The Fresh Loaf

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Starter w/ liquid on bottom?

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tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

Starter w/ liquid on bottom?

Good day all,  I have had nothin but failure so far with my starter attempt. 

First I tried Sourdoladys recipe and everything went well, up until I got off the juice and started the flour and water part.

Last weekend I tried 2 new starters using Sourdough Guys recipe.

I made one with Rye, and another with Whole Wheat.

I followed his recipe, and started them on Sunday, today is day 7.  Everything was going good up until day 4 when I introduced my white bread flour, and water.  I have been feeding 1:2:2 twice a day using just bread flour not wheat or rye going in at this point.  And I now get a liquid on the bottom of the jar in the Wheat starter (within 3 hours).  The Rye starter gets a little liquid on top, but nothing major.  Could someone please tell me what the liquid on the bottom is?  And what am I doing wrong?  I am using bottled water for the feedings.  My flour is good bread flour, and not rancid.  I dont get it.

Here are some photos the one with bottom liquid is wheat starter.

Rye Starter

Any help is appreciated.

TT

mse1152's picture
mse1152

- Do you dump out any starter at each feeding?  If so, how much?

- What quantities of flour and water do you add at each feeding?

If hooch is generally an indication of inactivity, you may need to increase the size of each feeding.  Though it looks like there are some nice bubbles in the bottom hooch jar.

Sue 

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

My normal routine for feedings is

I first stir the entire contents of the jar to make it uniform

Then I measure out 1/4 cup of the starter and transfer it to a new jar. Throwing the remains away.

Then I add 1/2 cup bread flour

Then I add 1/2 cup bottled water.

Then I stir together then cover.  Leaving it out at room temp.

And I'm feeding once in morning, and again around dinner time.

 

I also thought I had read in a previous post something about what the liquid was on the bottom, and why it goes to the bottom.  But I cannot find that post to re-read it.

TT

mse1152's picture
mse1152

...whether it means anything when liquid goes to the bottom.  But you might try one more thing.  Every now and then, I goose my starter by using whole/dark rye flour instead of unbleached for the feeding.  If that doesn't change things in one or two feedings, maybe it's a goner.

Sue 

Susan's picture
Susan

Perhaps you can find what you want (or don't want) here

Susan

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Here is the link to Sourdough-guys starter activation process. If you get liquid on the bottom, that's not a good sign. I would treat it as the bad bacteria and use SDG's process of feeding. You should be able to save it by following his feeding schedule.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2965/activating-dried-starter

Good luck.

Eric

Squid's picture
Squid

This whole "hooch at the bottom" issue confuses me. I get hooch in the bottom of my container in the fridge all the time and I've been baking bread weekly (or more) with my starter since Feb. It first goes to the top, then falls to the bottom. It smells fine, bakes wonderfully and no one has died. LOL

I dunno. *shrug*

sourdough-guy's picture
sourdough-guy

Not yet Squid. Don't forget the 'Yet'. 

 

SDG

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I dont know.  Ive tried both Sourdoladys recipe and Sourdoughguys recipe. 

I feel it is either something in my white bread flour (which is a high protein flour)

Or it is my kitchen temp. where I leave it out during the day

Everything goes great for the first 3-4 days then as soon as I start replacing the rye or wheat flour in the starter with white. Boom---dead.  I have been feeding these for over a week, twice a day, and nothin, no bubbles, kaput.

Back to the drawin board...........

TT

sourdough-guy's picture
sourdough-guy

You say you've followed my instructions but I don't suggest putting your starter outside.

When I first started making vinegar despite it being the easiest thing in the world I made quite a few batches of slimy goop. Why? Well the Vinegar guy put it really well, there's only so many ways you can do it wrong. Once you've eliminated those what you're left with is the right way to do it.  I thought that was really tactful way of putting it. I like that a lot. I'm now making great vinegar. I'm sure once you've eliminated all the wrong things to do you'll make a great starter. : -) 

By the by, the best person to ask about a recipe is the author, he can explain what he meant better than anyone.

SDG

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

out of doors, in the yard..but out of the fridge

bwraith's picture
bwraith

TT,

I don't know what's wrong, but here are a couple of thoughts.

1) In my case, water in the middle or below was an indication of a problem. It would be accompanied by a not great smell coming from the starter.

2) It should smell good - sweet and flowery - not pungent or garbage smells or anything that makes you gag.

3) You may be underfeeding it if only feeding 1:2:2 twice per day at room temperature, especially if room temperature is above 72F.

4) There is a point where the white flour starter will "take off" and be much more active. It's a little hard to tell from the photos, but it looks like you're not really at that point yet with that starter. Until the starter really becomes active and healthy, you'll get liquid forming after only a few hours, the starter will become runny fairly quickly, and the smell won't be as flowery and pleasant as it is when it's healthy.

I would suggest the following:

Every 8 hours take a tablespoon of starter, mix with 3 tablespoons of flour and add enough water to make a thick but stirrable paste. Keep the starter at room temperature. Don't let it sit in a very warm place, unless you want to feed it a greater amount and more frequently. If it has strong smells and some liquid forming in it after 5 hours, you can feed it again. If you will not be around for the next feeding, refrigerate the starter until it is again convenient to feed regularly. It's OK to feed it several times during the day and refrigerate at night, rather than let the starter sit unfed at room temperature for much more than 8 hours.

When the starter is healthy, it will smell sweet and flowery and the paste will remain a paste for a while even after it has doubled in volume. A paste consistency starter should double in volume in about 4 or 5 hours at room temperature. No liquid should be forming in it or on top until well after it has doubled.

Bill

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

From the look of it, I'd say it's just a wet starter that's seperated a bit. Probably no big deal, really.

How about this? I've successfully made two starters, so, heck, why not try for a third? How would you like to make starters in tandem? We'll both use the same methodology and the same measures, and post each day how it's going.

Think that might help?

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

That would be GREAT.  I really appreciate your offer. I would love that, maybe I could actually get a hold of this monkey on my back.

 When would you like to begin, and with what flours should I use?

TT

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

How about we start on Saturday? Later today (I've got work stuff going on hot and heavy for the next few hours), I'll do a blog update and we'll just use it as a thread for the epic Tandem Starter Catching Trial so we don't dominate the front page.

Looking forward to it!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

TT,

When I mentioned separation has been an indication of a problem, I just mean that for me it was usually not at the healthy stage yet. I wasn't suggesting to toss it, and that might waste an "almost ready" starter.

Even if you do the new one w/JMonkey, it might be worth it to keep going with the old one but just use very small amounts, like one tablespoon of starter and a few tablespoons of flour each feeding.

By the way, I was a little confused about what consistency you're using and was just curious to clarify. I think you said below that you do 1:2:2, but then earlier I think you said you were doing 1/4 cup starter to 1/2 cup each water and flour, which is a fairly soupy texture compared equal parts of flour and water by weight. You can make it work with almost any consistency, from soup to a very stiff dough, but the behavior varies depending on whether you are working with a soup, a paste, or a dough.

I think it's a little easier to work with 1:1 by weight, i.e. make a thick but stirrable paste each time. That way, the activity in the starter once it's healthy is easily noted by the rise by double you'll get in the starter in about 4 hours at room temperature after a 1:2:2 (by weight) feeding.

Bill

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

Ok, you were right I did say 1/4cup, 1/2cup, and 1/2cup.  Which when I said 1:2:2.  I thought I was saying it correct 1 part starter, mixed with 2 parts flour, mixed with 2 parts water= 1:2:2.  But thats where you nailed my first mistake on the head.  I havent been weighing it by weight.  Ive been doing "parts measure".  Dang it, so dang simple, why didnt I see that.  I dont think that is my only problem though so I dont think Im out of the woods. 

I am going ahead with JMonkeys offer (which I find very kind of him to take the time to do with me).  But will continue to wrestle with these 2, to see if I can make any headway with your advice. 

Another question though, because my work day keeps me away from home for 10-12 hours a day, what schedule for feedings would you suggest in place of "every 8 hours"?

Thanks for your help as well Bill

TT

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi TT,

I don't think it's a mistake to use volume to measure, I'm just saying that it's a point of confusion when you describe the consistency and talk about rising or other details. A 1:1 by weight starter should rise when it's healthy, but a 1:1 by volume starter may not really rise much, but it will probably froth a lot. The consistency becoming runny with a 1:1 by weight starter probably means something different from a soupy starter becoming runny.

I'm also suggesting it's possible that the starter needs to be fed more to get it to "take off" now that it's showing signs of life. A common mistake I've made is not to feed my starter enough when getting it started, especially when it gets warmer.

If you're going to feed twice per day, then I'd try something like 1:4:4 by weight at each feeding. For example, you could take 10 grams of starter and add 40 grams of flour and 40 grams of water each time. That would be like 1 tbsp of starter to 5 tbsp of flour and 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp of water, very roughly. Or, in ounces by weight, you could do 1/2 ounce of starter to 2 ounces each of flour and water.

Bill

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Ah -- if you're doing equal volumes of water and flour, you've got a starter that's somewhere around 175 to 200% hydration. I've had starters that wet before, and they do tend to seperate sometimes. So I don't think you've got any worries.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...I have some questions and maybe something will jump out to help TT.  I just created a brand new liquid starter because I am interested in seeing for myself the differences in maintenance, flavor, rise in loaves, etc. between that one and my Glezer firm starter, which I love and is so easy to maintain.

I decided to try Hamelman's liquid starter because it is so simple.  The thing I resisted about his recipe is that it uses a small amount of honey which I don't think should be necessary.  At any rate, I began on May 8 and once it passed through the very stinky stage with the rye (which I also remember with the Glezer one) it became so wonderful smelling.

Hamelman keeps his starter at 125% but I felt it was not doing what it should.  It was to be complete by day 6 but it was doubling within an hour and then falling.  Then since he says to feed every 12 hours I thought how could it be healthy to make it wait that long after starting to sink.  I then began feeding in this way; 60g starter: 60g water: 60g flour and it made all the difference.  After a couple feedings of that it was doubling and tripling in about 4 hours and not beginning to fall until about an hour or so before the next feeding was due.

While I'm having fun with this I don't understand how you really know when a liquid starter is at its peak.  Should it double, triple or quadruple and in how much time?  I understand where it is at its ripest - once it has risen and has just begun to fall - but then once that happens how long afterward can you use it to bake?

Also, when to refrigerate and how to maintain it being refrigerated and how long afterward should it be viable to bake with?  I also just converted a bit of this starter to WW to use for 100% WW sourdough bread, thanks to Mountaindog's help and, of course, JMonkey.  But again I'm not sure how to know that starter is at its peak either - double, triple?

Glezer's firm starter is a no guess starter.  You know exactly when it is ready and it must be fed far less often than liquid as I'm learning so far (I could be wrong - still learning here).

If anyone is interested I'd be happy to type the Hamelman starter recipe.  He also says to use a white bread flour (after the rye) with 11 - 12 percent protein.  So I'm using KA AP flour (11.7) but for Glezer I use KA bread flour (12.7).

JMonkey - you are such a sweet guy to help TT in this way!  :o)

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

I made a blog entry describing the maintenance process I follow with my 100% hydration white flour starter. It may help answer some of your questions here. Also we could go into it in more detail in that blog entry if you want to post questions there.

Bill

Squid's picture
Squid

Not yet Squid. Don't forget the 'Yet'. 

You're saying that the separation is always the cause of bad bacteria? Why does my starter smell fine? After a week in the fridge, the hooch comes back to the top.

*confused*