Dying Sourdough starter

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Joined Mar 4, 2015
I work for a hotel where we make bread for all of our restaurants, banquets, and other outlets such as room service and hotel bar, in house. I am one of the few in the bakery who have and can run every station within the bakery. I currently run the station I absolutely love, the Ovens.
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Lately I have noticed a huge change on our sourdough. my scoring does not seem to burst and open near as much as it used to if at all. No spring in the oven what so ever.View media item 141633View media item 141631View media item 141632
We autolyse, add our yeast and salt, let it bulk ferment in the bowl, cut, rest and then shape the dough before it heads to the cooler over night.
I have two theories s to what is going wrong:

1. Lately the bakery has been very warm, or so I am told, ovens are always hot. we may be starving out our starter with only one feeding after we use the starter and leave it overnight till the next time we use it.

2. The "Chef's" have slowly killed the starter. We recently hired a new Head baker, as management felt that instead of promoting any of the knowledgeable and skilled bakers we already have. The new head baker managed to trash all of our sour starter instead of refreshing/feeding it. Along the way we had a small portion frozen ( not sure why they went that route instead of drying) and thawed it. It didn't seem to move fast enough for them ( the chefs) so they added a healthy dose of commercial yeast and a splash of honey. when they told me they did this my mouth just fell open...

I am afraid we may have to start over, which hurts a bit, this starter was decades old. Any suggestions for a remedy? Multiple feedings a day? Wheel the starter to the cooler for a few hours?
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
I have been keeping a starter for decades as well. I have had this happen to me a couple times. I dump out all but 2 cups and start over. I leave it at room temperature and if it gets too warm in the house I place it in the fridge overnight.
I steadfastly feed it daily and use a little once in a while make bread for myself and the house.
Sometimes I feed it a beer (dark and "hoppy") to help in getting it back to that flavor.
I'm sorry this has happened to you and I wish you well.
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Tragic....
Just remember revenge is a dish best served cold.
I would suggest putting the next home grown starter under lock and key.

mimi
 
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Joined Sep 21, 2001
I find I need to freshen my starter occasionally. I'll pour out 80%+, add water, flour, and a pinch of fresh yeast. I find it comes roaring back.
Good luck!!
 
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Joined Mar 4, 2015
the problem is that this is a giant starter, not something like the mason jar of Levain I keep in my fridge at home. This is close to 20 kilos once we mix the refresh each day. starting over is going to hurt, but i think we can do it. building and feeding a small portion at first, possibly...
I do, however; keep my levain for work very closely guarded. In and out of the cooler. Pull it out an hour before we need it, use it, refresh it and put it back.

my biggest problem is how can I bring this up to the higher ups? I am on very good terms with the executive culinary team, and certainly don't want to go taddle on the people who run the bakery. I have already tried to address it with them.

Should this be a hard lesson learned sort of thing?
 
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