Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Tale of Sourdough Redemption: Reviving a Moldy Starter

My starter in recovery with its favorite book for comfort, Peter Berley's Modern Vegetarian Kitchen

I'm the kind of person who plans her next day as she lays in bed the night before, then rehashes the plan when she wakes up the next morning. Last night, I fell asleep to visions of sourdough fairies, since I had decided to make my preferred whole wheat sourdough bread that takes about a day and a half to complete. I was going to get the bread started, clean the apartment, learn some music, copy some music and do who knows what else.

The whole plan was derailed from step one, however, when I took out my sourdough starter only to find it had grown a layer of mold.
"Freddy III!" I exclaimed, "What are we going to do?"
I was shocked. I was devastated. Okay, so maybe I hadn't been the best sourdough mom, neglecting my starter so long it got moldy. I didn't mean to; he just never told me he was in trouble! I don't make bread every week, but I love having the possibility waiting there for me. We always had a sourdough starter in my childhood house. Freddy the First lived there, happy to make us pancakes, crusty breads and baguettes. After we made something, it was often my job-- nay, privilege-- to feed him  I loved the yeasty smell and the messy glop sloshing around I mixed in flour and water. Then came the bubbles as he grew! Freddy the First never got mold.

But his grandstarter did. After a moment of mourning, wondering if we had reached the end, I turned to the internet. Lo, there was hope! This site showed me the way. Now Freddy is in recovery, and it's not certain that he'll make it. He is bubbling, though, and it gives me hope.

The steps I have completed so far to Revive Moldy Sourdough Starter:

1. Remove the largest bits of mold from the container.
2. Carefully pour out the muddy water on the top, called hooch. Any mixing of the mold with the starter should be avoided.
2. With a very clean spoon, scrape any remaining mold from the container.
3. With another very clean spoon (or the same spoon washed thoroughly), scrape off the top layer of starter.
4. Use another clean spoon (or clean the same spoon again, making sure it is not still hot enough to kill the yeast), and move a spoonful of starter to a large bowl.
5. Wash your starter's container cap thoroughly (The majority of my mold was there), and seal the remaining original starter. Place it in the fridge. It is your backup in case the first revival attempt fails.
6. To the large bowl, add 1/2 cup filtered water and 1/2 sifted flour. Mix thoroughly.
7. Let sit at room temperature for 12 hours, then feed again.

I am still in the first sitting phase. I will
8. feed it every twelve hours for a few days and watch for any sign of mold, as well as signs of a healthy starter.

Basically, my starter is on the same feeding schedule as my cat right now. The plant better not get ideas.

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