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Black specks appearing throughout starter

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ccsdg's picture
ccsdg

Black specks appearing throughout starter

Hi all.

I fed my stiff (50% hydration) starter a large dilution last night, and then this morning noticed black specks appearing right through the dough.  Concerned, I clipped off a tiny piece from a previously formed rising loaf and seeded a second container of starter.  I examined the second one as I mixed it in, observing that the container was new and by the end of mixing the starter had no black spots.  Both starters sat out on the counter in closed plastic boxes for the day.

Now at the end of the day, BOTH starters have black flecks through them, even though the second one definitely started the day with none.  Should I be concerned?  What would cause this?  Is this starter still safe to make bread with?  The flour?  The water?  We already baked and ate the loaf from which I clipped a piece for the second starter within 3 hours of baking, while it was still cooling down..

Sad to think I might be looking on the last days of a starter that has served me for months..

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and what kind of flour are you using?    

Meanwhile, wet some flour (no starter) let it stand and see what it does.  Try also another mix using a different source of water.   

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/138641#comment-138641

you can simply thin some of the starter with water and run thru a coffee filter and then feed more flour.  Play around and if you get a good close up picture (I do this often as a camera sees better than myself) blow it up on your computer screen.

ccsdg's picture
ccsdg

Not sure what flour - it's 'plain flour' from Home Brand, what I think is a generic brand from Woolworths.  They also carry whole wheat and high grade flour so I've been assuming this one is all-purpose.  Our water filter hasn't been changed in a while but it seems to fliter okay, with no black specks in whole glasses of water - I assume in 5-20ml of water it wouldn't contribute any either.

Last night I inoculated some of that flour with an equal part of apple/raisin yeast water which had been in the fridge nearly a month.  Hope that counts as a different source of water.  Will make a fourth with just flour and water soon (when I tidy the kitchen a bit)!

Saw that thread - thought it wasn't my situation as the black specks are definitely not there to begin with, and only after a few hours start appearing.

Main starter last night.  You can't see very clearly in the artificial light but there were enough black specks in real life at this point to make me wonder if I had accidentally included a sprinkling of ground cardamom or something (I had not):

Again at midday today.  There are more black specks, and they are easier to see in this light.

Last night, the 'old dough' culture clipped from the rising loaf:

Today at midday:

You do have to look quite carefully to see the specks.  For reference, the round container is about 250ml and the rectangular container about 350ml.  The specks vary from dark brown to black and really do look innocuously like baking spices.

We don't have a coffee filter, only a type of cheesecloth I used to strain yoghurt.  I suspect the black specks might be too small and slip through that?  Will try that too when I get the chance.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

what is specks from bubbles.  When you try to pick a speck out with a toothpick, does it act as a fleck of bran or does it fall apart?  

 Look at (78)  and (79) , scroll down on this link    (78 and 79 deal with added iron to the flour)

http://www.muehlenchemie.de/downloads-future-of-flour/FoF_Kap_01.pdf

ccsdg's picture
ccsdg

Yeah it is quite difficult to see - unfortunately the abilities of my camera are not sufficient to capture finer detail than this.

I will pick out a speck soon. In the meantime i just remembered this was the first feeding from a new bag of flour. Brand may be the same but there's nothing to say the content, like added iron, wasn't changed. Thanks for the idea.