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moldy sourdough starter

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I don't know if this is a typical newbie problem, or if it's our new climate that I need to adjust to (Houston, already hot & humid and it's just April), but I thought things were going okay with my sourdough starter, and then I looked closer one day and saw mold on the side of the jar.

Any pointers on how to avoid this? I've been excited to have a sourdough starter because several of my GF bread recipes call for it and we're getting thoroughly sick of the taste and expense of storebought GF bread. So I was bummed when I saw the mold.

Did I mention it's really warm and humid here? I know I'll have to adjust (fruit goes bad much faster sitting on the counter), stuff like that, but I'm confused about the sourdough starter. It was on the kitchen counter for a few days after being in the frig for a week or so--I was letting it perk up (adding a bit of flour each day) waiting to find a good time to make some bread.

Thoughts? TIA.
post #2 of 9
Man I really don't know how to keep it mold free but wanted to mention that you should definitely not eat the mold infested one.
post #3 of 9
Are you "feeding" the starter and thoroughly stirring it up daily?

I haven't attempted a GF sourdough starter yet. The last time I made sourdough I used rye flour, which I read has a fairly high amount of natural yeast in it, making it good for sourdough. I wonder if the GF flour(s) you're using are just too low in natural yeasts to make a good sourdough- and that mold is taking over and starting to grow before the yeast has a chance to take root.

Maybe try it with a packet (or half a packet) of baking yeast to innoculate it before letting it sit out to sour?
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Man I really don't know how to keep it mold free but wanted to mention that you should definitely not eat the mold infested one.
No joke! It was black and fuzzy mold... it looked horrible. I was sad, but I promptly dumped it out--I'm willing to push a few limits with food, but I agree this one was far beyond my comfort zone.

Quote:
Maybe try it with a packet (or half a packet) of baking yeast to innoculate it before letting it sit out to sour?
I actually did start it with some baking yeast, but that was a couple weeks before the mold incident (it sat in the frig for a week or so, and I think it stayed ok in there). Almost every day that it was on the counter, I added some flour (I used some brown rice to start it, and then mostly teff when adding to it each day)... maybe in the hot/humid weather I should stir a couple times a day? Now that you mention it, I may have missed a day. I really don't think I ever missed two in a row, but maybe one was enough. I bet it is, the more I think about it... I have been having problems with fruit getting moldy on the counter, and it wasn't that long since I purchased it.

Maybe I just need to spend more time caring for it, I think you've hit on it, Ruthla. This is going to take more attention than I originally thought, but if I can get homemade GF bread regularly, it'll be worth it. Now I feel stupid for not realizing this right away.
post #5 of 9
When you feed the starter, are you adding enough flour and water to double the amount of starter? I think that's key because if you don't add enough flour, you're not giving the yeast enough food, so they burn through it too quickly then start dying out which leaves the bacteria and mold to go crazy. Also, since your kitchen is so warm and humid, you may need to feed it twice a day if you're just leaving it out on your counter. My kitchen is very warm right now and it is extremely active, which means it's all pooped out within 12 hours of feeding it. So I end up with large amounts of starter and not enough baking projects to use it for so I end up having to toss some (otherwise it would have taken over half of the state by now).

So if it were me, I'd feed it more often with more flour and leave it on the counter or I'd feed it less often and let it live in the fridge.

Take everything I'm saying with a grain of salt, I'm totally new to starters too!
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I think that's key because if you don't add enough flour, you're not giving the yeast enough food, so they burn through it too quickly then start dying out which leaves the bacteria and mold to go crazy. Also, since your kitchen is so warm and humid, you may need to feed it twice a day if you're just leaving it out on your counter.
I never considered adding that much flour each day. Wild Fermentation, if I remember correctly, mentions a lot less, but you've got a great point about the climate here. I never considered that everything bacterial goes faster here (I saw that last summer in Austin when fermenting, but didn't generalize that), so I bet I do need to feed it more than I have, and maybe (probably) more often.

I don't feel like I need to leave it out on the counter all the time, but my frig gets full, and I want to get some wild yeasts in it--I started with baking yeast because it would be faster to get going and I wasn't confident I could get it going without it, but I had a hope that it would transition into something local someday.

I'd be sad to throw it away... I wonder if I can figure out a happy medium where I have enough to make enough bread that we don't have to buy any, but not toss cups of starter each week.

Thanks everybody, I needed the help thinking this through. I've got enough ideas now that I think (hope) I can get this going and make it work. Thanks!
post #7 of 9
I'm glad to find this because I was getting ready to put my new sourdough starter in the jar today and found it covered with mold! After reading through this thread, I think I've figured out where I went wrong.

Thanks, guys!
post #8 of 9
Make pancakes with extra starter.
post #9 of 9
Maybe put it in the fridge overnight then out on the counter all day, or vice versa?

Do you have a cooler part of your house you can store it in?
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