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!! :)))