Author Topic: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project  (Read 3041 times)

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Offline JimmyG

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Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« on: January 28, 2013, 02:13:07 PM »
Last summer I conducted a serious of experiments with sourdough (SD) starters under various conditions: as found on this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18283.0.html. Since that time, I left my original SD starter in the back of the fridge with no food or refreshment. Since arriving back home, I debated what to do with my starter. Ultimately, I decided yesterday to attempt to revive it before throwing it down the drain. The starter had a thick layer of black mold covering it (not shown), and was the consistency of Play-Dough underneath. After removing the layer of mold, I scooped out some of the original starter and added it to a container containing 200g ea. of AP flour and water. The slurry was thoroughly mixed and left to stand at room temperature (thermostat set to 70˚F). My feeding routine will be: 200g•day-1 of both AP flour and water, mixed with 20g of the starter. Thanks to Craig’s handy Sourdough chart, http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,22649.0.html, I will reefed approximately approximately every 21h (+/-2h) over the next ten days to see what happens.   

Any comments, questions or concerns are welcome.
Jim
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Offline JD

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 03:10:13 PM »
Me personally... I wouldn't take the risk after the black mold showed up, even if you scraped it out. I'm sure it will start fermenting again after some feedings, but again, is it really worth it?
Josh

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 03:37:00 PM »
Last summer I conducted a serious of experiments with sourdough (SD) starters under various conditions: as found on this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18283.0.html. Since that time, I left my original SD starter in the back of the fridge with no food or refreshment. Since arriving back home, I debated what to do with my starter. Ultimately, I decided yesterday to attempt to revive it before throwing it down the drain. The starter had a thick layer of black mold covering it (not shown), and was the consistency of Play-Dough underneath. After removing the layer of mold, I scooped out some of the original starter and added it to a container containing 200g ea. of AP flour and water. The slurry was thoroughly mixed and left to stand at room temperature (thermostat set to 70˚F). My feeding routine will be: 200g•day-1 of both AP flour and water, mixed with 20g of the starter. Thanks to Craig’s handy Sourdough chart, http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,22649.0.html, I will reefed approximately approximately every 21h (+/-2h) over the next ten days to see what happens.   

Any comments, questions or concerns are welcome.
Jim



Are you sure the "black mold" wasn't just oxidized hooch?

Descriptions of the smells that you encounter as this "thing" grows would be greatly appreciated!

Good Luck!

John

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 08:42:06 PM »
I am willing to bet my .02 that the starter comes back just fine with no ill effects.
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Offline JimmyG

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 09:11:54 AM »
Below are the pictures from last nights feeding. Surprisingly the old starter produced quite a bit of hootch in a short amount of time. I didn't see any rise in the starter, so I am guessing the bacteria is still active at this time, and not the yeast. The starter smelled very fruity, almost like a Belgium ale. I didn't taste it yet, but may in the next few days. 

JD and John,
I am actually not too sure if it was mold or if it was overly oxidized flour like John said. I did take steps to ensure that the black did not contaminate the new starter. But yes, I am still actively monitoring this new starter to make sure there are no off putting smells or colors coming from this new batch.

Jim
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 03:42:48 PM by JimmyG »
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Offline JimmyG

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2013, 11:04:07 AM »
Not too much has changed since the previous posting. The starter is still producing quite a bit of alcohol, however I think there maybe some minor leavening happening but will need to mark the side of the container to tell for sure.
Jim
Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2013, 11:16:00 AM »
Hve you considered washing the starter? Maybe the pH balance is unfavorable.

You could always taste it to check the pH!!! :-X

Offline JimmyG

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2013, 11:36:01 AM »
John,
Thank you for your recommendation to watch the pH. I may have to sneak some into the lab to take a reading to see where this sample is at. If I do remember correctly, this starter was always a little boozy and was a fast eater so I am not too concerned at this stage. But I will definitely take you on monitoring the pH.

I am not quite sure what you mean by "washing the starter" could you expand on that for me.
Thanks,
Jim
Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

Offline mitchjg

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2013, 11:39:13 AM »
I had a similar challenge / experience.  A neighbor gave me a jar of starter they had never used - it had been a gift from a friend of theirs.  It had been unattended in the back of the refrigerator for over a year.  

It was pretty gross.  There was a layer of something black / disgusting on top.  Once I went past that and scooped out from the bottom, it was a goop that smelled like vomit.  Really bad.

I began a process of feeding twice (or more) a day.  My feeding routine was to toss 1/2 and then feed back a 50/50 mix by weight of KAAP and bottled water.  Say, 200 grams starter, 100 KAAP, 100 water.  

I think I got very discouraged for many days, perhaps a week, because not much was happening.  It did slowly smell less bad, but still smelled bad,  and there was a tiny bit of expansion.  

Suddenly, after about a week, the starter doubled one day!  And it smelled decent.  I kept feeding the same way and after another week it was in tip-top shape.

So, my suggestion is

stay patient, flour and water are cheap.
Perhaps feed more frequently.
Perhaps use bottled water.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 01:15:09 PM by mitchjg »

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 11:58:26 AM »
John,
Thank you for your recommendation to watch the pH. I may have to sneak some into the lab to take a reading to see where this sample is at. If I do remember correctly, this starter was always a little boozy and was a fast eater so I am not too concerned at this stage. But I will definitely take you on monitoring the pH.

I am not quite sure what you mean by "washing the starter" could you expand on that for me.
Thanks,
Jim


This is a technique described elsewhere on the site, and on the www.sourdo.com website. Sounds complex but it isn't. The idea is that you want to get a more favorable environment fot the yeast to grow in. The assumption is that acid-producing bacteria have "overtaken" the starter causing drop in pH and not allowing the desired yeast to grow. In my case the result was a smell like strong cheese.

So what you do is mix the entire amount of your starter with about 1 Quart of water. Then throw away 90% of this mixture. The remaining 10% of the mixture will serve as the "new foundation" for your starter, presumably with a higher pH, which should be a better environment for your yeast to flourish. It has worked for me twice, so I can guarantee you it ain't that complicated ;)

Good luck. Hope this helps.

John


Offline JimmyG

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2013, 02:10:12 PM »
Mitchjg & Jet_deck,
Thanks for the vote of confidence folks. I'll ride it out as long as I can.

John,
Thanks for the explanation. I think that approach sounds pretty reasonable at this stage of the game, I will attempt it tonight.
Thanks,
Jim
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Offline JD

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2013, 02:19:51 PM »
Good luck, let us know how it turns out. Me personally I'd be too afraid to use it.

If you re-establish the culture and it seems okay, you should dry some out for long term storage in case this happens again. Least' thats what I do.

JD
Josh

Offline dvanraes

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2013, 12:51:26 AM »
Thanks for this post. This whole starter concept has me intrigued as my interest in Pizza making is well related to my absolute love of bread. This post made me start reading about sour dough and starters and I'm going to give it a shot. I ordered a starter from the website mentioned and am really looking forward to receiving it and starting that education. Hope your well aged starter holds together, sounds like it is doing well.

-DVR

Offline norma427

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2013, 08:18:47 AM »
Jim,

I find your thread interesting.  I had a starter that I didn’t feed in the fridge for about 6 months and after feeding for awhile mine was fine.  Will be interested to see what happens with yours since yours has been in the fridge so long.  I have one starter in my fridge right now that I haven’t fed for awhile, but can’t recall how long I had it in the fridge without feeding it.

Norma
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Offline JimmyG

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2013, 09:45:33 AM »
Norma, DVR, & JD:
Thanks for the encouraging words. I am hoping everything is a success in the end :)

Last night I conducted my third feeding. I found much more activity in the container this time. The starter had effectively doubled and there was much more bubbling than previous feedings.  Via John's suggestion, I washed the starter using the methods outlined above before feeding. 
Jim
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Offline bfguilford

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2013, 09:55:02 AM »
Jim:  I just saw this thread. I've got to believe that washing it was probably the best thing you could have done. It looks really active now, and I'm guessing you can start to decrease the hydration level to get to where you want it to be. Good save.

Barry
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Offline JD

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2013, 10:01:42 AM »
Yep looks great, how's the smell? Keep feeding to get them nice and strong before you put back to sleep, make sure your "off" smells are gone before you stop washing. Fingers crossed that it wasn't mold but oxidized hooch as John said.


Jim:  I just saw this thread. I've got to believe that washing it was probably the best thing you could have done. It looks really active now, and I'm guessing you can start to decrease the hydration level to get to where you want it to be. Good save.

Barry
Josh

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2013, 01:29:13 PM »
Norma, DVR, & JD:
Thanks for the encouraging words. I am hoping everything is a success in the end :)

Last night I conducted my third feeding. I found much more activity in the container this time. The starter had effectively doubled and there was much more bubbling than previous feedings.  Via John's suggestion, I washed the starter using the methods outlined above before feeding. 
Jim

Jim,

If I hadn't just stuffed my face at lunch I could probably drink that glass of starter! It looks great!
Any observations/comments on the qualities/aromas that develop are read with great interest on my part.
Sorry if I missed it but do you know what the "original" yeast was?

I agree with Barry that you can probably start decreasing the hydration down to the 100% level since it looks like you've got it going again!

Looking forward to pics of the first Lazarus Dough!

John

Offline JimmyG

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2013, 02:26:47 PM »
Quote
Jim,

If I hadn't just stuffed my face at lunch I could probably drink that glass of starter! It looks great!
Any observations/comments on the qualities/aromas that develop are read with great interest on my part.
Sorry if I missed it but do you know what the "original" yeast was?

I agree with Barry that you can probably start decreasing the hydration down to the 100% level since it looks like you've got it going again!

Looking forward to pics of the first Lazarus Dough!

John

Thanks for the kind words John. This particular starter I cultivated from orchard apples nears Lawrence KS, where I conducted my graduate work. The flavors of the original starter were quite sour and sharp, if memory serves me correctly–I still haven't tasted it yet. At the present, however, I do not feel this starter is vigorous enough to be used in any doughs, perhaps after a few more feedings.
Jim
Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Reviving a 6 mo sourdough starter, aka Jim's Lazarus project
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2013, 09:39:05 PM »
Thanks for the kind words John. This particular starter I cultivated from orchard apples nears Lawrence KS, where I conducted my graduate work. The flavors of the original starter were quite sour and sharp, if memory serves me correctly–I still haven't tasted it yet. At the present, however, I do not feel this starter is vigorous enough to be used in any doughs, perhaps after a few more feedings.
Jim

That's way more cool of an answer than I was expecting re: starter origin!! You really should name it. Then share it.

John