Mold?

I started baking last summer, and followed a guide to make a sourdough starter which I have been using since. It always looks and smells a bit strange when I take it out of the fridge, but the last time it seemed more extreme. There was about 2 mm of gray-green hard stuff on top, but below it everything seemed normal. There were no "fur" on this top layer, it was just a bit moist with thick liquid that had almost dried out. I forgot to take a picture of it before i mixed it all together and added some flour and water to see if it was still "working". Eight hours later it was full of bubbles and smelled a lot better. There was a few dryer spots on top with fine white spots, but it could be residue flour that didn't get moist during the mixing. My question is if there could have been any mold involved in this (would the starter still "work"?), and if it's safe to use or if I should throw it out and start a new one. If there was mold, how long will it take before it starts growing on the top again?

2 comments

I'd work on the starter for a week or two before using it, and I probably would not have mixed it all together but just taken some of the good looking stuff below the top layer and fed it up.

When I was recovering an old starter (which, um, had quite a lot of mold) the first new generation (1tsp of starter, fresh water, and flour) took 2-3 days to become at all active (during which time I fed it each day) and when it did there was a patch of mold; clearly I'd picked up some of that too.

Taking just a teaspoonful of the "good" and now active starter and feeding that for a few more days had it happy and smelling healthy; I believe it's back in business and will bake with it Real Soon Now.

I can't [i]recommend[/i] leaving a starter so long without feeding (and the lid came off mine so it dried out as well!) but it was nice to recover it, although probably little faster than just starting over.

[i]Edited to improve the formatting.[/i]

[quote=giles]

I'd work on the starter for a week or two before using it, and I probably would not have mixed it all together but just taken some of the good looking stuff below the top layer and fed it up.

[/quote]

That would probbaly have been a good idea. It's too bad I mixed it before I posted, but after refreshing it some more, it's bubbling like crazy and looking a lot better.

[quote=giles]

When I was recovering an old starter (which, um, had quite a lot of mold) the first new generation (1tsp of starter, fresh water, and flour) took 2-3 days to become at all active (during which time I fed it each day) and when it did there was a patch of mold; clearly I'd picked up some of that too.

[/quote]

Then I imagine there should have been mold on my starter by now if it contained any. I'll keep my fingers crossed for the next batch of bread. :) Thanks for the tips, it's good to know that a starter can be rescued from mold if or when it does happen.