The Fresh Loaf

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Grayish "crust" on top of starter

dough.dragon's picture

Grayish "crust" on top of starter

Hey everyone,


I'm pretty new to sourdough but have maintained a successful starter for about a month now, and gotten some great breads out of it too. I've been feeding it 2x/day (roughly once every 12 hrs) with the ratio given in the handbook of 1/4 c starter, 1/4 c flour, & 2 Tbs water.

I got sick 2 weeks ago and fed it only 1x/day for several days. It still rises and falls normally, but about half of the starter turned a grayish-black. I've been trying to scrape some off and mix in the rest, but it will still separate once it rises.

I bumped the feedings back up to 2x/day, and the gray color turned much lighter, but it doesn't show any signs of going away. It's started to smell notably different as well--not bad, but sweeter.

Is the gray part alright to use for baking? Is there anything else I can do to get rid of it?

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

If you keep up with your feedings, your starter will eventually regulate itself back to normal.  A few quick questions:

  • How long does it take to peak?
  • How much rise are you getting when it peaks?
  • Are you feeding it on a set 12 hour schedule, or are you feeding it once it peaks?
  • Do you have a kitchen scale that can measure in grams?
  • What type of flour(s) do you feed it?


phaz's picture

Take a very small amount of the "grey" starter, like a tsp or less, add a lot of food and let it grow. Something like 1starter,10 flour and 8 water. Stir it often and it'll be back to normal before too long. Can you bake with the grey, yeah, if it's active it should be ok. Enjoy!

Grant Y's picture
Grant Y

I agree with the previous comment. Take only about a tablespoon of starter and feed it maybe 50g of water and 50g of flour (or something similar). It should get back to normal and self-regulate.