The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Naming starters?

  • Pin It
JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Naming starters?

I'm curious whether other folks here who keep sourdough starters give them names? On other forums, "Bubba" seems to be a popular name, as does "Pokey" (for starters that take a lllooonnng time to ripen). Others seem to have an affinity for Greek gods, with "Hercules" being the most popular.

I've got two starters going right now with another on the way. Let me introduce my sourdough kids to you.

The oldest is Barney Barm, born in February 2006 as a 200% hydration starter which later went to 100% and, finally, 50%. Barney is a white starter, though lately I've started adding about 15% whole rye when I feed it to try to up the "sour" a bit.

Barney gave birth to Arthur the Whole-Wheat Starter in April, when I decided I'd like to start making 100% whole wheat sourdoughs, instead of the 50-50 mix I'd been baking before. I took a small amount of Barney and fed it continuously with whole-wheat flour. Arthur is also at 50%.

As for No. 3, I've long been curious about Hammelman's rye breads -- he seems to have a particular passion for them, which has made me eager to try them out myself. And he heartily recommends making rye breads with rye starters.

So this morning, following SourdoLady's instructions, I started the birthing process of Rhonda Rye. I'm not sure at what hydration I'll keep Rhonda. Hammelman seems to like 60%, but that makes the math a real pain in the butt. If I do keep it at 60%, I'll probably just keep a small amount of mother starter on hand -- no more than a few ounces -- and feed it a fixed amount every feeding. I'll then use a small amount of the mother starter to do a bigger build the day before baking.

If I have time tonight, I may add some pictures of the starters, if there's any interest.

So. What did you name your starters?

rmk129's picture
rmk129

Hi JMonkey, I am very interested in seeing photos of your starters!!!

I have never baked sourdough bread before, but the passion for sourdough in this website community has officially infected me :) I just began my first starter yesterday (following SourdoLady's instructions as well), but I am superstitious so I probably won't name her until I see evidence of life for a few days in a row! I'm keeping my fingers crossed but I'm not sure that my rye flour was fresh enough, so I may be starting over again in a few days once I locate a fresh source of flour and/or a coffee grinder to prepare my own!

Good luck with the new addition to your family (Rhonda Rye). You have certainly got your hands full in your kitchen! I loved reading in your blog about your all-night baking binge last week...hilarious!!! :)

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

They're not pretty, as most of us aren't just as we're waking up. I just took them out of the fridge.

But, in any case, on the left is Barney Barm, In the center, his son, Arthur the whole-wheat starter. And to the far right, the slurry that will, within a week, I hope, become Rhonda Rye.

And my counter usually isn't that dirty. Really. I'd made breakfast, wiped it down quickly, took the photo and then cleaned it well before going to work. I swear. I doth not protest too much. Truly.

You buying this?

rmk129's picture
rmk129

Thanks for the photos!!! It is really interesting for a sourdough newbie like me to see what starters of different types and hydrations actually look like. I have my own (as-of-yet-unnamed) SourdoLady/Floydm starter on day 4 right now...so if all goes well (or not), I may post some photos myself soon...and I promise not too worry about the current state of my counter when taking the photos, so don't fret...we don't have assistants to wipe off our counters every 30 seconds to ensure picture-perfect scenes like the television chefs do!!! :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Wow, I didn't know they could be so thick! Mine always look like some kind of soup. Creative names too, maybe someone can think of one for my oats. Since I had a little orange juice (that I didn't mix with Campari) I tried mixing it with oat flour. I'm curious if it is any faster. Smells like breakfast (like the OJ got poured into the cereal). What do you think of "Breakfast in China?" Smell it once a day. It is three days old and maybe I'll add more orange and oats. I'm very patient and it helps to park it out of the kitchen. I refuse to "watch the pot." My other starter is on holiday... no name. No guilt when i pitch it.

Bought more wheat flour and I'm back to step one. Seems like every bag has it's own idea of how it should be baked. Yesterday, hocky pucks, today I added oat flour and they came out super. It's enough to drive me crazy sometimes. Mini Oven :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

June 21
Breakfast in China or Chinese Breakfast is officially a starter. I added more flour and orange juice and within the hour it had gone thick, bubbly and doubled. Smells wonderful. Now the orange juice can go back into the Campari. In this heat, 44°c the ice cube tray is wearing out but my Chinese Breakfast is keeping cool in the living room. I think the name is too long... Chuzhou Sourdough is also a possibility and our ancient nearby park including Lang Yashan Mountain. O heck, let's be Chinese and call it: "Sourdough Breakfast with Sourdolady on Lang Yashan Mountain with Oat flours in her hair" in honor and praise to Sourdolady.
Tonight I will add one cup white wheat flour and 8 oz water, beat it and mess with it in the morning.

Next Day: Mixed it real good and Took out one cup starter for the fridge. Then one cup for my recipe (780gm loaf) and the rest went into dry dock taking dulke's advice and pouring it out on baking paper on a tea tray to dry.

I didn't use any baker or commercial yeast but did a 3/4 cup each flour and water poolish using my Chinese Breakfast bowl with some of it still clinging to the sides ( as I moved the starter to a bigger bowl). Today as I came back from the market, the dough had trippled and still on the go. (It wouldn't degas by dropping or banging the bowl.) I shaped some rolls aprox. 95 -100gm each and will have some fun with my scissors.

Today I will test out my new stainless stone. Now I know some of you will think it's not "earthy" but steel doesn't come from outer space and this particular plate was fashoned with lots of TLC. I bake with baking paper because of the fantastic non-stick lift I get, and it doesn't breathe either. As the bread lifts, it also separates from paper and "stone" so I think the major point of the stone is to give that continous concentrated heat right there at the bottom center of the loaf and has less to do with "breathing." I'm curious, did anyone ever try baking a loaf on a hot cast iron pan or griddle? Time to run off and cut my buns.... :) Mini Oven

ryan's picture
ryan

Since my parents won't let me have a pet, my starter's name is Kitty-Puppy steming from a Christmas when I would ask them for one or the other, still not as fun to play fetch with though....

ryan

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Mini-oven, did I read that right? You've got a starter made of oat flour?

Now that's cool. Does it leaven bread pretty well on its own or do you have to add commercial yeast? Most of the rye recipes I read call for commercial stater as well, though I'm thinking I may ditch it, at least in the summer. A loaf I made last night was supposed to rise 50% in 90 minutes. When I went down into the basement to check on it, it was overflowing the bucket!

It didn't seem to affect the quality of the loaff though. Was wonderful.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yes, Oat starter and it formed rather quickly too!
Well I don't know if it is the heat or air pressure, my dough in the air-condition room or because of the nature of the yeast but it seems to produce a lot of rise in the first 3 hours and then get lazy. By the time I want to bake it, it gets down right sleepy. I got a picture of my Barley loaf (later please) and granted it is a little flat. Seemed the longer I let it rise, the worse the skin tention, it developed rips and tears and wouldn't hold a shape. I did use a lot of barley flour, like I would with rye and also white wheat and oat flour. I kneaded with wheat. It also stuck to my heavily floured cloth when I tried to basket it. So it did get knocked around.

The next loaf, will be a white wheat/oat one with pure oat starter. If it acts the same, then I'll have to skip the doubling rise and shape after a 30 minute rest from kneading. If that doesn't work, I'll add comercial yeast to stabilize it. I'm at or just below sea level and I need all the lifting help I can get! The bread does taste sour enough and barley has a slight bitter taste that I'm not used to. Make better bread sticks snacks for beer and the next Argentinian game! Now, That's an Idea! :) Mini Oven

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And the next loaf is taking it's dear sweet time. Isn't it funny, just when you think ya know something, your dough has other ideas? But I think I know why, I'm always experimenting and what I did last time with my starter was to feed it and pop it back into the fridge. a couple of days have past but I guess that just wasn't long enough for my cold (5°c) starter. I will go back to my old habits of leaving my starter out till it rises and falls.

While I was waiting, I whipped up a batch of Sweet Corn Raisin Bread and like the recipe with only two changes: honey for sugar and nutmeg. I used real medium ground cornflour and also added the flour very slowly, very slowly, with lots of beating in between. Very nice skin this time and you are soon to see what my scissors has done. The house smells lovely! :) Mini Oven

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

At the moment, I've got problems and I think it's the Barley flour. Seems everytime I use it, my yeast refuses to cooperate. I was noticing that barley can be full of alpha-amylase. Could too much of this be killing my yeast? My loaf has been sitting in a 23°c living room since noon yesterday. It never really doubled so about 20:00 hours, I did a final fold and shape and put one in the fridge and left the other one out, covered to rise. It is 08:00 now and nothing. Pulled the loaf from the fridge and set them both outside. We are expecting thunderstorms also.
The oat starter on the otherhand is brewing away. I cut the loaf to look for bubbles and some are there, reshaped into rolls, and stuck into a plastic bag to rise. I am going to take two spoons of starter and mix one with barley flour and the other with oat. Could it be that barley neutralizes the pH? Add to my expr. two more spoons but with a little orange juice in each. My husband is telling me to stop breaking my head over it and go back to adding comercial yeast. Looks like this batch are doggie biscuts. Is there anything I can do without overworking the dough? Mini Oven

pastordic's picture
pastordic

I thought maybe you'd name one Pokey because you couldn't stop poking your finger in the rising dough. :-)   I haven't named a starter yet.  If it was my wife who kept starters, each one would have a name, just like past and present cars. :-)

Russ (PastorDIC) Battle Ground, WA

http://pastordic.blogspot.com/

-----

Submitted by JMonkey on June 13, 2006 - 5:04am.

I'm curious whether other folks here who keep sourdough starters give them names? On other forums, "Bubba" seems to be a popular name, as does "Pokey" (for starters that take a lllooonnng time to ripen). Others seem to have an affinity for Greek gods, with "Hercules" being the most popular.

Kate's picture
Kate

My starter's name is Sid. I have two starters going - one is a simple Amish Friendship bread starter which doesn't thrill me much so it doesn't get a name, but I always wrote SD (for sourdough) on Sid's bag so I didn't accidentally feed him sugar and milk, and eventually he just became "Sid." Even my husband calls him Sid.

I'm one of those who names cars, too. My shiny black Subaru with gray leather interior is named Josie, as in "Josie and the Pussycats." She looks like she should be performing on stage in a punk band!

Anyway... I'm going to stop embarrassing myself and go mix up some no-knead bread now. =) 

Jeffrey's picture
Jeffrey

Well Sunnie really isn't a starter yet, but showing life.  It started out following Floydm's, and SourdoLady's directions.

I added 1/3 cup rye, 1/3 whole wheat, with some all purpose flour.  We didn't have any OJ lemon juice or anything like it, we always have OJ until now.  So to keep Hodgson out, we boiled the bowl, and put a lid on it.

There were a few bubbles yesterday, day one.  A few more today, when i dumped in a 1.5 ounce box of raisins in.  Several hours later, there were a twice as many bubbles.  Guess it likes raisins.  Since raisins are made in the sun, i named it Sunnie.  They weren't Sun-maid raisins, just organic ones, called Made in Nature.

Oh, Hodgson is a starter we made from the poolish left in the jar.  We used Hodgson's yeast, so that's what we named it.  I just wanted to see what would happen.  We've been using it every day, it seems ok, of course it's young, and we have nothing to compare it with.

Soon Sunnie will be ready.

Kate, is Sid some San Francisco sourdough, (i read your intro).

jeffrey

Jeffrey's picture
Jeffrey

Sunnie is diffenatly alive, we even made a few loaves before putting it in a jar.  We'll try to get some pictures up.

Kate's picture
Kate

I live right on the bay and it's a wild yeast starter, so I guess its San Francisco sourdough. I don't physically live in San Fransisco, but I'm awfully close. Sid is just wonderfully sour and flavorful and smells beautiful. And by beautiful I mean stinky! My dad used to live in the bay area and now lives in Georgia and misses SF sourdough bread so much so I'm just about to dry some and mail it off to him and maybe it will retain its SF-ness long enough to bake a few loaves with. =)

I made Sid from just flour and water. Even volume of both. If that didn't work I was going to consider using grapes or something to help it along, but it grew quite nicely on its own. I have since gotten a digital scale and now maintain it with even weights of both, which really upped the sour flavor, even though the changed seemed so small.

Kate 

Jeffrey's picture
Jeffrey

hi Kate


Sid sounds really good, it's great that it came out sour.  Living where good sourdough comes from, must be a bonus.


Mine aren't real sour yet, but of course i wouldn't know, since i never saw sourdough before.  That's why i ordered some from Carl's Friends, with a donation.  Yep, Sunnie is sourdough.  After a few months i'll have to order some that's suppose to be sour, see what it its like.


It seems to me that the original yeast and bacteria stands a good chance of survival, unless the new organisms are a bunch faster.  The old ones should hold their own, of course eventually there would be a mixture of new and old.  Especially if they are fed whole grains, and grapes from unknown origins, guess i'll find out soon enough.


Thanks for answering.


jeffrey

grepstar's picture
grepstar

My wife was getting jealous a few weeks ago when it seemed like I was spending more time with Francesca Fiore than with her. It was a love/hate relationship though and her damning of the starter turning into praising of the bread. Last night Francesca was split and gave birth to Bruno Puntz Jones, a stiffer rye starter. I made my first loaves with him tonight and I'll see tomorrow if I was successful.

LaVidaMD's picture
LaVidaMD

I named my starter Audrey, after the plant in Little Shop of Horrors. When the plant begins to talk, she keeps saying, "Feed me!" So, the name seems appropriate for a sourdough starter.

T4tigger's picture
T4tigger

I have 3 starters going now. I named my first one Boris (a la Bullwinkle) because he was a bit tempermental at first. I then divided him and started a whole wheat starter named Natasha. We had a brief warm spell last week, so I put a flour/water mixture out in my garden to see what kind of yeasts might be lurking out there and now have Dusty who is 6 days old today and bubbling along very nicely.

gecko's picture
gecko

My creature, which began life as a pineapple juice and whole wheat copy of the one from Breadtopia, is named Igor. I just liked that Frankenstein connection of something brought to life in a dark basement (or a sunny Queensland kitchen).

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I saw this old thread had come back to life, so I thought I'd update. I gave up on Barney a long while back, because I just wasn't making white flour sourdoughs enough.


Barney's progeny, Arthur, is doing just dandy, however, and has significantly improved in flavor and leavening ability in the last 4-5 months. I keep it at about 60% hydration these days, now that I'm grinding my own flour. 50% hydration was just impossible -- the fresh ground flour needs quite a bit more water than the bagged stuff to get the same consistency.

Rhonda Rye, likewise, is still going strong. She's the star riser of the two, no doubt. At 85 degrees, the second proof is usually ready to go in about 90 minutes. She's not as flavorful as Arthur, yet, however. I still keep her at 100% hydration.

Whenever I do want to make a white flour sourdough, I just take a small amount of Arthur and convert into a 100% hydration white flour starter.

redivyfarm's picture
redivyfarm

Sorry about Barney, JMonkey. However, you have inspired me to name my starter Lazarus. He springs back to life regardless of the weeks left out on the counter or months forgotten in the refrigerator. My kids do not want to inherit my parrots but they kind of like Lazarus.