Death of a Starter: Is This the End?

I haven’t baked with my sourdough for 2 weeks now, as I was working on a non-sourdough Hokkaido milk bread recipe. I did feed it a few times, but I didn’t realize there was a problem until today.

You see, the photo above is of the starter after a full 24 hours. There are some tiny bubbles, however there are no telltale streaks on the glass indicating a full rise and fall. I should have realized something was amiss when I detected a whiff of bleu cheese aroma before feeding yesterday. Also, there’s been an odd skin that’s been forming on the surface lately, but I had chalked it up to drying out from the direct sunlight in the windowsill.

Alas, any way you look at it, the rising power of my starter has faltered. This is not ideal, as leavening is most of the reason we cultivate a sourdough in the first place. However, all is not lost! But I will need to discontinue my standard feeding method and revert to something similar to how to start one in the first place.

Since my last post about my sourdough feeding approach where I advocated for an all-purpose flour, I softened a bit and have been adding 20% whole wheat to the equation—10g whole wheat with 40g all-purpose, along with 50g water. This time I really am dropping the whole wheat altogether to focus on rehabilitating the yeast colony, as I know by experience that adding the whole wheat encourages sourness and thus lactobacillus.

I will simply be feeding at a 1:1:1 ratio twice daily for the next several days, about 34g each starter, water, and all-purpose flour. I’ll report back whether I succeed or fail!