The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help with Starter..did it survive Hurricane Irene???

belle's picture

Help with Starter..did it survive Hurricane Irene???

Hi friends..


Well - I purchased the starter from  I was very faithful feeding it daily for about 2 weeks.  Then it went to once a week..Then - hurricane Irene hit CT..I lost power for 4 days.  I now have power and the refridgerator is humming along ...Here are my questions:

1.  Is the starter still alive?

2.  What if there is about 1/4 inch of water on top?

3.  How often should I be feeding it?

Anything else I need to be aware of?

Thanks you brilliant people...I am always in awe of what you are creating..


pmccool's picture

Hello belle,

1. Your starter is probably still alive but...

2. The layer of hooch on top says it is very hungry!  Not surprising after several days of warmth.

3. Without knowing your prior feeding regimen, I would suggest that you feed it once in the morning and again in the evening each day.  Aim for 12 hour intervals but don't worry if it isn't exactly 12 hours; the yeast and lactobacillus don't wear watches.  Once it settles into a predictable rhythm, perhaps in 3 to 4 days, you can put it back in the fridge.

Best of luck with recovering from the storm.  I wish everything were as easy to restore as the starter.


belle's picture


Yikes..I through some of the water on top that a problem?  Secondly, I have been storing it the refriderator..when following your suggestions, should i keep the starter OUT of the refridgerator?  Thanks so much for your help!!!

longhorn's picture

Some people throw away hooch and others mix it in. (Personally I am a mixer!) That doesn't matter, but it does need to be fed ASAP and the recommendation above is solid. Do it!


Candango's picture

Belle,  As others have commented, your starter is probably alive but very hungry.  So take it out of the fridge, feed it, and leave it out of the fridge for a few days.  The warmth will encourage growth, so you will want to change the feeding schedule.  As PMcCool noted, twice a day should be a good start.  That will get the starter back on a vigorous growing cycle, which will be obvious as it will be doubling in volume.  After three or four days of this, you should be able to bake or tuck the starter back into the fridge.  The cold will retard the growth cycle and you can go back to weekly feedings.


Janetcook's picture

An extra tidbit to add to what others have said about reviving your starter.

When you know it is finally ready to go back into your refrigerator after several days of feedings at room temp......feed it and put it into the refrigerator immediately.  Don't let it sit out or it will eat up it's food and end up hungry in the refrig. again.  

By putting it immediately in the refrig. it has plenty of food to eat and it will go through it more slowly due to the cool temp. (Think of a bear and hibernation.  They don't just eat at the beginning of the spring and then run around all summer before winter on what they ate in the spring.  They keep eating and eating and eating and then head for a den when they are good and full and hopefully all the fat they have stored will keep them happy throughout the winter.....Not the best analogy but as close as I can come at the moment :-)

When you want to use some for a bake take your portion out and let it warm up at room temp. and finish it's feeding cycle if it hasn't done so in the refrig. and then go ahead and do your builds for your leaven that you need for your formula.

Glad to know you and your starter weathered the storm.

Take Care,


belle's picture

If you were here I would give you all a BIG hug..thank you for your guidance and for sharing your are all a wonder!


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

on top of the starter?  That your opening question mentioned water I can't help but wonder.  How did it taste?  If it was water, and tasted like floured water, then feeding it might not be the answer.  If it was hooch or alcohol (beer smelling) then feeding is what needs to be done. 


belle's picture


I did take a whiff not a did NOT have an odor..what does that mean and what do I have to do?  I poured some of it out..does that mean I am in trouble???


thanks very much..

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

save what you have, don't pour any more out for a few days.   Lets give the starter lots of time to come back to life.  Refrigeration might have stopped its growth but the power outage from the hurricane might have been the best thing to happen to it.   Let it sit (from now on for the next few weeks) until good activity can be seen.  I think it's been overfed and diluted too much but it can be fixed.  The water separation is a sign of non activity so lets keep track of it.  Do stir the starter and give it enough flour to make a runny pancake batter stirring in the separated water but don't add more water just yet.   Let it stand in a warm place about 75°F to 78°F or there abouts  to encourage yeast growth.  Nothing may not happen for the first 24 hours.  If you need guidance, compare to instructions for starting a new starter and be patient with it.  We will hope there are a few desired beasties still in there and we will encourage them.   After 24 hours if nothing is happening, let it stand another 24 hours.  Keep it loosely covered, a bit of plastic and a rubber band works.  Good to stir it two to four times a day.  When stirring it gives you a chance to smell any aromas coming off the starter and give the starter some fresh air.  Leave enough head room in the jar for the starter to quadruple if it happens to do so.  Just to prevent any messes.  

If you notice any changes or subtle rises (mark the level with tape) add just a little flour to thicken it and give it another 12 hours.  If the starter reacts to food, then reduce by half and feed the starter just enough water and flour to bring it back up to a thick pancake like batter.  Let it stand until it doubles, repeat.  We are aiming for a 12 hour feeding schedule or whatever the instructions say with the starter.    

If you have any powder or old jar (even if dried) from that first sample let me know.  We might be able to use some of it to boost this dragging starter into action.  :)  It will work out, not to worry.