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shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Starter Maintenance

Hi from Oz

I need some advice.  I bake bread weekly for myself.  Now I have an urge to attempt sourdough bread.  I know nothing about starters, but have been the recipient of 100g of mature white starter from a fellow poster (a baker by trade) on an Oz forum.  The donor amazingly lives just 15 mins from me, but as he was leaving for a month long holiday, he left me the starter in his letter box.  I collected about 1.5 hrs later.  His instructions were to feed 100g flour/65g water but  to just frig if not intending to bake for a while (maths not being my forte, I assume this is 65% hydration?)  Is this a good hydration for a white starter?  I think I need to feed and increase the base starter a little?  The trouble I have is this .. I brought it home and put it into frig am 28/12 (very warm summer here .. up to 40 dC some days). It was fed by the donor at 6pm on 27/12.  I transferred it to a sterilised glass container and popped it into the frig.

 When do I need to feed it next. .. in a week, or less?  It inhabits my frig and will do so between feeds.  I will not be baking until I have a little more starter built up.  There are just so many blogs, posts, books, etc. I am totally confused.

Unfortunately, I must have the bug .. I have given it a name already!

Sondra

LisaE's picture
LisaE

What's the name? I'm dying to know.

If you keep the starter in the fridge at 65% hydration, you should only need to feed it once per week. Take it out of the fridge, let it warm up an hour or two first. Feed it and let it sit for at least an hour, up to maybe 4 hours, when you see it start to rise and bubble a bit, pop it in the fridge.

If you are going to use it for baking, feed it at least 2 or 3 times and leave at room temp. Make sure you save some to feed and pop back into the fridge. Or you could feed the amount your "donor" specified, and use the discard to feed or build up for baking. I do this a lot since I'm a beginner and it would kill me to accidentally use all my starter for baking!

Good Luck!

 

shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Hi Lisa

How weird is it to name a flour/water concoction? Her name is Martha. I'm old but I didn't realise I had dementia! I will now feed on a weekly schedule and refresh and use the discard to bake a loaf perhaps. I will scour this site for a simple first loaf recipe.

I am planning to get a rye starter going from scratch in the New Year, as i love rye breads. Have devised a few ways to keep the developing starter at a sensible stable temp out of the frig .. not easy in 40 dC temps, but I have some ideas. Wish me luck.

Thanks for your prompt response. By the way, where are you?

Best wishes for 2013!
Sondra

LisaE's picture
LisaE

Hi Sondra,

(I have a second cousin named Sondra) I am in Carmichael, CA which is a suburb of Sacramento.

Starters are kinda like pets so I don't think it's strange to name it. Mine is Ursula ha ha.

I have made Sourdoughlady's Deluxe Sourdough, it makes great tasting bread and its not difficult. It makes a nice moist airy crumb and great crust.

Lisa

shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Hi Lisa

Thanks for your response.  I thought I responded to your last post, but I could not find it, so probably goofed it!  I typed it up on my laptop instead of the usual iPad post!  I have fed my donor starter (fed it earlier than the normal week feed) as the projected temps here in Sth Oz are predicted to range from 42 dC down to 31 and then up again to 41.  Not too game to leave Martha on the counter for any length of time.  Left it out overnight and it doubled, so it is now tucked back into the frig, where it will stay till next feed in approx a week.  

I really liked the Deluxe Sourdough link you provided and will try that when my starter is built up.  Luckily, some time ago I purchased from Amazon a set of imperial cup measures, as we are all metric over here.  I am just getting to grips with converting to/from bakers %, but volume conversions are a bit more than I can cope with!  One question re that recipe, what is meant by 'proofed' starter .. I presume it may mean ready to go starter?

Hope you have a good New Years .. I know where you are .. my late husband was from Alberta Canada, so I have travelled extensively in both the States and Canada.

With kind reards

Sondra

LisaE's picture
LisaE

Yes, cups to grams is a dilemma! I found a couple of links that may be of  use.

http://allrecipes.com/howto/cup-to-gram-conversions/

http://www.dianasdesserts.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/tools.measures/Measures.cfm

The second looks really interesting as it addresses the different ingredients being weighed.

Also I have a book that lists metric to US conversions

To convert grams to ounces multiply grams by 0.035

Ounces to grams multiply ounces by 28.35

As far as I know, proofed starter is starter that's about to peak, peaked or just finished peaking.

I would not add extra water to the starter, it's accustomed to being at that hydration. keep stirring it until the flour can absorb the water, even kind of knead it with the spoon or spatula. Also it helps if you mix the starter into the water first then add the flour and stir/knead until it's well mixed.

I wouldn't feed until it has peaked and begun to fall, no matter what temp it is, unless the 'donor' gave you other instruction. There is lead and lag time for each bacteria. If you feed too early the lactic acid bacteria does not have a chance to get a foothold.

Good luck!

shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Lisa, thanks for the links you provided.  They will be helpful.  My starter is on hold at present tucked into the frig!  I was planning to feed weekly .. 100g flour, 65g water as suggested by the donor.  I haven't yet discarded any as I only received 100g sour, and am trying to increase the amount.  It has only had one feed to date.  I need to be careful, as the temp is soaring .. 44C today (111F) and in the low 40s for the remainder of the week and into next!  Not good starter weather methinks. Last time I fed I left it out at room temp overnight.  Is this OK to do, or should it go back into frig?  I fed straigth from the frig, but used slightly warmed spring water to compensate for the cold.

Given that the donated starter was esablished, and after feeding to increase amount, when would you estimate it may be ready to start baking with?  I am a rank amateur in this domain, but am trying to pick up as much knowledge as I can.

In a way, I think it would have been much simpler for me to follow a recipe to develop a starter myself, so I would have the steps to a) develop, and b) then follow directions through to baking!  I did not get many instructions from the donor other than to frig it and feed 100g/65g flour/ water..

Sorry to be so dumb about this .. but I appreciate your help immensely.

Sondra

LisaE's picture
LisaE

Hi Sondra,

I think it's fine to leave it out overnight after feeding as long as it doesn't peak before you put it into the fridge. I can only go by how my starter acts, and when it's pulled out of the fridge and fed, it seems to take longer to peak, but I don't know about Martha, he he. I think the more it activates and eats at room temp, the less time it can spend in the fridge, but you will be able to see the streaks on the jar when it has peaked and fallen in the fridge too. Just keep an eye on it I guess.

Did Martha's parent tell you anything about discarding part of the starter before feeding? How long will he/she be gone? I would assume only a couple of weeks, otherwise Martha would take over your whole fridge!

So about baking with the starter, from what I've learned, (and I am by no means a pro or experienced sourdough baker) You should take an amount of the starter and  feed it at room temperature a couple of times without discarding. The amounts to feed would depend on the recipe you are following; how much starter do you need to build to make the dough and what hydration the recipe calls for.

Ok, so lets say, you are going to make a recipe that calls for 180 grams of "levain" or starter. I would take 10 grams of Ursula straight out of the fridge (I put the rest back in the fridge) to "build" a levain. To build a  100%hydration levain add equal weights of water and flour - Starter:Water:Flour (1:1:1 or 1:2:2 or 1:3:3) To build a 67% hydration you would feed 1:2:3 or 1:4:6. You'd need to calculate how much to feed to reach at least 180 grams after the 2nd feeding and use it when it peaks.

I apologize that I am not at all good at calculating how to build levains or I would give better advice. If you post specifics of what amount and hydration of levain the recipe calls for, hopefully one of the fantastic bakers on this site who are not beginners like me will chime and and share their wealth of information!

Hope I helped some!

shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Hi Lisa

Sorry I have not responded to your last post.  I was very worried about Martha and thought I had sent her to the next world!  However, I was checking another bread site (Australian) and an acquaintance of the donor of my starter has given me heart.  To the extent that my Martha is alive and kicking well!  I was also emboldened to start a new starter this AM, as temps here have dropped to 25C today and not a over 35C for the next week.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, or as an old boss of mine some almost 50 years ago (how time flies) used to say .. 'faint heart never won fat tart' (and no, I was not fat).  You should check out the Australian site, sourdough.com. ..  is it a great sourdough site with heaps of info.  There are quite a few American posters as well.

I will be baking my first loaf (or trying to) with an Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's seeded sourdough loaf in the new few days.  A big undertaking as I am going to change the recipe a little by way of the seed mix, but I'm comfident I can sort it out.  Will let you know how it works out.

In the meantime, do check out the website noted above, and thank you for all your help.

Sondra

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Sondra,

Yes, follow LisaE's advice above to maintain your starter and it will be well cared for.

I maintain my levain @60% hydration.   I just wanted to counsel you about the hydration in the final formula as you said maths is not your forte.   You may need to adjust the final water added in the dough if the recipe you use does not use a 65% hydration levain.   Are you confident about doing this?   If not, when the time comes, I suggest you post on TFL to ask this question; someone will doubtless help you at the time when you come to need it.

Best wishes

Andy

shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Thanks Andy for your post and offer of help.  I'm not confident about anything to do with sourdough, but I'm learning.  Had never laid eyes on a starter till I collected the gift from a fellow poster here in Oz.  I fed the beast last night late, a few days short of the week recommended, because of the extreme temps predicted for the next few days.  It's gonna be HOT.  Left it out o/night and it doubled, so I guess it is OK. It is now safely tucked back kn the frig.  I added about 5g more water than suggested as it was so thick.  Is it OK to change the hydration or should I revert to the 65g water at next feed?  I have just about come to grips with bakers %s.  The hydration thingy I am now researching.

Thanks for your help and interest

Sondra

HappyHighwayman's picture
HappyHighwayman

Some recipes don't call for the pure mother starter but rather "leaven" made from a tablespoon of starter mixed with water and flour left overnight...whats the difference?

 

LisaE's picture
LisaE

Hi HappyHighwayman,

Basically, a levain or leven is what you have built out of a small amount of your mother starter to make a loaf of bread, it's kind of the same thing, but you wouldn't bake all your starter, but you would bake all the levain in a loaf. Does this make sense?