The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My starter has had to be thrown out!

PaddyL's picture

My starter has had to be thrown out!

Two days in a row, when we were out of spring water, I refreshed my starter with tap water that had been left standing overnight.  Yesterday, we were told to boil our water for twenty minutes before drinking it, so I wouldn't dare use my starter now.  E-coli was mentioned as a possibility in the water and I have no desire to poison anyone with my bread.  Onwards and upwards, I will start all over again once the boil water advisory has been lifted and we no longer have to use bottled water for everything.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In China and other places, I'd take the biggest cook pot I had and boil water and let it cool overnight and then pour into clean plastic water bottles in the morning. I understand what you're going through but no reason to delay starting a new starter. It might actually take your mind off the water problem. While killing one beastie, you're developing another...  It's a bummer to think of your tap water as poison.

Mini O

hokietoner's picture

Isn't a healthy sourdough starter supposed to naturally ward off any other beasties that might try to make their way into the mix? And wouldn't anything bad get killed in the oven? The center of bread gets to over 200 degrees; I'm pretty sure e-coli or anything else can't survive that.

nbicomputers's picture

the germs die...the poision is left behind

everthing eats and ...well... has leavings dogs cats humans and germs
you can kill the anamal but the stuff the leave behind is the bad stuff

if you leave a hunk of beef on your counter it will start to smell.  its the gern crap your smelling not the germs.  if you cook the meat you will kill the germs but the germ crap---the stuff the leave behind is still there and that is what will do bad things.

if the warning is to boil the water for 20 minutes their must be something in there.  after treatment it could be used for most things but i still would not drink great amounts of it.

and boiling water is 212 and for 20 minutes a sustained time to kill everything while the bread bairly reaches 200 and the temp is not sustained for 20 minutes.  it slowly climes and when the bread is removed it drops quickly. 

it is very posible that the germ could live and with a rich food supply that is flour and sugar could floursh.

Marni's picture


Just curious, where, generally do you live?  Can you get chemicals for purifying your water? They would be bad for yeast, but safe for drinking. Sorry you'll have to start over, but I agree, cultivating poisonous starter is just not a great idea.

I hope you can start again soon,


PaddyL's picture

We live in Montreal West, a small town on the Island of Montreal, but just on the edge of the City of Montreal.  We're not out in the boonies by a long shot!  It seems it's just in one little area of Montreal West where they're having this problem with the water, about 5 or 6 streets in all.  We were told last year that all the houses built before the fifties, had lead-lined water pipes leading into the houses so it appears we've been consuming lead for the past 56 years, or the length of time we've lived in the area, but there's absolutely nothing they can do about it.  Needless to say, we've been buying bottled water now for quite some time, but that costs money that we don't always have.  However, I'm going to try a buttermilk starter, the recipe for which I got from the King Arthur website, and if I like the bread made from it, I will then start a "buttermilk plant" from an old Maura Laverty cookbook.  I'll post that recipe, if anyone would like to try it; it would mean never having to buy buttermilk again.