The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I am getting very discouraged

Franchiello's picture

I am getting very discouraged

I froze my healthy starter over what I thought was going to be our usual too hot to bake summer (it wasn't, but that's an inexplicable occurrance) and then thawed it out slowly in the refrigerator.  Both the rye and the white starters seemed to have died - I tried feeding them, the rye was too weak and just sat there and got gummy and yucky; the white starter made a valiant attempt to revive, but seems very weak.  I tried making a loaf last weekend - major disaster, very little rise, very little oven spring and two small boules that could be used as deadly projectiles in case of invasion.  I fed the remaining starter with organic rye flour (1:1:1) and it bubbled a little.  It tastes sour, but smells slightly sweet - I'm going to try some unsweetened pineapple juice instead of water with the next feeding just in case there has been an overgrowth of some unwelcome bacteria.  I'd start over again, but having to work full time is not condusive to stirring a little bowl of rye flour mixed with pineapple juice every 30 minutes or so (there's no room on my desk for it once I spead out my manuals, papers, etc.!!) - I'm hoping the pineapple juice does the trick.  Am I on the right track or should I just start over again?

Felila's picture

How did you freeze the starter?

From what I've read online, the proper way to do it is cultivate the starter so that you have a fresh batch, fully active, near peak, and then smear starter across some parchment paper. You want a thin film of starter. Let it dry; scrape off the dried starter and store the powder in the freezer.

(Not clear to me whether you let it dry in the freezer or refrigerator, or just out on the counter. The time I did this, I put the smeared parchment paper in the freezer. Perhaps this was wrong ... but it worked for me.)


hutchndi's picture

I smear good active starter thin on the parchment paper, and let it dry completely. Once it is fully dry, crumple up the parchment paper so all the starter flakes off. store the flakes in a sealed baggie in the freezer.

I don't like to bake in the summer, and I also prefer not to refridgerate my starter. So to avoid daily feeding of my room temp starter, I do the freezer flakes thing until I return to baking in the cooler months, when I take them out and wake them up again. Works great!


RobynNZ's picture

Hi there

I agree with Richard, keep feeding.

This recent thread might give you some encouragement:



Franchiello's picture

I fed my starter, but I recently found out that I had not been feeding it enough to keep it healthy (pre-freezing) - which may explain a lot.  I just froze the goopy starter in a freezer bag, I've tried drying starter but got only a moldy patch of gunk that I had to throw out.   I'm back to feeding it the correct amounts, mostly organic dark rye with some AP flour as part of the dry percentage.  I only fed it twice before I tried a bake - poor thing was not fully recovered from it's Arctic vacation, I suppose!!  Thanks for all the info.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'd start over again, but having to work full time is not condusive to stirring a little bowl of rye flour mixed with pineapple juice every 30 minutes or so...

Um...  not needed.  Even when starting a starter, stirring a few times a day is enough.  Who stirs when their sleeping?  I don't.  

Important is that some the frozen starter is mixed with fresh water and flour and left to sit for at least 24 hours before tempting to refresh it.  Stir if you want to but it is not needed.  Even if the yeasts are dead, the bacteria will be setting up the culture for yeast growth.  No need for pineapple juice unless you have diluted your frozen starter way too much.  If the refreshed starter is getting sour without using pineapple juice, use water.

Freezing a thicker drier starter works better than freezing a liquid one.

BettyR's picture

We live near the Texas Gulf Coast and it gets HOT here. But if I didn't bake we wouldn't have bread, kolaches, muffins, pies, cakes, hamburger, hotdog buns, lasagna, meat loaf, ect. No way could I go all summer and not use my oven. So I had hubby run a gas line and hook up a gas stove in my garage. I picked up a used one at a garage sale for a song. Works great and comes in VERY handy during the holidays.


Here's wishing you good luck with your starter and happy baking. :)

EvaB's picture

summer kitchens for hot climes, and want one for myself, and we are right now about 41F and have been below freezing already, but it gets over 100F in summer so we cook a lot on the grill outside all summer, but I've always wanted a second stove in a cooler space to can on in summer, the kitchen runs around 77, in October, right now its about 71 but by the middle of winter it will be barely 66 in the mornings, we have extra thick insulated walls too! But it can get darn cold here.