn a lot from all this wonderful advice.


Jean P.

copyu's picture
copyu

Yes, it can be confusing, but it's no harder (and maybe easier?) than growing a good tomato or chili-pepper plant 


If you've had a starter going for 3 years, then you're a 'champion', compared to me!


You should probably search the 'sourdough' and 'wild yeast' threads here on TFL for better information on sourdough culture maintenance


A lot of the experts here keep only a couple of tablespoonsful of their main starter and just 'grow' it to meet the needs of the recipe (or formula) they're working on, say, one or two days ahead of time


Instead of discarding, you can also feed your family on sourdough pancakes for breakfast, sourdough dumplings with dinner, sourdough bread rolls for lunch and so on (if you have that kind of 'family life'!) Post again if you have any major issues that you can't find answers to. Someone here will definitely give you all the help you need


Warm regards and good wishes,


copyu