The Fresh Loaf

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Authentic Extra Sour San Francisco Sourdough Starter

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karencolleen's picture
karencolleen

Authentic Extra Sour San Francisco Sourdough Starter

I purchased a packet of dried Authentic Extra Sour San Francisco Sourdough Starter.  Directions called for 1 tbs of the dried culture, 1 cup flour & 1 cup warm water.  Cover bowl & ideally put in 85 degree temp for 1 1/2 - 3 days stirring 2-3 times daily.  Then transfer to jar & refrigerate for a few days to develop stronger flavor.  Now ready to use.  OK, I did this process twice.  Started out with nice thickness (like batter)  Culture reached it's peak in less than 8 hours rather than 1 1/2 - 3 days.  After that. it got watery  and appeared dead with hooch on top.  Followed directions for reviving (add equal amounts of flour, water & 1 tsp sugar & let stand @ room temp. for 8-12 hours or until fermentation resumes) which it never did.  2 tries & 2 failures.  Just didn't behave like my regular starter.  Did I get an inferior product or are there some characteristics specific to S.F sourdough that I don't know about??? 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

For lots of reasons you are not alone in failing to revive a dried starter by using the directions that come on the package.

For the most part it is due to the lack of knowledge of the supplier and has nothing to do with your ability to follow instructions.  I could go on and on about what is wrong with what may actually be just plain flour, or contaminated flour, or dead starter, or contaminated dead starter, but you get the idea.

Just toss the package and order a new starter from King Arthur.  It comes as a wet starter in a small jar and is both inexpensive and known good.  You will be in full operation within 24 hrs of receiving it.

If you want more just send me a PM and we can do it off-line.

 

tfranko29's picture
tfranko29

I have a starter from King Arthur and it works great, it can survive 4 weeks in the fridge between feedings, trust me.

karencolleen's picture
karencolleen

Thanks so much.  Ordering today.

Marlowe's picture
Marlowe

I have a SF starter that is quite sour.  If anyone wants it, I can mail you a piece of a dough and you can have an active starter is 48 hours...

DeWitt's picture
DeWitt

Karen,

What did the failed starter smell like?  If it was putrid smelling rather than acidic, the wrong bugs have been established. 85 F is good for bug activity, but may be too high for reproduction.  I also think that somethng like the recipe for making a starter from scratch would work better than just flour and water.  Except use white flour rather than whole grain so the bugs on the whole grain flour don't overwhelm whatever might be in the dried starter.

I wonder if anyone has ever cultured these dried starters in a sterile environment to see if they really do have viable C. Milleri and L. Sanfranciscensis present.

karencolleen's picture
karencolleen

No bad smell, in fact, smelled great.  After feeding, just acted like it was no longer viable as do my other starters.  When I first started it from the dried starter, it rose so much so fast that I was kind of suspecious that maybe they had added some active dry yeast.  So maybe this wasn't the real deal as advertised.  I'm sure no expert but you do kind of develope a little feel for what's right & what's not.  Hmmm. 

DeWitt's picture
DeWitt

If you're getting hooch and a good acidic odor but no rise, it would seem you have lactobacilli growing and eating the gluten but no yeast.  Perhaps feeding with whole wheat or rye would provide enough yeast, not to mention vital trace minerals in the bran.  The other thing is, are you sure your temperature is only 85 F?  A paper I read said that the growth of C. Milleri, the yeast in a San Fransisco style sourdough, stops growing at 95 F.

karencolleen's picture
karencolleen

It was definitely 85 degrees or less.  I tried twice at 2 different temps.  I think that I'll throw away the rest of their dried starter selections (there werre several) and consider it a lesson to be more descriminating at what I buy & from whom.

DeWitt's picture
DeWitt

Would you mind trying one more time but this time instead of water use vinegar and honey?  You didn't say if you were using tap water or not.  If you are, try bottled spring water instead and unbleached unbromated flour like King Arthur AP.  Two teaspons of vinegar and a tablespoon of honey in 1 cup of water should be about right.  If you get activity, use plain water for the next feedings.  I have some dried starters on order to try, but not that particular one.  If you don't have honey, sugar will do.

karencolleen's picture
karencolleen

I can do this.  Water is not the issue.  We're very rural & have great well water.  I do have honey.  Cider vinegar or white? 

DeWitt's picture
DeWitt

I don't think it matters what type vinegar as it is diluted so much, but use white. 

Well water could have issues too.  It's possible for it to be too hard, although vinegar should help with that.  What about iron?  Do you get red iron oxide stains in your sinks and other places where water can stand and the iron can oxidize and precipitate?

Are you familiar with Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads?  I had another thought that using a whole grain mash rather than white flour and room temperature water might prove interesting.  The 150 F used to make the mash for several hours should kill off any yeasts and probably bacteria and provide a lot of sugars and trace minerals for the bugs to grow.  That's probably more work than you would want to do in a possibly hopeless cause.  But it's definitely something I'm going to try.

karencolleen's picture
karencolleen

No iron in our water.  I'll check out the Whole Grains book.  Hope to give your experiment a try next week when, hopefully, things slow down a bit here on the ranch.