I may have overheated my starter...Is it really dead? And can I bring it back?


Hello All


Long time reader, first time poster...


I am very concerned that I have killed my starter.  Its a really powerful starter, about a year old.  I bake with it every day, feed it every day, and always keep it in the refrigerator overnight.  Yesterday after I fed it I forgot to put it back in the fridge.  Its very hot out where I live (yesterday was about 90), although the temperature in the kitchen was probably in the mid 80s as we had the AC on for the afternoon and part of the evening.  Today the starter smells very alcholic and seems dead.  We fed it and after about an hour there was very little activity.


I am here asking for help and advice.  I know that a starter will die if its temp rises above 100 degrees, and its possible that happened yesterday.  If I did kill the yeast, is there a way to bring the starter back to life?  Any suggestions would be helpful and much appreciated!

252 users have voted.


atephronesis 2012 July 10

I also live somewhere very hot and have had a similar experience, but i saved mine. It smelled bad after being out too long on an extremely hot day. Instead of adding flour and water to the original jar, I got 3 different jars (just to increases my chances) and added 10g of the starter, 5g of water, and 5g of flour to each. 4 hours later, I added 10g water and 10g flour. 4 hours later, 20g and 20g. All three came back to life.

Good luck.

HopesHope 2012 August 13

It will take a lot more than what you have described to kill your starter.    What is sounds like to me is that it is the natural life of a starter, sometimes it smells fruity and sometimes beery and sometimes like whiskey, and sometimes yeasty.     If the smell is like rubbing alcohol that's a different story.


Everyone feeds their starter differently.   I also live in a hot and humid place, and when I feed the starter, I leave it out on the kitchen table until it rises and then falls, then it goes in the fridge.


What I suggest you do, is just feed your starter twice a day until it begins to come alive again. 


Take care



akkuyes's picture
akkuyes 2012 August 26

It's been a while since you posted your problem, - I just caught it today. HopesHope wasright: starters don't give up that fast. So would you mind telling us how it is doing these days?

Here is what I do: I spread out a small portion of a good starteron a small glass plate (uncovered) and let it dry in the fridge. It will become hard and brittle. Half of it I keep in the fridge (small jar), the other half I put in the freezer. This way I have backup  material that can be reanimated after weeks (fridge) or months (freezer). When I need it I break it into crumbs, add water and flour and let it sit for a while until fermentation sets in. That takes a bit of patience.

I do hope your starter made back and is working fine again. I am so curious to know what  happened.


Martha T 2020 May 26

what a fabulous suggestion to freeze a portion, and to maximize your back up.  I have never assn this as a new SD baker so THANKS..!!

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