Newbie question re: spots in starter



I am brand new at making sourdough, and I just began cultivating my first starter (pictured here) on May 5th -- about four weeks ago now. I fed it twice a week for the first week, and by the end of that week, it was looking quite bubbly and healthy and smelling lovely. I've successfully used it several times now to make bread, waffles, muffins, etc. However, within the last few days, it started to develop these strange orange/brown flecks. At first, they were only visible towards the bottom of the jar, but now, they've started spreading up the sides as well. I can't tell if this is totally normal or if these are signs of a deadly mold. The starter still smells like fruit and bread, just like it's supposed to, and it's still doubling in size each time I feed it. Does anyone know what these spots are? Is this still safe to bake with, or should I throw it out? Any feedback would be much appreciated. Thank you!

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Staff 2019 June 3

Hi gwtwred,

What type of flour are you using? Might it be a discolouration of a component of the flour such as the bran or the germ? Your starter is doubling in size and smells fruity and this does sound promising.

It could be mold if there has been some sort of contamination (dirty tools/compromised environment) or if the starter has been weakened due to lack of feeding. Think about where your starter is placed and any possible sources of contamination. Are you in a humid environment and is your water source clean? Is the flour relatively fresh or quite old?

If it is mold and it is on the surface only, you could try reviving the starter by extracting a portion of the non contaminated starter and feeding as usual. If you are unsure and the potential mold has penetrated the whole starter, then start fresh.

Garethbusby's picture
Garethbusby 2019 July 4

Looks like a few grains of flour have not been incorporated. If it still works then I would keep with it. Maybe pick out a bit of the non speckled parts and refresh in a clean bowl, making sure it’s well incorporated. I’d be interested to see how you get on. Also you mention it is being refreshed twice a week, are you keeping it in the fridge?

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