The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Aargh! I overheated my starter

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Aargh! I overheated my starter

All summer long, when I fed my starter I set it up in the windowsill.  That was just fine until the sun got lower on the horizon.  A month or so ago, I fed it in the evening & forgot to keep it away from the window.  It was quite warm when I found it the next afternoon.  It's been through several feedings, some white and some whole wheat. While it rises fairly well it still smells like acetone.  I think it's time to toss this one and start another at a later date.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

KipperCat,

That acetone smell is not unusual for a starter that is just very ripe and needs to be fed. I bet it might bounce back, unless it reached temperatures above 90F for a long time and really was killed off completely. It might help to give it a high ratio feeding with a firm consistency. It's worth a try anyway. It should quit giving you any acetone smell if it's really just dead.

On the other hand, if you want to try my off-the-wall accidental starter method, I'll be very curious to know what happens if you give it a try.

Bill

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

It might help to give it a high ratio feeding with a firm consistency.

 

That's what I've been doing. Is it possible for the yeast to still be there but the lactobacillus to be gone? Or could it just take more than a few strong feedings to get rid of the acetone smell?
Bart's picture
Bart

ilovebreadblog

Sorry to hear Kippercat, mine is also on the windowsill, I will need to replace it when it gets warmer outside.  I do keep some dried starter in an air tight sealed plastic bag if ever something might go wrong.  It is always good to have a 'backup.' 

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Did yours get cooked as well? I have deep eaves that protect that window in the summer, just not in the winter.

The backup is a good point! I recently read how to dry a starter, and will do so once I get a healthy one going again.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

KipperCat,

A simple way to have a backup is to take some of your ripe, healthy starter (when you get it all back up and running) and feed it in such a way it is very firm, then immediately put it in a clean, covered jar in the refrigerator.

For example, you could take about 10 grams of starter and feed it with 20 grams of water and 40 grams of flour, drop it in a jar and into the refrigerator. It will probably rise a little in the refrigerator, so use a jar that allows about a 4x volume increase, just in case.

It will keep for a very long time that way. I've kept one for 6 months that bounced back in less than 24 hours. Maggie Glezer says she has kept starters in the refrigerator that way for 3 years.

As far as how to revive it, your right that it depends on what may have been killed.

If a higher ratio firm feeding doesn't work, you could split a small amount off and try doing a very wet feeding, like 10g of starter fed with 40 grams of water and 30 grams of flour, and sprinkle in a little whole rye or whole wheat flour if you have some along with the white flour.

Bill

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

That is how I do it. I keep two jars of starter in the refrigerator. One is from the most recent batch of refreshed starter, and the other is the one before that. Each time I do a refresh I get rid of the oldest batch, frequently by just adding to some bread dough.

The only hard part is keeping track of which is which.

Colin

Bart's picture
Bart

No, no, mine is fine, but your posting reminds me that temperature can be too hot wen sitting on the windowsill.Thanks! ilovebreadblog