The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Starter & Temperature

  • Pin It
colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

Sourdough Starter & Temperature

I have been thinking about creating starter so I can do sourdough breads. The problem I am perceiving now is that we are having a heat wave in Southern California, with highs frequently in the 90s.  Is this a bad time to start this?  Is waiting for more mild weather a good idea?

We don't run our air conditioner during the day while both of us are at work. 

Colin 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

cool my kitchen down around the starter when I was hatching little inky Stinky Dinky Do.

But you will need further help from a small Igloo or insulated ice chest?

I put two 32oz glasses filled with ice and water on either side of my starter. Flanking either side of it and about 4 inches away. The thermometer showed it dropped my temperature down around the starter close to ten degrees maybe? I can't remember...But what Bill suggested or Zola or someone suggested putting the ice water and starter in the igloo cooler.

Bill suggests lowering the temperature on the starter for the first 2 days to about 70 degrees. Then you let it get to around 80 degrees after that. Supposedly it helps to ward off the stinky bugs in the first couple of days and then the 80degree warmth helps your incubate the starter.

I know when I finally got my Stinky moving was when the temp went up to 80 degrees. Don't let it go over 85 cuz the yeast don't like that too much and will start dieing.

 

Hope that helps.

fleur-de-liz's picture
fleur-de-liz

Colin:  Another Southern Californian here experiencing the heat wave.  You might consider waiting until the weather cools down to a more optimal 70 to 75 degree range.  I created my starter last winter when my house temperature was more in the upper 60's and while it took a while to start percolating, the flavors developed nicely.  Or, you could try Bluezebra's cooler method to see if it works for you.  You will only lose a little flour by trying.  Good luck! Liz

mariana's picture
mariana

 

Hi Colin,

 

When you begin to develop your starter, high temperature, 85-90F is good, actually, for as long as you initiate your starter with a mixture of dark rye and white bread flour (50:50).

 

High temperature incourages lactic bacteria growth which will kill contaminating bacteria with acid that lactic bacteria produce. Since you turn on your AC when you come home, yeast will also get a chance to grow fast at lower temperatures, and you will get a balanced microflora eventually. Just dont' expose your culture to the temperatures above 100F. That's lethal to bacteria and yeast.

 

Another technique to control temperature of your starter, is to use thermos. Keep culture at room t when AC is on, pour your culture (if liquid) or place stiff culture in a wide mouth thermos when turning AC off. Thermos definitely will preserve temperature for at least 8-12 hours, for sure. Some thermal bottles and cups are even better than that and will keep its temperature steady for 24 hours.

 

good luck!

mariana

maximusredlabel's picture
maximusredlabel

Hi Colin,

Not only am I also experiencing the LA heatwave, but I live in Glendale where it is 102 today.  About 5 days ago I embarked on making my own starter and it did activate but I had some white mold growing on some starter residue which was on the side of the jar (down in the actual starter).  But it creeped me out to see mold so close to the good stuff, so I tossed it.  Good luck.  I am going to order some San Francisco starter culture from SI but will wait until the temps cool down around here.  

 

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

The idea of using an ice chest is someething I might do, if this heat wave does not break soon.

 Colin 

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

Heat wave up here in SF Bay area too!

I started my current starter during the last heat wave, earlier in the summer. The temps in my house were between mid-80s during the day to low 70s at night, and the starter did beautifully. 80F is ideal. And I fed it with 85F water. Warm is good; I think you should go for it.

Susanfnp

http://www.wildyeastblog.com

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

Susan,

I like your blog; I plan to try your recipe for ciabatta.

I am not sure from your reply that you noticed from mine that the high temperatures here are in the 90s. And the forecast is for that to continue into next week. I don't know what the dividing line is; if the high temps were in the 80s I would go for it.

I still have a lot to do to improve my techniques with yeasted breads. I want to try sourdough, but I don't need to hurry. Improving my patience is also a good thing.

Colin

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

Colin, oops, I was assuming that if temps are in the 90s outdoors that inside your house would be somewhat cooler, like 80s. Although we don't have air conditioning, we can usually keep ours a little cooler than outside by keeping windows closed, shades drawn, etc. I have found this to be a perfect environment for starter-starting. I agree that if your house is in the 90s inside, that might be a little warm -- although I haven't tried it; maybe it would still work. You could test it out and report to us -- did you notice that we love that kind of stuff around here? Good luck with your starter, whenever you decide to do it!

Susanfnp

http://www.wildyeastblog.com