I Confess: I Killed a Starter


This was the simplest of starters: unbleached white flour, a little wheat flour, cumin and water.  I'd used and used it, nurtured it for months.  After using it last time, about a week and a half ago, I'd fed it and put it in the refrigerator as usual.  We tried to proof it beginning Friday but it never foamed after two days, looking instead very inactive, although it produced lots of hooch.  Not trusting that it would work and hating to waste ingredients, I disposed of it and have started a new one. 

Does anyone have any clue as to what the devilment may have happened? 

259 users have voted.


spuddery 2010 March 10

 Hi CayoKath,

I'm trying to get my head around all the new terms - and very much hoping that my starter will refresh as I've just taken it out of the fridge and it's looking flat. 

So, what's hooch? I thought this was the same as a starter. And while I'm at it, what's a sponge? 



CayoKath 2010 March 14
Well I'm a real amateur beginner too! Hooch is the crude alcohol, a nasty looking liquid that forms on top of the stored starter. Ross says you can dump it or reincorporate it (that's what I do) when feeding. Sponge is your nice proofed starter that's ready to use. I've been blessed with some great successes since I Went Wild and some dismal failures requiring some other ferments (ahem) to get over.

Alie0Bronwynn 2010 March 16

I'm still a n00b too!  Though I've been doing this for about 2 years now, LOL.  I read somewhere that a hooch is a sign that your starter is hungry.  So, when you start to get a hooch, that's the time to dump out most of your starter and give it some new flour and water.  Boy I wish I'd known that in the beginning!!  Though now I bake almost every week or so, so I never have time to get a hooch.


That was weird activity for a starter you are used to using.  Did you change the flour or water you used?



CayoKath 2010 April 3

...I should have kept that "dead" starter.  Since reading more and experimenting more I've learned that a hooched-out starter just needs a serious feeding, maybe a little drier than you usually would.  I've brought back a runny mess or two by setting them on the counter, feeding, separating and feeding again.  The separated stuff either goes to a new container with a re-feed and setting out for a few days or into pancakes.  The revived starter has worked wonderfully.  Catching it at full bubble is really a key. 

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