Kay White, a Breadtopia reader, emailed me her account of resuscitating her sourdough starter left for dead. If this doesn’t substantiate my claims that sourdough starter is hard to kill, nothing will. I hope this is an inspiration for all would be sourdough bakers who are reluctant to take on yet another "dependent".
"I have a dial-up connection (fast connect not available here in the country). Went "to town", paid $5.00 to use the fast connection at an internet cafe and watched your videos with a $4.50 coffee drink. The videos really inspired me!
I had a sourdough starter languishing in my refrigerator, untouched, for at least 2 years. The dried Italian starter I ordered from a competitor would never really activate. I worked with it for at least a month and could only get about a quarter inch of foam. In disgust, I stored 2 jars of it in my refrigerator (the coldest area). One jar developed a mold on it so I tossed it out. The remaining jar just sat there. 5 days ago, after viewing your videos, I pulled the starter out and began feeding it, it still was doing little to nothing. To my astonishment yesterday it rose about an inch!
This morning I fed it again and to my total disbelief and amazement one cup of starter, fed 3/4 c flour and 3/4 c. water, foamed up and overflowed a quart mason jar! I have activated this starter after allowing it to set, untouched, for 2 years. Glory be!
I also took this starter – 1 cup of it in 4 different containers – and performed an experiment using different amounts of water and flour to feed the starter:
"A" used 3/4 c flour and 3/4 c water
"B" used 1 c flour and 3/4 c water
"C" used 2/3 c flour and 3/4 c water
"D" used 2/3 c water and 1 c water (in rubbermaid plastic container)
After 2 hours:
"A" overflowed the glass quart jar
"B" rose to within 1" of the top of glass quart jar
"C" rose to the 3-1/2 cup mark on glass quart jar
"D" rose 1/4" in a rubbermaid container, less than 1/4 of the amount of
After 3 hours, all are deflating.
I don’t know the significance of my experiment, if any. What I really don’t understand is why the starter in the rubbermaid container is not rising unless it somehow got something on it when run through the dishwasher??? The container has never been used for anything except to store grits (polenta) in."
Thanks, Kay, for your story.