Homemade sourdough bread can be a vocation for life. Once you have caught some wild yeast and created a sourdough starter, you need to keep it alive. Luckily, it’s difficult to actually kill the thing.
You simply keep the starter in a jar and pop it in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process. Then just feed it with a bit of flour and water once a week.
If it starts to smell wrong, it’s gone bad, but if you keep it well, it could outlive you. The Boudin family in San Francisco have kept their “mother dough” alive since they fed it to miners during the California gold rush.
In this video, I witnessed a few of the scariest looking- and strongest smelling- things that can happen to a sourdough starter and have it still remain alive (I kept mine outside the fridge to encourage a bit more action).