The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Amazing, resiliant starter

JMonkey's picture

Amazing, resiliant starter

I wish now that I'd taken a picture, but I didn't think of it. I was too consumed with the thought that I'd lost Rhonda Rye, my rye starter. I'd been about a month since I'd used or refreshed her and, while she'd gotten pretty hoochy in the past, I'd never had any trouble with an invasion.

Wow. I opened her up yesterday to see a very, very healthy colony of bulbous looking gray mold all over the surface. For a moment, I thought my only recourse would be to throw her out and convert some of my whole wheat starter over to rye. But when I dug around a bit with a knife, there was a tiny patch underneath that seemed untouched.

Carefully, I took about a gram of that little patch, and refreshed it. At first, the stuff smelled like vomit, but overnight, it rose and started smelling like it ought to again. I won't fully believe I'm out of the woods until I make some rye this weekend, but it looks like I've succeeded.

Starter is amazing stuff.


redivyfarm's picture

I appreciate knowing that starter can be resurected from pretty advanced states of decline. I named my white starter Lazarus for just that reason. I've found that these starters can recover from some serious neglect. I converted my rye starter to whole wheat and am finding it slowly losing "oomph"! I suspect that my whole wheat flour isn't all that fresh and doesn't have as much natural yeast as that occurring on the rye flour. I'll switch it back to rye and see if it perks up.

umbreadman's picture

Yeaster & the Gang - 1

Putrid Moldy Man - 0 

I agree, it's impressive to see the strength of living organisms to repopulate after damage. I suppose that's partially why this yeast organism is so useful. It's alive and kicking despite the evil forces of the moldy beast. 


zolablue's picture

JMonkey - Doesn't a rye starter have to be fed more regularly to be maintained as very healthy? I am trying to find where I read, which I thought was in Hamelman's book, that a rye starter is one you can't neglect or it will very quickly go bad? It is one reason I have always stayed away from keeping one being under the impression, possibly incorrectly, that they are very tempermental. Maybe I'm just lazy about this but my white flour starter is so easy and I don't want the headache of having one that needs more attention.


So a couple questions. Do I have this wrong? (I can't seem to find what I think I read a few months back.) Also, what is the advantage to keeping a separate rye starter rather than just converting a white starter to rye in an overnight levain as Maggie Glezer states you can do in a recipe from ABAA?


If you tell me it is easy and a very good thing I might try it. :o)