The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I revived a moldy starter - is it safe though?

hominamad's picture
hominamad

I revived a moldy starter - is it safe though?

I've had this starter going for 4-5 years or so, made lots of good loaves with it. For some reason, I just neglected it for a few weeks in the fridge, and finally went to go feed it today. It smelled really funky, and there was some mold growing near the top of the jar. I've been working with it long enough to know this smell wasn't good, but I decided to try to revive it anyways.

So I removed the top layer and took a few spoonfuls of starter to a new container, and fed it as usual. Then fed it two more times over the next 24 hours. It seems to be bubbling away again, although I do smell a little bit of that bad smell still, but very little.

I'm wondering, if the starter looks active and healthy again, does that mean it's safe to use? Or is it possible that I'm growing some other sort of bacteria in there that's taken over?

I can easily get another starter, but I'm interested in this from a science-project perspective.

Thanks!

H

phaz's picture
phaz

It'll be good, and the smell will dilute away in a few days. I just did this exact thing last week (not the first time golf took priority over starter) and no problems. Keep going! 

PS - I forgot to ask - what color was the mold? The usual green/grey mold is no problem - reddish may be a problem and should be tossed.

hominamad's picture
hominamad

Thanks - I only noticed some blueish mold on the top of the container. I didn't really study the starter itself too carefully though. It had a thick hardened layer on top which I tossed. Then I just took a few spoonfuls of the liquid layer and revived it in a new container.

If there was orange in there, would it be bad to use? Maybe I'll get some hallucinogenic bread out of it?

phaz's picture
phaz

Orange, if using ww for feeding, wouldn't be bad. If not - I'd be a little leary, but I think you're ok. Everything will get back to normal pretty quick. I'll add - having just mentioned this to another poster about the same issue - if you're really concerned, just get another starter going. It's easy enough and doesn't take too long. Happy bread - if I was young again - maybe! Enjoy!

hominamad's picture
hominamad

I had actually sent away for the Oregon Trail starter a while ago and received it, but never activated it. Maybe this is a good time to try that. I've just had such good success with the one I've been using all these years that I was hesitant to switch.

phaz's picture
phaz

Get the other one started as a just in case backup. You can always dry and freeze some later (which isn't a bad idea as a backup) and nothing lost. Who knows, maybe the other starter isn't viable, give it a test to be sure. I'm a computer guy and we know a backup is only good if you can restore it - they should be tested to be sure. Enjoy again!

hominamad's picture
hominamad

Same here! Well, the starter is really looking good - it's bubbling away and very active. It still has a slightly off smell to it though. Is it possible that there could be something bad growing in it? Or if it looks and acts normal, it must be ok?

phaz's picture
phaz

Smell will go away, there's always a possibility something bad is happening, fortunately the odds are low enough to not have to worry about it. Looking good!