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My Rye Starter Problem: Jewish Deli Rye

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Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

My Rye Starter Problem: Jewish Deli Rye

I have determined to bake the Deli Rye from George Greenstein's book, Secrets of a Jewish Baker.  I grew up during  the 1950's, in a very Jewish neighborhood of Cleveland. There were, at various times, as many as five Jewish bakeries on a three block section of Coventry Road, each with rye bread better than the other. That's the taste I am looking for.

I started by making a sort of slurry  from spring water and organic rye flour from the local health food store. The flour came out of a bulk bin and was unmarked as to what type it was, light, medium, or dark. I used no commercial yeast.

It came to life the first day. It bubbled, foamed, and smelled great. On the third day, after two feedings, it overflowed the jar it was in.  I transferred it to a large bowl, fed it the remainder of the health food store flour, and proceeded to increase the flour ratio in order to have a more dough-like consistency following the example in the Greenstein book. I used a sack of Bob's Red Mill organic Dark Rye.

The starter still appears to be alive. It smells sour and delicious and tastes nice and sour. There are bubbles. However, it is doing very little rising. There is no way it could raise a loaf unaided by commercial yeast.

Do I have a problem or should I continue with this starter? I'm tempted to bake a loaf as soon as I can buy some caraway seeds.

Does anyone with more experience in rye baking have an opinion?

 

 

 

lepainSamidien's picture
lepainSamidien

I've found that my starter doesn't always "rise" as I expect it to, and I've learned to look for other signs of life, rather than just at the rise. For me, the health of the culture can be ascertained through its smell, and the formation of lots of gas bubbles throughout. I keep my starter in a glass jar, so I can see the bubbles through the sides, but if your starter is alive and well, it should be bubbling healthily at the top, and have a nice, sweet, sour, acidulated, tart, apple-y kind of smell.

From your description, it sounds like it's doing really well ! As far as baking with rye, are you going to be mixing by hand or using a stand mixer to make your dough? I've always found that rye flour makes a dough a little bit more difficult to work with, as it has significantly less gluten than does wheat flour and more sugar, thus creating a stickier, gummier dough that is a bit more difficult to render super-elastic.

Additionally, I know that, when baking with rye, it's a LONG process, and a delicate one: LONG, because rye breads traditionally require a longer time to cool-down and dry (some recipes suggesting 48 hours after coming out of the oven!); delicate, because you have to hit a perfect medium when baking a rye bread . . . unlike wheat bread, the crumb doesn't really dry-out when it's over-baked. Rather, it becomes super dense and gummy, generally unpleasant. So, the perfect rye loaf takes a little trial-and-error with your oven to determine the best temperature and baking time.

In a word, rye breads, at least for me, demand a lot of patience. Patience when mixing and when baking. But, patience is a virtue (perhaps the greatest), and one that will be extremely well-rewarded if exercised properly.

Get those dang caraway seeds and start baking !

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

Well, I just checked my starter again and it is looking pretty good. Lots of bubbles throughout. It still smells fine but I liked the smell better when I used the flour from the health food store. I'm heading over there this morning to get some more as well as some caraway. I wonder why it rose so spectacularly when it was in its early, slurry form.

I have no first clear flour as yet. I'll try to buy a couple of pounds from  a local bakery. In the meantime I'll  bake a loaf of deli rye using bread flour along with the sour.

lepainSamidien's picture
lepainSamidien

Regrettably, not all rye flours are created equally, and there will always be variation from brand to brand. The whole wheat flour I get in bulk from my local health food store is unbelievable . . . fragrant, nutty, floral, even some faint notes of spice in there . . . compare that to your standard bagged variety and it's, sadly, lacking in almost every respect. Also, different flours will possess different yeast characteristics, depending on a lot of different factors (age, how treated the flour is, where it comes from, etc.) It does require some trial-and-error to determine which flour works best for you.

Bob's is usually a pretty reliable brand, but I haven't taken to any of their specialty flours ("specialty" here indicating anything other than unbleached white). They just don't get the depth of flavor that more freshly-milled stuff does. Since bread is almost entirely flour, always a good idea to go with the good stuff, rather than skimping. If you're shooting for the best loaf possible, gotta start with the best flour.

Let us know how the bread turns out !

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

I just got home and checked my sour. It is smelling VERY strong and not as pleasant as last time. Taste is extremely sour.

I decided to begin another starter with the fresh health store rye I just now purchased. I'm hesitant to bake and, perhaps, waste expensive ingredients with the old sour.

I may bake a small loaf just as a test.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

If the taste is "extremely sour" then biologically, it shouldn't be a problem. The baddies can't stand an acidic environment. If you just don't like that sour of a flavor in your bread, you can convert it to unbleached white flour to tone it down a bit. You can still use it to bake rye bread, and if it really matters, you can even convert it back one or two feeding cycles before you bake. If you really want to keep it pure rye, you could get it less sour by feeding it more often, not letting it get all the way to peak rise before feeding. Rye is often used to start sourdough cultures because it is so active. Whole wheat flour is also a bit more active than white flour, but not as much as rye, is what I've been told. I converted my white AP flour culture to whole wheat once to see if it would give me more flavor. I ended up converting it back because of the intense sour. I liked it, but nobody else did, and I was baking for my family's daily bread.

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

I tried converting some of the discard from my rye sour to white several feedings back. I added organic white bread flour and continued the culture with that.

It never seemed to take. At first it bubbled and rose, but then it separated and seemed to lose its' strength. I tossed it. I'll try again with a new batch.

I took a tablespoon of my sour, added about 3T of water and 1/2 cup of rye flour. I'm going to build a sponge over the next two days and use that to bake my bread. These are the directions from the N.Y. Bakers "Old School Deli Rye." http://www.nybakers.com/recipes/Old-School%20Deli%20Rye.pdf

I'm an inveterate tinkerer and experimenter. We'll see what happens.

 

108 breads's picture
108 breads

Since I do not stay home and stare at my starter all day, though that can be tempting, I examine it for bubble acitvity. I keep my starter in a glass jar and look for bubble activity on top, on the sides, and on the bottom. I never worry about doubling. My breads rise well. I feed it either: (1) twice a day when I have it out on the counter, or (2) twice a week when I keep the starter in the fridge. I can't bear to look at the starter when it seems starved. I like to have the starter out for 12 to 24 hours before beginning to put together a dough.

I looked at your NY bakery recipe for rye, since I am a rye enthusiast and I had a childhood in Brooklyn with delicious rye breads. (I won't get started on how delicious my grandmother's homemade gefilte fish was, or the stuffed cabbage.) I read that one should not knead rye doughs because rye is delicate. I have a good rye recipe if you want. It is good enough that my college daughter always asks for me to bake it to take back to school.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The traditional way of monitoring the maturity of a fed rye sour is to look for the expansion of dry rye flour sprinkled on the top of the just-fed sour. This is described in Greenstein's book. See pp. 133 ff, in the 2nd edition.

Or, see this TFL posting, which has photos to help: Care and feeding of a rye sour

David

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

I should have mentioned that, having read George Greenstein's chapter on sourdough and David's excellent posts on the subject complete with photos, I did cover the starter with dry rye flour.

I saw no expansion or separation of flour into "continents."

The starter is obviously active, but is not raising the way David's did.

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I have used Bob's RM Dark Rye in the past with good results, but not for a couple years. I did have a bag of dark rye from another source once that seemed to refuse to ferment. I ended up tossing it.

If your sour is very high hydration - like a thin batter - it would show activity just by getting really bubbly. The rye sour that expands is the consistency of a very thick paste. 

David

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

Well, my sour is about ready for baking, but there is a problem. I just don't like the smell. I am totally inexperienced when it comes to sourdough starters, this being my first. The various ways in which the smell of a healthy starter are described, "fruity," "Pleasantly sour," etc don't really apply here. I wish one of you could smell this stuff.

Anyway, I began another starter yesterday using the health food rye. I scooped it myself from the 25 lb bag which was simply labeled, "rye flour."  It had just arrived at the store. The starter is merrily bubbling away in a warm corner of my kitchen.

I hate to waste the old starter to which I've already sacrificed several cups of flour, but I'll refrigerate it and make a decision as to its fate later on.

I'll gladly mail some in a zip lock bag to anyone who is willing to test it. Just message me if you're interested.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

it could be that you're not familiar with the pungent smell of a hungry fully fermented starter.  I don't let my starter ferment that far, or if it does, quickly reduce to just a teaspoon and feed with about 60g water and 80g flour.  this reduces the size and gives it plenty of food to munch on.  Then I let it sit until it is starts to bubble and rise (a few hours) say about a third risen, cover loosely (plastic with rubber band) and pop it into the fridge.  I start to use it in about 3 days. It's good for several weeks.  All I do to make more starter for a loaf is to take out a heaping teaspoon of starter and give it a good feeding returning the stock to the fridge.  When the newly fed refreshed starter has peaked, usually the next morning, I use it.  So the trick is to take out enough (one or two spoons) to make about half a cup or a full cup of starter.

The bacteria and yeast eat through the flour and deposit by-products, these build up over time and the alcohol content will increase.  If you take a very fermented rye starter and distill the alcohol off of it, you end up with moonshine.  Distill that again (XX) and the proof (the one the gov is interested in) goes up to about 40, a third time (XXX) will burn the skin off your gullet. 80 proof?  

Getting back to the starter...  

As the by-products build in the starter, the food declines to a point that yeast will go into a state of preservation to avoid being killed off.  In that state, the do not produce gas, they are still there lurking, protected in a goo of self made alcohol to stay off invasion of other yeasts and bacteria.  (Sometimes this works other times not.) But a very mature starter (older than yours, smelling strong and seems to have lost it's rising power) needs one good feeding and about 3 days to come back to activity.  

See a pattern here?  About the same amount of time it takes to make a new starter from scratch.  The only difference is the older starter has more yeast spores waiting to wake up when food and moisture appear.  Many of the same bacteria are already there and kick in sooner to prepare the starter for the yeast waking up.  Sooner than just flour, then again, some bakers love the 3 day old starter smell and some testing has shown that particular bacteria are very high at that stage when yeast begin to wake up and grow.

Starter smells of fruit, cheese, nuts, are all fleeting aromas often changing with time as starter by-products build in the starter.  Not everyone can smell them or catch them at the right time as the starter is rising.   To some, sourdough starter smells more like vinegar or beer or old wine or even an orchard on a fall morning.   ok, those are, oops, romantic smells.  :)  I'm just a sourdough whiffing crazy lady.  :)

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And I can say that it smells pretty good after ...Sept 28 to Oct 11... 13 days.  

I don't know how thick it started out but it is very flat & runny now but smells like it has both bacteria and yeast, just not in the right balance... yet.   ("feed me!")

I took out a level tablespoon of starter and added a few spoons of water and some rye flour to thicken it to a soft paste.  I should mail the outside envelope back to you Larry, it smells like a nice young yeasty white wine.  :)  I would not dump the starter it has lots of potential.  I think it just didn't have enough yeast yet, probably more now after the holiday travel.   

We shall see what happens in the next few days.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and sour. ah ha!  too little yeast or those slow beasties that take forever.  Time to find the faster ones.  The sourdough does have some nicer aromas in there.  I have no way of testing the pH level in the starter, I put the original in the refrigerator for safe keeping.  

The starter got reduced to a heaping teaspoon, feed about 3 tbs water and enough rye flour to make a loose paste.  I have placed it into a plastic cup and covered it.  Marked the level and we will see how far it rises no matter how high.   fed at 10 am.  The temp in here is around 72°C.  When stirring it down, it had the typical bubble breaking and texture of rye starter with release of aroma (my favorite part) and the starter has potential, it just smells young, like it is missing something.  This may improve over the next few days.  Pear is there and a slight nuttiness.  

So Larry, if you got some old smelly starter from the same batch you sent me, follow along with a parallel pepping up.

Took a picture this morning of the starter, not much rise and tiny bubbles on the bottom after a feed and 18 hrs. (day 1) Most of the starter was discarded except for a teaspoon and then fed in the deli container.  From the picture you should be able to see it's a soft paste.  This 74g of paste is moved into a clean plastic drinking cup.

 

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

Yes, I have about a quart of the stuff. It's been sitting in the fridge since the day I sent that sample to you.  I gave up feeding it then as a waste of rye flour. I will parallel along with you, though, as I'm curious to learn more about sours and starters.

Keep me posted.

Adriana Leipuri's picture
Adriana Leipuri

Hi,

I have some experience with rye sourdough starters. It sounds to me like there is something wrong with your mother starter. It's a bit weird that it makes bubbles but doesn't rise. What is your water and rye flour ratio?

All the knowledge I have about the matter is traditional knowledge that has been handed down to me by several rye bread bakers. According to what I have been told, the more days you keep your dough, the more sour it will become. This has been proven by experience. I usually keep my dough for 4 days and my bread is sour - I like it that way.

I have also been experimenting with several rye flours and I have found that wholegrain rye flours fail miserably. I think it is because the bacteria and wild yeast can't process the fiber and are left with less energy than if you had been using rye flour made from just the inside of the rye grain (but this is just an untested hypothesis).

It sounds to me like you have too much water, have been resting it for a week (?), and don't actually have yeast in your starter but just wild bacteria. From my understanding, a rye starter is a combination of both. 

If I were you, I'd go to one of these delis where they sell 100% rye bread and I would ask them for a piece of dough and I would just add that to your starter. Nothing like the wild factor to make a good starter! :D

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

So now comes the part where we try to boost the yeast power of the starter.  It doesn't take a lot of flour just a lot of watching and patience.   Two things I am watching:  I made it thick enough to rise well yet thin enough to ferment quickly so I'm watching for the peak or maximum rise;  and I am watching the sour build.  (That I have to taste for.)

After 8 hrs, I will taste it for sour and if I think it is sour enough compare it with the rise (2 more hours to go). If there is no sour taste, let it alone and move to a warmer spot to encourage the bacteria.  

Good signs so far...  the starter is not separating and tiny gas bubbles are lifting the starter about one centimeter above the 2 cm starting mark.  so that is about one third in 6 hrs.  The starter has risen more in the last 3 hrs than the first 3 hrs (predictable.) The starter is pleasant to sniff, no longer smells like wet flour, has a light aroma sort of like a rye cracker.  

Rye starters are notorious for staying domed when the starter has fallen underneath, so watching the bubbles on the side of the container is important.  Right now they are mostly tiny and hard to see (for me.)  About 3 bubbles are the size of a typical glass headed straight pin, many more are smaller, the size of regular sewing straight pins about 1mm in diameter.  They are all very round meaning the starter is holding the gas in place.  (As opposed to letting the bubbles rise or bubbles joining with each other into odd shapes.)  Irregular bubbles would imply that the starter has peaked.  Poke or tear the top surface gently to see if the starter collapses.  If it does, it's time to reduce the size of the starter and feed it more water and flour.  

Because we are wanting to speed up the yeast in the starter, it does help to have a whole rye flour that will introduce more yeast varieties per spoonful than a sifted rye flour.  Chunks are no problem if one pays attention to yeast aromas and sour taste, you can't go wrong when chunky thin goop won't rise much.  Just watch for lots of effervescence. 

I am using Rogers no additive dark rye flour, with 13.3% fiber.  So far a Great Flour!  we are still on the rise here....

 

Adriana Leipuri's picture
Adriana Leipuri

Why does adding whole rye flour speed up the yeast in the starter?

I had a couple of fails with a few of my rye breads because the amount of wholegrain flour was a bit too much. I actually added a tiny amount of wheat flour to get it going again and it solved all my problems. I also left it uncovered and outside the fridge to let some wild yeast enter the mixture.

I am a little intrigued by the way people have been storing their sourdough starters. I think most starters, and maybe this one, gets ruined during storage. I keep about 60 g of starter in a wooden container and leave it in the fridge. I keep it there for two weeks maximum and don't do anything to it.

I only start "activating" it when I start making my bread.

But anyway, from the looks of your pictures, I don't really see anything wrong with the starter. I would start making bread with it already. The only problem I see is that Grandpa Larry has been keeping a quart of it?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I did give it a lot of food to eat!     between 16:30 and 18:30  (2 hours)   it rose another centimeter.  That means it rose in the last 2 hours as much as it did in the first 6 hrs.  There are thousands more of those pin head size bubbles and a few bigger ones on top.   We are looking good!  :)   

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Peaked at 20:15 or 8:15 pm  

I figure 10g of starter with 37g water and 27g rye flour  for 74g of starter    almost tripled in 10 hours.

  

note the dimples and uneven top.  15 minutes later it leveled out and started to fall.  It is still bubbling away and trying to rise one more time, but it's enough.  Next round I don't get to see but it should be faster and more aggressive at rising.

Next step: 

I am removing 10 g and adding water and rye flour.  Will check on it in the morning after 12 hrs. 72°F  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When I tried mixing equal weights of flour and water, I got dough.  Not a thick batter but a stiff paste.  So I must be mixing Rogers Rye with more than 100% hydration (more water than flour weight.)  

Woke up to a deli dish of bubbles and sponge,bubbles on the side (photo) with lots of larger irregular bubbles and is at the least doubled itself in volume if not more.  Hard to tell, I didn't mark it.    Smooth top (tends to dry with so much space.) showing no piercing or bubbles breaking the surface.  I did turn down the temperature last night but my furnace seems to have a mind of it's own keeping the kitchen at 72°F. (time to find the furnace brain and do some push button surgery. -2°C last night.)

 

Aroma is light rye sour and I don't taste much sour.  I stirred the starter and will let it stand and "loosen up"an hour longer before discarding and feeding.  Timing it again while I can watch it.  The first 5 hours it doesn't need to be watched.

Yup, a quart is a lot of starter...(and feeding it a nightmare)  unless you bring it out and let it ferment to beer, maybe distill it for medicinal reasons.  Outside preferably.  Hanging on to more than half a cup for backup isn't needed and doesn't win plus points with the rest of the family.  I would compost most of it and when the starter has built yeast satisfactorily, ditch it after saving some of the better starter.

I find this starter much too slow.  When the LAB acids are too dominant in the starter, rye matrix tends to fall apart before the yeast gasses have built up in the dough.   I would like to see it peaking sooner with a larger amount of fresh flour.   The starter has to be sour enough to help the matrix and then have enough yeast to expand it. Whether paired with each other slow or fast, they have to balance each other.  Too much bacteria isn't good or too much yeast isn't good either.  I tend to watch my yeasts, and let the bacteria have enough room to take care of themselves.   That includes letting the starter peak out ever so often, and sometimes letting it sour longer.  

There are direct relationships involved with temperature and avail. food and how soon the yeasts can get to it.   I want to develop the yeast in the starter that have a faster metabolism and a quicker reproduction rate, I need to first get them in there and that will happen sooner with flour that contains a larger variety of yeast (as opposed to the few yeasts floating in the air.)  When I reduce the time between feedings, and the yeast bounces back, then I have encouraged faster metabolizing yeast.  The slow pokes will be outnumbered and just fade away.  Well not really, they just don't get a chance with a faster feeding pace.  

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a picture says a thousand words...       ...still rising    wait out 8 to 12 hrs and feed again.

Next is the 1 to 10 ratio test and a loaf.  (10g starter + 120g water +100g flour)

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

Mine's rising as well. It still doesn't smell as good as the wheat, but not as rank as the stuff in the container I scooped yours out of.

I guess it's possible i just don't know what a rye sour ought to smell like. I assumed it smelled great, like rye bread. Could I be in error?

The possibility could be life altering.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Strange things are happening to the discard rye starter. I've kept them covered sitting in the corner getting riper.

The oldest one is starting to smell like rotten pumpkins. That's what I think of when smelling it.  That is unusual.  It should smell strong but more nutty and sour, not rotten.  I can see why you don't want to bake with it.  I wouldn't either. 

The second one (yesterday's test) is not so strong wth that scent. And today's doesn't have it. Now the question is what is it? This reminds me of a fungal invsion called rope. if it is rope... I will ditch this as fast as I can and spray everything with a vinegar solution.  I will take some of the starter that is still risen, carefully spoon out a good size lump frying up a thick english muffin sort of bread and let it stand a few days.  If rope shows its ugly face.  I will let you know.  Meanwhile this stinky pumpkin starter sounds familiar...  yup, back 7 years ago I had one.  Will keep working on this until I get it straightened out.  The 10g feedings will continue.  1 to 4 ratio.  

Meanwhile, keep the starter separate from your other starter that smells better.  And wash carefully everything that comes in contact with it.  I'm glad everything I have here is in disposable cups, it is easy to pitch the whole lot.  A spray of 10% vinegar in a mister is a great way to disinfect.  Just letting you know ahead of time but you don't want rope getting a grip on your kitchen.

Mini

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

This morning the oldest starter still smells peculiar (gotta give me a star for whiffing it) but interesting enough the next oldest smells stronger.  Did a double check. Interesting. That might mean that this is curable if we give it time...   The starter fed last night has peaked and I simply added a spoonful of spelt to it,  now at 8am. covered and let it stand in the kitchen.  In an old thread... I was reviving dried starters and had this problem.  It might have been from rushing the starter while it was making important steps in the bacterial progression it has to naturally go through in the first 3 to 5 days (judging by temperature).  The 13 day trip did give the starter the chance to use up all it's stored food (if it had any) and to spore if things got extreme.  The bacteria would be the first ones to show up with a feeding and be noticed first (thru aroma)  which leaves me wondering if we are not perhaps dealing with a yeast (since a variety are in there) ... well, I'm still wondering what exactly went on that first week of this starter.  The pumpkin aroma is there too it is just milder as I check on it.  This aroma seems to hang in the nose and not leave.  It did bake out of my little test bread and it smells just fine (also makes me think it's a yeast.)  

I had used up my Caputo wheat flour, the other is bleached (we want unbleached with lots of micro organisms) so I added a little spelt flour (it's an old variety of wheat) to the already peaked starter, maybe something in wheat does help with this particular problem since your converted wheat starter is plugging away and comments from Adriana lean in that direction and my old post also says I added some wheat to a similar rye starter. The aroma is being made  long after the initial fermentation.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

reduced to 10 g and I added a splash of water 20g rye and 10g spelt and a little more water to make a soft paste.  I think we are on the right track.  :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

This morning the smell is still there.  ???  Ditch and start over.   A new starter may be up and working better by the time this is cleared up.

I see two options:

  • Try a method that uses less flour.  One level tablespoon rye flour per day and enough water to cover.  (no discarding and swirl or stir several times a day when you happen to walk by.)   First day warm 85°F, next few days 75°F and do this until the starter smells very yeasty and separating top liquid will darken.  Don't rush it.  About 6- 7 days.  There will be no rising or heavy foaming if the mixture stays thin, thin for good fermentation.  It should not be more than a cup of culture solution, closer to half a cup.   

Then remove 10g and feed 100g rye flour and enough water (90 to 120g) to make a sticky thick paste.  Place in a 2 cup straight narrow container and mark.  It should start to rise after about 4-5 hrs and continue until it peaks.

  • Take some of your wheat starter and inoculate the rye flour & water, let it ferment and stand to see if the smell comes back.  If not, instant rye starter.  If it does come back start a new rye starter with above directions.  

Two things bother me in your first posted description 1) it foamed up the first day  and   2) the third day it rose over the container. With a head space 4 times the starter volume, this should not be happening, not with rye flour.  Wheat? yes.  Rye? no.

Mini

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

It's been awhile ago, but I'm certain there was not 4 times the head space above the starter. It was pretty active, though.

I just pulled my wheat starter out of the fridge that was converted from this same rye. Smells really good and yeasty. My intention was to discard about half and feed it after it warmed up. It  looked and smelled so good, though, that I think I'll make a pita out of the discard. Gluten is developed and it's full of bubbles. Needs more flour first. It's pretty slack as doughs go.

I'll report after I bake it on my cast iron skillet.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

from the original mailed batch.  (cleaning the fridge) Could try something different...  very small regular feedings.  (1:1:1) 12 hrs apart at 28°C.   And let the bacteria attack each other.  Mu ha ha!

After combing older threads, I'm beginning to regret that I didn't feed the starter with a one to one ratio killing the leuconostic bacteria and letting the yeast get populated.  It is possible that the yeast count was indeed low and all the volume (rise) was from bacteria.  (In some countries, there is a taste for this bacterial rise.)   

A typical pattern of the fix is:  (can take days)

  • with low feed ratio (1:1 or 1:0.5) the starter rises quickly, smells off, and suddenly goes flat (don't discard keeping the starter acid) a sign that the rise was bacterial in nature.  (will also loose the yellowish color and be more tan or gray)
  • as starter is reduced and fed equal amounts of flour, the yeast slowly build and slightly bubbles.  
  • When yeast beer smell is well established, use a small amount of the starter (storing the older culture as back up)  the 1:1 feeding ratio increases towards 1:3 until good smelling activity is there.  
  • When that is successful, a 1:10 test is done at 100% hydration