The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question on Baking and fermenting

Akalia's picture

Question on Baking and fermenting


I have had a healthy starter for a few months now, have not baked bread but one other time but have made endless amounts of pancakes. This week I found a recipe I liked and attempted. During the overnight ferment, I woke to find my dough risen beautifully and smelling great but I found a very small hot pink streak (almost looked like food dye) on my dough. I removed it and didn't think anything more. I had assumed it was my Himalayan pink salt (maybe too cheap quality). The bread turned out wonderfully and we enjoyed it.  Last night I attempted the recipe again and I awoke to another beautifully risen dough, smelled light but like sourdough. However as I did my first folds I found two pink streak/dot again. I removed them and folded and have left my bread for its second rise. However, I have small children and I cannot find anywhere what these  hot pink marks can be. I felt fine assuming it was just the salt BUT that hasn't happened to me with other baking that I can recall. 

Anyone have any ideas on what it could be? I don't think I have ever seen any pink on my actual starter, only discoloration has been some darkening due to staying in the refrigerator too long. 

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

That is very strange, and I can understand why it would be cause for alarm.  If nobody else has a better suggestion, it might be worth your while to place a small quantity of this pink stuff, along with some sort of food source, into a clean sealed container.  If it grows, you’ve got a problem (likely mold).  If the pink coloration is from your Himalayan Pink Salt, then it won’t grow or spread under these conditions.

Akalia's picture

Thank you! I'll try it either way! Here's to hoping my theory is right and it's not a mold issue! 

idaveindy's picture

Here's an easy thing to check.  Go to a search engine and search for:

BRAND NAME flour recall

where BRAND NAME is the brand of your flour. 

In the US and Canada, If there is, or was, a recall, they usually  specify UPC codes, batch numbers and best-by dates that are printed on the package.

I don't know how it is handled in other countries.

What country/city are you in?

Here on TFL you can use the  search box to look for:

red mold

Akalia's picture

unfortunately, this is a new batch of Target brand flour and I just did a search and there seems to be no recall on this flour brand since last year. So, if it is something, it may not be recalled as of yet. 

Thanks, ill check again for any other forums responses. 

phaz's picture

Generally speaking, red/orange is something to avoid. But I would try this - next time you see a spot, scoop it out with some of the dough/starter and put I a small jar. Keep it where the dough is kept and see if it grows. It should be noticeable overnight. If it is spreading, beware, if not it's probably nothing. Maybe give it a few days to be sure. Hope it helps!

rmbpearson's picture

I found this from a post a year ago, which sounds very similar to yours.

Akalia's picture

interestingly I looked up the mold referenced in this post, and seems like in Asia they have/had been using it as a food colorant and in other countries as well. I will now definitely test my theory of my possible "cheap" Himalayan pink salt. 

The starter does have a lot fo pink/red spots... I will keep watch. 

DanAyo's picture

King Arthur has something to say about this.

” However, if you see a pink or orange tint or streak, this is a sure sign that your sourdough starter has gone bad and should be discarded. The stiff starter above was left out at room temperature for two weeks. It's definitely time to throw it out and start over.

Sourdough starter troubleshooting: points to remember

1. Well-maintained mature sourdough starters are extremely hardy and resistant to invaders. It's pretty darn hard to kill them.
2. Throw out your starter and start over if it shows visible signs of mold, or an orange or pink tint/streak.

Akalia's picture

Hi everyone! 

Thanks so much for your responses. I had seen the posts about spots in your starter, but my starter has no spots... I use the same flour to feed my starter and still see no spots. The only times I have seen this pink marking is when I have allowed my initial dough for a sourdough loaf  to ferment overnight (so at the end of a first rise).  I checked my starter again today and no visible pink or signs of any discoloration. (even changed to a new container to verify all around)  I also keep discard in a separate jar for pancakes and it usually stays a week in my fridge and this also has had no discoloration. 

I did leave the pink in a clean closed jar with some extra water and flour (not enough to drown just feed) and it smelled like dough but no growth.  Overnight it dried out but the pink did not spread. 

I will keep watching it and maybe attempt another two loaves one without the pink salt and one with. 


If interested I will keep you all posted on what I find. 

phaz's picture

Always interested, that's why we're here. But no growth is a good sign, and switching salt would be the acid test. Good luck!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Check your spoons and tools used to stir bread for berry stains that might have transferred.  Also check under refrigerator shelves for any spills or drips.