The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help, moldy starter on day 9

KamillePlon's picture
KamillePlon

Help, moldy starter on day 9

My starter is on day 9 now, and the 2 last mornings it's had a thin layer of white mold on top. Yesterday I fed it twice after the first night with mold, and all was good, it smelled fine and little bobbles came all over. This morning the mold is back, it's thin but with lots of bobbles on the surface. It still smells fine slightly vinegar and alcoholic. I did not remove the mold but cleaned the glass bowl I am keeping it in. I read yesterday that as long as the smell is good and the starter awakens after feeding, it's usable?? Only if vild yeast gets it, should it not be used, then it will smell horrible. Would you guys agree with that? Is the mold on sourdough not a health hazard like mold on bread? Would you still use it since its alive?? I should mention that the starter is made with rye flour and I have been following a recipe, using the bakers 100% technic. I live in Rio de Janeiro so it's hot here now, I will guess the temp in the kitchen is around 26 celsius. The starter woke fast on the 1st day and slowed down a bit on the 4th and 5th day and got thin, I added a bit more flour to thicken it and it went on just fine. I had planned to bake for the first time today. I am gonna feed it now and hope you have time for a quick answer today. Merry Christmas Kamille   

Portus's picture
Portus

... and several useful links will reveal a few useful suggestions.  This one in particular may offer guidance:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/43737/mouldy-starter-should-i-just-give

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

your picture isn't focused well enough to see the detail, but it reminds me of this:

Lechem's picture
Lechem

what is it? I've seen a few people post pictures like these.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Nitrogen deficiency can make it grow this way

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/246156#comment-246156

Lechem's picture
Lechem

So this is yeast in a sort of alternate "algae" form. If I've understood this correctly. Answer would be a change in maintenance to tip the starter in favour of lower PH - i.e. make it more acidic. Perhaps a feed with your famous method using pineapple juice just to restore the balance and then back to water using less drastic feedings.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Yeast and algae are separate organisms. 

Yeast grow in this pseudo mold form when they have enough sugar, but not enough nitrogen. Nitrogen is found in proteins and amino acids, but yeast don't have access to it until it is liberated by flour enzymes or sourdough bacteria. pH is not the issue for them. The primary issue is, why are they not getting enough nitrogen?

In JimmyChoCho's case it was because his water had algae in it, and algae is a nitrogen hog. It was stealing nitrogen from the yeast. Algae grows at high pH, so increasing acidity is a way to keep it from growing (along with keeping it away from light). But we don't know if algae is the problem here. Perhaps it's the flour.

We'll need more information from Kamille

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

"In JimmyChoCho's case it was because his water had algae in it, and algae is a nitrogen hog. It was stealing nitrogen from the yeast".

Makes sense. Lowering the PH will help but why did it happen in the first place? I was wondering that too. I've also noticed it happens more in young starters but rarely in well established ones "from what I've seen" that is.

KamillePlon's picture
KamillePlon

Hi guys, thanks for your answers.

I wouldn't know if there are alges in the water, I tap it from my filter. I know there is a lot of chlorine in the water so I tap the water and leave it out during the night. It would not surprise me if the rye flour i am was using was old, it is very hard to come bye rye flour in rio de Janeiro, I only know of one shop that sells it, and its in loose weight. But I still felt that the starter did better the days I used the rye flour compared to the days I didn't have any, and used a mix of white and wholegrain wheat.

My own conclusion was that the dough got too sour in the heat with only one feeding a day, I continued feeding it twice a day after. 

I have baked with it twice now. But I am making a new starter just to be sure...