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Hello from Manitoba, Canada & starter Q

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tea berries's picture
tea berries

Hello from Manitoba, Canada & starter Q

Hi everyone, I'm new and so glad to be here!! 
I'm having some starter issues and if you've read as many forums on sourdough starter as I have, you probably don't want to read a book about "it didn't rise, bubbles are few, what's that liquid on top, etc" so I'll state short what I know, then what my problems are. :D Ok here we go:

What I know from reading for hours :p :
The liquid is hooch. The starter is hungry- feed it! Or it's too watery - thicken it!

It won't rise if it's too watery - the mixture won't hold the bubbles, they'll just rise and release! OR your sourdough starter is dormant and needs 1.warmth 2.food 3.more exposure to environment or yeasty flour (rye, whole grain or whatever really)

Organic whole grain or rye is better than all purpose bleached. Basically as natural as you can get - heck, go get some grain and grind it yourself if you can! (not me lol)

Ok, so here's what I DON'T KNOW or can't figure out from my trail and error:

1. I started with all purpose flour and potato water from boiling 5 small yukon golds (it was all I had in the house) and got a rise that filled a half gallon jar and actually bubbled over and I was like "Omg I'm a sourdough master and didn't know it!" and then that was it - I managed to curse myself because since then I've had to all but give it CPR to keep it active. Given I don't use potato water each time I feed, just regular pre-boiled water in my kettle from tea hours before. Is it supposed to consistently double? What's the issue with the bacteria vs the yeast, and when do they finally hash it out, and how long does it usually take for the right ones to take hold and for me to assume the rise isn't just from bacterial growth but from yeast growth?

2. My sourdough starter smelled FUNKY. I'm talking - bad socks you forgot about in your gym bag. But I didn't give up on it.. I discarded half and fed over and over for like 4 days and finally it started smelling like "sourdough bread"… but certainly NOT like beer which is what I hear it's supposed to smell like eventually as the PH drops… so I read about this person mastering a "pineapple juice" technique and so I grabbed a can of pineapple chunks and cracked it open and after checking the ingredients, poured all the contents of "pure pineapple juice" in my starter. Also, I fed it again but this time used whole grain flour. Immediately it smelled like a dark, stout beer! YUM!! Buuttt… it didn't get that way naturally. Did I cheat? Will my starter still develop some kind of character that WOULD Have led to that by itself? 

3. What's this I hear about putting fruit rinds/organic apple, orange or grape skins into your starter? Is there a way I can know which fruits have the highest amount of yeast on the skins? Should they be "turning" (spoiling) and developing a "haze" on the skin? Is this just a rumour or does the fruit really help? I know ultimately it will come down to the local yeast… but I live in winnipeg manitoba Canada. It averages -40F* in the winter at night this time of year, and NOTHING is alive outside right now. I can't imagine where yeast would come from unless it was introduced into my house from fruit from the grocery store anyway. Thoughts?

4. I watched TONS of youtube videos and the starter had LARGE bubbles on top… like if you stick a straw in soap-water and blow and you just get tons of layers of bubbles. Should my starter look like that before I use it to make bread, or does it just need to be doubling in size? 

5. Can I buy some kind of ceramic stone or something from home depot or a home improvement store that will withstand the heat to cook the bread on without having to purchase a $100 baking stone at my local give-me-your-money baking specialty shop here in town? We live in the middle of nowhere, stuff like that you pay a ton for. Any success using anything else … oh and no I WISH I had a dutch oven. I want one… but we're saving for the one we want from Lodge with the little "feet" on the bottom and they're like almost half a thousand dollars. :(

THANKS EVERYONE IN ADVANCE AND GOD BLESS!! :)))

chris319's picture
chris319

The Internet is not a very good place to learn to make sourdough starter. There's too much nonsense and mythology.

No problem using all-purpose flour, just make sure it is unbleached and contains malted barley flour. A starter is going to take 7 to 10 days. In the end it should smell of yeast.

Forget the pineapple juice, grape skins, potato water, baker's yeast, etc. Flour, unchlorinated water and a pinch of salt are all you need. Combine the flour and water to milkshake thickness and add a pinch of salt. Cover and stir once per day. Leave it the heck alone for 7 to 10 days except for the daily stirring. It will emit all sorts of strange odors in the interim. When it smells like cheap wine (alcohol) it's a day or two away from smelling of yeast. You could give it another day or two after that for good measure.

I've gotten several successful starters going and that's all you need to do. In the early stages I don't discard a portion and "feed" it, and don't worry about gas bubbles or "expansion"; just let it sit.

What amuses me no end is when people who dispense starter advice on the Internet recommend adding baker's yeast. That defeats the whole purpose of starter. All the yeast you need is right there in the flour.

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

Seems to me you read up on the important aspects but then didn't follow them. e.g.

"Organic whole grain or rye is better than all purpose bleached. Basically as natural as you can get - heck, go get some grain and grind it yourself if you can! (not me lol)"

then

"I started with all purpose flour and potato water from boiling 5 small yukon golds "

All you need is rye/wheat flour and water (maybe a tiny pinch of salt from the outset). Nothing else.

I would start with 100g rye and 70g water and leave that for 24hrs at room temp

Then discard all but 50g of it and add to that 50g rye and 35g water making 135g and leave 12hrs at room temp

Then repeat the above feed every 12hrs (50+50+35)

This is what my white starter looks like whilst rising

In terms of expensive baking stones just buy a cheap pizza stone from a department store. Very cheap. In the UK they are £10. GL

tea berries's picture
tea berries

I'm new here so I feel bad saying that "you read up on the important aspects but then didn't follow them" kinda felt a bit nasty. I did also say it was all I had in the house! I'll run out and get some rye flour then, and restart a new starter, but I'll keep the one I have going now active since it's been running for a week which seems like forever when you're watching it like anything else you are growing and excited about. 

Also, AND ANYONE WHO READS THIS maybe can help me, again I'm finding a clash of advice. My first post, the first two comments and they're saying completely different things. Sourdough starter can't be THAT scientific, can it?? So what do I do? Do I leave it alone, or do I feed it every day? Seems like leaving it alone allows fermentation and a chance for the yeast to take hold, but feeding it won't starve my yeast. Do I just leave it till I see liquid and THEN feed it? I'm not talking about anything else except the first few weeks of a starter. I get the feeding process after that, it needs to  eat everyday if on the counter, once a week if in the fridge. HELP? :(

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

if you haven't read this, please do...

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/debra-wink?page=1

It isn't important to feed the starter regularly or with lots of flour because yeast appear at the end of a chain of events.  Once that happens, after leaving the starter alone to ferment, the starter will then require food.  It is important to give it some warmth and enough water.   

tea berries's picture
tea berries

I read this link and actually this was the Exact issue I was asking. My "Haha" comment below was trying to address if it was bacteria, or yeast that was responsible for the fantastic initial rise. I'm sure glad you sent me this link! Thanks, it pretty much confirmed my suspicions. In any case, although I still have the batch of original starter going, I've begun a new batch just today with whole Rye in a 100% hydration starter. Instead of tossing out half each day, I'll just continue doubling it for about a week. I only began with about 5 ml's of flour and equal parts water and a dash of salt, so in a week it'll be around 640 mls or about 21 ounces or just under 3 cups after a 7 day period. After that, considering none of the original mixture will be thrown out, I should have a good culture going. I'll probably start substituting unbleached all purpose for the rye after around day 3 just to get a good gluten. I'm hoping to end up with a 15% rye 85% unbleached AP starter. Only time will tell, but I can say this - less than 24 hours after dark rye flour touched water, i'm already seeing some activity so I have high hopes. :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I wouldn't.   All you need is to add a tablespoon of flour (no discarding) and enough water to keep it wet or slightly cover each day for about 5-7 days.  Slosh it around when you walk past it and let it ferment.  That means you only use about 7 tablespoons of flour and about half a cup of water.  Keep it above 75°F.   When it smells strong yeasty or beery, remove a tablespoon of the bottom culture and feed it 1:1:1  or  more.  When it rises and peaks, starts to level out, discard (reduce the size of it)  and feed again.  It is that simple.  Wait unitl the yeast has shown itself before switching over to adding small amounts of AP with each feed, slowly increasing until you reach your goal.

Starter is not for gluten development, it is for bacteria and yeast.  Play with gluten in the dough recipes.  Gluten in a starter just gets in the way.

tea berries's picture
tea berries

So what you're saying is the strong beery initial mixture will become my mother and the tablespoon that I remove and super feed with a 1:1:1 ratio will be for making bread. I have a couple of questions:

1. I really don't feel comfortable discarding HALF of the starter I'll be using to bake. I just don't get it… and I now see why in the bread community, there's a big divide in just how much if any starter you throw away to end up with a great final product. I think really people in both practices of tossing vs. not tossing half the starter every day when building a good starter have seen success and therefore swear by their methods, but then again who's to say the bread they came with is the same bread I want? I mean if they want a denser loaf, then I think throwing away starter would make sense… because you get a rise, but not a light, airy, fluffy crumb. Why, every 24 hours or less should have my starter be brand new flour? How can a good starter ever become a bubbly, yeasty mixture when half of it is dumped in the garbage (or wherever) ever 12-24 hours? I really want a light, bubbly crumb. I don't want dense bread. Therefore, I have to make sure that most of the starter I use for my bread has fermented and had time to develop those big, slimy goopy bubbles on top that I associate with a roaring yeast colony, because that's what I want my crumb to look like.. big, airy pockets and a light airy dough with a sour taste and deep developed flavor. I'm not trying to argue you down by any means, I really do love to find out why things work and would value your opinion on this topic. Also, it is probably noteworthy to say that I live as you've read in the frozen tundra. Yeast doesn't exactly think it's at club med in my house. Sure, my starter is above the fridge and it's toasty there, but my atmosphere isn't saturated with yeast and life like people living in warmer climates so what I get, I have to cherish. :) What's the trick to the BIG, goopy bubbles and airy crumb? Is it bulk fermentation? Is it a strong starter? 

2. I know starter isn't for gluten… I said that the AP unbleached is for a good gluten because rye is known for poor gluten development. I was just describing the contents of my starter and making a general statement that the end percentages of contents in my starter will be a 15% rye starter… some people who hear rye in a starter know it's good for initiating a yeast colony but are quick to lay out the issues with making a rye dough that's over 25%(ish) percent as novice bread makers like myself may love the taste of rye but when making this mixture don't understand the short window to bake it, or the characteristics of a "rye" bread and rather than getting a light airy rye loaf end up with a dense brick. 

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

Hi tea berries

There's lots of terminology flying around and I have a feeling some things are being confused.  Let me see if I can simplify any of it.

"the strong beery initial mixture will become my mother and the tablespoon that I remove and super feed with a 1:1:1 ratio will be for making bread"

The "mother" is generally speaking whatever quantity of starter you intend to keep on an on-going basis and that which most people would keep in the fridge.  There is nothing special about it.  It is just good active well colonised starter and it will usually be fed once a week if it is kept in the fridge.  When you want to bake you just take some of that mother starter and add it to your recipe or use it to build up a preferment (levain) of some kind.   What's left in the fridge (the mother) is then refreshed with more flour and water to return it to it's former level.

" I really don't feel comfortable discarding HALF of the starter I'll be using to bake. I just don't get it…"

I agree. No need to discard anything.  If your recipe wants 180g of starter then simply build up that quanity (separately from your mother) until you have it.  For example if you have 30g starter in your mother then take out say 20g of it leaving just 10g behind.   To that 20g add 20g flour and 20g water making 60g in total.  Leave at room temp.  Once it has doubled in volume we feed it again, so to that 60g starter you now add 60g flour and 60g water and again leave at room temp to double.  At this point you then have the 180g you needed.  Note that in the fridge, you have 10g of original mother left.  So you refresh that by more flour and water to it, actually 10g of each bringing it back to 30g again and at that point you have reset ready for the next time you want to bake.  You didn't have to discard anything along the way.

"I mean if they want a denser loaf, then I think throwing away starter would make sense… because you get a rise, but not a light, airy, fluffy crumb"

Your starter isn't really responsible for the density of a loaf.  What it does is raise the loaf and add flavour to it.  If a starter is healthy and active then it will provide the CO2 in the loaf to create the holes but the loaf won't rise up unless the gluten in the actual dough has been well developed into a nice mesh/network of strands.  That is achieved by the mixing, kneading, stretching and folding, autolysing and bulk fermenting and other things.  So in short your "light, airy, fluffly crumb" is the result of the processes and the hydration levels, rather than the starter itself.

"Why, every 24 hours or less should have my starter be brand new flour? How can a good starter ever become a bubbly, yeasty mixture when half of it is dumped in the garbage (or wherever) ever 12-24 hours?"

The yeast cells in your starter (if kept at ideal temp) are reproducing every 90-100 minutes.  The more that are created the more food is needed to feed them all.  Your starter becomes a "bubbly, yeasty mixture" once the population of yeasts and bacteria in the mix grow to sufficient levels.  At the outset your starter is a mass of flour and water in which there are just a few yeasts and bacteria but as time passes and so long as you keep providing fresh food, they grow and multiply exponentially.  Any time you stop feeding the starter the balance changes and cells begin to die (starve).  The signs of that are the "hooch" liquid on the surface and a change in smell.  Starters are very resilient however and can be quickly revived by providing enough food.

"Therefore, I have to make sure that most of the starter I use for my bread has fermented and had time to develop those big, slimy goopy bubbles on top that I associate with a roaring yeast colony, because that's what I want my crumb to look like.. big, airy pockets and a light airy dough with a sour taste and deep developed flavor."

Not quite.  Yes you want your starter to be well fed and active before you bake with it and lots of bubbles are a good sign that this is the case.  The crumb and big airy pockets and light airy dough, as I said above are more the result of the dough development, getting a good gluten matrix, which comes from the mixing, kneading, S+Fs and so on. 

"I was just describing the contents of my starter and making a general statement that the end percentages of contents in my starter will be a 15% rye starter… some people who hear rye in a starter know it's good for initiating a yeast "

Yep, rye and some other whole grains have a high population of yeasts and thus help to initially build up a new starter from scratch much quicker than using white AP flour. Personally, because of the virility of rye, I keep separate rye and white starters.  To be honest I don't really need to keep the white one as I could quite easily use the rye starter for everything I bake.  If I want to bake a white loaf of some kind, I could begin by taking just 20g of that rye starter and add 20g white flour and 20g water to make 60g.  That 60g would look light grey because of that rye starter.  I would then add 60g more white flour and 60g water to make 180g of preferment(levain) and now it would look more white overall.  When I then add that levain to the actual dough mix which will add more white flour the effect of the grey rye more or less disappears.  If the loaf had say 500g white flour and 180g of starter (levain) then in all that mix there was only ever that initial 20g rye starter so you would never really know in the final loaf.   But it's all personal choice.

I hope some of that makes sense and apologies if I have mis-understood any of the questions or points you made.

EP

 

tea berries's picture
tea berries

I think I'm making a connection to the rise of a loaf and the flour of a loaf a few steps past the methods of the kneading and SF methods. I'm really talking about the gluten potential of rye flour vs AP or wheat flour. I'm really looking at the flour itself before it's been touched, and saying "ok, rye flour. if my loaf is 40% Rye or more, no matter what type of SF or kneading I do, this loaf will characteristically be dense. Because it's made with Rye flour, and rye flour develops gluten poorly no matter now much you stretch and fold it. Rye also has a very short peak time in its proofing before it collapses, because of the poor gluten and the density. While you can leave an uncooked, proofed loaf of AP fully peaked for almost an hour, with a rye loaf you have about 10 mins to recognize it's not going to rise anymore and throw it in the oven. It's just the nature of rye flour…. or am I wrong? Let me know because I've only determined this over the past few days of surfing bread and flour sites in a spider-web pattern… following links, googling terms and reading forums. So although I know that generally gluten forms with the SF method, bulk fermentation and the knead in no particular order, when I speak of my rye starter being phased down from a majority of rye to a majority of AP in the ingredients for gluten potential, this is why I say this. 

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

Certainly rye flour has a lower gluten content than white flours and that does affect the end result but that's a charateristic of rye breads.  I've never experienced any specific "peaking" difficulties with rye though and certainly I've never had to time any proofing of a rye loaf down to 10 mins.  A simple recipe I have for a rye and raisin loaf requires an overnight preferment and then on baking day has about a 2 hour proofing period.  The mix is just a sloppy mass not really a dough, it isn't kneaded as such and it's pretty much loaded into a loaf tin in spoonfuls !  Nevertheless it comes out like this:

It's a doddle to make and is delicious but as you say it's a dense bread more like a malt loaf.  Great with cheeses.

All this said though I stress again not to worry about having a rye starter.  The quantity of that starter you will use in any given loaf will be tiny compared to all the other flour in the recipe.  So it won't affect the density at all imo.  I say this assuming that whatever quantity of starter your recipe calls for, you will build that qantity up from a tiny smidgen of rye starter and add whatever other flours are needed to it.

tea berries's picture
tea berries

The recipe you mentioned for rye sounds a lot like how i cook my banana bread. Of course that's just with either wheat or white AP. By the spoonfuls into a meatloaf nonstick pan and this is pretty much what my banana bread looks like :) It looks amazing,… did you make this? the crust looks fabulous. i hope to be supplying pictures of my own within the next few weeks! Wish me luck!!

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

It's an easy loaf and very tasty.  This one I was taught by Emammuel Hadjiandreou and it's in his book "How To Make Bread" which has loads of good simple no nonsense bread recipes which are great for beginners and amateur bakers alike before they start diving headlong into tartines and high hydration creations.

chris319's picture
chris319

Then discard all but 50g of it and add to that 50g rye and 35g water making 135g and leave 12hrs at room temp

Then repeat the above feed every 12hrs (50+50+35)

I thought you were in the anti-discard camp. After 24 hours the new flour you're pouring down the drain has barely begun to ferment, so you're basically pouring off fresh flour.

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

Hi Chris

Yes I have stated fairly clearly that I don't see the need for discard EXCEPT when first creating a new starter. 

I recommend beginning the process with twice the amount of flour because from the outset you are looking to grab hold of as many yeasts and LABs from the available flour as possible.  You could start with a thimble full of flour and build a starter up from there but it would likely take much longer because you have far fewer yeasts/LABs to work with from the outset.  I look at it like this.  Imagine a mathematical progression of doubling up,  1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128,256,512

Now if you wanted as your final outcome a quantity of 256, it would be quickest to start with 128 and do one double up.  Yes you could start at 1 and do 8 double ups but why would you?

Starting with a larger quantity of flour imo increases the number of yeasts and LABs in that first 24 hr period.

Now, your comment in regards to this was:

"After 24 hours the new flour you're pouring down the drain has barely begun to ferment"

Well, we know (from research in other threads) that yeasts have generally 26 replicating generations in them and it takes approx 90-100mins for each replication.  Let's call it one and a half hours.  So in 24hrs the first generation of yeasts will undergo 16 replications, the second generation cells produced at the first doubling will have time for 15 more, the third generation 14 more and so on.  The numbers ramp up exponentially and pretty quickly.  So no, I don't agree that what we are throwing out is fresh flour.   However, the more flour (and thus yeasts/LABs) we start off with, the quicker we will colonise the relatively small amount of starter we want as our end product.  At least it seems that way to me.

The discard is necessary because at the outset the environment is likely not stable and may not even be healthy.  Different bacteria can be growing in there and the environment we maintain determines which bacteria thrive and dominate and which are suppressed or eliminated.  I think the constant influx of fresh flour and water help to maintain a consistent environment that promotes the yeasts and LABs we are looking for, as well as other factors like temperature.  

BTW the starter creation regime I mentioned isn't my own, it is based on the Professor Calvel method which if followed strictly would also add a little malt powder in the first stage and would perform feeds roughly every 7 hours which isn't always convenient.

Antilope's picture
Antilope

was because I was using only one source for the flour. If you use flour from only one bag or lot, you are staking everything on that one source having the cultures you need to begin a starter. What if that lot was subjected to too much heat while milling, or maybe it's bleached flour accidentally labeled as unbleached. Or maybe that particular flour is just low in the cultures needed.  I think it's better to add flour from several sources or types to a new starter to increase the chances of capturing the cultures you need. In other words, don't put all of your eggs in one basket. ;-)

tea berries's picture
tea berries

"I thought you were in the anti-discard camp." I'm not in any camp. I'm new to the camp and I'm trying to find the nice group of people here to help me out. Also, if you're discarding "all but 50g" every 12 hours, then how does your yeast have a chance to take hold. "You're basically pouring off fresh flour"… isn't that because all the flour in your starter is now fresh because you change it so often? 
I'll try your way, thanks for the tip. I'll also let mine just sit and see which two work. I guess starter IS a science! Seemed so easy on youtube!! Lol 
ANYONE else who reads this, your advice would be INVALUABLE since my only two commenters have two different methods!~ Love and God bless!!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/32099/maintenance-starter-feeding-ratios

So what it comes down to is personal preference.  If you want to keep a lot of starter or a little.  Right now I would reduce it running it thru a sieve to get out any chunks, and keep about 50g of the beery mixture and feed it 50g of flour along with 50g water.  That would be a 1:1:1 ratio (starter:water:flour) maintenance feed.  And like Chris319 mentioned a little less water if you like a thicker starter.  You can easily play around with it.  

Then watch it, if it eats that up (rises, levels out, and starts to falls) under 8 hrs, give it more flour food to eat for a 12 hr feeding period.  If it takes longer than 12 hrs, wait until it peaks and then feed it again with the same ratios, it should take less time to peak with each consecutive feeding.  Keep your starter around 75°F or a little warmer as you're growing yeast.

(I had noticed that you started out using flour but after that initial start, it seems no other flour was added. Not a problem but once the yeasts are multiplying in the starter, the yeasts will eat thru the flour while fermenting and need to be reduced and fed more flour routinely.)  

Antilope's picture
Antilope


.
I have used Carl's Oregon Trail starter for over 5-years, and it worked great, but I wanted to make my own starter.
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I tried several times with either whole wheat or bread flour without much success, using water or pineapple juice. The starter attempt would go nowhere, only making a few feeble bubbles, or nothing.
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Then, this summer, I decided to throw everything at the attempt, here's what finally worked for me: (all of these flours were just from the local supermarket) one of these flours had the "magic wild yeast" ;-)
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I call it - Kitchen Sink Sourdough Starter
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1 Tbsp Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tbsp Unbleached Bread Flour
1 Tbsp Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Hodgson Mill Organic Rye Flour
3 or 4 Tbsp Pineapple Juice (unsweetened juice from canned Pineapple packed in its own juice)
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Mix ingredients well. The mixture should look like a thick pancake batter.
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The pineapple juice encourages growth of the desired sourdough cultures - wild yeast spores and Lactobacillus (which are naturally in the wheat fields and are in the whole wheat, rye and unbleached flour) because it is slightly acidic, and sourdough cultures like a slightly acidic environment. The slightly acidic environment discourages unwanted bacteria cultures, that don't like an acidic environment. Once the sourdough cultures are established for a few days, the pineapple juice feedings can be replaced with tap water. The established sourdough cultures will discourage other bacterial growth in the sourdough starter.
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Day 1 -
Mixed all the ingredients in a Gladware sandwich size type container. Put on the lid loosely. Left out on the kitchen counter (in summertime, with air conditioning) at about 78-F. Stirred twice a day. 
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Day 2 -
Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
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Day 3 -
A few bubbles appeared. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
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Day 4 -
More bubbles appeared. Added an additional Tablespoon each Whole Wheat, Bread, All-Purpose, Rye Flours and some pineapple juice to moisten. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
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Day 5 -
Even more bubbles appearing. Added a Tablespoon each Whole Wheat, Bread, All-Purpose, Rye Flours and pineapple juice. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
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Day 6 -
Quite bubbly, fruity, yeasty smell. Added a couple of Tablespoons of only Bread Flour and tap water. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
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Day 7 -
Very bubbly, fruity, yeasty smell. Added a couple of Tablespoons of only Bread Flour and tap water. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
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Day 8 -
Very bubbly, fruity, yeasty smell. Added a couple of Tablespoons of only Bread Flour and tap water. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night. Used some of starter to make bread. It rose quite well and made good bread, but of course it wasn't sour, because the starter was so new. But I now had my own
homemade starter.
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I stored the bubbly starter in the fridge and baked bread once or twice a week. I take out the starter, feed it and get it bubbly before using for a recipe.
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After a few months it is now developing a nice, sour taste and smell. I usually feed it bread flour and water, but once every two or three weeks, I feed some whole wheat flour and a tablespoon or two of rye flour.
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I've kept my sourdough starters at different degrees of thickness, from pancake batter/pour-able, to spoon-able/taffy like all the way to knead-able dough.
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Thicker starters can go longer in the fridge between feedings. Thin pancake batter like starters will develop an alcohol scented liquid on the top called "hooch", if not fed for a week or so.
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Just stir the liquid back in and feed the starter as normal. A starter kept as a knead-able dough will not usually develop "hooch".
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After keeping sourdough cultures for over 5 years, I prefer to keep my starter on the thicker side, either spoon-able/taffy like or even dough like. When mixing some thick starter in a recipe, just dissolve it in the recipe water or liquids.

chris319's picture
chris319

"I thought you were in the anti-discard camp." I'm not in any camp. I'm new to the camp and I'm trying to find the nice group of people here to help me out.

That remark was directed at El Panadero on the basis of discussions we've had in the past. Sorry for any confusion.

if you're discarding "all but 50g" every 12 hours, then how does your yeast have a chance to take hold. "You're basically pouring off fresh flour"… isn't that because all the flour in your starter is now fresh because you change it so often?

This is an excellent question/observation. I don't get all of these regimens that call for pouring immature starter down the drain and suspect it's one reason people experience so much failure, only to come here seeking advice and wind up adding baker's yeast to their failed starter attempts..

I'll also let mine just sit and see which two work.

Smart.

chris319's picture
chris319


The pineapple juice encourages growth of the desired sourdough cultures

I don't believe that statement is correct. The pineapple juice gives the flour an acidic environment which suppresses the growth of spoilage bacteria called leuconostocs, as I understand it. You'll have starter eventually whether you acidify it or not.You can acidify starter with many common kitchen ingredients: vinegar, lemon juice, cream of tartar, etc. Pineapple juice was chosen because it is at the desired pH right out of the can, no mixing or measuring needed.

What encourages yeast growth is a small amount of salt. This was discovered at the USDA several decades ago. Also diastatic malt will also give it a boost but that is another discussion.

chris319's picture
chris319


The pineapple juice encourages growth of the desired sourdough cultures

I don't believe that statement is correct. The pineapple juice gives the flour an acidic environment which suppresses the growth of spoilage bacteria called leuconostocs. You'll have starter eventually whether you acidify it or not.You can acidify starter with many common kitchen ingredients: vinegar, lemon juice, cream of tartar, etc. Pineapple juice was chosen because it is at the desired pH right out of the can, no mixing or measuring needed.

What encourages yeast growth is a small amount of salt. This was discovered at the USDA labs several decades ago. Also diastatic malt will also give it a boost but that is another discussion.

tea berries's picture
tea berries

… that the pineapple actually creates the exact right acidity without all the fermentation time to get it naturally. So far it seems to have helped. I've also sort of tapped into my natural chemist and gone around my house sampling things that I thought may contain good amounts of natural yeast. Potatoes, raisins especially. I took some yukon golds that have sprouted and done a no-rinse peel including some of the buds on the potato (not that I know if it matters really) and dropped them right into my currently running starter referred to in this thread. After the potato peel, a stir, a bit of love warming up the sealed jar under warm tap water to get it nice and humid and toasty inside, and a few more splashes of pineapple juice, it's really bubbling… and the bubbles look different. They're "frothy" now. THEN - 
I took about a cup of raisins that have had good exposure to the cabinets where I keep all my herbs and spices, and put them no-rinse directly into some pre-boiled and cooled water in a jar and sealed and gave it a good swirl. I'll wait till the raisins double in size, meet the volume with more water and continue to swirl it until I hear a hissing when I open the jar (that may sound over confident but I hope it happens!). After, I'll refrigerate and hopefully see some yeast growth in a week or two. I've done these exact steps with potatoes boiled, mashed and currently fermenting in their own water, all on top of the fridge where it stays nice and toasty. I know what I'm expecting from the raisins, but I have no idea what will happen with the potatoes. lol.. I have to admit not knowing is pretty exciting! As for my starter, it's bubbling away, though I should really keep quiet as I think I jinxed myself last time! :D

I do have ONE important question… how long do people wait usually before they can assume the flavour of the starter will really contribute to the bread? I've heard 1-7 weeks… that gap is far too big for me. So what's your opinion? Are you ok with using a starter that will simply rise a loaf and give character better than instant yeast and a 2 hour rise, or will the difference in taste even be palatable? Thanks and God Bless!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

http://www.chow.com/food-news/54631/are-sprouted-potatoes-poisonous/

I'm sending this along. potatoes are very different than their sprouts.  Also green potatoes, those exposed to the sun should not be used.    

Muskie's picture
Muskie

According to

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipes/cooking-tips/seed-potatoes-green

you'd need to eat; "more than a 10-pound bag of green-tinged spuds", or an equal weight in buds. So, really not worth worrying much about, I'd say.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a 10lb bag of potatoes would be less than  5 lbs of green parts trimmed off, a small amount of body weight but...

What of those little one celled beasties in the culture?  A couple of sprouts could easily be half the weight of culture flour.  Try exposing all your body cells to potato sprouts!  

What are the toxic chemicals doing to the bacteria and yeast in the culture?   

Point is, it has no business being in the starter culture.

Further note: Tossing in the raw skin of potatoes (and other roots) is a good way to introduce Rope into the starter as well.  This would be messy business causing the whole starter culture time to be wasted as the resulting bread would be tainted and rotten in 3 to 4 days. Not to mention forcing a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the kitchen.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Because of the potato peel and sprouts in the starter, do be careful with the starter and and tools or dished used.  Including the first loaf of bread made from this starter.  Although you will be tempted to eat the whole loaf (and that is fine)  don't.  Cut off a middle section of the first loaf (about 3 slices worth) when cooled and set aside for 4 days to make sure your starter doesn't contain Rope.  Slip into a sealed zip locking type bag.  Wait for signs of rope as described in this link.

If Rope should raise its ugly head, discard the starter and clean everything in the kitchen with a 10% solution of vinegar.  A mister sprayer works great.  Soak everything and let air dry.

Wait until everything is cleaned before starting another starter.  Be sure to clean air filters, curtains, screens, all surfaces including walls, ceiling, under counter top, tile, all dishes, boards, bowls, equipment, floors, in/outside oven, everything.  

I may be sounding over dramatic but please take my suggestions seriously.  

Muskie's picture
Muskie

and so I am constantly confronted with life threatening things. Making a starter isn't one of them, yet...Realize, that in making any starter, you are making potentially human abusive toxins. Many kinds of yeast that we are exposed to every day, including those in an SD starter, could seriously harm you.

That said, few ever cause anyone anything more than an upset stomach. We don't need the FDA to get involved. We know we're making a wild yeast based product, and the results may vary.

I cannot imagine anyone, every, will heed Mini's advice and wait 4 days before sampling their sourdough...so I am completely baffled by the suggestion. Even the idea of preserving some portion of a great tasting loaf just so you can see whether it contains Rope is, well, not realistic IMO.

The rarity that these things happens is so high it puts your suggestion into the "I told you so" category, Mini. It could so easily jade someone from trying anything as to make the statement, well, harmful to the whole idea of making a starter.

You are sounding over dramatic, so, please give me any statistics you can that support your claim its an issue to be concerned about, I then might take it seriously.

BTW, did you know any of your flour might have nuts in them?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I suggested saving some to watch.  If the whole loaf is eaten, one will not catch a rope problem until later when one loaf is older.   If it has rope, it is important to catch it right away.  Please read thoroughly what I wrote to the OP and the link.  I was called on this with Sourdolady many years ago and glad I read up on it.  I have since run into it so I am not saying this without reason.   

Mini Oven  

Muskie's picture
Muskie

None of what you cited is conclusive, its more speculative, or pertains to pure science and not what happens physiologically. Please remember, the starter could be a toxin to some, so pointing out that aspects of what makes up the starter might also be toxins is, well, disingenuous.

I take a far simpler, and perhaps safer view. If you are worried, don't bake sourdough bread, buy only foods that you feel are inspected to preserve your health. But then anything talking about this really shouldn't be in the forum about sourdoughs and starters, IMO.

If, otoh, you want to make sourdough or starters, then accept you are mucking about with bacteria and yeast that could very well harm you.

Any discussion about how it might harm you is, IMO, unproven by science when it comes to making sourdough bread. Again, I ask, give me any citation that says someone who ate sourdough bread died, or suffered significantly.

Yes, there is a lot of things out there that aren't perfect, but I lived in West African for 9 years in conditions that would never have been tolerated here, and suffered no ill effects. My constitution, or an overly active imagination about the potential woes from a few studies?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"...lived in West African for 9 years in conditions that would never have been tolerated here, and suffered no ill effects."

Muskie's picture
Muskie

Citation, me, I'm alive and was there. Study, no, never thought of doing that. I was the Honorary Consul to the City of Monrovia from Canada...I think the Canadian Government must have that recorded somewhere...enough?

Muskie's picture
Muskie

the U.S.S. Ponce. Got there in 1984....I don't know, how else can I cite this fact?

Antilope's picture
Antilope

Even though those agents are listed as being safe to eat, who knows what they might do to your starter. On another thread, someone had trouble making salt rising bread until they switched to organic potatoes.

http://foodserviceblog.idahopotato.com/q-a-anti-spudding-agent-and-organic-potatoes/

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Am kinda lucky that my NYC apartment is overheated, apparently that created a foolproof environment for culturing my sourdough starter. Basically followed Mini's directions using pineapple juice and organic rye flour, but staggered the feeding process by starting out on day one with only about a teaspoon of liquid and dry ingredients mixed together in a pint container with a tight fitting lid. Doubled both each day for three days, then on day four transfered to a quart mason jar and switched from the juice to spring water and continued doubling ingredients each day for the rest of the week. Ended up with about a cup and a half of quite a vigorous starter, when stirred down. Reserved half a cup to feed with more rye and spring water and refrigerated; the remaining cup I fed with KA BF and kept in a bowl on the counter for my first sponge. So there was no waste other than what I had to wash off my stirring whisk each day. Since then I've taken an off-shoot from the master which I feed with a mixture of fresh apple and beet sauce (thinned a tiny bit with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice) and top off with rye, just to keep it the right batter-like consistency. Another batch of starter I fed with whey drained from the ricotta and sour cream sitting in the fridge, again blended with rye into a thick batter. Both starters remain strong, and show activity from just being stirred while still cold. Again, I was probably only successful because my kitchen stays so warm all the time. Never measure my additions precisely, just kinda eyeball the volumes and adjust proportions by feel. Starter is resilient that way. :)

tea berries's picture
tea berries

Beets and ricotta? for bacteria and sugar? Also since I'm new, what's KA BF? :)

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Well the beets, which I blanch and peel first, are for both sugar and minerals, much as with molasses but of course quite a different color. Whey is also a great environment for yeast because of its acidity. 

KABF is King Arthur Bread Flour. Unless you happen to have the organic, any other brand of BF would work as well — they all contain dough conditioner (ascorbic acid) and barley malt. 

Mirko's picture
Mirko

I used Jeffrey Hamelman's formula to make 

starter and worked well! 

nice greetings from cold Manitoba

mirko 

chris319's picture
chris319

This will get your starter bubbling like you wouldn't believe and it will save you the effort of boiling potatoes, mashing grapes, etc. Your bread will turn out just like Nancy Silverton's from the La Brea bakery: devoid of all flavor. Yes I'm being sarcastic, but there is a reason one doesn't introduce extrinsic sources of yeast and instead tries to cultivate the existing yeast in the flour. Are you confused yet?

I live in Los Angeles and La Brea bakery products are in every grocery store in town. If it were any good I would buy their bread and save myself a lot of effort baking my own.

tea berries's picture
tea berries

… a really great one, but I'm bent on getting a quality bread recipe from wild yeast and just that. I'll share with you a silly dream, that I want to go fully natural with most of my lifestyle and I find myself slowly infusing bits and pieces of a natural way of living into my everyday life. Somewhere deep inside me, there's a homesteader with chickens, a few cows and a decade old sourdough starter bubbling away for my family. :)

little lemon loaf's picture
little lemon loaf

I just used my starter for the first time yesterday! I am pretty new at this too.  I have been following the Tartine No. 3 book. 

For my starter:

I combined equal parts of plain white bread flour, (from the grocery store) and tap water.

literally. just that. to see if I could get a starter from it.  and you definately can.  I am sure if you ground it fresh spelt or rye or something every day it would be an amazing starter, but what we are looking for is the cultures, not really the flour content.  given, different cultures for different flours, but people have been using just what they have to make bread for thousands of years, why shouldn't we?

I have read, here and from a friend on this site, that the most reliable and quick starter you can make is rye flour. But you do not have to grind it yourself:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00061EN74/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1ZL3JRO5G9EU5&coliid=I39O480I8CQDXQ

I let it sit for 3 days, not much really happened.
then I started feeding it 20g of water and flour a day.
I thought I killed it off until maybe day 7.  
just keep at it. 

I got this pizza stone because it is long enough for demi-baguettes:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007XUFO7O/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

KA BF is King Arthur Bread Flour.

Muskie's picture
Muskie

You are trying to create your own natural yeast, adding dry yeast defeats the whole purpose of what you're trying to do. IMO, it was a bad suggestion in this forum.

I live in mid Ontario, and your exclamation that nothing is alive outside is, well, kinda funny. As you well know, there's tons of stuff alive outside, but outside its too cold for it to grow right now...doesn't mean its dead, just dormant.

If you leave a banana on your counter long enough, do you get fruit flies? If not, you're interior environment is too harsh atm to create wild yeast. If you do, then you can create wild yeast. To be honest, you're really trying this at the wrong time without the aid of some starter from one of those companies who sell starter on the Internet (I bought my starter from Ed and Jean Wood, look up "Classic Sourdoughs").

But, even without a seed starter, you can still create, if your environment is inviting. You have to keep your food available to the yeasts, and the house warm enough to encourage them (e.g. > 70F for a significant enough time a day, e.g. 12 hours).

I agree with those that say its just flour and water. I did not use any salt, nor any fruit juices (for my own wild starter). That it bubbles is the first encouragement, it means something is happening. But depending on how many hours a day you can let it sit inviting wild yeasts, it can take a very long time. But remember, each time you feed, you are diluting the percentage of active dough to fresh food. Pouring anything out initially, is, IMO, a recipe for disaster. You want to keep everything that is inviting, and/or has adopted some wild yeast. So, smaller feeds, a smaller starter, are the way to go. Put it into a larger container if you need to so you don't have to discard. Remember, everything in that container is food for any wild yeasts that alight...dump some out, you're likely going to dump some of that starting yeasts.

The size of the bubbles aren't important. If you can, watch, as others have said there will be a rise and then a fall. Don't feed until you see that fall. Ideally, you want to feed soon after it starts to fall, but that will be greatly affected by your job, how often you can look. I use a dry erase marker on my glass containers to keep track. Shortly after the fall, feed again. The amount of food you add is proportionate to the size of the starter, and, how long you want that food to feed the starter. So very small feeds with 10g-50g of starter will show you the transition from fed to hungry more quickly. Works great if you can look at it often. If your job says you only get to look once or twice a day, it will be much harder for you to know.

As far as stones go, I have a convection oven (now 14 years old). I don't use any stone, and bake at 375F for 55 minutes instead of 425F for 30 minutes. I great an amazingly crispy crust and great crumb. No stone, no steam. Try baking in your oven without a stone first, without steam, and see what results you get, you may be as surprised as I am.

Have fun, and realize you are doing a science experiment...it is harder than you think, but its fun learning and trying...;-]

Russ

 

tea berries's picture
tea berries

… the temperature drops to -50*F at night in winter. I don't think it gets that cold in mid Ontario, so I have to admit I was saying things are dead… but only some things dead, other things dormant. I'm not sure in what temps yeast can survive… I know they can be frozen, but HOW frozen I'm not sure. I figured, like any other living thing, they had limits to what they can endure before there's no possibility of bringing them back from suspended animation. I'll have to read up on that! 
I actually Do get fruit flies, if I leave out bananas! It was, to be honest, quite a mystery to me! Were the eggs in the bananas and just hatched in my house as the fruit began to turn? Again… I'll have to read up on that. :)

I'm really trying to avoid using a second-party yeast. I know I can, and I wouldn't be against it at all once I knew I could and have cultivated the wild yeast in my own area. I'm curious to see what different yeasts do to bread, and if they give different flavours, crusts, etc. It's a very exciting thing to think about getting live samples of organisms that I will then begin "breeding" and then making something that highlights the characteristics and is so dependent on that organism as the relationship between yeast & bread! I do know I'm starting this at the exact wrong time of year, but to be honest I just couldn't keep my anxious hands in my pockets until spring. If anything, the struggle I go through now sure will do two things for me: 1. make the starter(s) I make in the summer feel like they're just Blossoming to live vs. now in February, and 2. not give me a false sense of success for beginning a starter during any time of year. I'll know that just because things are chugging along in the warmer months doesn't mean I'll have the same success when it's cold. You'd think that's a no-brainer, but honestly I feel that even when it's cold, finding yeast indoors is no problem. Leave some fruit out as you said, and it should attract yeast. That's why I thought the potatoes would be perfect. If they're down there, by my open bags of rice and sacks of onions growing sprouts, there's got to be viability for micro organisms like yeast just hanging out. Maybe I'm wrong but it makes sense to me. 
I'll sure try my oven without anything to start with, your advice is great because it really does give me something to compare stone-cooking to. I just thought EVERYONE defaulted on bread stones and assumed they were universally considered standard for the best bread. :) God Bless!

chris319's picture
chris319

Please heed Muskie's advice, not mine. Don't  add packaged yeast. It was a sarcastic attempt at levity on my part. All the yeast you need is right there in the flour, not on grape skins, potato peelings, cabbage leaves, etc.

chris319's picture
chris319

I believe my problems in beginning a starter was because I was using only one source for the flour

All the things you listed could be culprits. As an experiment you could try adding a small amount of diastatic malt powder to your flour to see if the starter activity picks up.
chris319's picture
chris319

I don't agree that what we are throwing out is fresh flour.   However, the more flour (and thus yeasts/LABs) we start off with, the quicker we will colonise the relatively small amount of starter we want as our end product.  At least it seems that way to me.

I make wonderful starter without discarding a drop. No waste! If someone wants to pour perfectly good flour down the drain, that's their perogative.

tea berries's picture
tea berries

Hi everyone, I've been getting comment updates from my cell but chose to wait until I was at home on my computer to respond to any of them since I think my thumbs would give out! lol… Well so now you might imagine I have some questions and comments that are open ended and encourage more discussion even though there seems to be a bit of a back and forth about this culturing harmful bacteria and/or yeast subject, I have some questions about that and again encourage replies as I have a 3 year old daughter and a DH that I don't want to make ill at all. I know that "mucking" with bacteria and yeast is not full proof, so that cautionary tale is understood and I think we can move on from that point, I mean what you're doing by mixing flour and water is basically sitting out a blank petri dish and just multiplying whatever lands on it. However, the theory is that eventually the environment will be too acidic and too "occupied" by the "right" kind of yeasts and/or bacteria to naturally cleans your medium, as has been done for thousands of years. I'll admit, I have read the names of the bacteria and yeast you want… san fransisco, lact-forget the name, so on and so forth, but have no idea which if any are in my area or on what surface in my house or in my mass-milled, most likely watered down whole wheat flour. I'm guessing my whole wheat is cut with all purpose since it's the cheap stuff and the colour and feel isn't as gritty and dark as I imagine good quality whole wheat is. Rest assured, I will be investing in some REAL quality milled grain product to make my starter soon, but rather than the store my husband took me to a lovely dinner for V-Day… happy day to you all btw!  

As for my cheap whole wheat flour, I know I can tell by reading the bag exactly what's in it, but my bag of all purpose is deep in my pantry and it's heavy, the sides obstructed by other items so I'm just saying "Oh, here's the whole wheat!". Again, I'll buy some good product before this becomes necessary. 

Also, not only am I commenting here today, but I'm also for the first time supplying some pictures so that you all have some visuals to go on. :) Please be advised my whole project is less than a week old, and the pictures will less than take your breath away, but I think photos could really bring this conversation to a bottle neck of relevant information that will help me complete successfully my first sourdough starter without getting everyone in my family sick. ***The bit about "rope fungi" causing me to have to put on a hazmat suit and scrub my ceilings freaked me out a bit.*** Even if it is an exaggeration, I guess I can both say if it's a real threat, I want to know all about it, and if it's not likely that it will contaminate my starter then I'd say I'm new and the threat of getting my little girl sick is enough to make me throw out this whole project and simply buy vinegar bread (fake sourdough) from safeway and leave the complicated stuff to the pros who will charge me 5-8 bucks a loaf if I suddenly feel like good artesian bread… that's the risk of freaking me out, so if it's not a likely problem, then please let me know… but if it IS  a possibility then 1. I'd like to know what exactly cultures "rope fungi" in my kitchen that tipped you off to the idea that it may be a problem since the possibilities of contaminants are endless so I must have said something that put up some flags so please let me know so I distance my starter from anything hazardous, and 2. furthermore tell me how to recognize signs of rope fungi as I googled it and just got loads of pictures of twine and rope, but nothing microbiology related.
Ok, onto the starters and how they're going. My 'mother' I've lovingly named the "puppy" (because keeping it healthy is high-maintanance lol) is doing ok. I'm not sure what to expect from it but everyday it's filled with little bubbles and is now developing fine bubbles and foam on the surface and tiny bubbles throughout everyday. It is a "wet" mother, as I want more yeast concentration without worrying about increase in volume.

A major concern of mine that I mentioned in the beginning, but my thoughts have evolved since then: The thing about my mother is that it "stunk" like dirty socks minutes before I put pineapple juice and whole wheat flour into it, and then in a matter of seconds after the addition of the juice the scent changed to that from dirty socks to a fruity dark lager beer as you might expect, but I'm kinda worried that I may have masked any signs of my starter being "bad" by adding the lovely juice to it. I mean… who's to say I didn't get ahold of some nasty bacteria or some nasty something and my nose could tell something was off, but then I added pineapple juice and my nose said "ah, that's better!"… but those nasties are still cozy in my jar. THAT'S my major concern. I don't know if it's justified, I don't know if there's something obvious I'm missing, but if starter is supposed to slowly nudge out the nasties by creating an environment that they don't like, then I surely haven't had my starter going for enough time for that to happen. Is "yucky" smelling starter normal? Has anyone had yucky starter evolve into a good smelling starter? Maybe after cleaning the jar it's in? It's only been 5 days or so since the FIRST flour and water touched to create a mother, and I added pineapple about 48 hours ago mostly because it smelled gross and I thought I was doing something wrong. 
So now that the starter is consistently bubbling, does that mean the activity is from bacteria, or yeast? How do you tell? How do you tell you even HAVE the right yeast? My starter is on the acidic side because of the pineapple. I think the ph of Pineapple is like 3.8 or something, but my starter isn't pure pineapple juice so it's probably around the 4.5 zone. Mind you, I didn't use a ph strip or anything, I'm only guessing. It smells tangy, but again, that didn't happen naturally. On an additional note, after I realized the starter smelled funky, I made sure to transfer the starter to a clean secondary glass jar and rinse out the main jar daily to help yeast and keep bacteria at bay… the dirty socks bacteria in particular. I must say, I think it's helping but "thinking" doesn't mean much when being wrong means I make bread with starter that gets my family sick. I guess I can ALWAYS be freaked out by this, and to also be fair, starter isn't sexy, is it? It will always be goopy and the scents and flavours will forever be developing, so it's kinda like trying to figure out if your vat of fruit, sugar and yeast will win the blue ribbon at the county beer-contest. I just won't be able to tell WHAT it will be until it's done its thing. So any signs of nastiness that "turned" starter could have would be useful. I've heard pink hooch or dark brown hooch is bad, and then I've heard that whole wheat flour naturally makes a darker hooch when your yeast needs to be fed. I'm really looking for universally accepted signs of spoilage. 


Ok, onto pictures!! :D

Now mind you, ALL these pictures were taken after a jar cleaning and a feed. I SHOULD have taken pics when I got home today, but sadly didn't. The smaller jar of starter was doubled the black line and the large jar was much frothier and bubblier. When I empty half of the small jar, I put the contents into the larger jar. I figure it's a few spoonfuls of super-charged yeast which is great. At that point, the volume in the small jar is half-way below the black line after I remove the product and put it in the big jar, and then add "whole wheat" (pfft) flour to the small jar again to rise the volume back up to the black line. I use the potato water as the water. The potatoes inside were boiled in that water, and the contents are just for a carb/nutrients boost. I boiled the potatoes and smashed them, then use the water to feed my starter, they weren't uncooked. When I add new water to the jar of potatoes, it's from my kettle. I keep an eye on the potato water and it smells clean and even looks as if it's growing its own yeast (which would make sense - potato vodka, right?) The raisins are to breed some yeast that way as an experiment. The raisins are 2 days in the jar so far. When they were still dehydrated they filled the jar 1/3. 

My starter jar is the small one with the black line. After I feed, it doubles above the line. This is right after a feed so it's been stirred down and doesn't look like much. sorry :(

The chem-lab on my fridge. lol… from the left, mother (big I know), starter jar, raisins for yeast and potato water (potatoes were boiled, not raw)

A close-up of the raisins and potato water. They're only about 48 hours along.

The jar I double my starter in about twice a day. When I come home, the starter has doubled above the line. I remove to 1/2 below black line, put those bits in the bigger jar, and add new flour and potato water so it's back up to the black line again. It will usually double within about 6 hours. This is just after a feed (about 15 mins) so it's been stirred down. 

Again, about 15 mins after the feed so it's quite flat looking, but this is the inside of mother. Bubbles can be found throughout the mixture, but this doesn't rise as it's a wet mixture.

And finally, the flours I have in the house. I did everything to give you an idea of the colour considering the artificial light. As you can see, there's not much difference between whole-wheat and bleached all-purpose. 

 UPDATE!!

The following photos were taken approx. 3.5 hours after the above pictures. Just general progression, as time passes, the amount of rise accelerates in the small starter jar. Also, the mother jar seems to have frothed up a bit on top, not an extraordinary amount but much more than before if you compare. Again, both these jars were only created about 5 days ago so they're still young. I expect a more classic and impressive growth and air pockets in a few days. :)

Mother jar 3.5 hrs after feeding

side of mother jar, I expect activity to increase over the next few days.

Smaller, starter jar now rising above the line. Again, activity should increase as time progresses. 

 

Muskie's picture
Muskie

The red flag was simply that you weren’t stating you were removing potato sprouts or green potato flesh. That’s what started the whole discussion that led to rope. There are a ton of things that could potentially invade your starter, all of which so rarely happens it’s an afterthought, not something you plan to prevent, so, relax. IMO, mini is very much a scientist, and has many amazing insights into the making of SD, but as you’ve said it has been made for thousands of years never once killing any significant portion of the eating society. So, avoiding ingredients isn’t something worth thinking about.

  1. Yeast equals increase in volume, so I’m not sure of your expectations of more yeast without worrying about increase in volume. You get more yeast activity, you will definitely get more volume, sorry.
  2. Did you smell the pineapple? The addition of that should definitely have changed the smell of the starter. Why would you think it wouldn’t?
  3. Starters have a variety of smells enroute to their viable state. I don’t smell mine until I have done something that I expect will result in something. So, after feeding, and the starter has doubled, then I smell it. I really don’t care what it smells like during that process. It might very well smell all sorts of odors before the point I want to smell.
  4. You have become unnecessarily concerned with “nasty bacteria”, please, forget it.
  5. Beasties and nasties can smell the same, or either can smell “bad”, so realize its performance, not smell, that speaks volumes.
  6. Bubbly usually means yeast.
  7. Consider what people do to make beer, or wine, they are leaving their worts out to even more potential for bad invasion than your starter, so please, put this thought to rest and stop thinking about it.
  8. The fact that your starter has doubled is, IMO, proof that its viable. All we want from a starter is a place that will grow yeast (but please correct me if that’s a wrong statement).

 Russ

tea berries's picture
tea berries

To answer your questions and reply to some of your open ended comments:

1. Yes, yeast equals increase in volume because of the gas that will cause your mixture to rise. But if the mixture is wet enough, the mixture won't really "rise", because the gas rises and escapes. I simply said that my mother was wet to cause this effect so I can get a good colony without having to have it double like my starter. Am I getting this wrong? How can the mixture rise if it's so wet? clarification please.

2. Yes I smelled the pineapple, it smelled like… pineapple. :) It was a freshly opened, pre-experation can of pineapple chunks in its own juices. I just used the juices for the mother and ate the fruit. Of course I KNEW if would change the smell… but it was only after I added the pineapple that I realized that maybe I could mask the smell without actually solving the problem of rotting starter that had loads more bacteria (more than the usual ratio of 100/1) than yeast, and all I really had was rotting flour water. I don't know - is this possible? If it is, then that was my fear. 

3. Ok, you keep your nose away until it looks like it's ready to be critiqued. I never read a forum that said "your starter will stink before it smells good", and I never read a forum that said "if your starter stinks, throw it out"… and until now, I never read a forum that said "Don't smell it before it looks like 'something'… you might not like what you smell." All I've ever read is "it will smell yeasty" or "it will smell like beer". I guess i just figured the process was pretty predictable and was asking if the funk was normal. 

4. "it's performance, not smell, that speaks volumes." so even if it stinks, as long as it's rising, it's fine? Doesn't bacteria also put off CO2? Yes, I'm one of those people that like details. Sorry if that bugs you, just leave the question to another commenter please rather than getting frustrated with me! :)

5. You're right, people have been producing alcohol in all sorts of potentially risky ways for centuries. I have to admit being told to "just stop thinking about it" doesn't make me feel very good. I'll stop thinking about it once someone tells me that the funk is normal or at least a possibility on the way to a healthy starter. I want to LEARN on the way… not just end up with a viable product! I hope you understand!

6. Again… even if gas has swollen my flour mixture, couldn't it have happened by bacteria? Would the smell of a powerful bacteria colony overpower the tangy scent of pineapple? Again, if I'm frustrating you, please leave the question for another commenter. :) Thanks and God Bless!

Muskie's picture
Muskie

  1. But your starter is rising...so
  2. The smell of your rotting starter wasn't "rotting", starter doesn't smell like roses, it doesn't smell like beer, it smells like stuff fermenting...nobody tries to find stuff that smells like its fermenting, its not a pleasant smell unless you know what it smells like and want to smell it. I honestly think you were just surprised by its smell.
  3. You never smelled a viable starter either, it doesn't smell like freshly baked great bread. I'm sorry I can't say it better, but I do seriously think you are thinking way more about green potatoes than wondering if your starter is alive...;-]
  4. CO2 creates the bubbles you see as your starter rising...so...got another question?
  5. 2 hours ago you wouldn't have any reason to rethink anything..now you do. If that makes you stop, you're a dweeb...;-] Get over it, stop thinking about it, don't eat 10lbs of green potatoes. Come on...
  6. The gas in your flour mixture isn't CO2? If it is, you've been successful, if it isn't, are they fracing in your area?

Dudette, you got it going on, seems to me you got a viable starter, so, when you going to try and bake a bun that you will eat half of, and then give the other half to your daughter?

Russ

 

tea berries's picture
tea berries

*chuckles*… well, ok, I guess stuff fermenting doesn't sound very fragrant. I don't know why I didn't expect it to smell like the bottom of a gym bag… maybe it did surprise me. At least it didn't mold! "Nobody tries to find stuff that smells like it's fermenting"… I guess… but you know… and I know… that there's a ferment-sniffer out there - be it for beer, wine or bread, there's someone who's nose knows about the funk and if they found my thread, they could say "hey, that's totally normal, don't worry!" I guess that is really what you're saying, though it sounds like more out of conceptual theory than experience lol. As for the bubbles and the CO2 - yes, here is my question - could bacteria cause a rise in your starter? It's a simple question. I'm not asking if there's not also yeast there, I'm not asking if it needs to be thrown out. I'm asking if the initial rise before the 72 hour mark is typically bacteria, and somewhere in there the tables turn and the yeast begins to take responsibility for the CO2 production. Don't kill me… I'm a university student and my husband is a Ph.D. chemist. I'm honestly interested. :)

I'm not going to be a "dweeb" (I don't how you pulled off making that sound endearing haha :p)… I won't throw it out until it's trying to crawl out of the jar and growls at me. It's fate is in the jar on the fridge until it dies, flourishes, or evolves lungs. 

Once I think the starter is stable enough for me not to bite my nails wondering if it will rise a good sourdough overnight, I'll use it to make some bread or some sourdough dinner rolls. It may be some time as I figure out the cycle of the starter, but once I get it done I'll post a pic and I hope to get a reply from you that involves tossing glitter in the air and lighting candles that I not only made my very FIRST sourdough product, but didn't kill anyone! ;)

Muskie's picture
Muskie

assuming you're a dudette...my apologies

tea berries's picture
tea berries

Yes I am a dudette lol 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and I thought the peels and sprouts went into the starter:

 I took some yukon golds that have sprouted and done a no-rinse peel including some of the buds on the potato (not that I know if it matters really) and dropped them right into my currently running starter referred to in this thread.

But if not and the peeled potatoes were used, the chance of rope decreases greatly.  When the potatoes are cooked, forget about Rope.  

Yes, bacteria can raise a starter and make it smell bad.  WW sourdough often goes thru a phase of dirty sweaty sport sock smell.  Reminds me of my Brothers feet after volley ball practice.  Some starters will stay with the aroma.  Others will get past it.  Let it ferment longer before feeding or reduce the amount of flour in the feed.  The pineapple was the right move.  

Nice picture!  

tea berries's picture
tea berries

I'm glad to hear someone else has smelled funky starter (though Russ did make a point about fermenting stuff generally smelling funky, I guess I just didn't think starter went through this phase. I assumed for god knows what reason -  no reason really - that it went straight from nothing to a slow onset of beer smell.) I did toss some of the yukon skins in the starter, which had one tiny bud and I still have no idea what rope is or what its dangers or signs of presence are. Thanks for the help and God Bless!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

anytime you smell something, type it into the box and see what turns up.  Like:  starter smells like sweat socks  

Since we don't sell socks on the site, starter smells will more than likely pop up.  Same with pineapple juice  or  nail polish  or even Questions.  Lots of stuff in the discussions.  Even Rope.  I gave you a link above, you can read about it from others as well.    

Ah ha!  a simple test of a piece of middle bread in a plastic bag for 3-4 days will show or not show and give piece of mind.  The problem is when spores gets settled into a kitchen.  The bread will develop a wet spot in the middle which slowly spreads outwards to the crust.  Looks like someone poured oil on the bread and it turns sticky wet and smells like rotting melons, sort of sickly sweet and obvious.  Not like a mouldy piece of bread.  If you cut bread and stick the slices back together and gently pull them apart, strings appear between the slices spider web thin.   Definitely one of those bad smells but only shows itself after you've put lots of hard work into making a product.  

I would definitely enjoy the fresh bread the first 36 hrs.  Then wait to bake again after I knew how the wait test slice comes out.  

Nothing you can really do until then. 

 

canuck's picture
canuck

Hi there - a bit late to the thread, but wanted to put my 0.02CDN in.   I also live in the vast frozen wasteland of Manitoba.   For those of you not from here, its actually not that bad, and extra great in Summer.   

Back to Starter - I can attest - I have made a great starter from Robin Hood AP flour (bleached) and chlorinated tap water (Winnipeg tap water).   The one thing that I did "differently" was I started it with some grapes that I had in my back yard.  I started with about 100% hydration (pancake batter texture), threw in some grapes, crushed things up a bit (it looked purple) and let it ride.  After a few days it started the usually smelly business, but it was pretty active.  I did the "toss out half and refresh every day", after about 8 days I had something really good going, and I baked with it after two weeks.  That was 6 years ago, still use it all the time and it works great.   If you are in Winnipeg, I'm happy to share.  

I've noticed a trend on the Fresh Loaf over the years (especially when it comes to starters): Over-analysis.  My feeling is, people have been making great bread for hundreds if not thousands of years without a lot of fuss, you can do it too.  It should be fun and end up tasty!

tea berries's picture
tea berries

for several reasons… first, Grapes?!… In Manitoba? We had some tomatoes going, and some cucumbers that didn't grow to monster size, but were pretty tasty, but those both are ok in moderate climate since the summers here are as you said "extra great" which I can surely agree to! … but Grapes? You MUST have a green house… and I am jealous! ;) I'm new to this city, and to canada… we're from the states and we love Canada I must say. But all my social networking happens during the summer months since everyone is broken up into wintertime activities that usually have become tradition for many years, and we have been cooped up inside. :( I go to U of M, hubby works as a research scientist here in south Winnipeg. Sharing would be amazing, it would be my first starter swap! I'll wait until mine is up and running and maybe we can exchange and I can learn the differences in what a starter can become with different ingredients… but seriously … Grapes?? I am just… jealous. Yep, jealous. Hahaha

canuck's picture
canuck

Yeah, they aren't wine grapes by any stretch, but they do grow pretty nicely and make great jelly.   Apparently yeast like to grows on grapes (and hence you get wine), or something like that.    I'm happy to share any time, welcome to Canada and Winnipeg! Sorry to say you picked about the worst winter in living memory to move here, but get out out to the Festival de Voyageur this weekend and you will have your winter blahs blown away.

Muskie's picture
Muskie

As much as I believe you've made a starter, you're not convinced. Your starter should become your friend. If you are at all worried about it, toss it and start anew.

I'm truly sorry that discussions about what might happen got into this conversation. If you look at the many other conversations about starting starters on this site you will quickly see this life threatening BS stuff doesn't enter them.

Please, bake something...

tea berries's picture
tea berries

.. and you're right. I don't think I really have "fantastic vibes" with this starter, but it's like your first child (or it was for me). Is your relationship with them ever as good as your relationship with your third, or fourth after you've had a chance to become laid back, confident, and experienced? I mean don't hold me to that comparison, it's general of course. :) But my point is I started this not knowing what the heck I was doing, and not knowing what to expect, and definitely learning along the way so maybe I will toss this one, but darn it, I can't bear the thought before I have a second starter fully active and ready to bake. 
I promise, I will bake something. But the starter isn't ready yet lol

tea berries's picture
tea berries

on the starters progress today in the photo comment of this thread. Take care everyone, Happy Valentines Day!

chris319's picture
chris319

The fact that your starter has doubled is, IMO, proof that its viable. All we want from a starter is a place that will grow yeast (but please correct me if that’s a wrong statement).

The telltale sign is that a ripe starter smells of yeast.