Gel like sourdough problem: Help!

I am having a terrible problem, I think. My sourdough has turned into a gel like substance and I don't know why. It's possible I might have gotten a peppering of whole wheat flour in it as I used the same measuring cup that had whole wheat in it prior to using it to dump white flour in my starter.  Aside from that I had used 3/4 of it and filled it back up with flour about 3 cups worth all at once.  That shouldn't have been a problem though. It's 120 year old sourdough and I am desperate to save it. It's never been gel like before - always just frothy and smooth before. Can anyone help me?

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Niashi 2010 April 13

A different starter I used to play with some time ago would do this if it was hungry (like if I fed it late or missed a feeding). It would look like heavy snot actually.

Muff 2010 April 13

If it's not moldy, rotten, putrid, or foul, none of which you mention, I think you can use it as the cheff for a new start. In other words, take a little of it, a couple of tablespoons or so, and blend it with a normal paste of flour and water, say, about half a cup of each, and see what happens. But it might well be that you can just add a little water to your batch now and it'll take off in a day or so.

I don't know why this happens but it does. I keep a starter in the fridge that I haven't used for a few weeks and it's kinda like that now. Under the unattractive liquor it's a gelatinous sludge, sour smelling and tangy to the tongue. It's perfectly good.

I don't think the wheat flour is to blame, but feeding it all at once like that- could that have been the problem? Maybe it's just sulking.

I'm curious to hear what you learn from this, so please keep your observations coming!

Good luck,


Graham's picture
Graham 2010 April 15

You could try throwing away most of it and using the remainder to start a stiff starter that you keep in the fridge. Call this starter 'stage 1' and use it to start a liquid, warmer 'stage 2' starter each time you want to make bread. Use a small amount of stage 2 to make a fresh stage 1 each time you make bread. I hope this makes sense!

You'll achieve more stability this way when storing starter (stage 1), and have more options in designing different styles of starters (stage 2) for bread making.

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