have killed my starter?

starter at the peak after 7 daysstarter today - I've stirred it, there are some small bubbles but very few


I've just followed the Dan Lepard 7 day sourdough starter recipe. I had tried once before but nothing was happening and I think that was because it was very cold (it was snowing outside) I had the starter on my windowsill so it was very cold there. It was probalby very slow to start and I gave up thinking it was not working. When I tried Dan's recipe I kept the starter in the cupboard the boiler is in, so it was warmer but not too hot either. Although it started off slowly by Thursday (day 7) it was at it's peak, bubbling to the top of the jar and almost escaping. I fed it again, then the next day noticed the bubbles had dropped, although though it was still bubbly. I thought this meant something was wrong so I fed it again and put it in the oven at 100 degrees, but I turned the oven off so once it had reached 100 degrees so the temp never went over 100 degrees (which I have read will kill the starter). I kept it there for about 5 hours then reapeated the process. This morning it's totally flat, with some hooch(?) smells fine, but no activity at all. Now I'm thinking the heat may have killed it off a bit. My instinct, from everything I've read is to start again, reserving 100g of the starter and feeding it with 200g of water and flour until it reaches it's peak again. What I don't understand is why it peaks then is it bad if it goes past it's peak? Could I have still used it to bake bread after the peak was passed?


 The starter is most likely not dead the microbs have just ran out of food and quit working.  The higher temprature causes them to have higher activity.  The colder it is the slower their activity will be.  Stir the hooch in discard most of the starter and feed it again.  The microbs are healtier if you feed them when they are at their peak.  When you go past their peak some will die and some will be damaged.  You can still make good bread when a starter has gone past its peak.  There should be plenty of microbs left that can get the job done.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot


Hello redmazzy,

I hope your oven temp was fahrenheit and not celsius.  If the latter then your yeasts etc are almost certainly done for.  If the former then as LeadDog says you are in there with a chance with a little CPR.  It might take a few days and could almost amount to starting again.  But what's a few days when you end up with great bread.

Good luck with your projects.


Why must you discard some of the sourdough? 

Hello Dawn,

Only slightly facetious there.

When you are establishing a starter from scratch it takes some little while to get going.  Also the microbiology is subject to what can be significant changes as different yeasts and bacteria establish, flourish and die off.  Some of these are good guys and some are bad guys.  Some are active on the waste of others and some don't like to be left in their own waste.

So the real reason for discarding during the development phases is to try to keep the conditions favourable for the development and proliferation of the good guys and to make it as difficult as possible for the bad guys.  You can still get an event when the bad guys get the upper hand and you get something that smells like nail-polish remover but if you press on with your discard and replenish it will mostly come back to being nice again.

Once your starter is mature, the system is remarkably stable and if you store it in the fridge you only need to take out what you need for your loaf and then replace that with new flour and water for a feed.

Hope this answers your question but don't be afraid to ask further if you need more clarification.

Keep on bakin'


Hi Farimen,


Ah yes, I understand.   I use my sourdough alot so I feed  the discarded  starter.  My method is 1 cup of starter to 1 cup of warm water and 1 1/2 c. flour.    If I miss the peak I add it again and wait at least 6 hours. Does this sound right? Usually I  cook a variety of things to have on hand from breads to cakes and even use it for savory dishes like meatloaf.  My last lasagna was excellent by adding 1/2 c. of sourdough to the filling  (which was  mushrooms and spinach).  It gave it a cheesy tang.

I am so enjoying this site with the wealth of information it holds and I thank you for your help.  There is so much to learn  and would love someday to be considered a skilled sourdough baker.  I should add that my sourdough is 2+ years old.  I got the recipe from Ruth Almans Alaskan sourdough cookbook.  I made mine from potato water.  It looks like sour cream and has turned a bit acetone at times when I've not feed it enough.  I once heard someone relate having sourdough to owning a Maserati...just because you have one does not mean you know what to do with it..lol  :)





Hello Dawn,

As I see it, part of the reason for building up a starter/levain for making your dough, is to be sure that the starter is alive and active. 

This is a bit like the instruction for yeasted bread to mix your yeast with some flour, water and sugar and leave it until it is bubbly.  The only real reason to do this is to prove that the yeast is still alive and kicking and so that you do not waste your other ingredients.  If you are confident that your yeast is fresh, you can bypass this step and mix the yeast (whether fresh or dried) straight into the flour.  I have seen and made recipes where the fresh yeast is rubbed into the flour, much as you would do with butter for pastry.

So, there is absolutely no reason that you could not do the same with sourdough.  However if the culture is at the peak of its growth and activity it will be off to a flying start when the new food supply comes along as you mix your dough.

If it has gone a bit past its peak, I would just go ahead with your dough making.  It would only be if it had been let go a long way past peak that I would think of refeeding and even then, in the light of what I said before, I would think long and hard before I did.  It might take just a little longer to get your dough to the baking stage.

If you are confident about your starter viability, perhaps you could consider an experiment not to feed before making your dough and see what happens.  At worst, you could waste half a kilo of flour - but I doubt it.

Let us know how you go.




Hi Farinam

I wasn't sure how to paste pictures - so the link above can be copied/pasted to view todays baking.


My first reply was lost?  Trying again.


Looking forwarfd to experimenting and learning more about percentage and hydration vs weights and measurements.


Thank you



Hello Dawn,

All I get from that link is that I do not have permission to view the content (or something similar).

To insert picture you should save it to your gallery and then you can insert using the icon with the hills and sun.  You should copy the url of the gallery picture first, before you start posting as you can't go back and forth while posting, and paste it into the appropriate space in the dialog box that comes up after clicking the icon.

Another way is do a copy from windows explorer and paste it into the text (I usually put in two returns and go back one before pasting so that you have space after the image to continue posting if you want to.  The HTML looks like a lot of random characters but the picture displays OK.

Look forward to seeing the fruits of your labour.




Tried to start a gallery, only allowed 1 picture(out of 8).  Trying to see what the issue is.


Dawn - Thank you for your help

Hello Dawn,

I just uploaded six at once no problem.  There is a limit on upload size.  Did you resize your pics to (say) 800*600 pixels first?


http://sourdough.com/gallery2/gallery/d/12367233-2/photo+4.JPG    Hi Farinam - thank you for your help - the pixel info helped.  Unfortunately I have 2 more pictures of the finished product that would not load - even with adding a new album. Hmmmmm which way should I go?


Thank you Dawn


Hello Dawn


Dawns Bread

Nice looking loaves.

When you are in your gallery, you have to select the picture that you want (click on the thumbnail with the pointy finger cursor).  The picture the shows larger and there is a box labeled Image URL.  You copy the contents of that.

When you are making your post, you have to be in an edit box with the toolbar at the top.  When you click on the 'mountains' icon you paste the URL into the dialog box that comes up and 'bingo'.

Keep on bakin'



Hello again Dawn,

Didn't really address your question about uploads.  I assume you are following this procedure.

Open your Gallery.  Click Edit (down the bottom left).  On the edit page click Add Items (in column at left).  Then Browse to your files, fill in any other details.  Then click Add Images(? I think or possibly Items) at the bottom of the page.  And 'bingo'.

If this isn't working, give me a more detailed description of what you are doing and what happens and I will try to help from there.


http://sourdough.com/gallery2/gallery/d/12367358-2/photo+7.JPG      Hello Farinam - the issue was not only the pixels, but the 2MB limit / 6 of my 8 pictures were under 2MB.  These two were adjusted.  Thank you Dawn



Picture while rising.  Thank you - Dawn

Hello Dawn,

Good to see that you got there in the end.

Did you reduce the size before you tried to upload the images?  Depending on the compression, an 800*600 image should only be around 200K and your 8 pics should have fitted under the limit easily.  Depending on your graphics package there should be some means of adjusting the degree of compression - usually a percentage (which doesn't relate directly to the final file size).  I usually use 85 but I have compared with say 75 and at normal viewing size the difference is negligible (but the file size is quite a bit smaller).  It only really becomes important when you zoom up to higher magnification when the pixellation becomes obvious.

Compression comparison

This is a comparison of the same image reduced to 800*600 at four different compressions - 85,75 top 50,25 bottom.  The file sizes were 158,119,77,46 KB.

As you can see, despite the subject that I chose - a loaf in the midst of baking with lots of reflections in the oven door, it is hard to pick the difference even at the highest compression.

Anyhow, love the stuff you are baking.  All this tech stuff is probably a bit off beam.


Hi Farimen,


Thank you and glad you like the stuff.  I love baking with sourdough, the tech stuff is indeed a bit challenging.  I have commissioned my hubby to help in that dept.  He has been challenged as well and he works with the computer daily.  We did figure it out with your help and look forward to sharing more pics.   Your oven picture is very unique....