The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is my hybernated starter back-up coming to life?

Else's picture
Else

Is my hybernated starter back-up coming to life?

Hi, this is my first post.

I am doing an experiment. I have a 9 month old active, well-established starter that is in regular use. When 6 weeks old I took a small portion and refrigerated as a backup. 7 months later as I forgot about it, I decided to experiment to see if it is still alive.

I fed at 1: 1: 1: twice a day, all purpose and once with whole wheat. End of day 1 I saw a couple bubbles but otherwise very still, thinking the bubbles are from stirring.

Next morning, 24 hours later, there was nothing, no activity at all. End that day, so 36 hours later, I saw maybe a 25% rise.

Next morning, 48 hours later, it had nearly doubled and small bubbles throughout.

Would you say that this activity means the starter survived or does it mean brand new fermentation and starting over with a new flour and water I put in? I'm just not sure if I just started a brand new starter or if it is the original coming to life. It will go in the trash regardless, like I said it's just an experiment. 

Abe's picture
Abe

If it takes as long to revive a starter as it does to make one from scratch then it's a new starter. Yours looks good and has come back to life in a relatively quick time. Can we be 100% sure it's not a new starter? No. Can we be confident that because of the quick amount of time and with very few feeds it came back to life and is therefore your old starter revived? Yes. 

What I would have done is only feed it bread flour as this way there's less chance of introducing new yeast and bacteria and more chance of reviving the old starter. 

What I don't believe is the story of finding yeasts in an ancient clay jar from Egypt and spending weeks to 'revive' it results in bringing back to life a millennia old starter. 

Else's picture
Else

Thank you very much for your insight, I appreciate it! 

phaz's picture
phaz

The real answer to the question is - both. And that raises another question - does it really matter? It'll be a starter one way or the other. That's all that counts. Enjoy!

Else's picture
Else

Thank you! It is definitely not important in this case, just fun and interesting. 😊 The world of sourdough is fascinating for sure, and I find it amazing that a starter can survive so well. Some people lose starters they have worked hard to establish, so it's nice to know that a back-up can hibernate and survive at least for a while. 7 months is not exactly ideal though! 😄 

phaz's picture
phaz

The way to create a bu of a starter is to dry some and store the dried flakes in the freezer. That'll preserve the original bugs and their ratios - for years. I haven't done it myself but that's the way too go. When I get tired of sd I just forget about the starter, then when I feel like sd again I make another. Doesn't take long and its easy enough to do. Enjoy!

Else's picture
Else

Thanks so much!!