The Fresh Loaf

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Starter goes Grey on top

Alanaj81's picture

Starter goes Grey on top

Hello all, 

I have recently started working on my starters again after having about a year break. 

I have noticed I am still having the same issue as previously & wanted to ask for advice/opinions. 

I have 2 starters. 1 is all organic, unbleached white plain flour. The other is 100% rye. I feed them every weekend (3 times over the weekend at a 1:1:1 ratio, so 50g flour, 50g water & 50g starter) & then store them in the fridge until the next weekend. I do this whether I bake with them or not. 

But the issue that concerns me is that by the weekend, the top of each starter has turned grey. Not mouldy, just grey. They both smell very vinegary by then. 

Is this normal starter behaviour if stored on the fridge? O

Is it safe?

I'm not concerned by the smell, I think that just indicates they are hungry. It's the colour that worries me. 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Is this normal starter behaviour if stored on the fridge?

It isn't abnormal with longer storage, but generally you don't see much, if any, grey after only a week.

Is it safe?

yes, but it may be telling you it needs more rigorous refreshing on the weekends.

My best,

idaveindy's picture

Something I learned from user Phaz.  Stirring helps yeast and LAB efficiently use more of the food in the flour.

Yeast and LAB don't go traveling around very far for food, especially in the cold. You have to bring the food to them by stirring.

So maybe your beasties are starving because they can't go get the food that's just out of reach.  If that's the case, stirring once or twice between feeds may get them some food without having to actually add more flour.  It's worth a try.

my starters are kept in the fridge, except for the first 3 hours after feeding. They are on a 6 day feed cycle. (Back when I didn't stir, they had to be fed every 4 days.)

  • day 1: Discard & Feed 1:1:1, let stand in oven with light on 3 hours, put back in fridge.
  • day 3: Stir and immediately put back in fridge.
  • day 5: Stir.
  • day 7: discard and feed.
  • day 9: stir.
  • day 11: stir.
  • day 13: discard and feed.
  • etc.

I might adjust feed ratios up or down, and/or feed days depending on baking schedule, so that I can directly use starter instead of "building a levain with starter" for my dough.

If the starter is not "due" for a feeding, I could feed it "2:1:1" (aka 1:.5:.5) just to increase volume a bit for the bake.  The low ratio probably won't hurt since the starter did not "need" feeding at the time.  At least that's my thinking.

If I'm not baking, it takes only about 18 grams of flour, per 6 day cycle, to keep a starter alive.  So 3 grams per day, averaged out.