if starters could talk back- effect of flour?
I know there is a lot of literature out there, including on TFL, but sometimes I feel like the more I know, the less I know :)) so if anyone wants to chime in (the venerable Debra Wink??), please feel free.
I've noticed a change in my starter's behaviour when I refrigerate it for storage. First off, I must say the feeding can be erratic because I do not have the luxury of baking every weekend. So this is not a stable, fed regularly, counter-top one. My method for storing starter in fridge: I make more starter than what I need for baking (usually refreshed twice or more), take sth like 20g, feed it in a 1:1:1 ratio, leave it outside (temp can vary from 25-31 celsius, I know that's a lot of diff but I figure it doesn't matter as much because it will be spending most of its time in the fridge), then in it goes into the fridge for abt a week, sometimes more.
Previously, there would be 2-3 days when nothing seems to be happening. Then it starts growing ever so slowly but steadily, to almost double the volume, before drooping. The smell will be a pleasant and mild sour. I liked this because it enabled me to stretch out the storage period to roughly a week before its refreshment for baking. All quite neat.
Lately, however, I've noticed that it kicks in very fast. From day 1 in the fridge it starts to grow, but only grows by about a third before it starts to recede and pull back. Also it is almost odourless.
IF, and that's a big if, my understanding is correct, yeast is less affected by cold than bacteria. So is it correct to assume that the yeast is what is propelling the growth, and that somehow the bacteria is now less active (which also explains the relative lack of smell), and that with the less active bacteria to break down the sugars in the starch, the yeast can only go so far??? At this pt, I can imagine Dr Wink and the other mavens cringing at my simplistic summation :))
What HAS changed is that a few of my recent feeds have been using organic WW flour, although the last two have been non-organic non-WW. Is there a correlation??
Very fascinating all this. So many variables, so many factors... I won't forget how once, somehow, for the briefest stretch, through a combination of god knows what factors, my starter had the most wonderful floral and creamy, and yes, almost even buttery, smell. Alas I didn't seize on it nor prolong the conditions that led to this, and soon it petered out.. Such alchemy.