Sourdough Starter Mother Maintenance
I am a newbie to sourdough mother starter, so if these questions seem obvious, apologies.
How often should a mother starter that is kept in the refrigerator be refreshed when not regularly baking?
Can a mother starter that has been in the fridge for 3 or 4 weeks looks dry on top and has some dark areas (oxidation?) be refreshed successfully or is it compost? Don't want anyone to get sick.
The background: I made the ww starter as per instructions in Peter Reinhardt's Artisan Breads Everyday and was refreshing and baking regularly for about a month and also separated some of the starter into separate containers. Then I got busy and let the starter stay in the fridge without refreshing for the last 3 or 4 weeks. One small container molded, so that got composted. One container has bubbles, but looks a little dry on top and is dark in places (oxidation?) and am wondering whether it can or should be refreshed. The glass jar that it is in is the old fashioned type with a glass lid held on with a wire, but no rubber gasket to allow for a little air.
If it matters, I live in Seattle where it is currently cool and rainy.