The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Old Starter, Yuk!

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sybram's picture
sybram

Old Starter, Yuk!

My SD starter has been resting in the rear corner of my fridge for about 4 - 5 months now.  It has a gray liquid on top of it.  Do I dump it (hope not), drain it or stir it in before beginning a refreshing cycle?

JoeV's picture
JoeV

Pour off the "hooch,"scoop out about half of it (the dark stuff on top is what I would do), then give it a good feeding of equal parts flour and water by weight (4-5 oz. of each). Mix it up and see what happens in 8-12 hours. If it comes back all bubbly and happy, you can continue to build from there. Never throw out a starter unless something is growing on it and it has fuzz. Fuzz is a big red flag.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Fuzz is bad. The fuzz is not to be trusted.


I'll usually stir the hooch back in if it looks healthy, but when it's dull gray, I toss it.


-


When I resurrect a starter, I use very little of the old.


I also make three starters, each with 1/4 cup old starter + enough flour/water to make a paste consistency (I don't measure it anymore, as I've done it so many times).


After a couple days of morning/evening feeds, one of the three will usually be happier than the other two, so I toss the dullards and keep the happy one.


The one that's usually happiest is the one I leave outside covered with cheesecloth. That's not so surprising, but I often feel like I'm cheating by snatching new yeasties.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

after pouring off the hooch and moving the upper most layer to the side.  Switch spoons and take my sample, a heaping teaspoon if I can get it while the jar is still tipped on its side.  This sample of starter is then diluted with 1/4c water and flour is added to make a thin paste. 


You may have to wait 24 hours to see or smell any reaction.  After the first 24 hours, feed on a 12 hour schedule discarding before feeding and thickening if needed.

sybram's picture
sybram

Thanks all.  I was quite surprised when I saw it, as I had read about a lady resurrecting hers after a few years!  I thought it would just sleep happily until I woke it up.

Jw's picture
Jw

and now realize I shouldn't have. The smell was horrendus. I like wwiiggggiinnss triple approach, will try that next time.


But what on earth is fuzz?

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

It's mold. Ever open an old container of something in the fridge, only to find what looks like fuzzy tumors growing inside? You'll see that sometimes in a starter gone bad.

Susan Lynn's picture
Susan Lynn

Pink liquid is also bad ... as bad as fuzz. If you see pink, throw it out. 

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Is that the evil Streptococcus, the pink stuff that grows in the tub if you (perish the thought!) forget to clean around the edge of the tub?

sybram's picture
sybram

Well, I refreshed early this morning before church, and then again just a little while ago (10;30 pm) after the last company left.  It only had a few bubbles in it, but it smelled pretty fresh.  I guess I'll do it twice per day for at least three days, and see what we have then.


Syb

wheatlady's picture
wheatlady

I am with you.  Over the years I have at times had pink growth on aged, long-overdue for a feeding sourdough starter.  I know it wasn't good, but what exactly is it?  I usually have been successful in taking a bit of the starter from the bottom and feeding it like crazy for a while.  I also usually take periodic samples of a happy starter and dry and freeze and date it just as a back up if I really foul things up.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink
wheatlady's picture
wheatlady

Over the years, I have sometimes had pink contamination on long neglected starter.  I know it isn't good, but what exactly is it?  What would it colonize out as on a petri dish in a microbiology lab?  To have a little insurance, I sporadically dry and freeze and date some happy starter to have a reserve culture available.a

sybram's picture
sybram

I must report that after four days of 2/day refreshing my starter looks and smells soooo good.  Thanks to all who advised.


Syb

metropical's picture
metropical

I had the same problem with gray liquid, but it didn't stink or smell particularly off.  I've had this happen before. So I stirred it in and fed.


I fed three times, it normally wakes from this situ after the 2nd time.


Not this time though.


I just made a dough with this odd starter and now I have a very wet dough.


I added some KABF in hopes to thicken it enough to get back to it's slicing loaf consistency.


Any other ideas or should I just give it a go?


 

sybram's picture
sybram

Well, I couldn't say.  I poured off the gray stuff and scraped away the top layer as Mini suggested.  Then I changed spoons and dipped out a little of the bottom starter and started refreshing.  Worked great for me.


Syb

sybram's picture
sybram

I can't believe I messed up again, after being so happy with my wonderful, revived sd starter.  I need your advice again, please. 


Suffice to say a hectic day to be sure, including grandsons here to help dh paint and repair fence, horse delivery (I'm babysitting them), mad dash to rescue dh with jumper cables (didn't help) and trying to weed flower beds with 111º heat index.  Well, right in the middle of all that I realized this was the last day I could use my refrigerated starter, which I had built up to about three cups.  I was going to do the 1-2-3 bread, but decided to add some oil and some egg substitute, since I'd been wondering how that would work (the egg sub). 


I realized later (waiting for dh to install a celanoid and new battery on his 22 yo truck) that I hadn't taken out any starter.  Bummer!  I finally did take a bit out (after I got home three hours later) and refreshed it, but I'm wondering if it will work.  Will the egg and oil ruin it?  What can I do now?  Start over?  I used Debra Wink's pineapple recipe about a year and a half ago, so I guess I'll do that again if I must. 


What say you experts?  Thanks ever so much.


Syb