The Fresh Loaf

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Starter...after a long time

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timtune's picture
timtune

Starter...after a long time

I just set a starter out last night. Made of raisin water and unbleached all purpose. Hopefully i'll manage to get some loaves outta it this time.. hehe..

This is the 2nd time i'm doing this. Earlier this year, when i knew very little about making bread, my starter looked fermented, but they didn't produce anything or make dough rise... Guess it's just some other bacteria, not wild yeast. I live in a tropical country. Hope it's ideal for wild yeast and not some other nasty microbiological impostors...

Didn't use wholewheat flour. The last time i used wholewheat flour for an overnight poolish, it was fermented till the loaves smelled nasty and tasted bitter. lol

Hmm, how do u know if ur starter is ready to be used and how long b4 u can use it, usually....

Comments

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Hi,
I don't live in a tropical area, so I don't know how that might affect your starter. I do know that usually you get better results with whole wheat or rye flour. The yeasts are actually on the grains, but the same is true of the raisins. There is no need to expose your starter to the air to capture wild yeast.

You might be interested to read my blog about the starter I made with pineapple juice. It really works well. The acidity of the juice inhibits the growth of bad bacteria in your starter. If your starter is successful, it usually takes 5 to 8 days to get it to the point where you can bake with it. It will improve with age and gain in flavor as well as rising strength.

Good luck with your starter and be sure to let us know how it goes.

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

Thanks for such clear and simple starter instructions. I had sent for a Oregon Trail starter and it never came. So all along HERE at THE FRESH LOAF is the best wild starter recipe anywhere (I have looked around abit). Tonight is my Day One.

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

Yessssssss.....Bubbles and a nice acidic smell on Day Three. Right on schedule!

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

This has been alot of fun. Day seven and I have reserve and a first proof batch. The starter really took off when I fed it earlier and got out my instant read and set the containers on my satelite box. That thing is a little heater! I am out of the house if it overflows... I better set up a proofing box. Any suggestions on doing this?
Thanks SourdoLady.

timtune's picture
timtune

Tropical weathers always have a reputation for creepy crawlers...haha..esp it's the monsoon season now, so, the air is more moist than usual and the temperature is cooler. But the humidity here is quite high, and things usually go rancid pretty quickly. Room temperatures are usually from 29C to 31C ..... but it may be 28C these days.

Yesterday after i came back from college, i went to check the starter i set out. I had bubbles all over the surface and smelt yeasty/ fermented. hehe...just in one day..
It looks much alive. So, i fed it for the first time.
Before i went to sleep yesterday, i checked it and the volume has increased a bit.
I'm in college now and i'll have to check my pet when i reach home. Hope it's still active.. :) ...(fingers crossed)
I wonder if i should add a pinch of orange juice at this stage..or will other fruit juices do too?? a pinch of lemon juice? :P ..hmm ...

timtune's picture
timtune

It's day 3 in the life of my pet.
It doesn't seem as active as last night. There isn't so much bubbling and the volume didn't increase. There's also a liquid layer on the surface now.
HOpe it's still alive. Perhaps it was the bacteria when it bubbled, and now, hopefully...tomorrow, it'll be taken over by it's friendly microbiological relatives aka. wild yeast .. :)

Gonna feed it with some plain unbleached flour and orange juice. Wish me luck! :D

Floydm's picture
Floydm

You are feeding fresh flour each day, I assume?

I'd be careful about feeding it too much orange juice this late in the game. If it is alive it is probably already getting fairly acidic. Making it too much more acidic may kill it off. At least that is my hunch, based on what I've read.

Keep us posted.

timtune's picture
timtune

Hello floyd,

It's Day 4 and my lil guy (no puns intended) doesn't seem to be very active. Not inactive, but mildly active. It's got this lil' bubbles all over the surface and looks foamy. Now it always develops some watery liquid at the surface. The volume doesn't seem to increase. Should it?

I think i'll feed it earlier a bit today. Just plain old water and flour. (fingers crossed .. lol!) :P

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The watery liquid isn't a problem, I don't think. That is probably just hooch, a side product of the fermentation process.

If recollection serves me right, I think I hit a point where my starter seemed to reach some kind of equilibrium. It still had life in it, but it was acidic enough that it slowed itself down some. Hopefully that is what you are experiencing.

timtune's picture
timtune

Day 5/6

Fed my pet extra early with a bit more food, because he seems starved with the hooch...
With the other part of the feeding, i made a small biga like dough just to test its activity. 8 hours later?
No signs in the biga (threw it away).
Guy seems to be ok. That nite, i took out a portion, and fed the portion with wholewheat to see the difference. Now there's 2 guys. Fed my older guy.

Today, the activity rates seems slowed down. hmm ..
The wholewheat guy seems to be slowly coming alive, while the old guy seems slow....

*Gosh, i didn't know all this while i've been using bleached all-purpose!! eeKK!!

timtune's picture
timtune

It's one week in the life of my starter and about 5 days in the life of my 2nd one. Things seem to be moving slow. Not dead, i'd say, but slow.
When i fed one yesterday, i made a hotcake from the portion tht's taken out. Got the recipe from here :D..They tasted good. hehehe..

What is actually happening if they bubble, but the volume don't increase? Should i still feed it regularly (24 hrs), or leave it longer till it's more active?

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I missed seeing all these sourdough posts until tonite--sorry! The initial bubbling that happens the first few days is usually only the bacteria, and not yeast. Sometimes it will expand a LOT and fool you into thinking it is the yeast. The pineapple juice (or orange juice) keeps the bacteria at bay so the mixture doesn't go bad on you before the yeast start to grow. If it isn't doing much by day 6 or so, add 1/4 tsp. of vinegar to lower the pH. Sourdough likes an acidic environment (unlike commercial yeast). It is also very important to have really fresh whole wheat or rye flour. I recommend that you get it at the health food store in whole berry form and grind it on their machine if you don't have a way to grind it at home. The yeasts are on the grains, and the fresher they are the better your luck will be.

When the starter is ready to use it should have at least an inch of froth on the top and small bubbles dispersed throughout. A really good active starter will have lots and lots of bubbles throughout. Don't give up on it. You may have to try again, with fresher grain but eventually it WILL work!

timtune's picture
timtune

Hi Sourdolady,

I got new homes for 2 of my starters. I took a smaller portion and fed it then transfered it to glass jars. In that way i get to see if there's any bubbling, i thought.
Last nite my starter rose to more or less, doubled its 'height' . It's a bit subsided now, the rise. But there isn't froth, just bubbles throughout.
How must i feed it now? regularly, after 24 hrs or based on its activity? and,
how would i know if it's fully activated?

timtune's picture
timtune

I just fed my starter this afternoon, and now, almost 5 hours later, it's risen to doubled and look like it's going for more! I'm so excited!

When i fed it this afternoon, i made a small stiff dough out of the discarded fed portion. The ball seems to be rising slowly, not yet doubled now, but there are signs of bubbles in it.

So it still boils down to the same questions...lol
Should i feed it based on its activity rate?

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Your starter is ready to use! Sounds like it is doing great. The starter is fully activated when it reaches its highest level before starting to recede. The stiff starter will not rise as much because of the heaviness. Some people like to store their starter in the stiff version because it will keep longer before needing to be fed. I prefer to keep mine liquid, or about like thick pancake batter.

The starter needs to be fed when it stops bubbling and goes flat. It will also get runnier in consistency. Every time you feed your starter it is important to pour out all but a very small amount (about 1/4 cup) and then feed that 1/4 cup. This ensures a very active starter. You should always feed a minimum of twice the amount of flour/water as you have original starter. So, if you save 1/4 cup you need to feed it 1/2 cup or more of flour. Many bakers feed equal parts flour/water by weight using a scale. I like to feed equal parts by volume, using a measuring cup. It really doesn't matter, but when you make up your dough you need to consider these variances since the author of the recipe may have used a starter of a different consistency than what you are using.

Doughs for sourdough breads are naturally softer and slightly stickier than commercial yeast doughs. Resist the urge to add too much flour. I like to give my work surface a light spray of cooking spray oil instead of using flour when I am folding or shaping my dough. If the dough seems too soft, gently stretch and fold it over in thirds like a letter, rotate 90° and fold the opposite direction. This will firm up the dough a lot. Always keep the folded side of the dough as the bottom side of the loaf when shaping. After folding, let the dough rest for 10 or 15 minutes before shaping.

timtune's picture
timtune

Thank you very much for the useful information! :D
Last night it rose almost tripled, so I fed and refrigeratored it. I guess i should feed it once a week now?

I just made a small amount of dough from a firm starter i left overnight yesterday. It's on its first proof now.
Thanks to for reassuring me about its stickiness...lol... it's quite soft and sticky, almost like rustic dough. Perhaps i should oil the surface like wat u suggested too :)

Will update about the outcome. ;)

timtune's picture
timtune

I made a small stirato like bread out of the dough...finally!
It was rustic like, the dough. It could have got larger holes, but thx to the temptation of scoring tht soft sticky thing, i deflated it partly. Grr...
Funny thing, while baking, the bread smelt of lentil flour and margerine....hahaha
It was mildly sour (perhaps because of the young starter). ;) and had a crackly crust. The crumb was springy and chewy, is that alrite??

[the pic's blur becoz it's taken by my cellphone - dad malfunctioned the camera in his attempt to clean it]

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