I’m hoping one of the more scientific types here might be able to explain the strange behaviour of a new starter I’m trying to get going.
On a whim I bought a packet of “Mister Baker’s Sourdough Starter” in San Francisco. I must admit that I didn’t follow the instructions but just employed the technique I have used before i.e 100g of tepid water, 100g bread flour and the contents of the packet. After about 12 hours in my warming cabinet it had developed some hooch but seemed to be bubbling quite nicely. I gave it a stir, threw some away and fed the rest with equal parts of flour and water but after another couple of days (at room temperature) it had not frothed up, had developed about half an inch of hooch, looked dead and smelt somewhat “off”.
I assumed that it was defunct and left it on my bench intending to throw it away. When I came to do so, a week or so later, I found that the clear hooch had turned into a frothy layer on top of the main body of flour. I thought of scraping off this layer and feeding it, discarding the rest, but eventually just gave it a stir and left it. It has now reverted to a state of inertness with a layer of hooch on top.
I’ve never had a starter behave like this before and I’m wondering what to do. I’m thinking of maybe mixing it half and half with some of my existing starter.