Brown surface liquid: pitch or stir in?


 I am brand new here and have a question already. I began a new starter about three days ago and have fed it each day with very nice results. However tonight It has developed a brown liquid on the surface with a much more sour odor.  I'm not particularly worried about it, but I would appreciate your advice on whether I should stir it in during the next feeding or if I should simply pitch that liquid and continue feeding normally. 

For what it's worth, I have been keeping it covered in a closed oven with the light on and was just preparing to move it to the refrigerator after this next feeding. 

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farinam's picture
farinam 2016 January 29

Hello rookiecook,

The liquid is known as 'hooch' and it comes about, generally, when the substance of the flour has been so exhausted that it can no longer keep itself in suspension and the solids settle out.  The liquid contains waste products from the yeast fermentation and bacterial action and the smell of those is more noticeable when this happens.  In your case it is possible that this situation has been accelerated by having the starter in fairly warm conditions in your oven with the light on.  Just to reassure yourself, I would give it another feed and leave it on the bench and observe how the activity develops and the starter increases in volume over time.  You will probably find that it will take much longer to get to this sort of state under these conditions and even longer when you get to the stage of keeping it in the fridge between bakes.

You can quite safely remix your mixture, discard some and replace what you discard with fresh flour and water, probably as per your starter establishment instructions.  If you haven't already, please read the Beginners Blogs by SourDom that you can access from the right hand panel on the Home Page on this site for good information on starter establishment and maintenance and bread making.

Good luck with your projects.


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