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Sourdough starter died...

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hey guys... My sourdough starter crapped out! It is deader than a door knob. Not sure what happened to it, fed it , made some bread, fed it again a few days later, and now no sign of life. Tried for a week, everything I can think of... So it got a proper burial tonight. Sad part is, it was so well established, and full of flavor, to get a new one back to that level will take months/years. Crappy...

Any thoughts why it may have failed. And any tips for making a new one?

post #2 of 17

i hope you didn't actually bury it. it would be very hard to kill all of the wild yeast inside it.  poison, intense heat are all i can think of.


if i were you, i'd take some of the ''dead'' starter n immerse it in a slurry of flour n water. leave it alone for a week or two n any living yeast will multiply. if you have crumbs from an old stale loaf of the bread, or a frozen piece, add it.


heck, i can catch wild yeast out of the air doing that.

post #3 of 17

In what way is it dead? Is it just not producing bubbles of CO2 or is is smelling sour and off? Yeast is pretty hard to kill completely and as Susieqz says, to do so would have probably required a poison or intense heat. I assume that you are keeping it in a cool place but have you put it in the fridge and it has become too cold and the yeast have just become dormant?


If I were you I would take Susieqz advice and add a spoonful of the "dead" starter to a slurry of flour and water and leave it at room temperature for a while to see if you see any signs of life. Unless the old culture has gone completely rancid at this time I would not bury it just yet. 


Was it from a commercial yeast culture or did you grow it from natural rye flour?

post #4 of 17
Originally Posted by Bladebuilder View Post


Any thoughts why it may have failed. And any tips for making a new one?


I would suggest you drop Disco a /PM. He does Sourdough and could probably offer some options.


I use yeast.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Well, truth be told, it is no more. I had another look at it after I started this thread, there were a few small bubbles that I could see, but what sealed my decision, was the smell that was developing. It  was off. Lets leave it at that! ;) It was started from a San Francisco Starter, a few years ago. I really liked it.


So I decided to start a new one, and took my cues from Peter Reinhart's book. I will begin, as in ancient times, basically. Then decide if I want to carry on with a commercial starter.

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Foamheart View Post
Originally Posted by Bladebuilder View Post


Any thoughts why it may have failed. And any tips for making a new one?


I would suggest you drop Disco a /PM. He does Sourdough and could probably offer some options.


I use yeast.

So do I. Sourdough is one of about 8 different breads I make. Also one of my favorites!

post #7 of 17

Two things I can think of to kill starter would be lack of feeding or excess temperature.


When starting without artificially added yeast, they can be tricky to get started.


Other than leaving mine too long without feeding, I have never had one fail after it was well established.


Good luck and good smoking.

post #8 of 17

lack of feeding doesn't  kill yeast. just like in the cold, the spores encapsulate n sleep for years it's like hibernation, but it lasts longer. decades.

post #9 of 17

Sometimes it can develop a sour liquid on top if it has been neglected for a few days. This can simply be poured off and and a more watery feed then added.

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

That is true... The sour liquid is normal, the odor from this batch was "rotting flesh" So with that, and the lack of healthy activity, its fate was sealed.


I know I could have worked through it, maybe revived the yeast, to overcome the nasty bacteria, but that smell left me with little desire to try.


The new starter is already vibrant, just needs to mature before I give it a test run.

post #11 of 17

Thumbs Up

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

First new loaves...

post #13 of 17

 yum. did you bake those in a clay bowl?

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

No they were proofed in a banneton (willow basket) then baked on a stone (I have a 1" thick ceramic pizza stone cut to fit my oven)

post #15 of 17

cool. i've seen bannetons but never tried one.

i take it you recommend them? do i need one?


i bake bread once/week but the final rise is usually in a preforated half cylinder or regular bread pan.

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

No, you don't need them. I like them though. I also use a couch http://www.amazon.com/Bakers-Couche-Linen-Proofing-Cloth/dp/B0053NRBO2 when I do baguettes or french/Italian loaves. All these items are used for is supporting the soft doughs as they proof. The bannetons come plain, or cloth lined. The benefit other than support, is they let the loaves breath, and dry a little, helping with crust formation, and the ring pattern they leave is nice too!.


If you bake on a stone, or inverted cookie sheet, the banneton helps a lot with the transfer. You can also final proof bake in a dutch oven, this makes for a beautiful crust!

post #17 of 17

thanks. i'm too lazy to use a couch i found these in 2 sizes that i think give me the advantage of a couch with less hassle.

the preforations make a crispy crust too.


i tend to buy from these guys because i have their flour shipped in. it's not available locally but i taste the difference.

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