I can hear you from here… “Oh my goodness!”
Yep… This is my sour-dough starter after it’s been forgotten for weeks on the bench top at room temperature. And yep… I’m still using it now. And last yep… It had happened before.
Because I’m the experimenting type and because I have guts of steel, the first time this horrendous situation happened, I thought I’d try to revive the poor bugger.
I owe my armoured intestines to my beloved grand-mother Mamoune who was a farmer in Normandy and had a very old-fashioned vision of food hygiene. She thought her freezer was a cold pantry where she could put things in and out. A few people nearly died over a leek tart which had made a few voyages from the freezer to the Aga and back…
Keeping in mind that your sourdough starter is a bacteria factory which tries its best to produce good bacteria, my idea was to help it get back in shape by simply taking a few spoons of the white creamy bit under the pretty pink crust.
The rest can go in the sink or in the compost…
What Bubbly, my starter, likes the most is freshly milled grains. He loves rye above all things and then wheat followed by any cereal really.
I use my faithful electric mini coffee grinder to mill a mix of grains and pour it over the salvaged starter.
I add the equivalent of water, more or less, I’m not keen on using a scale for these things. If in doubt, you can weigh the salvaged starter, and add every day, half of its weight in milled grain or fresh flour + half of its weight in water.
I like to use in my bread making process, the water I left in the jug every night after dinner. The bad chemicals seem to evaporate. That being said I’m not a scientist and am not sure if it’s true. But that’s the method I use because there is less chlorine smell the next day.
For the sake of making a good bacteria environment, I add our freshly harvested honey, from our flow-hive. Don’t be fooled by the terrible plastic squeezy bottle, we ask people to give them to us, so we can squeeze our honey more easily. I’m not too sure about using plastic but Wendell loves the practicality of it.
Because it’s fresh honey, it’s full of the lovely antibiotics this poor sick bubbly needs to get back to shape. I will give him a bit of honey every day for a week or so. You can give honey once or every day, it’s a matter of experimentation and choice.
Bubbly loves honey. Whenever he feels down, which means not bubbly at all, we give him a little treat.
All I do next is mix it well with a fork or a spatula I use to smash the lumps.
When I first started my sourdough journey, I had no idea what I was doing so I needed to weigh everything, as a guide. Now I feel that feeding the starter every day means: small portion when I’m not using it the next day (1 small ladle of each water and flour/freshly milled grains) and double that when I have a bread to make the day after. I don’t even use a ladle, I just throw flour in there, cover with a bit of water and just check the viscosity I think it should be for a 100% hydration starter: like a thick béchamel sauce.
You can do it your way: measuring the starter every day, adding half of its weight in a 50/50 water-flour mix. To do that I recommend that you weigh your empty container and mark the empty weight on a post-it or sticker. Then you don’t have to change containers when you need to weigh it.
Or you can feed it like I do, very approximately. Both work really well.
If you have experimented reviving a rotten Bubbly, let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it!