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Tartine no.3 starter issues

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James.R's picture
James.R

Tartine no.3 starter issues

Hello TFL,

I'm having issues with my tartine starters from book 3. I've tried several times to get my starter to rise but it's just too wet.

Here is what I've done so far this time around:

315g 50/50 flour blend - wholemeal and white. (Manildra wholemeal and Allied mills Superb bakers flour)

300 ml water from the tap (We really do have great water in Melbourne, Australia)

This raised and bubbled for 2 days and on the 3rd day I fed it.

On the 3rd day I took 75g of starter and put in 150g 50/50 mix and 150g water.

This is where it went bad and has my last 4 attempts. 

The mix seems to be so watery the air bubbles just come to the top and pop. This results in my starter being more like a crepe mix rather than a thick pancake batter. It also means my starter won't rise like it did when I used 315g flour to 300 ml water.

How can I fix this? I'm sure it needs more flour or will that make the 1:2:2 balance be thrown out?

 

Any help is appreciated.

koffetar's picture
koffetar

I suggest that you make new starter from full rye flour. I'm using modified Tartine recipe that suggests this type of starter. I will not go back to wheat starters. You can read about rye starter here: http://tartine-bread.blogspot.com/2011/08/sourdough-starter-demystified.html

Quality of my breads has increased a lot. This picture below is a bit modified Tartine bread from 100% strong white flour (I think this is how you call it - it is between full wheat and white flour) with 70% hydration. Starter on the picture is 3 days old. I used more water in first days, percentage wise this would be 45% of rye flour and 55% of water. Now I'm at 50-50 and it is much thicker bater. For feeding I keep 20g of starter and add 20g of flour & 20g of water. I don't want to throw away so much flour as it is suggested in Tartine book 1. I don't know, but so far this works for me. I'm still learning how it behaves and I try to respond to the needs of little creatures that make my bread.

I hope this helps you in any way. Cheers!

James.R's picture
James.R

Thanks for your help koffetar. I've actually read that blog on several occasions and done a lot of research before posting. One of the biggest factors is, do you transform the rye starter to wholemeal over time or keep it as rye? Only thing is, I can only obtain 25kg bags of flour. 25kg of rye isn't what I was planning for. That means I'll end up with 75g of flour in my house at one time :/

Is there anyway to make this wholemeal / white mix work?

koffetar's picture
koffetar

I keep rye starter clean by feeding it only with rye flour, so it's independent of the type of bread I make. It seems that rye has a lot of good qualities and the process of making and maintaining starter is quite forgiving.
As I remember Tartine method suggests that levain leftover should become your starter while you discard the old one.

I hope some starter-ninjas on this forum will jump in and give you some good suggestions :)
I'll keep my eye on this topic. Wish you all the best!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

about the 1:2:2  That is actually a bit too much flour at the moment and is geared more for yeast growth when it has appeared.  

How does your starter smell?  Does it smell yeasty?  If not let it sit a while and ferment some more.  What you describe in your starter sounds more like preliminary bacteria action and the good bacteria and yeast needs longer to sort themselves out.  Don't rush it!  (easier said than done, I know)  

You can stir it up and keep about 100g to watch.  Give it a rounded tablespoon of mixed flour once each day and enough water to keep the flour wet if needed.  Does the flour settle out as well?  A new starter will often take a week.   The liquid will get darker and smell stronger of beer.   Keeping it thin will speed up fermentation also having a temperatures over 24°C.  When you can clearly smell yeasty beer, remove a 30g portion and try the 1:2:2 feeding.  

Craig_the baker's picture
Craig_the baker

for my starter and leaven build is 50/50 rye flour/bread flour. I have never had a starter fail to start or thrive when using this combination. If making a starter from ground zero, it will only take 4-5 days to establish itself using this mix.

James.R's picture
James.R

Thanks for all your help! It's smelling more like off milk or cheese. Not enough to make anyone gag but you can tell it has an "off" smell. After feeding it goes back to a milky sort of smell. 

I definitely need some rye flour. But won't be till next week now :(

What I'm going to do is 150g flour and 150 ml water, 75g starter. Will this be ok?

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

after adding flour, will smell like wet flour.  I repeat just because I'm stubborn, don't feed this starter 1:2:2 yet.  If you insist on feeding it (I would not in the next 24 hrs)  feed  1:0.5:0.5  so that there is more starter in the mix than flour.  

Every time you overfeed a beginning starter (more than feeding 1:1:1) you raise the pH encouraging bacteria, bacteria that grow at high pH levels than your target pH bacteria.   Only when the starter pH falls, will yeast appear.  When it smells yeasty, positively yeasty then raise the amount of food.   

James.R's picture
James.R

I won't feed the starter today. I wish the book explained more about the starter process. I followed the directions word for word with no luck.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Then read Debra Winks blog entries.    type in the site search:  Pineapple 1 Wink

Read both one and two and anything else that looks interesting.

James.R's picture
James.R

http://imgur.com/bWV7bKNhttp://imgur.com/IdVoIbzhttp://imgur.com/1XVYcqA

I tried to upload some images but they were too big in size. So uploaded them to imgur.com

This is my starter this morning. I don't think it's risen and fallen at all last night. I guess I'll give it more time.

James.R's picture
James.R

Ok, managed to find some rye flour. God it's hard to find in Melbourne. I had to go to a distributor! 

Managed to find a 10kg rye flour for $15.75 so I'll try the method listed on the blog listed above.

I'll keep this up to date incase others have the same issue. Surely I can't be the only one?!

imaloafer's picture
imaloafer

If your tap water, no matter how good it tastes, is treated with chemicals to kill bacteria, it could be killing your starter. I always have a gallon container of tap water, left out for a few days, covered with a towel. This allows for the chemicals to dissipate and evaporate off. 

I have used the Tartine method for about 3 years now, with no problems, baking 15-20 loaves a week. I use the 50/50 Whole Wheat and Bread flour and have never had a starter or leaven fail. Temperature is always a factor as well. Our starter is fed 35 g starter, 80 g water, 80 g 50/50 every morning. The only exception is if we are away and it goes into the fridge. We don't follow the method of using the leaven to feed our starter. When we make a leaven, we also feed our original starter. 

James.R's picture
James.R

Well I've been trying the rye starter and it's very slow to take off. Very few bubbles but it's starting to smell.

I'm now going to try this water trick to get rid of the chlorine. 

Does this mean I need to start over?

James.R's picture
James.R

Ok, well it's been 3 days since my last post. I started the rye starter again and I'm getting bacteria bubbles but no bubbles on the surface. 

Still next to no activity in the tartine method.

I think it's safe to say weather I use tap water or leave the water out, the results are the same.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

no biggie.  What temp. is the goop?

Is the "tartine" the older one with a rye addition?

James.R's picture
James.R

The tartine one is whole wheat with white 50/50 this was started before the 5th of  Feb.

The rye is 50/50 rye and white. 

Temp is 77f

Nothing has risen or fallen

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you discard and feed?   

James.R's picture
James.R

Yep. I keep about 75g and feed 150g 50/50 flour with 150g water. This is for the tartine method. I then add another handful of flour so it's not so runny

For the rye I simply follow the rye method but I've doubled the batch.

James.R's picture
James.R

I'm going to have to start over.I'm losing all hope 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

leave it alone and stop adding flour.  Stop being so generous to them.  When starting a starter it is important not to overfeed, sounds like the feeds are more for a starter that has already shown all the signs of yeast.  These little starters are great experts at testing your patience.  They so are!  Just when you give up and want to ditch them, they turn around and surprise you.  So pretend to.   Tell them, they are joining the other empty jars and bits under the kitchen sink and just park them there out of sight for a day or two.  Seriously!  Stick them in a paper bag if you need to protect them from anything grimy and just do it.

While waiting for yeast it is better, just to wait for the yeast and not double the food.  Leave the cultures alone for a day or two and if you feel like you must feed them, later try a 2:1:1 feeding keeping the amount of starter in the ratio high or twice that of the flour.  

When your family and friends ask you if you're making beer in your kitchen, then it's time to feed for yeast.  

Happy Valentine's Day!  

placebo's picture
placebo

It seems a bit strange that the 100%-hydration mixture would be so watery. Try mixing the fresh flour and water together first. This combination should not be water. Then add the starter. Does it become too thin then?

As Mini has told you several times, ignore what the Tartine book tells you and cut back on the amount of food at each feeding. The goal is to get the acid in the starter to accumulate so that it wakes up the dormant yeast. Every time you feed the starter, you're diluting it and setting back its development a bit. If you feed it a large amount, you set back the development a lot, and the starter will take forever to get going, if at all.

James.R's picture
James.R

Ok, I'll leave them alone and we will see how it goes.

James.R's picture
James.R

Today I finally had yeast in one of my starters!

Smelt just like beer and a big change was the bubbles on the surface were almost holographic. In the light they turn multi colored. Purple / green etc.

I just don't know what to do now as it hasn't doubled in size.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

another day.  The first beer whiff is rather light, wait a day and it gets better.  :)

Then tomorrow, take your trusty tablespoon and dive down to the bottom of the starter jar (stir if you want to, no biggie)  and scoop up some of the starter goop.  Place into a small dish, double the amount of liquid with some water (one or two tablespoonsful)  and add enough flour to make a soft paste.  Cover or move to your starter jar and cover.  to grow.  

If you want to really test it...(and perhaps bake with it)  take out another tablespoon of the beery soup and add 100g water and 100g flour and place in a tall narrow straight sided glass or beaker, mark the level and time, cover and time it.  At 75°F, Nothing will happen for the first 3 hrs or so but then when the yeast numbers have built up in the mixture, it will start to make gas and rise, and rise and rise.  Mark the level every hour and mark it when the dome levels out.  Don't stir it but do uncover it gently and notice how the aromas change from wet flour to more aromatic starter smells.

Soon it gets a dimple in the top middle and starts to fall.  Then take out 180g of starter for a recipe and feed the remaining 20 g starter.  Feed it 20 or 40g water and the same in flour.  Cover and let it rise and ferment.  When it peaks,  feed it again.   Each time you feed it with identical amounts of starter, water and flour, it should not only increase the yeast numbers it also take less time for the culture to peak.    You may have to play around with starter and flour amounts until you get your starter on a 12 hour feeding schedule.  it can peak in about 8 hrs and then wait to feed it around 12 hrs.  That gives the starter bacteria a chance to catch up and protect the starter from invading microorganisms.   :)

James.R's picture
James.R

So do I now feed it every day at the same time?

Or every 2 days?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

depending on how the atarter reacts, it is fed after it peaks.  

it should not take more than 12 hrs to peak or rise to a maximum volume.  Use a narrow glass to watch it so it can climb up the side.  a shallow dish is hard to interpret.   

How would you like to feed it? 

I would suggest twice a day to build yeast.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/285101#comment-285101

James.R's picture
James.R

Mini oven thank you so much for your help. It wouldnt of been possible without your help! Youre a star!

 starter is taking about 12 hours to peak. When im noticing that dip in the middle im feeding it again. Im not near the 8 hour mark though. Will it still be ok to make a pizza with?

Also, the tartine book said discard all of the starter but 1 scoop. 3 weeks worth of work for 1 tablespoon???

Cant I just take out 1 tablespoon and keep feeding the starter? Why does the excess leaven now become the starter?

Here is what I want to do, feed every 12 hours, bake bread everyday around 1-2 loaves and pizza sometimes.

 Now have 2 srarters here. 75g starter with 150 water and 150 flour mix. So 375g x 2 of starter. Surely ive got enough, right?

 the night before I can just take out 2 tablespoons for 2 loaves and 1 tablespoon for a pizza?

Then I can transfer 75g of starter and feed again?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

starter is taking about 12 hours to peak. When im noticing that dip in the middle im feeding it again. Im not near the 8 hour mark though. Will it still be ok to make a pizza with?  

Yes, make some pizza and toss in a little extra yeast.  Each time you feed and let it peak with the same feeding ratios, the starter will rise faster.  If it takes longer each time, cut back on the amount of flour food or get the starter to a warmer spot closer to 75°F.

Also, the tartine book said discard all of the starter but 1 scoop. 3 weeks worth of work for 1 tablespoon???  

You're looking at it wrong.  During those weeks, the starter has be changing (hopefully for the better)  If you save all of it and feed all of it keeping it healthy (because it has to be fed) you will soon have your bathtub full of it!  That is a waste!  Reducing to a small amount is frugal.  

Cant I just take out 1 tablespoon and keep feeding the starter? Why does the excess leaven now become the starter?

Confusion here.  Could be word usage, not sure.  Are you talking about right now or later on when the culture is stronger?  Don't keep feeding the main part of your culture, with each feed it is changing especially now.  The yeast and bacteria are still changing depending on the way it's maintained.   You can use the most recent discard as a backup in the fridge(thicken with flour to make a stiff dough and then pop into the fridge) but within a week or two, that back up will  also hit the compost when you see what a lovely growing vigorous new culture you have (to replace it.)  

Right now park the beery brew into the fridge and dump it in a few days or a week if you are feeling insecure.  The discard from now on can be used in some baking or in dumplings or other stuff or stored as back up.  You shouldn't be having a lot of discard if you're starting out with 10-20g of starter when you feed (and feeding at 1:2:2  (S:W:F))

Q: The 12 hour rise, what was the feed ratio?  1:2:2 or 1:10:10?

Here is what I want to do, feed every 12 hours, bake bread everyday around 1-2 loaves and pizza sometimes.  

Then you want a continuous starter left on the counter top with a chilled stiff back up in the fridge.  Plan to reduce (use) and build your starter in two steps (about 12  and 24 hrs) before you plan on mixing the dough (depends on recipe) to have enough for dough & pizza.  

Now have 2 srarters here. 75g starter with 150 water and 150 flour mix. So 375g x 2 of starter. Surely ive got enough, right?

Where did they come from?  Yes, you have enough to bake something, be patient with the dough for it will take some time to rise you might want to add some instant yeast when the dough is about 12 hrs old and not rising much.  So it was a 1:2:2 feed and it took 12 hrs to peak.  how high was the peak?  Meanwhile feed and work with the one starter in small amounts to build up yeast.  Feed 20g of starter 40g each water & flour to peak under 12 hrs.  IF you find the nights are cooler in your kitchen, increase the amount of starter or reduce the amount of flour so it peaks under 12 hrs.   Aim for 8 hours with a 4 hrs rest period before feeding. That will keep the starter in safe parameters.

Then I can transfer 75g of starter and feed again?  yes