The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

blue rye starter

metropical's picture
metropical

blue rye starter

guess I hadn't paid attention and not used enough.

It is quite blue around the bottle now.

For future ref, should I juts freeze for longer non-use periods over a week or ....?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Blue? Please explain further.

For longer periods between bakes, try making a 40% hydration or less starter using a very ripe starter and add enough flour (pinching it in) until you have crumbs that just hold together.  or try a 1:1:3 (s:w:f) feeding adding flour slowly afterward to get it to the sticking together barely stage.  It should be able to compress into one or two golf ball size balls.  Then roll into rye flour to dust the outside and refrigerate each ball in their own little jar. After 24 hours tighten the lid on the jar.  

Should keep for months if not years in the fridge.  After the starter hydration has been reduced for a few days, one can freeze or dry the starter with a higher success rate than simply freezing a wet starter..  

metropical's picture
metropical

Dunno if the blue comes thru.  But what's climbing the walls of the glass is a seafoam green/blue.

Perhaps it got contaminated, though I duuno how as I used my regular AP/WW starter for the same bread the same day....

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

mold?

When in doubt, throw it out.  

If lower layers of starter look good, Try to get a clean sample well under the surface but removing the top layer carefully and use a clean spoon to remove starter below, nearer to the bottom away from the wired stuff.

 Then feed the spoonful of starter an equal amount of flour (and water.)  Start feedings gradually and let it peak out and fall between feedings. Still, there is no guarantee that the starter will be the same. 

metropical's picture
metropical

I'll try mining a clean bit.  Thanks Mini

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

good luck!  :)

Cinnabon's picture
Cinnabon

Hi Metropical!

I had a similar thing years back that happened to my starter, it turned out it was some form of a contaminate in it! I think it was bacon grease that got on the rim of the mason jar, since when I cleaned the jar off I had some oily residue on my finger and of course tried to analyze it! My daughter fried up some bacon for a clubhouse sandwich  at that time and the mason jar was beside the stove.  I didn't figure it out until I looked into it further , the greasy film must have been on the rim of the jar and went into the starter when it was fed. 

I ended up with a cobalt blue tinged starter almost a aqua color! It smelled like a strong acetone vinegar mixed with rancid bacon fat!  It didn't matter how many times I tried to take samples from the starter to salvage some, it was spent! So I threw it all out! I was told that it could have even been soap residue that got into the jar.

I am so careful with feeding my starter!  I scale out the amount of water and flour I need and fish out of the mason jar with a small rubber spatula the starter needed, mix it all up in a glass measuring cup and carefully put it in a clean sterile mason jar!  I am paranoid that I will find that colorful blue pigment on my starter again lol

It sure makes you treasure your starter like gold! when not in use it is tucked away in the fridge until I need it again!

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I'm sorry to say it looks like mold. Usually spores penetrate deeply so I'm not so sure you will be able to mine a clean sample. I had a short run of this problem and it took a long time before I was able to get a clean starter again.

Like any living thing, mold needs food and moisture and that is what every jar of starter has in abundance. That is the biggest challenge in trying to get rid of a persistent mold problem.

Here are some of the things I did to finally win the battle.

1. WASH YOUR HANDS! Every time you handle the culture. THose mold spores really are ubiquitous and you are a source of contamination.

2. I semi-sterilized my jars by washing in hot,soapy water,rinsed well and then filled with water and microwaved to boiling for a few minutes. Not canning sterile but good enough.

3. I used a new jar daily.

4. After you are done stirring in your flour and water, scrape down the sides of the jar so the surface level of the starter is flat all around (you'll understand why with the next step).

5. Take a clean,damp paper towel (damp with water or vinegar)and carefully wipe the inside of the jar above the level of the starter so every piece of mold food (streaks of flour &  water) is gone.

6. Take a dry paper towel and wipe off the moisture of the damp paper towel.

7. Put the lid on and carry on as usual.

Cleaning the jar sides and keeping it dry are essential to prevent mold growth. Actually all these steps are essential, especially if you are putting it into long-term storage (or neglect) in the refrigerator. I am currently 45 days into my neglect cycle (:)) and this post actually is a good reminder to me to tend to my starters.

If you are attempting to mine any of the previously contaminated starter, you may need to take a very small amount from the very bottom of the jar and feed frequently in order to encourage the yeasties and lactos to grow and exclude the molds and it may or may not be successful.

As always, have fun!

metropical's picture
metropical

I'm usually quite careful with starters.  Dunno what happened this time.  I've had it for at least a year.  But this is definitely mold.  I'll try the mining and see if it can be rescued.

I pretty much do all that is written above when working, but I guess something got it.  Definitely mold.

Just so odd because the last time I used it, as I said, I used the AP/WW starter as well, and its fine.

Usually starters get used every couple weeks, but the last couple months I've been trying oat-based and GF methods.
Neglect prolly helped mold along.  Darn the Luck ! ! !

metropical's picture
metropical

in thinking about this, my AP/WW starter was started with pineapple juice as presented here by Debra Wink.

The rye was not.  Perhaps the juice is enough to protect, coz, as I said, both used the last time with the same attention to cleanliness and tools.

Cinnabon's picture
Cinnabon

Hey Metropical!

I have tried the pineapple and grape starters before and unfortunately never had great luck with them!  I made a mother dough with pineapple juice and because it takes a full week in the fridge to build up the gluten I found traces of mold on the gluten strands!   Since pineapple juice lowers the pH and is supposed to give a boost to the growing migrating visitors I never paid attention to it but I did have to throw out the mother dough and begin again with the pineapple juice omitted and strictly water used which worked fine for me.

I am not saying that the pineapple juice was the issue there could have been other factors that made the mother dough moldy, I simply lost confidence in it and went back to flour starter water.

I did ask a friend that is a baker today regarding blue tinged mold and she said they have had it form on large batches of starter by there being a small amount of soap residue in the containers they kept the starter in! I now think my experience years back was a gross combination of soap residue and bacon grease residue.

She suggests if your concerned in this ever happening again to wash your starter container with baking soda and hot water and forget the dish soap!  I am adopting what she said to ensure my starter never has a chance of this happening! 

Have a great evening!

Cheers!

Cindy

   

metropical's picture
metropical

I'll assume you meant baking soda without the help of auto correct. ;-)
Soap res could definitely been it.  I'll try the soda clean.
The pineapple AP/WW starter that I have has done very well.

Though I didn't follow Debras research, exactly.  I fed with pineapple juice for the 1st 5 days.

It does well and survives weeks of neglect .... so far,

Cinnabon's picture
Cinnabon

I am correcting that! wow! ewww bacon! 

Yes baking soda! lol

Thanks for bringing this to my attention!