Can this sourdough starter be saved?

Freeze-dried starterSince it’s October, I decided it was time to dig out my sourdough starter from the back of the fridge and get it ready for some fall baking. The last time I used it was in May, but as always, I fed it well and closed the lid, sure that I would be able to revive it this fall. Normally, a thin layer of green sludge forms on the top, so I remove that to uncover the creamy yellow pudding underneath. I then scoop some of that into a jar, add water and flour, and usually within a week I have an active starter again.

But this time, it’s different. As you can see, the lid to the King Arthur starter crock came off, and all of the liquid evaporated. Yikes! My first thought was, can this starter be resurrected? I figure I have nothing to lose but some water, flour, and time, so it’s worth a shot. I’ve had this starter for years and it’s always been very active.

img_1260The first step was to get the hockey puck out of the crock so I could get a closer look at it. I had to use a knife to run it around the edges, then I turned it over onto a plate and the “starter puck” popped out. There it is, looking very much like a round of cheese. It was quite solid, too, when I picked it up. As in the past, there was a thin layer of green-colored stuff on the top, which I knew had to go. So I took a bread knife, turned the starter puck onto its side, and sliced off the green layer.

img_1261It took three slices to get it all off, but I was thrilled to see that the center of the puck was rather moist and sponge-like, almost like a dense little cake. This gave me hope, because that means it didn’t completely dry out, and there may be a little bit of life left. You can see the green layer pieces on the plate, which I set aside to add to the compost bin. Notice the texture of the remaining piece — lots of residual holes.

img_1263Now its time to see if my starter will rise from the dead (okay — bad pun!). I broke the puck up into a couple of pieces and put them into a half-gallon mason jar with a plastic, screw-on lid. Then I added enough water to completely cover all the pieces and gave it a thorough shaking.

img_1264Finally, I added a quarter-cup of white flour to the jar, gave it one more thorough shaking, and set it on top of the refrigerator to see what happens. I’m guessing the fragments will dissolve into the water overnight, and I’ll give it a good shake tomorrow to ensure that everything is dissolved and thoroughly mixed. I’ll also add another quarter-cup of flour and water. With any luck, I should start to see bubbles along the edges in the next few days, and with daily feeding, I should be back in the sourdough baking business soon.

If not, well… I guess I’ll have to order a new starter.

 

 

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