All is not totally lost. I can do one of two things: Try to rehabilitate the old starter and hope some spark of life is left, or start fresh with a new one. To rehabilitate a dying starter, I would stir it up, black gunk and all, and add a cup of milk and a cup of flour. After 24 hours, I would pour off half that starter and add milk and flour again, until I get a bubbly fresh starter going again. It could take several days to bring it back to life, which means wasting a lot of milk and flour.
It seems at this point, it would take several tries to get this baby alive a kickin' again, so I will opt to dump it down the sink (great for your septic system, if you live out of town) and start over. Here is my recipe for sourdough starter:
1 C plain yogurt with active cultures
1 C milk that has been scalded and cooled
1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp yeast
Mix all ingredients together with a whisk in a plastic or glass jar/container. Let the mixture set out in a warm place for 24-48 hours, (uncovered) or until it becomes bubbly and smells sour. If at any time your starter turns pink, throw it out and scald the container before using it again.
You can store this in the fridge for a week without feeding it, or leave it on the counter if you use it frequently during the week, just remember to add a cup of flour and a cup of warm water to feed it, every time you use it, and at least once a week.
With this starter, I can provide my family with tasty warm breads and cakes that are much cheaper than buying store bought. It really doesn't take much more effort to use sourdough in my pancakes, or make up a batch of refrigerator biscuits, or fill the freezer with waffles to pop in the toaster.
I have about three or four standby recipes that I use every week, but you can add sourdough to any recipe. You just add 1 cup of sourdough, and reduce the liquid and the dry ingredients by 1/2 C each. You can also add in a cup of sourdough to store bought cake mix, or brownies, and not reduce the ingredients, and get a very moist and tangy product. Just follow the directions on the box, and add the 1 C sourdough also.
Sourdough Refrigerator Biscuits
6 C flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
3 T sugar
1 C Crisco or Lard
1 C Sourdough starter
2 C Buttermilk
Cut shortening into dry ingredients, in a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients, and add to flour mixture. Turn into a greased 10 C plastic container with a tight fitting lid, and store in the fridge. This is good for five days if kept cold.
To make biscuits, take out desired amount of dough, and pat out to 1/2 inch thick on a floured board. Cut biscuits, place on a baking sheet or pizza stone with sides touching, and let rise for half an hour. Brush with melted butter, and bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes. This makes about five dozen light as air biscuits.