The Fresh Loaf

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Please help - Blackish Water - Newbie starter user

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grandmabakes3's picture
grandmabakes3

Please help - Blackish Water - Newbie starter user

I'm new here, but this looks like just the place for me.  I was born and raised on San Francisco Sour Dough bread and now that I am in the south, I am having a terrible time finding any bread that is not "cotton" bread.  So I have been making my own.  I have actually made my own bread for over 30 years but this is the first time that I have ventured into making my own sour dough starter.  So I made a starter with water, white flour (ap) whatever the store brand was, and some yeast from a jar.  It took off fine.  Actually it did rather well and so I kept it in the fridge and had it about 1 month when I thought that I was going to be away for awhile.  So after reading in a sourdough cookbook that if you were not going to be using the starter for a period of time that freezing it would be just fine. 

So I poured the starter in a plastic zip-lock bag and stuck it in the freezer.  But, as my plans changed I took it out of the freezer and defrosted it in the fridge.  Then I put it back into the same plastic container that housed it before and fed it 1/4 c of ap flour and 1/4 c of water - left it out overnight where I always leave it (back of the stove, on top) and the next day the water had turned almost black, so I poured off the black water and put 1/4 c of flour and 1/4 c of water (I probably have 3 cups of starter in there) and left it out again and the water turned blackish again.  It doesn't smell rancid, but it doesn't smell the same as before it was frozen.  So I am afraid to use it.  Should I just dump it and start again?  Anyone know for sure this starter is okay?  It used to be a good starter and had a very sourdough taste, almost from the start.

Grandmabakes3

G-man's picture
G-man

Greyish-black water is fine, it's alcohol, aka hooch. The stuff you want to watch out for is orange or red.

Pour the liquid off, perhaps feed a bit more often if it freaks you out. It does generally mean the yeast are hungry.

grandmabakes3's picture
grandmabakes3

Thank you, I will try your suggestion.  No orange or red color - and very little yeasty smell. So I will put in more flour and water.   I am looking forward to more sourdough!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You got some very hungry heavily protesting beasties.  Try saving just 1/4 c starter (from the bottom) and adding 1/4 c water and 1/2 c flour and see what they do.   Discard the rest of the starter into the compost where dead yeasties go to help out the garden.

grandmabakes3's picture
grandmabakes3

You are probably right, but I was trying not to have too much starter as I can only eat so much breads by myself.  Well I could eat so much bread, but...

Thanks for the response.  I really was worried about using the stuff with the blackish water.  Haven't tossed it yet, but will follow your suggestions. 

G-man's picture
G-man

The idea is to keep a very small amount of starter on hand. If you keep a very small amount (you can go down to a couple tablespoons) then every feeding is only a few ounces of flour.

Speaking of which, you are measuring by volume. Get a kitchen scale. Baking is a science, and if you are exact your efforts will be rewarded. I prefer an Escali that retails for 20-25. Cheap and worth the investment. http://www.amazon.com/Escali-P115C-Digital-Multifunctional-Chrome/dp/B0007GAWRS 

When you keep only a tiny amount, you only have to feed a tiny amount. I keep about 50g of starter on hand. That means I end up investing about 20g of flour per feeding.

Tomlid's picture
Tomlid

Hi All, Can you please explain how to upload pictures

Tom