The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Starter No Longer Works

hydestone's picture

Sourdough Starter No Longer Works

I have a starter the is about a month old.  When it was new it used to pop the top off the pyrex container I was storing it in.  I used it to bake a few loaves...some good and some not so good.  It didn;t have much taste but did make the bread rise.

Recently, it seems to have lost its raising power.  I've experimented with a 1:1:1, 1:2:2 and even a 1:2:2.2.  It bubbles a bit but doesn't double in size or rise the way it used to,  I read that this can happen with new starters.  I am wondering what the problem could be.  Any ideas?

Also, I read somewhere that adding some apple cider vinegar to a broken starter can fix it.  Any truth to that?  If so, how much shoud be added?

Edit - I just occurred to me, would the fact that I store my starter in a glass container tightly sealed with plastic wrap and a cover contribute to its downfall?

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Humor your starter by using rye flour in the refreshments. You could use a portion or use all rye flour if you want. The flour has the nutrients that starters love. This much discussed remedy has worked in a lot of starters and through judicious use, can add a nice flavor note to your breads.

I suggest that you discard and refresh every twelve hours or at peak if that can fit your schedule. Set your discard aside in a container in your fridge until you have enough for a bake or even some Sunday pancakes. After a few days, you should see a marked difference and can return to a more convenient schedule. If you don't want to keep a rye starter, you can always change the refreshment flour back to all white or whole wheat flour once your satisfied with ithe starter's vitality.

Both Arrowhead Mills and Hodgson Mills rye flour have boosted the efficacy of my starter in the past. Bob's Red Mill will probably do the same for you if that is what you can find locally. You shouldn't need to add cider vinegar to your starter to fix it. if you keep your starter in a fridge, the tight cover won't hurt as long as you open it up every few days or so. A low hydration (60-70%) starter is a good idea if you don't use it frequently and store it in a fridge for extended periods. Do mark your container to let others know what's inside so they don't throw it out when in a fit of fridge cleaning frenzy.

I haven't suggested anything original. Everything I mentioned has been brought up by members that tried it themselves and passed on their experience. If you click on Forum at the top of the page, you'll find archived threads in the Sourdough and Starters category that will delve into fixing starters in much greater detail. I think this info will help you out.