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Will my starter be OK in the fridge?

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agrossbl's picture
agrossbl

Will my starter be OK in the fridge?

Hi!

So I have heard that it takes about 30 days for a starter to be "mature." I am going to be going out of town next weekend, and it will have been 3 weeks since I started. It seems to be healthy- bubbles nicely, about doubles in size after 8 or a few more hours. Do you think it will survive in the fridge for about 3 days without feeding?

 

Also, I have only been feeding it WW flour. Do you think it would be ok to start feeding it all purpose?

 

Thanks in advance!

phaz's picture
phaz

 it sure will!  feed normally and when it starts to rise again, toss it in the fridge.  most go a week between feedings when storing in the fridge so 3 days will be just fine.  when you return, let it get to room temperature and rise normally, then start you normal feeding schedule again. you'll be good!

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Yes, it'll be fine, and yes, AP will work fine.

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

When I prepare my starter for a bake, I take a bit out from my storage starter (seed ?) and feed it twice at 10-12 hrs intervals at 1:2:2 ( 20:40:40) at room temp to get 100 grms of starter.  However, for the starter that goes back in the fridge for another week or more before my next bake, is 1:2:2  overfeeding or underfeeding?  I'm currently feeding at 1:1.5:1.5, I've read somewhere that if the starter runs out of food, it turns sour and the taste becomes unpleasant.  Thank you very much for yr advice.

Judy

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

starving me!   :)  Try feeding more!  If your seed starter is taking 10 to 12 hrs to peak (23°C)  fed 1:2:2 you have very low yeast population in the starter.  

Try a 1:5:5 or a 1:10:10 at room temp. (what is it?)  for a build over 10 hrs and see what it does.    The 20:40:40 feed will work if the starter is placed in the fridge right away after feeding.  However, I don't do it that way.  I prefer to feed closer to 1:10 and enough water for a soft dough or thick paste (rye)  let it expand about 1/3 and then pop it into the fridge.  If the yeast inoculation from this stored seed (after 3 days refrigerated) takes too long when elaborating, then I use a larger inoculation preparing for dough and/or increase the fermentation of the culture before using or chilling.  This can be done with the seed culture or the innoculated culture to make up for lost fermenting time.  

The key is to feed it enough to stimulate growth and then slow it down before it consumes all the food.  The longer it stands in the fridge the more food it needs especially at 100% hydration.

The seed starter is maintained.  The inoculated starter is played with and manipulated for sour or no sour in bread.  The two are fed and handled differently.  One culture (seed) gets a routine, the other gets killed and experimented with.

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

but I didn't quite understand all of your explanation above, Eng. not being my mother tongue. The reason I'm only feeding my starter @ 1:2:2 is because I don't want to keep too much starter on my hands and end up dumping more than what I use to bake. I currently keep approx 130grm of storage starter in my fridge and each time I just take about 20 grms to refresh.  dump the remainder with some left to be fed again and stays in the fridge.

I'm not sure if I may have misunderstood the procedure for maintaining a storage starter (fed  every 8 or 12 hrs in room temp daily,)  vs feeding a starter prior to baking (I'm also doing this at 8-10 hrs for first feed before bed time and then 2nd feed in the morning at 6:00/6:30.  By 10:00 /10:30 a.m.or after 4-5 hrs, I'm ready to mix everything tog.  I've tried bulk fermenting @ 4 hrs in room temp then shape or bulk fermenting for 3 and into the fridge overnite and they seemed to have worked okay according to me, but as you have seen from the crust and crumb of my breads, there is still plenty of room for improvement.  Could it be due to the fact that I'm not refreshing my starter correctly timing-wise? I've just read a post from DMSnyer  who feeds his storage starter at 1:2:4  and I've asked him  same question, and that was before you had time to explain this to me.   FYI, my kitchen temp is closer to 30C during the summer months and may need feeding at closer intervals or not?

Judy

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

feed 7.5 g, 15g water and 30g flour (for David's ratio) or 10:20:20 for what you are now doing.  You have great incubating temperatures and may make more use of techniques to slow down fermentation.   Heat will affect the starter speeding up both micro populations and fermentation so a 1:2:2 feeding would be more like a the ratios used when starting up a starter culture.  

As the starter shifts from being new to stable, infesting flour& water, it doesn't take much starter to be effective.  The only reason I see for keeping the feeds low is to put the brakes on the starter growth or to slow it down.  As the by-products from fermentation increase, the yeast numbers will drop off as food is used up.  Every 2hrs you can bet that your populations have doubled, they double again in the next two hours and again in another two hrs.  2x2 4x2  8x2 16x2  32x2  so that in 10 hrs, you went from  2 to 64  increase provided there is enough food.  

If you only give them enough food for say 4 hrs of eating (double the starter weight) at warm temps and not give them more food or slow them down, they attack each other and build up lots of flavor for the bread.  That may be the goal of the loaf starter build.  But this may be detrimental to your seed starter activity if the seed starter runs on very little food.  The goal is to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria and yeast.  You don't want the bacteria & yeast dying or sporing before you use them.  

You have to judge your seed starter, if you find it loosing rising power, then your yeast numbers are not what they should be.  The way to boost them is to feed enough flour so that their numbers can be maintained or slightly increase even when you slow them down in the refrigerator.  Recipes vary, starter feeds vary, temperature and environmental conditons vary.  Do what works for you.  

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

It appers that I may have been starving my starter with my  weekly  1:2:2 feeding ritual.   My starter starts to bubble after 4 days in the fridge and gives out a nice yoghurty smell but by the time I'm ready to refresh it after  a week, the tangy smell is more  pronounced/sour but still bubbly but sinking.  My question would be:  Is this a sign that  my starter crying out for more food at this point and that I should  be feeding sooner before the week is up?   If I give  it a larger dose of feeding now , would I be overfeeding it before it  bubbles up again when it's  time for its weekly refreshment?  My starter is actually quite well established as  it comes from my baker who feeds it everyday at room temp but I may have screwed up the feeding pattern by keeping it in the fridge with insufficient food.  Thanks.

Judy

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

can be another.  Take out 10 g  of the refrigerated seed sd starter when you can watch it for 8 hrs.  Add 100g water and 100g flour mix well and pack level in a clean clear glass jar or tall drinking glass.  Cover so gasses can escape and bugs stay out.  Do not stir.  Mark the beginning level and every level (at the glass edge not the hump in the middle) at one hour levels.  Do this until the culture has stopped rising and starts to flattens out because the gasses can no longer stay trapped in the starter.  Compare the levels and go back and mark the spot where the starter has "doubled" or for example; if you used a measuring beaker, and the original level was say 170ml (volume) "doubled" would be 340ml.

(This is an overproofed bulk rise, the first peak.   If you were to stir or just bump it and make it fall the gluten gets pressed together and food gets pushed around, especially with stirring, and the starter will rise again because the integrity of the starter is not lost and some food is still left.  I suggest you play with your starter and try this.  Let the starter teach you about itself.)    

Do note how the starter is changing and kicking out aromas, getting thinner and if you taste it along the way (start from the time you first inoculate the flour and water) you will see, smell and taste the changes in the starter as it ferments.  This should give you a basis as to how your starter is behaving. Just leave it out on the table top, not in a draft or sunlight and make observations as time goes by.  Write down the room temp, what you see, smell, texture of the starter and how thin it looks, size of bubbles, taste, height, color, etc..  Just keep watching it until it separates and falls apart into strings and hooch. Stir it if you want to or just leave it alone.  

If you want to take some starter out at the first peak, then do so, remove 10g and feed it 1:5:10 (50% hydration s:w:f) watch it until it starts rising about 1/3 and pop into the refrigerator (as a seed starter in about 3 days to 2 weeks) or leave the dough ball out on the counter top to race along side the other one.  keep separate notes.  Compare them when done taking notes.  

Playing with the sd starter culture is important so you get to know yourself when you should feed it.  A good time is when it first peaks or even peaks a second time while activity is still there yet diminishing. Don't rely on one method (rise or smell or taste or texture) to tell you when it is ready to be fed.  When the starter is cold, it will not give off much aroma, it will also be thicker and stiff.  Taste will tell you more about a starter's condition than anything else.  Note sour or fruity, nutty, yeasty notes and any after-tastes after you have spit it out.  

Mini

 

leftypg's picture
leftypg

Hi Mini,

Being new to this 'posting business'. I should have directed the previous question to you by using 'reply' --I'm learning.  Can you help me with the answer to the earlier question? Because------you said:

"Playing with the sd starter culture is important so you get to know yourself when you should feed it.  A good time is when it first peaks or even peaks a second time while activity is still there yet diminishing."

My started seems to grow to greater levels at each of two additional rises before I feed it---please see my earlier question!

Thank you,

lefty

ndechenne's picture
ndechenne

I keep mine in the fridge all the time... and it keeps quite active. I take it out and refresh two times before baking, to get the amount I need and to get Niles woken up. The rest... back in the fridge. Niles is super active and tangy... works like a charm.

leftypg's picture
leftypg

Mini, thank you for addressing the 'issue' of subsequent peaks and stir downs after the first peak  It has been a subject which has confounded me for quite a while.  Conventional wisdom tells us to use or feed our starters ---" once they have reached their peak and begin to recede".  If 'peak' means having the maximum number of critters in the jar----I would like to know how to recognize that 'moment'!

I keep a 100% seed starter which is fed at 40 : 100 : 100  (s,w,f with 25% WW flour and 75% AP). I keep it at room temperature (low 70s) The First Peak usually happens about 4 to 5 hours after feeding, and rarely reaches over 2 1/2X increase.  When it starts to sag I Stir it Down. This Second Rise usually will grow to 3 or 3 1/2X,and will only take 1 to 2 hours to get there!  When the second rise starts to sag, I stir it down again for a Third Rise and it grows to about 3X in about the same time as the Second Rise took. The whole process takes about 11 to 13 hours, depending on the weather---that's when I feed again, using 40 grams of this seed.

Soooo----At which of the three climax points does the jar contain the most critters, and is that the point at which it should be used and/or fed and put to bed in the fridge??  Is this the elusive 'Peak' I have been looking for?

Thanks for going over and over and over these topics for those of us who are just starting!

lefty

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If you only feed it 2.5 times (1:2.5:2.5) it can only rise 2.5 times until it starts to fall. 

leftypg's picture
leftypg

 "If you only feed it 2.5 times (1:2.5:2.5) it can only rise 2.5 times until it starts to fall."

Mini, I'm a little confused.  After the first peak of 2X to 21/2X (3 to 4 hours), I stir it down--then it peaks at 3X  (less han 2 hours).  Then after I stir it down again--it will go up to about 31/2X (less than two hours)! The total process of the three peaks is about 8 to 9 hours.   What am I not understanding?  What is the 'real peak' ------ the time I should use it to bake?  When should I feed it?   Sorry to be so dense!

lefty

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

because stirring redistributes food and tightens the gluten matrix.  Use the wheat starter when it peaks in volume the first time.  The peak of yeast numbers is another kind of peaking but it is a good time to add more (not reduce or discard the starter) flour and water to form a dough.  I Don't think you want to exhaust the starter (reduce the numbers) by letting it mingle with too much fermentation products as this may trigger eventual reduction in the gas output.  One has to find the balance between letting the flour ferment for flavour and rise against the deteriorating process going on caused by the fermentation.  

I don't have a way to count the little wee beasties but my experience has told me that the yeast peak varies with the type of flour and is not always coincidental with the volume peak of the rising starter.  Some flour mixtures break down before the yeast numbers peak or cannot trap gas. With wheat, it is pretty much an established observation that the yeast numbers are at their peak when the starter first peaks in volume.  That is, that first rise after the starter inoculation of a 50% to 100% hydration mixture of flour and water, covered and allowed to rest undisturbed in a draft free warm environment.  Do this with your bread dough (for comparison only) and you will discover your rise is over-proofed.  Don't let your bread dough bulk proof until it starts to level out and fall.  

Growth is exponential, meaning every two hours or so (at ideal temps) the beasty numbers have doubled.  Provided the mixture of flour and water (starter) can trap escaping gasses, the starter will rise slowly at first and then rapidly rise to level off and as the integrity of the dough mixture is being attacked and broken down by fermentation and enzymes, gas will escape.  If you stir it, degassing it, the matrix changes, compacting it trapping gas again.  The fact that your starter rises a second and third time only tells me that the flour used can buffer acids pretty well and that it is wheat.  The gas production is leveling out and tapering off but the trapping of gas has changed.  The numbers of yeast and bacteria are increasing slightly but only to the point of food they can find, when food dwindles they attack each other and the aromas in the starter will get stronger as fermentation by-products build up.  Fermentation will then keep the numbers in check and exponential growth will slow down.  The best time to use a wheat starter would be at the first peak, just before, during or very shortly after.  

If the aromas build up too much after the first peak, or it ferments too long,  it might be advisable to add more food to the starter to keep the beasties numbers up there at a usable level.  I have often added a little flour and popped the starter into the fridge (to slow it) If I had an interruption in my baking schedule.  Or just reduced and fed it again delaying baking to the next day. 

I have been packing and traveling and yet glad to be back in my home kitchen now.  Too much clutter!  (big family style kitchen)  Time to spring clean!  

I hope my explanation is making sense now.  If not, there must be one tiny little key detail that is missing.  Ask Q's until it clicks.  Or better yet, tell me how you view the process, maybe there is a misunderstanding somewhere we can help you clear up. 

Mini

leftypg's picture
leftypg

 

Mini,

I can see it more clearly now----WHAT A WONDERFUL EXPLANATION! :

"The fact that your starter rises a second and third time only tells me that the flour can buffer acids pretty well and that it is wheat."      ........."The best time to use a wheat starter would be at the first peak, just before, during or very shortly after." 

I have read, or have been told, much of what you included in your exhaustive explanation.  I think I was concentrating on the word 'peak', and probably made a mistake when I called the subsequent rises 'peaks' as well----I confused myself!  I was focused on the fact that the second and third 'rises' were higher than the first peak and wondered if they, in fact, might be the elusive peaks I was hearing about simply based on their height. Your explanation of the relative importance of each of the rises is what made me look at it in another light.  Thank you very much Mini, for hammering at it from different directions.  I think I have a handle on it now and will proceed with more confidence-------- Thanks again for all the time you put into this explanation!  I will name my first decent loaf of sourdough after you!

lefty

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I just want your first born!  :)   Lol

Now, go bake something!  

 

"Ach wie gut das Niemand weis, das ich Rumpelstiltzchen heiss!"    

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

I've been doing a fair bit of reading over the weekend and I think I'm beginning to understand what you've been telling me.  I may have mistaken feeding a starter to keep it alive and active with refreshing a starter for baking (double within 4 hrs or less) I may have underfed my storage starter with 1:2:2 and should increase it to at least 1:3:3 or 1:4:4 if I was leave it at room temp for 12 hrs between feeds. (2 feeds in 24 hrs followed by a third feed and into the fridge until next refresh)   I had not realised that 1:2:2 was not enough food for the starter in the heat.  My starter is able to rise to double within 4 hr (I did a build starting with 5 grms, then increased  to15 grms  and while there was no sign of a rise in the first 2 hrs, it started to rise by the third hr and slightly more than double after 4.  While I'm at work, it would have risen to the max and receded  by the time I get home.   Ideally, I think I should aim to use the some of the  refreshed starter when it peaks after the second feed first thing in the moring and feed the remainder the third time before going back in the fridge).  I'm thinking of keeping my starter in a cooler bag with a small ice pack while I'm at work and hopefully this can slow down the growth without having to resort to huge feeds).  Thank you again for your advice.   

Judy