The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter in TROUBLE!!!

zacho's picture

Starter in TROUBLE!!!

Hi Everyone, I'm in need of your talent, experience and knowledge. I recently transferred my 5 year old starter to a new glass container from a plastic one. I fed it and put it in the fridge. I took it out a week later planning to feed it again prior to using it and when I opened the jar, I was greeted by a pretty bad, rotten-egg smell. It's never smelled like this. I threw out most of it and fed it again, next time I opened it, same thing. I allowed it to rise at room temperature so I could monitor it's progress and noticed an uneven rise. Basically two strata, one rose a lot the other didn't.  I'm worried I've got some undesirables making themselves comfortable in my starter. Any thoughts on how to clean up my starter? I'm thinking maybe a bit of pineapple juice? 

Thanks in advance for your thoughts. 

Abe's picture

When transferring to a new jar. If you have then simply feeding it isn't going to help as the jar needs a thorough cleaning. That and the pineapple juice idea should help. 

Why not start a new starter as well? Just in case! 

Zach's picture

I agree! I mostly want to save it because I've had it so long :) It's just fun telling people who know nothing about sourdough that I bake bread with a yeast and bacterial culture been keeping alive for 5 years haha, always gets a good reaction. Thank you for your input. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"...fed it and put it in the fridge."

This line stands out.  Did the starter go too quickly into the fridge?  Did it have time to show signs of life before chilling, esp in a cold winter?  Other thoughts on location... possible boost in the water treatment chemicals.  Boil and cool letting stand 24 hrs the water used to feed may help.

Agree with Abe's comments.   

Zach's picture

Excellent thoughts, I should have been more clear. I do typically let it sit out on the counter for at least an hour before I throw it in the fridge. To be honest I don't remember if I let it sit out this time. It's definitely possible I just put it right in the fridge.  

Thank you for your comment! 

dhaban's picture

Generally when placing my starter in the fridge before vacation I will feed it like you have done, however, I also allow the culture to revitalise and grow an hour or so before placing into the fridge. I am imagining that the increased yeast vitality helps to create order in the starter's environment. Otherwise, if the yeast does not have a strong foothold, is cold and therefore less active, it makes sense that other microbes would have a chance to take hold instead. I'm hoping yourey able to get your starter corrected. Good luck!

Zach's picture

This is great information. Makes perfect sense to me. I'll be more careful in the future!  Thank you!