The Fresh Loaf

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On the keeping of many Starters

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CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

On the keeping of many Starters

We have some people who have 5 (SourdoLady)-15 starters.  Could someone please explain how one keeps that many; does one let them all dry out and store separately in the refrigerator?  If so, how long will they last in that state....cryogeneis?...And how much does one store in dried out format to make sure it will come back to Life?  Thanks......

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I actually have 8 or 9 different starters but I find that I use about 3 of them regularly and the rest only occasionally. I dry them to share with other people by mail but I keep all of them in their wet state in the refrigerator. The stiffer you keep them the longer they can live without food. If you are thinking that would take too much refrigerator space--not necessarily so. You can keep only an ounce or so in a very small container. I feel that in the dried state there is a greater chance that the yeast will die over time, although I did hear of one person tell of reviving a 30-year-old dried starter successfully. I also am not a fan of freezing starters. Some will survive freezing and some will not.

 

I left my Bahrain starter from SDI at 100% hydration for a year without feeding and it came back beautifully (it got shoved clear to a back corner in the fridge, forgotten). It did take a couple of days to begin to show life after I fed it, but once it did it was as good as ever.

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Did you get the thanks I posted to you in this Forum?

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I don't recall that I did. What was the title of the post? I find that I miss a lot of posts because they sometimes seem to be in a strange order, or the title doesn't catch my attention.

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

It is posted at  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1827  under My First Sourdolugh Loaf and You All and is a token of my immense gratitude for all your wonder full  ness and knowledge and expertise and down to earth good sense.  Ya gotta write a book.  And yes, please add me to your list of fans who think you are the greatest...

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I appreciate all your kind comments and I apologize for not seeing it before. Sometimes on the days when there are a lot of posts they drop off the front page and I miss them. Sourdough is my passion and I just enjoy helping others to learn. I don't claim to be any expert. I just do a lot of research and trial and error type stuff and then I share what I've learned and what works for me. As you probably have noted, there are many ways of achieving the end result so it is a matter of choice how you go about it. I'm all for the simplest and least complicated way that gets me what I'm after.

 

Sourdough is very forgiving and will tolerate a lot of abuse. The more generous you are in your feedings the happier it will be, and you will be rewarded with great bread. Just remember to always dump out most of the old starter before feeding because it is waste after it has consumed the nutrients in the flour. A lot of people have a hard time with dumping it out when they are newbies because they don't understand the reasoning.

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Could you clarify what you mean when you say: Just remember to always dump out most of the old starter ....As I understand it, if I use your sourdough recipe I am using 1/4, 1/4, 1/4, of old starter, water, and flour. 1)What do you mean you say dump out most of the old starter I sense you are saying something that I do not understand 2)How long after the feeding do you use the Starter to bake with; do you do it within the 6-8 hour time frame? 3) My proofing is taking a long time and I am patient but when I build a plastic bag tent the moisture collects from the hot water and then the dough gets wet.  Is it ok to put it in a cooled off oven?  Finally, I just want to go on record for saying anyone who can make the complex appear simple is to my way of thinking both elegant and brilliant of mind.  Thanks......

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Okay, the 1/4, 1/4, 1/4 is only in the beginning stages when you are making a new starter. Once it is lively you need to feed it a lot more than that. You take the starter out of the fridge, let it come to room temp. and then stir it up and dump out most of it. You can save as little as what clings to the sides of the container. Then feed it generously--say a cup of flour and however much water you want to achieve the consistency you like for your starter. I then let this proof (covered) at room temperature overnight or until it peaks at its highest point before the bubbles start to recede. You can mix your dough with it at this point. If you have left it overnight you may miss the highest point. If this happens you can do another feed in the early morning and it should grow rather quickly to the highest point again. You don't HAVE to use it at the highest point but you will get a better, faster rise if you do.

 

As for the proofing of your dough, I generally don't use any hot water. I put my dough in an oiled bowl (spray with Pam) and cover with plastic wrap (spray the top of the dough first). If you are working with shaped loaves, I do the same but allow enough plastic wrap to accomodate the dough expansion. I don't use any heat source for rising because the bread will have better flavor with a slow, cool rise. In fact at this time of the year I put my shaped loaves in a spare room with the heat vent closed and let them proof overnight. By morning they are only about half risen so I take them out and leave them at room temp for a couple more hours before baking.

 

Occasionally, if I am in a hurry to bake the next morning I will move my loaves to the oven to finish proofing. I turn the oven light on and then I turn the oven on for 30 to 45 seconds to just slightly warm it. The oven light will then maintain the warmth to rise the bread. Always keep the rising dough covered with plastic and don't forget to spray oil on the surface of the dough first so the plastic will peel right off.

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

You are not kidding when you say:  then stir it up and dump out most of it. You can save as little as what clings to the sides of the container.  I don't think I understood that. So when I do add flour and water I guess I will add it about 50:50 to get the batter consistency that you have already suggested is good. But when it comes to mixing and the first proofing I hope it rises...like it is taking me 6 hrs each for the 1st and 2nd rising.  That is why I asked just what is the time limit as to how long the yeast lasts. My house in winter is about 67 -70 degrees; hard to get it any warmer.  Many thanks for your assistance......

gianfornaio's picture
gianfornaio

I don't think I quite understand this concept. I mean, it seems simple enough, but how do you know whether you're reviving the old yeast culture or fostering a new one? For example, with the 30-yo dried starter I would assume that the gen-x yeast had all died and you were just cultivating the yeast present in the fresh flour. 

If it takes just a few days to get a viable starter with wild yeast, and it takes a few days to "revive" a forgotten starter that you've found in the back of your fridge from last year, what's the difference? Can you really claim without extensive microbiological testing that it's really one continuous starter?

I guess you retain the CO2 and the throughly acidified (if that's the right word) flour matter, which would pass some sour flavor to the continued starter, but I would argue that a single, continuous starter is defined by a well-maintained culture of yeast, descended largely from the yeast in the extant starter. If all the yeast in the old starter is dead, and you add new flour and water to it repeatedly until it demonstrates, ahem, leavenliness, if you will, then it would be a new resident culture and hence a different starter.

Am I being hopelessly picky?  Is it dangerous that I might be calling into question the pedigrees of starters that some braggarts (no one here intended, for what it's worth) claim to have maintained for years and years?  Am I undermining the teleological bent of my fellow bread fanatics?

My head hurts. Help me.