My starter has failed?


G'day all I'm new to sourdough and need help. I think my 4 day old Starter has failed. Day one all looked good. Day two all looked good. Day three the starter was thickish with a texture. Lots of little bubbles below the surface. Day four is all runny and separated. No bubbles. Please help with some advice. Regards to all. Any thanks for any help offered.

212 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 September 15

Hello Prdbissy,

This might seem a silly question, but have you been following, say, SourDom's procedure re feeding/mixing/replacing?

If you have, then sometimes it takes a little while so I would persist for a few more days yet.


Gary1's picture
Gary1 2011 September 16

 If you leave it on the counter  you need to fed it every day, if it is to full, make somthing or dump some out, because it will rise when it fills with bubbles.     gary 1 

JODoughMaker 2011 September 16

Gary is right, you need to feed it each day. Use bottled , or spring water at room temperature.  The temperature of your starter is important to the speed and level of activity that can be seen. The starter is not likely dead, it is probably moving very slow do to being starved. I like to keep it like thick pancake batter. Each time you feed it, start by stirring it very well, then add a little flour and stir it in as you go, ad the water to balance it out as you go. If you get too much starter in your container, either use some of it, give it away, or dump it. keep the level in proportion to what you have to hold it in, with room to expand to double, and sometimes more.

I keep my starter in the warmest room in my home. At first I sat it on top of my DSL modem. That added heat really got things moving fast. Now I just sit the Tupperware bowl next to the modem. I put the top on, but don't push it down, or seal it. keep it in a tray in case you have an overflow.

A lot of this information is in another thread started by peopel whoi are new to starters. I would be one of those people. Still learning as I go.  The starter was the easy part.. I'm still shopping for clay tiles.

Old Possum's picture
Old Possum 2011 September 16

Acting on Farinam's suggestion I was able to source unglazed terracotta tiles from my local brick and paving manufacturer/outlet. I know it's a different hemisphere but someone over there must manufacture tiles and bricks

Prdbrissy 2011 September 16
Thanks Guy's My starter is not due for a feed for another 10 hours yet. But I have just stirred in some more flour to thicken it up a bit. It looks a lot better. I have also used your idea JoDoughMaker and placed it on top of my router for comfort. I'll let you know how it progresses. Regards
Old Possum's picture
Old Possum 2011 September 16

HI Prdbrissy

It pays to weigh your flour and water for the starter. 100% hydration starter is a good all round starter to work with (not too runny, not too dry). When feeding use a 1:2:2 or 2:2:2 ratio for starter:flour:water. So take, say, 20gms of your starter (well stirred up) and add 40gms of flour and 40gms of water and stir well. Discard the rest of your starter for now until it gets really bubbly and then you can use it for things like pancakes (Yum!). It took my white starter about two weeks to really get fizzing and I'd innoculated it with my rye starter, so don't despair, hang in there and keep feeding it every day. If the brissy means Brisbane your room temperature should be fine without any boost.

atephronesis 2011 September 17

I agree with Old Possum about the 100% hydration idea. When I began, my starter was very thin, resulting from using the same volume of water and flour, rather than the same weight. This is not bad, per se, but activity is easier to see and monitor in a thicker starter. Because it is thicker, it "holds" its bubbles and rises like dough. Thin starters may still be active, but the activity is less obvious because the bubbles are lost to the air. Thin starters also separate easily, with the solids precipitating to the bottom. Just stir it up. I was in the same daily panic as you are until I bought a cheap electronic scale and began keeping my starter at 100% hydration. Now, I can easily tell when activity is occuring, peaking, and waning. Good luck!

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