The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

is my starter salvageable? and, baking in stainless steel pot question

  • Pin It
kaybee's picture
kaybee

is my starter salvageable? and, baking in stainless steel pot question

Ok, almost totally new at this...tried to create my own starter last winter and they all got moldy...was given a starter, made 2 good loaves with it and then it went moldy as well (cold damp mold prone ireland, i guess?). 

 

I was in the US in March and was given a starter that was made using either pineapple juice to start, or raisin to start, techniques. This sat in the fridge with a parchment paper covering and did not get attention for 2 weeks. it was then put in a tightly lidded jar and took a plane ride on March 30...was out of the fridge for a few days, and now has been in and out of fridges (sometimes fridges on, sometimes, off, sometimes not in fridge) for the last month through a series of moves. It has been kept in that tightly lidded jar and not fed for a month, in and out of fridges etc, and tossed around a fair bit.   I opened it and it smelled like stinky cheese.  no visible mold in the actual starter, though it was hard to tell if there was white mold on the sides of the upper rim of the jar, and it looked like there could be a bit of grey or green mold only on cap where it sits on the rim.   I scooped about 1/8 to 1/4 cup out of the middle the best i could without scraping the sides and put that into a clean jar.  it was separated, but i dont think thats a problem? it was very smooth and pretty liquidy.  I, fed it a cup of organic white flour and half cup water, stuck it in the fridge, went back the next eve and it smelled like yogurt. no stink.  so, i discarded half and fed it again.  can i assume its ok because it doesnt stink? or do i risk poisoning myself after all the neglect this starter got?  

 

Thanks!  

Also, baking question...I have the Tartine book and didnt have a dutch oven or combi cooker or cast iron or whatnot, so I used a big  tall stainless steel soup pot with a lid. i got one really amazing loaf out of it, great for a first try, nice and crusty, and a second half decent loaf (didnt rise as much as should have).   Is it safe to cook in the oven in a pot thats meant for the stove?  Or will stuff leach out of the pot? Its stainless steel but I know that can mean a different combination of metals, not always standardized I think....    

Our local shop has enameled cast iron on sale right now for 25 and 29 euro  there is a 2.8 liter round and a 4 liter oval.  I thought about getting the 2.8 l round so i could cook in proper cast iron but my concern is that its not very tall...not as tall as my soup pot was...I dont know if there will be enough room for the bread to rise properly or if it will hit the top and fall? I dont have exact measurements for it though :/   the 4 liter oval is an inch or so taller than the 2.8 liter, but the 4 l is an awfully big pot...i dont think my loaves will usually be that big as they will take forever to cook, no? Should I go with the bigger one anyway? or just stick with my stainless steel pot which worked ?  
Also, can either of these cast iron pots be actually put in a fire and is that a good way to cook bread?  there is an oven attached to my range, but it rarely gets up to even 350....I was wondering if I could just put the pot or cast iron in the firebox itself? (not sure what the lid handle is made out of on the cast iron though..might melt... although the 4 liter one looks like its made out of same material as pot is...  but also outside of the cast iron one  is red enamel, not sure if thats safe to go in a fire?   I have a regular oven but it doesnt go up as high as is recommended to make good bread, so I thought about putting it directly in the fire?  Comments/advice on the pots/cast iron etc and on if it can go right in the firebox?  (link to cast iron if ok to put in post?)  http://www.lidl.ie/cps/rde/www_lidl_ie/hs.xsl/Offers.htm?action=showDetail&id=5618

just want to make sure what im doing is safe! 

Thanks so much! 

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

kaybee,

You should probably take your starter out of the fridge for a few days and nurse it back to health at room temp (whatever temp that is) until it is consistent in how long it takes to rise in the container to a peak height. First of all, take it out if it's in the fridge now, and let it rise until it doesn't rise any more. When it reaches that peak rise, throw most of it out, and feed the rest of it at a ratio of 1:1:1 of starter:water:flour by weight and let it sit out and rise to peak again. When you have seen it peak in around the same length of time twice or three times in a row (unless your home temp fluctuates wildly, then it won't) feed it once more, let it sit out for just an hour or so, then put it back into the fridge for storage.

For future reference, when you have a starter kept outside of a refrigerated environment, whether that be 50F or 80F or whatever, it needs to be fed every day by discarding some of it and feeding the rest. The ratio it needs to be fed depends on several factors including ambient temperature and type of flour. At my house, using white all purpose or bread flour, in a room temp about 70F, I feed my starter every 12 hours at a ratio of 1:2:2 of starter:water:flour. How much you discard and how much you keep is up to you. The "discard" part doesn't generally have to be thrown away if the starter is healthy. You can mix it in with other recipes, use it for pancakes or English muffins or something. Right now, in the condition your starter is in, you should throw away the "discard" that you have when you feed it.

When your starter is healthy again, it can be kept refrigerated to reduce the amount of feedings needed. It still needs to be fed once every week or two. If you bake at least every couple weeks, you will not have to discard any starter. When you use it, you feed it. For instance, if you wanted to use 100g of starter in a recipe, you could feed 50g water and 50g flour to your starter, let it become active for a couple hours, remove the 100g to use in your recipe, and put the rest back into the fridge. That's one way, and there are others. One important thing is to not let your starter reach peak and then put it back in the fridge for a long time, because it will continue to need a little nourishment while in the fridge, and if it doesn't have that, it can die off.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I agree with DavidEF and would take the Starter out of the fridge for a few days or even a week and continue with the feeding routine.

When you put your Starter in the fridge, is your jar closed airtight? This is important as there are other cultures in the fridge like in Jogurt and cheese and such like that could spoil your starter.

Since I bake 4 times a week I have my small amount of Rye Sourdough Starter * 60g rye flour and 80g Water * on the counter in the kitchen.

My backup Starter * made with Bread Flour and Water * lives in the fridge and is fed every Friday Morning.

I take the Starter out of the Fridge, I let it sit outside the Fridge for 2 hours to warm up a bit, I take half out, I feed it, I let it sit for about 8 hours at Room Temperature and than it goes back in the Fridge.

The half I have taken out I will use to enhance my White bread that has also yeast in it, just to add some taste.

 

It is very  happy in the Fridge for almost 1 Year.

When it comes to Sourdough Jars, before you put your Starter in or start a Starter, the Container needs to be super clean, that goes for the lid too. 

 

kaybee's picture
kaybee

ok, thank you both!  i was trying to get it in a fridge constantly as soon as possible because it had been bounced around alot and out at room temperature alot.   i thought it was supposed to live in the fridge. i will take it out and try to normalize it.  The lid is on loosely but there is never any dairy or meat or eggs in my fridge so i dont think it will pick up cultures from anything else?  it is in my work kitchen and the fridge was off all winter, i just turned it on and there is only jam and rhubarb and grapes in there. 

 

I guess the starter is ok then, despite its neglect and poor handling and living outside the fridge for a long time and smelling like stinky cheese? because it was back to smelling like pleasant yogurt by the day after the first feeding. 

 

i used jar and lids that came out of the dishwasher, though i probably need to be careful to use only natural soap in the dishwasher for the starter jar, or rinse well after they come out of it i guess. 

 

It wasnt intentionally kept out of the fridge and unfed, it had more to do with traveling, moving, having no useable kitchen, and then having a broken fridge.  so it kept going in and out.   all thats sorted now. :)

 

kaybee's picture
kaybee

ok, thank you both!  i was trying to get it in a fridge constantly as soon as possible because it had been bounced around alot and out at room temperature alot.   i thought it was supposed to live in the fridge. i will take it out and try to normalize it.  The lid is on loosely but there is never any dairy or meat or eggs in my fridge so i dont think it will pick up cultures from anything else?  it is in my work kitchen and the fridge was off all winter, i just turned it on and there is only jam and rhubarb and grapes in there. 

 

I guess the starter is ok then, despite its neglect and poor handling and living outside the fridge for a long time and smelling like stinky cheese? because it was back to smelling like pleasant yogurt by the day after the first feeding. 

 

i used jar and lids that came out of the dishwasher, though i probably need to be careful to use only natural soap in the dishwasher for the starter jar, or rinse well after they come out of it i guess. 

 

It wasnt intentionally kept out of the fridge and unfed, it had more to do with traveling, moving, having no useable kitchen, and then having a broken fridge.  so it kept going in and out.   all thats sorted now. :)

 

kaybee's picture
kaybee

ok, thank you both!  i was trying to get it in a fridge constantly as soon as possible because it had been bounced around alot and out at room temperature alot.   i thought it was supposed to live in the fridge. i will take it out and try to normalize it.  The lid is on loosely but there is never any dairy or meat or eggs in my fridge so i dont think it will pick up cultures from anything else?  it is in my work kitchen and the fridge was off all winter, i just turned it on and there is only jam and rhubarb and grapes in there. 

 

I guess the starter is ok then, despite its neglect and poor handling and living outside the fridge for a long time and smelling like stinky cheese? because it was back to smelling like pleasant yogurt by the day after the first feeding. 

 

i used jar and lids that came out of the dishwasher, though i probably need to be careful to use only natural soap in the dishwasher for the starter jar, or rinse well after they come out of it i guess. 

 

It wasnt intentionally kept out of the fridge and unfed, it had more to do with traveling, moving, having no useable kitchen, and then having a broken fridge.  so it kept going in and out.   all thats sorted now. :)

 

kaybee's picture
kaybee

ok, thank you both!  i was trying to get it in a fridge constantly as soon as possible because it had been bounced around alot and out at room temperature alot.   i thought it was supposed to live in the fridge. i will take it out and try to normalize it.  The lid is on loosely but there is never any dairy or meat or eggs in my fridge so i dont think it will pick up cultures from anything else?  it is in my work kitchen and the fridge was off all winter, i just turned it on and there is only jam and rhubarb and grapes in there. 

 

I guess the starter is ok then, despite its neglect and poor handling and living outside the fridge for a long time and smelling like stinky cheese? because it was back to smelling like pleasant yogurt by the day after the first feeding. 

 

i used jar and lids that came out of the dishwasher, though i probably need to be careful to use only natural soap in the dishwasher for the starter jar, or rinse well after they come out of it i guess. 

 

It wasnt intentionally kept out of the fridge and unfed, it had more to do with traveling, moving, having no useable kitchen, and then having a broken fridge.  so it kept going in and out.   all thats sorted now. :)