Author Topic: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed  (Read 1663 times)

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Offline Trogdor33

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Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« on: December 26, 2009, 12:57:26 PM »
I started my ischia yesterday and let it sit in the oven with the light on (measured consistently at 85F) and woke up to this. The instructions make it sound like this is contaminated, but it doesn't smell bad. It has a very mild smell, but I can detect a bit of alcohol and a nutty-ish smell. Since a feeding would have put it over 2/3, I saved 1 cup in case I need to wash and fed the rest. This is the first time I have ever activated starters, so any advice would be helpful. Picture of the culture from this morning attached.
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Offline Matthew

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2009, 04:07:05 PM »
I started my ischia yesterday and let it sit in the oven with the light on (measured consistently at 85F) and woke up to this. The instructions make it sound like this is contaminated, but it doesn't smell bad. It has a very mild smell, but I can detect a bit of alcohol and a nutty-ish smell. Since a feeding would have put it over 2/3, I saved 1 cup in case I need to wash and fed the rest. This is the first time I have ever activated starters, so any advice would be helpful. Picture of the culture from this morning attached.

Mix it up & taste it, if it doesn't taste bad, split it & keep feeding & proofing both jars @ room temperature for a couple more days & see what happens.  Don't discard any yet.

Matt

Offline UnConundrum

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2009, 08:24:09 PM »
Looks like it separated into hooch in the middle there...  If that's the case, split it as Matt suggests, but wash one, keeping the other one going just as a backup.  Sometimes the culture gets contaminated which causes hooch the first night.

Offline Trogdor33

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2009, 09:37:23 PM »
oops... I did what Matt suggested and tasted it. It didn't taste bad at all (I mean, I wouldn't snack on it, but it wasn't a foul taste), so I split it and fed both halves. It continued to be very active (although not filling the jar) so I stirred and fed each one again. One of them had bubbles almost immediately after feeding. How long after a feeding should I wait to wash, or am I totally hosed at this point?
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Offline scott r

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2009, 11:49:16 PM »
when first activating a starter (and even under some conditions later in life), it is possible for some VERY dangerous organisms to be present.   Please do not taste your starters!!!!!

Offline Trogdor33

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2009, 11:55:37 PM »
strike 2 for me...

Any suggestions for what I should do at this point?
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Offline Matthew

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2009, 06:22:52 AM »
when first activating a starter (and even under some conditions later in life), it is possible for some VERY dangerous organisms to be present.   Please do not taste your starters!!!!!

Hi Scott,

I would never arbitrarily suggest that anyone do something that could potentially be a health hazard.  My recommendation to taste the starter was based on the advice given to me by Ed Wood himself over a phone conversation that I had with him a while back.  He did not mention anything about any very dangerous organisms.  His exact words were "if it doesn't smell bad then it's probably not contaminated.  You can always taste it to confirm.  You'll know right away if it's contaminated as it will taste & smell like vomit."

Matt
« Last Edit: December 27, 2009, 06:39:08 AM by Matthew »

Offline Matthew

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2009, 06:31:21 AM »
strike 2 for me...

Any suggestions for what I should do at this point?

You're doing everything right, just keep doing what you're doing.  I'm giving you the exact same advice that Ed gave me.  Like you, I thought that my starter was contaminated & wasn't sure if I needed to wash it.  It turned out that my starter was just over acidic & after a couple of days of feeding & proofing at room temperature the acidity neutralized & everything was fine.  If it does in fact become contaminated or over acidic a simple washing will fix it.  There is no need to wash it at this point.  Again, the information that I'm providing you is all based on the advice that Ed gave me over a fairly lengthy phone conversation that I had with him a while back.

Matt


Offline Trogdor33

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2009, 09:47:28 PM »
Well, here's what I have now. I'd also like to note that room temp here is 65 degrees, so I have been letting them sit in the oven with the light on, which is 85 degrees. The jar on the left was washed twice and had some heavy bubbles within an hour of the last washing, so I fed it again after 6 hours. After that it was less active than the other one. The jar on the right was never washed, but has been fed on the same schedule as the washings/feedings of the other one. At this point I think I am just going to keep feeding and see what happens, I am just doubting my competence.
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Offline Matthew

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2009, 06:43:37 AM »
The jar on the left was washed twice and had some heavy bubbles within an hour of the last washing, so I fed it again after 6 hours. After that it was less active than the other one. The jar on the right was never washed, but has been fed on the same schedule as the washings/feedings of the other one. At this point I think I am just going to keep feeding and see what happens, I am just doubting my competence.

I guess I was right.  You did what most people do when activating their starter......panic! 

Matt



Offline Trogdor33

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Re: Help: Not sure if this starter needs to be washed
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2009, 09:30:22 AM »
Matt,

You were right on both counts. This morning the unwashed starter had a 1" layer of foam on top, smelled like fresh dough and had no hooch. The one I washed continued to look like the pictures.

Glad to know I am not the only one whose first reaction is panic.

Thanks for your help.

-Joe
For all you non-geeks who may be wondering what the name trogdor is all about, have a look here: http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail58.html