-When feeding the starter, use room temperature to lukewarm water. Hot water can kill the culture and cold will slow down its activity.
-To keep the sides of the sourdough crock clean, use a sharp knife to scrape the sides when you stir it down in the morning. The dried scraping will fall into the crock and be incorporated back into the starter. These dried bits end up on the side of the crock because after feeding the bacteria works on the added ingredients and will raise the content level slightly before settling back down.
-Always stir the starter gently. It is a living thing and does not like to be radically disturbed. One thing I always remember about my Grandpa was how slowly and methodically he maintained his starter. Everything was done carefully, properly, and with love.
-A forgotten feeding or stirring down is not the end of the world. It's not a good habit to get into, but on occasion it will do little to harm the starter. Just resume regular care as soon as possible.
-Any sign of mold or black scum on the starter is a red light. Throw it away, sterilize the crock, and start over. Between workings the starter will separate with the ticker starter below and a light brown liquid on top, this is normal. Any nasty growth is fairly unmistakable and is usually accompanied by an unpleasant odor.
-After spooning out the starter required for cooking, use a just laundered dish rag moistened in hot water to clean any starter that may have dripped on the rim of the crock. Do not let the rag come in contact with the remaining starter.
Grandpa and I, the last time I saw him.
***Please note: since my last post on sourdough starter, my sweet hubby bought me a proper sourdough spoon.