The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

immature starter Q

  • Pin It
chickie's picture
chickie

immature starter Q

I have a question for anyone who might want to jump in and I'll try to describe the sequence of what I've done to get where I'm at, although I still might wind up sounding confusing.


A couple of weeks ago, I started a batch of wild yeast starter.  My first couple of days I used some oat flour from my cupboard that I thought might be too old.  When the batch wasn't doing anything for a few days, I started adding fresh ground rye (I bought whole rye and ground it myself) and just tossed the oat flour in the trash.  Boom.  Took off like a rocket.  After 4 or so more days, I split the starter into two batches because I wanted to experiment with AP and WW, fully expecting to satisfy my curiosity after they are matured and doing a few side-by-side taste tests.


Things have been going very well.  Both are in small bowls, I started once-a-day feedings at .25 c starter/.5 c flour/.5 c H20.  After reading regularly through the posts here, I bumped it up to twice-a-day feedings for both WW and AP. 


Boom.  Christmas Eve, the AP starter stopped passing my "sniff test", which means I could detect no odour.  Both had had a pleasant odour every day, a little beery and a little fruity, always wonderful.  The WW continues to have a wonderful aroma but the AP starter now smells like.... flour.  That's it.  I cannot explain why but I felt intuitively that I should give the feeding a break for a day (probably not the correct thing to do, but.....).  Last night I gave a 1/4 tsp splash of raw apple cider vinegar to the AP starter.  The WW starter is still fine, the AP starter still smells like flour today.


In addition to the 2 small bowls of starter that I was working on, I have 2 larger bowls going.  In one is the leftover WW starter I would have otherwise discarded and in the other is the AP starter I would have otherwise discarded.  I have not fed either of those with fresh flour/water, but just plunk the excess starter in the respective bowl each day.  This was an experiment on my part, since I wanted to learn more about starter by observing.  The 2 big bowls smell incredibly wonderful.  Fruity.  I used a cup of the leftover AP starter to make a loaf of bread just to see what I got.  I made sourdough no-knead bread, only because I've had lots of experience with the traditional no-knead bread and I thought it would make a good starting point for learning, since it was already a known entity.  The bread rose very well and had an incredible crumb.  Taste?  well, not so much.  Which should just mean that my starter is still immature, right?  Which is kind of what I was expecting.


(And the number of bowls isn't too overwhelming at this point, even though my kitchen is very small.  I have two 8x10 wire racks I use for roasting and such, they make great stackers for my pile of bowls.  I've got the stack in the warmest part of my kitchen since our house is typically on the cool side.)


Should I try anything else to the small bowl of AP starter?  Put a little of the leftover AP starter back into it?


TIA 
chickie,
Seattle

Kent's picture
Kent

I started my Sourdough Starter following Mike Avery's instructions on his web site At sourdoughhome.com. It is a very helpful site. 


http://www.sourdoughhome.com/starterprimer.html


Kent


 

chickie's picture
chickie

I used that site as a reference as I was starting out and going along too, I just wasn't sure about my starter just going to flour smell so quickly.  No bad smell, no icky colours or textures.  Just flour and I couldn't find a reference to that specifically on Mike Avery's site.  But if the answer to my question is to restart by going back a couple of steps, then that's what I'll try.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Is your AP flour bleached or unbleached? If it is bleached, that could be part of the reason it is not growing well for you. You can also add a spoonful of WW or rye flour to your feeding of the white starter for awhile to give it a boost. When baking white bread, try subbing out 1/2 cup of the flour with WW. It will give a lot more flavor to your bread and you will never "see" it in there. Also, refrigerate your dough overnight before baking, as this will give the dough time to ferment and build more flavor.

chickie's picture
chickie

Is unbleached. KA to be specific.  I'll try the WW for a bit to give it a boost again, thank you!  I'll wait another couple of weeks before making bread with any of the starter, I jumped the gun.  Which I was pretty sure I had, it was a nice experiment to see where I'm at in the phase.  The no-knead bread "ferments" for 18 hours, although I did not refrigerate it, per the recipe.  But subbing in 1/2 c WW flour to the bread recipe is a great idea too, I'll try that next time.

chickie's picture
chickie

I have fed my 'white' starter twice in the past 24 hours (12 h interval), using half AP and half WW flour....


And my starter has revived!  The odour is still on the faint side, but it tripled itself over a 6 hour period, so I'm happy with the direction it's going.  Now I've learned a little more about the smell of it and that if it starts getting faint, to give it a kickstart.  I did not know if it smelled of flour because it was completely dead or just a little dormant, since almost all of what I read about what might go wrong had to do with off-smells.


Thanks for everyone's help!