Turtle's picture

 I have a problem that I need help with. I haen't been on this site for awhile, because I posted a question here and got an obnoxous reply. However, here I am again!  Please be nice to me!I   was making sourdough rye, and also had a biga on the counter, and and before I knew it, I put  the starter in with the pecan  raisin ingredients. Brown sugar, salt etc. I immediately realized the mistake, (I leave my starter on the counter, I make bread for Farmers Markets), but this is my first year doing this. Anyway, as  soon as I realized my mistake, I got as much sugar and salt out of the starter, fed it, and it has been doing well, bubbling away. Now, however, two weeks later, it has a yellow tinge to it. I feed and dump every other day. Is  that the thing to do? Help please! I certainly don't want to make bread with it if it is not safe.

264 users have voted.


JODoughMaker 2011 September 25

Your message is not in the form of a question,  it is easy to read, but hard to understand where your problem is. My guess is that English is a second language for you, and you are doing your best. Try to break your message down and skip anything that is not important to your situation. Post a clear question, and you will get a clear answer.


From what I've read, I'm not sure about the comment about leaving the starter on the counter. My starter stays on the counter for as long as I am baking. I can skip as much as a week, but it still stays out where I can see it, and feed it.


Did you make a mistake that can not be remedied by starting over? 





Singing Baker 2011 September 26

Hi Turtle, Firstly I would like to comment on the people who were making fun of your enquiry. This is not surprising as the Baking Industry is full of Bakers from all levels of experience, just waiting to take the Micky out of someone. Its not professional, intimidating and a real shame that some bakers feel that the Industry which once had a creed that encouraged support and learning has becomeso childish and pathetic. if there is one of those people reading this post, they should consider growing up! Ok Turtle you have made a mistake. Learn from it, correct it and put it behind you. Good. By the sounds of it you have done the right thing by removing the unwanted contents from your starter. And you have been replenishing it when required GREAT. Right, you mention that you are getting a yellowish colour on the top of the Starter. If you are using a Hyrdation Starter I think that if is what I am thinking about this may be some yellowish, grayish, blackish material floating on top seperated from the starter. If this is the case this is not dangerous unless the smell is potently strong then you might be growing mould and in this case there is nothing you can do but if your starter smells not so potent this is common. It is scientifically proven not to be dangerous and some people choose to either discard the surface or simply mix it back in. I hope this helpful and I do support your cause for learning about the art of Bread Making. Singing Baker / Craftsman 1994.

panfresca 2011 September 26

 Hi Turtle,

How does it smell now? If it smells OK, then there is no problem - the lactobacilli in the starter get rid of any nasties. It could well be that your accidental additions have added an extra dimension to the starter. You say it's bubbling away nicely, and I think that's your answer - it's healthy and ripe for baking.

BTW, as far as I can see, you have only made two posts here, and nobody was obnoxious at all, only helpful. One of the members who answered has a standard quote which is included with every post he makes, which you might have mistaken for a comment directed at you personally, but it's not at all.

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2011 September 27

I'm with Panfresco on this, your starter is probably fine.  Since the weather here in Ohio is cooling down for fall, if you are on the opposite end of the planet, your weather is probably warming up.  So maybe with the extra warmth your starter may be running out of food a bit quicker.  You may have to adjust your feeding and storage methods.  My starter is starting to shift to fall - spring mode.  But last spring when the temps jumped up quickly my starter went a bit haywire!!!  Could you add a picture of your starter?

I think I'll quote Dom here - the following is from the beginners Blog on this site:

"It sounds as if things are on the right track.

the problem with dark smelly starter sounds like it may have been contaminated by unhelpful bacteria

see: 3. Contaminated starter

If your starter smells unpleasant - like rotten eggs, or vomit, or something equally disgusting it may have become contaminated with less friendly bacteria. Don’t give up - it is often possible to resuscitate your starter. Wash a clean jar, and add a teaspoon or so of starter from your smelly batch. Add 100g water and 100g flour. Stir and leave for 24 hours.

Brian Dixon suggests leaving your starter out for 12 hours, and then putting it in the fridge. This might be worthwhile if your starter becomes contaminated in warm weather."




JODoughMaker 2011 September 27

The yellow color might be a little hooch (Alcohol), that forms in some cases when the starter has a little more water in it. You can smell the alcohol, as it will add to the usual sour smell. It will not smell bad. One of the bad colors is Pink.  You are not likely  to have gotten bad starter. One of the ways to get bad starter is to not start with or use clean containers, and utensils. Keep your starter in a clean area, and only use spoons, or whatever you stir it with, that are very clean. Keep fingers out of the starter.

The temperature will effect how fast your starter moves (eats), and that is what the bubbles are. The warmer it is , the faster it eats, and the more gas is produced (in the form of bubbles) 

Warm is a relative, but I find that 77 to 90 F, is a good range for starter if you want to see it working.  Any cooler and it will slow down. At some point, it can be fed and stored in the refrigerator to slow it down into a dormant  mode. It will not have to be fed very much once it is refrigerated. if you take it from the frig, it might take a day or two to get it into full operation again.

The best gage, besides color, is smell.  Bad starter will not smell good.  My starter smells very good, and I look forward to feeding times.  My starter is simple, made with King Arthur bread flour, and water.  I had a few attempts before I got a better understanding ,and past attempts included one with yeast, and one with rye four.

My next major change will be when I return from vacation and try making a dairy based starter.

To speed things up, move your starter to a slighter warmer location. Feed it, and see what it does in 5 minutes. Any bubbles being produced, no matter how many, are from feeding it.

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