Starter has seperated


Hi guys,

I am new to sourdough baking and a week ago was given some starter by a friend. I put it in the fridge and fed it a tablespoon of brown wheat flour and a little water and then put it back in the fridge with the lid on the jar. Some days later I noticed that the flour and water had seperated. I mixed them, added a little more flour and water and put them back in the fridge. They seperated again. Last night I took the starter out of the fridge and added more flour and water but it has seperated again. On the watery surface there are a few very round globules of floury goo, the smell is quite sour but the colour is creamy/yellow and I can't see any mould. Is it ok, what shall I do if I want to begin baking with it? Do I need to throw it away and get some more?




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farinam's picture
farinam 2013 August 14

Hi Leila,

Firstly, I would read SourDoms Beginners Blogs on this site which cover everything from starting a culture to baking your bread.

Second, though it is not essential but highly desirable, get out your kitchen scales and work with weights rather than spoonfuls and bits.  One strong possibility is that you have been adding too much water and the flour and water are just too thin and separate into layers.  You should be aiming for a minimum of a thick pancake batter to porridge consistency.  It should coat a spoon at least 5 to 10mm thick.

Third, I would keep it on the bench for a while following the daily feeding regime just to be sure that it is active.  You don't mention whether there are any signs of activity and keeping it at a higher temperature will speed things up more than somewhat.

Finally, if what you have shows no signs of life immediately, either persist following the culture development instructions and it will eventually come good (even if only from your own home grown yeasts and bacteria) or dump the lot and start from sctatch (I'm hoping that your friends culture will give you a head start).

When it is rising reliably and getting all mousse like in a few to eight hours at room temperature, doesn't give off any funny smells (particularly acetone like) then you will be ready to make bread.  At that stage you can start keeping it in the fridge and only feed it as needed, usually when you make bread but can be left for up to a month or more before needing a few refreshes to get back to full strength.  Once they are stable, you have to try pretty hard to kill them.

Once again I would recommend the Pane francesa recipe that SourDom gives as a good place to start. Make it quite a number of times to get used to the look, feel and smell of the dough as it develops and proves and to get your dough handling techniques together.

Don't be afraid to get back to us and good luck with your projects.


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