Q & A: Bread Starter Separating

Q: Melissa, I found your site when I was trying to find answers to me starter questions.  I am not sure if you can help me or not, but you seem to know a lot about it.
I have been trying to make my own starter and am having issues with it “separating”.  I am wondering if it is too hot right now to be doing this.  I have used yeast, milk, sugar and flour.  I made sure not to use any metal and I have it in a Hefty bag.  The first day it looked good, but today, it has liquid on top and smells like alcohol.  The temperatures here have been in the 90s.  I had made a batch previously and left it on the counter, but it kept getting the liquid on it and smelled like alcohol so I threw it away.  This time I tried to put it in an insulated cooler (no ice) to help regulate the temperature, but it separated the very next day.  Is this the wrong time of year to be doing this, or am I doing something else wrong?
Thank you for your assistance.
- Tammy
A:  Hi! Don’t worry! It is perfectly normal for your starter to separate. Each day you can just stir it with a wooden spoon and mix it back together or if you’re using a baggie to keep your starter, squish the baggie around mixing the starter together.
Whether you are making a traditional wheat flour based starter, Amish Friendship Bread starter, or a Sweet Sourdough starter, they will all have a tendency to separate. This is not a problem! As long as your starter as a nice sour or fermented smell, and is not growing mold you are okay!
Let me know how your bread turns out!
- Melissa

About Melissa

Melissa Ringstaff is a pastor's wife, serving with her husband in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Southeastern Kentucky. She is a homeschooling mother of five plus four and Grandarlin' to 13 (so far) grandchildren. Melissa is the Founding Editor of A Virtuous Woman since 2001. She has written several titles including Spring Cleaning for the Heart and Home, The Homemaker's Journal: Keeping House, and Christian ADVENTures in Prophecy. You are invited to visit Melissa at A Virtuous Woman.
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3 Responses to Q & A: Bread Starter Separating

  1. Chris H. says:

    Hi there. I made Amish starter for the first time and I am on day 7. I made it from a recipe I found before finding your site… and was wondering about the original recipe I used. It called for water, yeast and flour and letting it ferment with no additional ingredients until day 6 when you add sugar, milk and flour. However, no sugar or milk like many other Amish starter recipes call for on the first day you start it. Will it still turn out okay? Does it impact flavor when you go to bake your bread on day 10? Thank you for your time and the great info on your blog!!

    • Melissa says:

      Chris, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back with you sooner – I’ve been on vacation! Anyway, I would imagine that the flavor will not be impacted that much. Of course, I have always used the starter recipe that I posted for Amish Friendship Bread here, but I think that in the end, the sweet yeasty flavor will be just fine. Let me know how it turns out! And if you have any other questions, let me know. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment. Good luck!

  2. Sarah says:

    I made an Amish Friendship Bread starter, but the recipe I used didn’t call for any yeast. My sugar, flour, and milk fermented on the counter for ten days before I discovered the recipe’s mistake. I added the yeast, hoping to save it. Do you think it will work? If I let it ferment for a few days?

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