The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

mold inside on my starter jar, friend or foe?

audra36274's picture
audra36274

mold inside on my starter jar, friend or foe?

I know it's cold in my kitchen and my new starter for the Jewish rye bread is just kinda sitting there. But today I noticed mold on the inside of my jar. I took out what I needed to feed and put it in a new container until someone could advise me to keep it or throw it out. Help?!

   I also was reading today on someones old entryabout keeping your new starter in a water bath so you could maintain a better temp. That would have solved my cold kitchen problem. I'll get to rigging up my water bath, so that will at least solve one problem.

Audra

TableBread's picture
TableBread

So before today I would have told you 'Sorry pal but it's trash' (see: http://tablebread.blogspot.com/2007/09/when-bad-things-happen-to-good-starters.html)

But then today happened... What happened today that changed my mind on all of this?!?  Local Breads by Daniel Leader.  I just got this book yesterday and started reading it immediately and he says to just 'scrape of the mold and refresh as usual'.  So there you have it.  I'm still getting used to growing my own bacteria so the site of fuzzies kind of well..grossed me out a bit and I chunked mine.  Apparently this wasn't the smartest thing to do.

Thank you Mr. Leader...for being a little too late to save my start :/

~Tablebread

http://tablebread.blogspot.com

 

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Weellll, I don't know if I would just jump on that bandwagon. I hope sourdolady jumps in here or some one who is more experienced than I am with starters. My understanding and belief has been that once the starter becomes active and sour the Ph goes down which creates an environment that is good for the bacteria we like and bad for those we don't like. Over the last 12 Months, I have had probably 20 different starters going in one form or another in my fridge. Some got old and went untouched for a long time and developed "hooch" on the top. Some had a grey layer which looks nasty on top under the hooch. Only maybe 2 developed any fuzz and I associate that with the plastic wrap coming loose so the fridge environment could mingle with my yeasty beasty's. For me that was a rare case. The starter stuff seems to protect it self. (not scientific I know).

I would say for as easy as it is to get a healthy starter going, why take the chance. Microbiology is way more complicated than most people realize and there are some very nasty things that you can grow unknowingly. You didn't mention how your starter smelled but that would weigh heavily on my decision. If it smells good, maybe keep it. If it smells like vomit you could still probably bring it back with time but why bother. IMHO. Good luck.

Eric

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Yes, it is okay to just remove the moldy part and then use the starter. I would also put it into a clean jar. Many times mold will grow on the starter that clings to the top of the jar, above the surface of the starter. I always scrape this area down before storing my starter in the fridge. In all the years that I have been using sourdough I have yet to have one mold on me. Do be careful that your hands are freshly washed before handling utensils that stir the sourdough, and especially if you use your finger to scrape the clinging sourdough off the stirring spoon. I once left a starter in the fridge unfed for an entire year and it never grew mold. It revived in 48 hours and has been lively ever since.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Well then that settles it. I defer to the expert. I wouldn't want to suggest to keep a starter that could potentially harm you so I have always chucked the old ones. There is so much in the fridge that my wife doesn't like that any excuse to clean out my experiments is welcomed. Thanks SDL!!

Eric

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

One of my starters once lost its plastic top when stored near to a Stilton cheese -when I came to use it, I was appalled to find mould growing on the bits of starter clinging to the top sides of the bowl. But, I thought, if I can eat the mould in the Stilton - it should be OK? Should be the same mould? However, not wanting to take any risks, I removed the top layer from the starter and got a couple of teaspoons of starter from the bottom of the container, refreshed that in a new container and made bread as usual. No discernible difference at all, the bread was fine, more important, I was fine - and the starter is still going strong. 

As posted above, if  it smells really bad, I'd remove the top layer and try to get hold of a "clean" bit of starter and refresh that a couple of times - if it smells as usual after that - go for it! I was reassured to see that Ed Wood (Classic Sourdough) reckons they can usually be saved by what he calls "washing". What I call refreshing several times is, I think, much the same...

 

Andrew 

audra36274's picture
audra36274

  this morning when I checked it in the clean bowl from yesturday, there were some bubbles, a nice pleasant smell, and no visable mold in the new bowl.  It is the rye paste starter with just the whole rye flour and water, so it is more or less just sitting there, but in the morning when I go to feed it there are several pea sized bubbles. It annoys me that people have been making bread for thousands of years and I have a ton of books,and  the INTERNET, and still struggle with such a simple thing as making bread! Flour, water, yeast, salt, and sometimes sugar; it can't get much simpler, and yet.....Oh well. Thanks for all ya'lls help. You are  the best.

                                                                                      Audra

walgenbe's picture
walgenbe

I recently made my first starter with the recipe where you pound grapes in cheese cloth and put in flour/water.  The cloth and the grapes and the side of the bowl had mold on them but the actual flour part seemed fine, it had that hooch on top and no mold, so I just took that part, fed it and waited a day.  The next day I baked with it, and the bread turned out pretty well, tastes fine and didn't kill anyone.

 

There are worse things to eat than mold I figure, so I'd just scrape it off and get a clean container.  PS now my starter that was moldy smells sour and great.