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I think my starter may have made me sick.

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pezeni's picture
pezeni

I think my starter may have made me sick.

Guys I really need some advice. I have been maintaing a starter for about 4 months. I usually bake a few consecutive days a week and keep my starter in the fridge the rest of the time. After I am done using the starter I throw about 80% of it out, refresh it and put it in the fridge. Usually 4 or 5 days later, the night before I bake I take my starter out, again throw out about 80% and feed it. Usually when I take my starter out of the fridge there is a very vinegary or paint thinner smell. This time the smell was a little funky and off. I can't really describe it other than it stayed with you. I didn't think much of it and refreshed the starter as usual (the smell remained after the refresh), made the loaves yesterday, retarded them overnight and baked today. I let the finished loaf cool about 5 hours and ate a few slices. About four hours later I was vomitting. After a good bout I now feel better so I think it is something I ate rather than a bug. I did eat other stuff today, but I want to be 110% sure it is not my starter and I will not make anyone else sick by giving them loaves. What can I do to be absolutely sure I kill anything bad that may have developed in my starter? Some other factors that may make a difference, I have been keeping it in the same jar a while, it has been very hot temp wise here, I feed my starter about a mix of mostly white flour, with some wheat and some rye. Any help would really be appreciated I know you guys are experts.

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

1. It smelled different and not in a pleasant way -- a bad sign.

2. You cooked with it anyway and got sick.

Seems a no brainer to me.  Do not feed that bread to anyone else and make sure you drink plenty of liquids to restore your electrolytes.  Food poisoning is no laughing matter.   If you continue to feel ill, check with your doctor.

As to the starter, it may have picked up any of many nasty bugs.  I would throw it away.  The only way to make sure it wasn't what made you sick is to eat some more of the bread.  Of course, you then risk more vomiting and perhaps more dire consequences.  You might be made seriously ill the second time around requiring a trip to the emergency room or worse.

pezeni's picture
pezeni

Agh! So I really have to throw it away and start over? That's unfortunate considering how long it took to really get going. I would hate to do that test and eat more. The worst part is besides the possible food poisoning they are the best loaves I've ever baked haha. I am still relatively new to all this and wasn't sure about the smell since my starter usually produces such a variety of different smells at various stages. Do I need to worry about my linen lined bannetons? I saw someone else mention this in another thead but am I discarding too much each time? How often to I need to clean/change the jar I keep it in? Such a depressing setback for a newbie baker.

Syd's picture
Syd

I am not qualified to comment on whether your starter made you sick or not.  My common sense reaction is that it is unlikely: if your bread proofed normally and you cooked it to an internal temp of 205F, even if there were any bad bugs in there, I can't see how they would have survived that roasting.  But I stand to be corrected.  Perhaps if organisms can survive hellish depths and temps next to volcanic vents at the bottom of the sea, bugs could survive 50 mins in the oven.

However, I can give you some advice on caring for your starter.  Keep your jars clean.  I have four identical jars and I rotate them.  They get scrubbed with a brush that is used solely for cleaning dough off baking utensils.  Then they get washed with hot water and a mild soap solution.  They are rinsed thoroughly under running water and get a final rinsing (inside) with some just boiled water out of the kettle.  They are dried in a hot air drier then stored in a closed cupboard. 

I change jars each time I refresh my starter.  It is worth the effort.  Trust me.

Don't let gunk build up on your jars.  Not only does it look unsightly (you might think of it affectionately as your pet and excuse its less than glamorous looks, but imagine if you were uninitiated into the wonders of sour dough: would you want to eat anything that came out of that gunky bottle) but it is also a sure fire way to get the wrong kind of bugs growing in your starter and cause all manner of problems.

Tell us more about your starter feeding regime: how often do you feed it and at what temperature do you keep and for how long you leave it out of the fridge.  Do you let it double before you put it back in the fridge? What percentage of rye to wheat flour?  How much water? 

Best,

Syd

pezeni's picture
pezeni

Syd, it is true my jar is getting kind of gunky :( Your routine for mainting the jar sounds very intense but after tonights little adventure maybe called for!  I usually take my jar out of the fridge around 12am, discard 180g leaving about 20-40g (maybe even less) and feed it with 90 grams water, 60 white flour, 20 wheat, and 10 rye. In the morning usually around 8-10am I take the 180 grams out again and build my leaven from it, refeed the jar with 180 grams in the same amounts above, then leave it in a closet till 10pm-12am and repeat the process all over again. I do not let it double before I put it in the fridge again, I feed it as I usually do and put it right back in. Usually by the time I am ready to bake again in about 4-5 days it smells as if it has been working on the flour and there are bubbles on the surface. The temp is probably around 72-80's at the moment with the warm weather we've been having. Thanks for all your help guys I have been really into this it's quite a bummer.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Personally I don't worry about gunky jars, I've never had any issues with this. I've been using the same gunky jar now for 6 months, with no problems. I've never gotten sick from my sourdough. 

If your starter is smelling funky and you're not feeding it regularly, it's telling you that it's unhappy and hungry!  Feed it regularly (1-2x) per day until the smell goes away and the balance is restored. 

If it still smells terrible after feeding 2x per day for 7 days, then there may be a bacterial imbalance. At that point, I would consider trying Debra Wink's Pineapple Solution and aggressive feeding to help restore balance. Also consider a lower hydration starter (60-70%), that can help weed out some nasties. Finally, I've noticed that some flours tend to cause more stink in my starters; I've noticed this with both whole wheat and rye. You could try switching to different manufacturers, fresh bags of flour, or reducing quantities of those flours. 

Even if your starter develops mold, just carefully scrape it off, and use 1tbsp of clean starter underneath in a new container to refresh, and feed it until it's healthy and smells good again. 

In sum, I wouldn't start over. Some people get squeamish and freak out easily about certain things, I get it. Other people have immune issues, and need to be careful, I get that too. The way I see it, sourdough is a fermented food, just like kimchee, sauerkraut, wine, etc. Naturally fermented foods are pretty sturdy and tolerant of different environments, but for them to have maximum health, they need to be treated with some care. Start treating your starter with more care and it will treat you well too ;)

sfsourdoughnut's picture
sfsourdoughnut

Sorry to hear that your starter is getting funky.  I always rotate my starter that I'm going to stash back in the fridge into a new clean glass vessel, using the remaining starter for pancakes, waffles or fresh bread.  Not sure why anyone would do it any other way.  I wouldn't keep drinking milk out of the same glass over a 4 month period of time, by keeping part of it, and then drinking some and refilling it.

You could try saving your starter by feeding it pineapple juice instead of water for a period of a week or so.  The acid in the pineapple juice will probably kill off any nasty beasties, while giving the starter yeast plenty to eat (they like the pH AND the sugar).  Just see the pineapple starter thread on this website.

We have a Corning Outlet Store nearby that sells the glass corning measuring cups for 1/2 price (if you buy 3 or more).  I got a set of 1 c, 2 c, 4 c and 8 c for under $20.  So you can just rotate your starter btwn the 1 and 2 cups, and then use the 4 and 8 cup to make your dough in.  The 4 and 8 cuppers come with plastic lids, which are particularly convenient.

Save money on the doctor bills and use a fresh clean vessel each time you refresh your starter.  You could always refresh your starter a bit more frequently as well too, and see if that helps.

Glad you are on the mend.  Best of luck!

timbit1985's picture
timbit1985

First of all, I keep my stater at 60% hydration, so it doesn't make the container gunky. When I am building a starter, I ALWAYS use a bowl scraper after mixing. It keeps the crap off the side of the container, prevents mold and other bacteria from growing, and just makes cleanup that much easier.  I have a variety of tupperware, all of the appropriate size. Each time I refresh my starter, I use a new tupperware container. I throw it under the tap, hot soapy water. Giver a scrub, a rinse, a dry. Good to go. 

timbit1985's picture
timbit1985

Add on: I bake about the same amount each week. I took the time to figure out how much starter I need every 2 days. I keep my starter weight at 200g. It allows me to bake twice over the course of four days with 70g starter each time with enough left over to refresh.

habahabanero's picture
habahabanero

It is possible that the bread made you sick, but it wouldn't be because bugs survived the baking if the bread was done. This could potentially be caused by a bacterial toxin that is heat stable and would therefore survive the bake while the bacteria that produced it die. I posted a comment on a previous thread regarding starter safety here http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24806/wild-yeast-discoloration that will hopefully shed some light on the issue. The timing is a little on the short side but the most likely suspect if your starter smelt off and you got sick from the bread is a bug called Bacillus cereus, it is common in our environment and is quite happy to live on carbs - Staph aureus can do the same, but prefers a higher protein diet - and doesn't produce much of an odour.  A starter pH of less than 4.5 should inhibit growth of these organisms - but most of us don't check our starter pH, and something may have tipped the balance in yours.

I would be interested to hear whether anyone else has had a similar experience of getting sick from sourdough, and whether anyone has pH readings on their starter.

I suspect most starter problems can be fixed with time and patience, but if your starter is stinky and you really think the bread made you sick it would be advisable to get rid of it, sterilise the jar and start over.

 

 

copyu's picture
copyu

of my starter quite regularly. It was always around pH4.3 when healthy and active.

Just for fun, I pulled my (all-rye) starter out of the fridge tonight, after reading your post, cleaned and calibrated the meter with distilled water and plunged it into the starter without stirring or anything else.

The READING after 6 minutes: pH4.7. This starter was fed a couple of times and rose well a few days ago (mid-morning Wed. 7 Sep) It's now 1:00am here on Sat. 10 Sep. My plan was to feed it again tonight (ie, Sat night) leave it out and feed 2x per day and make a pre-ferment to bake pain au levain on Tuesday...I may as well feed it now that it's out of the fridge...I expect the pH to drop once it's rising. I'll check again in a day or two and will get back if anything interesting or "untoward" happens.

Cheers,

Adam

Edited for typo. Sorry!

jcking's picture
jcking

Adam,

Maybe you'll remember I purchased (per your suggestion) a PH tester when performing my sterile Durum X. I still test their PH every time I refresh. The starters are kept at 50°F and I get readings between 3.7 if left for a week, to 3.9 if left for 3 days. I feed them 1,2,3, (66.6 hydration) and they have served me well.

Jim

copyu's picture
copyu

I remember it very well!

I usually use 100% hydration all-rye starter and feeding is 1:2:2 (S:F:W). I just checked it moments ago (it's already in the 'expired' condition and very ready for a feed.) Reading is around pH5.2, which is much higher than I expected...

The fridge where my starter and flours are kept is not all that cold, so it's only possible to do 'cool retardation' instead of 'cold'. I think the fridge has a glitch in the thermostat...one half-notch lower and everything freezes...at the current setting, a beer would be too 'warm' from that fridge for my enjoyment...I'll feed the starter tonight and check again tomorrow and report if there's any news

Cheers,

Adam

jcking's picture
jcking

Nice to touch base again. What flour are you using? My white one is KA AP which is equal to a bread flour. I've just started a Rye starter, using the Durum starter as a base, and will be interested to see the PH readings.

Fornituri te salutant!
(Those who are about to bake salute you!)
Jim

copyu's picture
copyu

I'm sending you a PM re: pH help required!

Cheers!

Adam

pezeni's picture
pezeni

Based on everyones advice I think I'm going to throw out my starter and just begin again with a new starter maintained at a lower hydration, I just can't take a chance considering the loaves I give away to people with kids etc. Even with the pineapple juice treatment if that takes a week it pretty much takes a week to start a new one so might as well. I will also be more religious about transfering the mother to a new jar if not after every feeding then at least after every time I take it out of the fridge and back. Unfortunate since my starter didn't really take off for about 3 weeks and I now have a long wait and have to figure out some other cooking projects to obsess over in the meantime hah. It's weird because the smell isn't really a rotting smell its hard to put a finger on, more musty and wet smelling like a wet towel you forgot somewhere. When my leaven is working right the smell is sweet and clean like overripe fruit so I will def not take chances and pay more attention. Nobody really answered above but do I need to worry about any residual critters in my bannetons I proofed the loaves in? Is the pineapple juice regimen something I should do once in a while just to be on the safe side? Wish me luck with my new mother!

timbit1985's picture
timbit1985

"Based on everyones advice I think I'm going to throw out my starter and just begin again with a new starter maintained at a lower hydration, I just can't take a chance considering the loaves I give away to people with kids etc."

Better Safe that sorry :)

"Even with the pineapple juice treatment if that takes a week it pretty much takes a week to start a new one so might as well.

The pineapple juice actually does two things. It lowers the initial pH to a less bacteria friendly level, but there is also an enzyme in it that inhibits bacterial growth called bromelain.

I will also be more religious about transfering the mother to a new jar if not after every feeding then at least after every time I take it out of the fridge and back.

To be honest, I think that might be a bit excessive. If you want to do this, power to you. If you just make sure the sides of the container are scraped down that should be sufficient. I advocate using something with a wider mouth that you can get your whole fist comfortably into. This makes cleaning to much easier than when  using a mason jar.

Unfortunate since my starter didn't really take off for about 3 weeks "
Seriously, use organic unbleached fresh ground rye. You can find it at pretty much any healthfood store with bulk bins in it. You'll have bubbles before you know it, and a nice strong leveur (french for leavener :P) in about a week. A lot of commercial non-organic flours are treated with crap to prevent little bugs from growing in it, which subsequently kills off most of the local yeast and lactobacillus flora. If you can't find unbleached organic non-bromelated rye, just use whatever rye you can find. It contains more benificial bacteria and yeast than other types of flour. Just switch over to whatever type of flour you want your starter to be once you have the mother established. Also, rye makes whisking up the various stages of starter a breeze because there isn't very much gluten in it. 

figure out some other cooking projects to obsess over in the meantime hah

Play with a poolish lean bread recipe. Pretty much any poolish recipe will be very similar in terms of technique to sourdough. Slow rise, more flavour. Make some poolish baguettes and figure out your stretch and folds on wet dough. Baking with a wet sourdough is so much fun, and you can get a handle on the wet doughs easily with a poolish.

It's weird because the smell isn't really a rotting smell its hard to put a finger on, more musty and wet smelling like a wet towel you forgot somewhere.

That my friend, is the smell of mould.

When my leaven is working right the smell is sweet and clean like overripe fruit so I will def not take chances and pay more attention.

The combination of lactic acid, alcohol, aldehydes and a number of other yeast/bacillus by-products really is heavenly. If it ever smells like nail-polish remover you are abusing your starter. You need to feed it more often. The nail-polish smell comes from acetone like chemicals that are the resultant of something called oxidative phosphorylation. Yeast, even in highly oxidative conditions tend to prefer the fermentation process (sugar to alcohol, or sugar to lactic acid in the case of lactobacillus) when in the presence of sugar or starches. You start getting those acetone smells when the culture starts running out of food to eat, and they switch to less prefered metabolic pathways. Keep your starter happy, feed it. Once or twice a week with a low hydration starter kept in the fridge should be fine. 

Nobody really answered above but do I need to worry about any residual critters in my bannetons I proofedthe loaves in?

I'm not sure that this is a question many people would be happy answering. What if they say no, it is fine, and you end up getting sick? What if we say yes, chuck em', and then it turns out they would have been fine? Do what you feel most comfortable doing. I know personally, I would give them a good clean and leave them out in the hot sun for a bit. UV from the sun is a great bacteria killer.

Is the pineapple juice regimen something I should do once in a while just to be on the safe side? Wish me luck with my new mother!

If you are having troubles with a starter, then yes...you can do the pineapple treatment. It does take a while to bounceback, as it has some serious anti-microbial enzymes that are not specific to the bad bacteria. It will inhibit yeast growth as well. I have had my starter going for a year now, and the only time I ever used pineapple juice was when I was building my starter up from scratch. I am not saying don't do it, just be careful :)

pezeni's picture
pezeni

Thank you for all the advice. About the health food stores, many of the stores here in Los Angeles are holdovers from the 1970's, I am very suspicious about the age and cleanliness of the product being sold in bulk bins in these stores. I do use some organic rye in my starter but from Bobs Red Mill. Thak you for the advice on the bannetons I have them sitting in the sun as we speak. Although constant jar changing can seem obsessive I am not looking forward to repeating past mistakes so I think I kind of want to err on the side of overcaution at the moment. I think the suggest to focus on poolish breads as I rebuild a new starter is great advice I will def be doing that!

sfsourdoughnut's picture
sfsourdoughnut

You may want to do both...try to recover your existing starter w/pineapple juice (1-1-1, instead of water, use pineapple juice; start with 2Tbsp starter, 2 Tbsp pineapple juice, 2 Tbsp flour; 24 hours later = 4 Tbsp starter - 4 Tbsp pineapple juice-4 Tbsp flour, etc.), and also start a new batch.  Once you switch to filtered water, and start dumping and refeeding, just transfer to a clean container, and soak the old one in the sink overnight.  How hard is that really?  (I guess it must be hard, as many who post who don't do that).

When I store my starter (which I just did), I took 50g starter, 25g water, 50g flour (King Arthur unbleached bread flour).  This makes a very thick mini-dough.  I can leave this in the fridge, lightly covered for at least 4 weeks, maybe more.  I haven't tested how long it can go, but I will.  I think last time, after 3 months, it finally got white mold on the top.  So I carved that off, through out the hooch, and took a couple of tablespoons of starter from the very bottom of the old container, transferred to a clean container, refreshed the starter over the next couple of days on the counter, and re-stored in the fridge.  It's been fine.

I think folks who leave their starter out on the counter for a week, or in the fridge for weeks on a 1-1-1 ratio are just starving the little dears to death.

In the end just do what is successful for you.

I agree on the banneton idea of simply just putting them in the hot sun for an hour or half a day.  That should sterilize them enough.

 

pezeni's picture
pezeni

The more I think about the pineapple juice treatment honnestly the less it appeals to me since the only way to find out if it worked short of sending it to a lab is to test it on my own stomach which does not seems like a wise plan of action hah! Thanks for all the other advice.

habahabanero's picture
habahabanero

UV won't be sufficient to kill the bugs if Bacillus cereus is your problem, because it forms spores that are resistant to environmental destruction. If you can remove the linen from your bannetons and put it through a hot wash with detergent or bleach it should deal with the nasties.

Thanks Adam and Jim for providing pH readings - it explains why we don't have a problem with B. cereus food poisoning from sourdough more often - the main safety-net seems to be a pH below 4.5 and it's only when something upsets the balance that we run into trouble.

I have to agree with pezeni, I wouldn't be keen to repeat the experience!

 

pezeni's picture
pezeni

hmm my bannetons are the type with the linen sewn into a wicker basket, do you have any advice for cleaning these? I wouldn't mind taking pH readings in the future, these testing kits are something from the hardware store or? Do you know how much they are?

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I believe it was a virus you picked up or even the lunchmeat or veggies you used on the sandwich,for breakfast that day ot even the evening before.  Noro-like viruses are rampant in some areas, once in a while. and cause a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea and fever. It can be awful. You can pick it up from a hand railing,money, or just about anywhere that an infected person touched and starts within several hours of infection. I would suspect you had something like that.

 Starters sometimes do smell a little "off" but I'm sure if it smelled like pus you wouldn't have eaten it and anything that grew on it that caused horrible symptoms would have either a bizarre appearance or a terrible smell.  If it had kind of a cheesy,dirty sock odor, that was an undesirable lacto growing (kind of like makes cheese) and it usually can affect the bread rising but won't cause illness.

If you are paranoid about using sourdough starter then just don't. You shouldn't be stressing about it. Just switch to yeast.

 

pezeni's picture
pezeni

The thing that makes me doubt it was a virus is the fact that as soon as it was out of my stomach I began to feel better, it wasn't like I was sick over and over for a whole day or night. Just twice right away 4 hours after eating the bread and I was done. Sorry for the graphic details. I am not paranoid about using sourdough, just want to exercise caution in food handling and track down all the possible culprits and make sure I don't repeat any mistakes.

fermento's picture
fermento

I am no expert in these matters, but I have read that vinegar will kill mould permanently, but bleach only inhibits it. I would love to hear any comment on this from anyone with a better understanding.

I do have some empirical experience with treating mould in this way, though it was in a shower recess, not a banneton! Every week or 10 days we used to get a small recurrence of black mould in the corners of our shower recess, which was just a regular cleaning job, to douse it with chlorine based bleach. After reading about the vinegar I sprayed it once with neat white vinegar and it hasn't recurred - in a couple of months. Make of it what you will - it seems to have some link with the comments above about pH.

habahabanero's picture
habahabanero

It wasn't viral gastro.  Just for the record Noro/Sapo virus gastro has an incubation period of 24-48hrs and typically lasts 24-72hrs - and there will ALWAYS be other people affected. It may not be the bread, but the symptoms are typical of a bacterial toxin (Staph or B. cereus). The only way to be sure is to try the bread again - obviously a small piece :<Q  If it isn't the bread you can stop worrying about your starter and bannetons. The banneton linen is really only of concern if you're proofing for long periods at room temp.

There should be fluff if it's mould making your starter smell off  - it would be pretty difficult to miss. I've often seen vinegar promoted as cleaning solution (mostly by well meaning green folks) but I've had mould growing on my vinegar! (Not to discount your success fermento.) The reason bleach is used as disinfectant in hospitals is because it's been proven to work.

BTW What is your starter like now?

fermento's picture
fermento

Well, that just sounds scary! There's clearly more complexity to this than we realise. I do know that molds/fungi are extremely diverse, so it doesn't really surprise me there's one which can withstand that degree of acidity. Fortunately my mold was not one of them.

Maybe bleach's use in hospitals is only partially relevant, as that would be primarily a bacterial thing, not so much mold. I do also know that I searched for information when I had mold growing in stacked timber, and the most apparently informed sites advised that bleach was not an effective solution. The vinegar suggestion did come from a mycologist (not "well meaning green folks"), so does appear to have some substance to it.

It's hard to sort the reliable info from the misinformation on the web, so would be great to have something more definitive.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

... a small recurrence of black mould in the corners of our shower recess ... douse it with chlorine based bleach... I sprayed it once with neat white vinegar and it hasn't recurred ...

Did you apply the bleach with a sprayer too? (The continual recurrence sounds to me like a reservoir somewhere [higher up shower seams?]. Could the vinegar spray have had so much "overspray" it inadvertently hit the reservoir too, something the bleach had never done?)


(I'm not a chemist, but my guess is vinegar can indeed be a better solution on porous or cracked surfaces, not because it's a better mold killer, but because it soaks in and continues to retard growth rather than evaporating without leaving any long term inhibition. Also, my guess is the main action of vinegar is not to actually kill existing mold, but rather to inhibit future mold growth by slightly lowering the pH. Does anybody know for sure?)

fermento's picture
fermento

This had been going on for some time, so the bleach had more than ample opportunity to access the same areas. The vinegar was a one time application which worked immediately - which seems to support the mycologist's views about vinegar being a mold killer - well, from the experience above, clearly not every mold. As for its long term preventive effects, I wouldn't think it had any, apart from killing off the spores which would otherwise mean regular recurrence. I certainly don't want to make any unwarranted claims beyond what my experience was - I simply read what appeared to be authoritative advice, had nothing to lose by trying it, and it worked for me in that one instance, where nothing else had.

Edit: Reading more about it, I think it does come down to what works on a porous surface - so the vinegar must soak in better than sodium hypochlorite, though I don't know why. I don't mind though - chlorine is never a pleasant household aroma. Other ways to treat mold are borax, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Sorry I'm late to the thread. As a person who has been keeping a starter for many years, I've never had a stable starter go bad. My experience is that if the Leuconistic (sp) bacteria gets active, the smell is very unpleasant. The other symptom is there will be a layer of hooch mid way in the container or on the bottom. A healthy starter will create this liquid layer on top and smell like lacquer thinner, when it is under fed. You can pour off the liquid and feed at room temperature for a day or two and it should be fine.

My advice would be to dump the starter, clean the container well including sponges with bleach and start over using the pineapple solution at the start. The point of using pineapple juice is to force the pH into the acid range to prevent the bad bacteria for taking hold early on before there is a dominant culture. I don't believe there is much point of using the pineapple juice once the bad bacteria has taken hold. It has worked for me every time I have tried it and I had a few stinky start up starters prior to reading Debra Winks paper on the subject. I would never use a starter that had any kind of unpleasant odor. Never eat bread made from such a starter. Our sense of smell is trained by millions of generations of trial and error, trust it.

I didn't read closely all of the comments on this thread but if you haven't already done so, I highly recommend reading Debra Winks post on the Pineapple solution. Here is the link to Part 2 which has the process near the bottom. Debra is a microbiologist and has written extensively about the issue of getting a healthy starter started.

And BTW, welcome to the site. I look forward to seeing your breads.

Eric

 

pezeni's picture
pezeni

Thanks for the link and thanks for asking to see my breads. Just for the sake of argument here are my last two pain au levain loaves from my now tossed and likely contaminated starter, I didn't bother to clean the jar since it was from the 99c store and it wasn't worth 99c to possibly get nasties on anything else in my kitchen.

 

habahabanero's picture
habahabanero

Lovely breads pezeni! I'm really envious. What was the hydration on them? I can't get those nice ears and I wonder whether it's a hydration thing - flour here (in NZ) seems to absorb less water and the dough behaves as though the hydration is 5-10% higher than actual %.

Back the bleach vs vinegar debate - you're right fermento, bleach is primarily used to kill bacteria, bacterial spores and viruses, mould spores are accepted as ever-present in the air and very few people are at risk, reducing this risk is more about air management than disinfectant. I wouldn't discount that the vinegar works for mould, I was mostly thinking of killing nasty bacterial spores on the linen. I have often seen vinegar promoted as general household cleaner though, which doesn't make much sense to me, especially as the concentration is non-standard - and then there's that lingering chip-shop smell (Yuk!).

 

 

pezeni's picture
pezeni

The hydration level is 69% on those loaves. I picked up a lame at a kitchen shop for scoring my loaves and it is giving me some nice ears.

So I think what I will do to clean the bannetons is to soak them in a bleach solution in my sink then rinse them out and sun dry hopefully that will kill anything nasty that might be on them.

sfsourdoughnut's picture
sfsourdoughnut

The thing I really like about glass is it's easy to clean and sterlize, and nasties can't live in it after that, ever.