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Trying my sourdough starter one more tim!...wish me luck

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Cara's picture
Cara

Trying my sourdough starter one more tim!...wish me luck

this time I am trying Reinhardt's from The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  I bought Rye flour this time so maybe I will have more luck.


Last time (also the first) that I tried to make a starter it was awful!!!  I think that about day 4 I had to through it out b/c it smelled so bad.  When you took the lid off the smell lingered in your nose for a long long time.............definitely not a pleasing thing.   So after a week or so i threw it out because I was too scared to cook with it.l


So wish me luck on my second time around.  I bought a canister jar tonight just for starter......so hopefully things go well.

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Care, good luck and be brave.  Your sourdough will have an unpleasant odor for a while around day 4, but it freshens up.  Don't give up, even if you think it's not going right.  You can't tell until you get to the end.  I pitched my first attempt, too, because I thought it died around the fourth day.  After reading more, and trying again, I realized it was probably fine the first time.  So, take heart.  You can do this.

Cara's picture
Cara

i have a question, he said to put plastic wrap over the jar, does it have to be on there tight?  or just "on" there.  My jar is one of those canister type with the rubber seal lid and latch hook type thing (some come with spoons attached....etc). I put the wrap on there tight, but didn't shut the lid b/c i have read some "exploding" stories from putting it in something too tight.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

... clamp the glass lid and you're set. You are keeping the starter from getting dry but allowing it to breathe. Although I really haven't had any issue putting a normal screw lid on mine pretty snug.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

In the first few days, because the environment is not right for the beasties you want, other bacteria set up shop, make a somewhat bubbly product and can fool a lot of beginners into thinking they've got real starter going. Alas, they don't and these bacteria/yeasts ("critters") start to smell decidedly off.


But while that's going on, the natural yeasts and bacteria you DO want to cultivate are slowly building up their population and will eventually take over the mix. But this takes time and you will see weird stuff going on and not exactly good smells.


Once the Lacto-critters are numerous and make the place acid enough, this will make it unpleasant for the "wrong" bugs and they'll eventually stop growing. The slight acidity, on the other hand, is great for the yeast which in turn produces stuff the lacto-bugs like. It's a win-win-win situation. (You get that third one).


The use of rye flour (organic, hopefully?) will help things along a lot since there's already a whole lot more of these yeasts and bacteria on these grains - they get removed extensively in white, processed flour so there's much fewer of them to start things off. You don't need tons of rye, just enough to get things going for the first while then, if you want, switch to All Purpose Unbleached for regular feeding, by that time the yeasties are well established and they quite like that type of flour.  


So even with this new batch you're starting, you're probably going to go through that first "false" foaming stage and get the smell while the good critters build up enough to boot the bad ones out. 


So patience is important in this game, and remember bread isn't "fast food". You won't be ready to make a good loaf from this new batch for a couple of weeks yet and your colony will keep developing it's own character for a couple or three months before it's reached maturity in strength and flavour.


But have fun with it!!

Cara's picture
Cara

I am not sure if the rye flour i got is organic or not.  I picked it up at Kroger, it was the only rye flour I saw in the isle, it's in a 5 pound bag and the bag is brown bag, I think it's from Hodgsons Mill....or something like that.  Do you think it will still work using this?  Is it any good.


I will definitely wait a couple of weeks before baking a loaf.  But the recipe says that i can use it after a week..........doesn't give aditional feeding instructions for after day 6 I think (do not have the book in front of me).  Anyway, what do i do past day 6?  When should I start putting itin the fridge?

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

One way or another you're going to want to make rye bread at some point and use that flour up. You'll only use bout a pound or less if you use it with your new starter, probably much less. 


Check the bag and see if it's "organic" or "stone ground". If not, I'd recommend you hop over to your local bulk food store or health food emporium and pick up a small 1 lb bag of organic rye or scoop a couple of cups from the bin. The whole point of it is that, unprocessed to the degree of mass produced flour, it has a lot more of the yeasty critters you're wanting.


Rye berries out in the fields develop more yeast on them than wheat, and "organic" is less processed than mass produced and leaves more of that yeast in the end product. So it's just a matter of picking the "best" ingredient. Keep in mind, however, people start starter with plain white flour too so it's not impossible. Organic rye just gets more yeast in there from the beginning so IF you can get it, excellent; if not, that's OK too, what you got will still work. 


And again, you'll be using the rye to just start the starter and switching to plain AP unbleached (usually) once it's good and active so you will only need a few cups of it. Even if it's "more money" for the 'fancy' organic stuff, getting a couple of good scoops from the bulk bin will be very cheap (unless you spent $5 in gas to get it). It's worthwhile to do so to make sure you're giving your new starter the best chance to get up and running.


PASSED DAY SIX:


At some point, you'll have got the starter going and doubling in a few hours with a 12-hour feeding schedule. You'll likely want to keep that going for several days, even though you can see it's doing fine. This will just help establish your culture well and help get it to that "mature" point. Once it's had a good run, maybe a couple of weeks of morning and night feeds, then you can use the "discard" in your new loaf, then feed the remains and pop it in the fridge. It will be fine in there for about a week, usually when people need it for their next bake. Take it out the early enough to give it a couple of feeds to perk it back up before you use it for the next round of bread.

ejm's picture
ejm

The rye flour doesn't have to be organic for the starter to work. The rye flour I used to get my starter going was "Five Roses" dark rye. But I suspect you can use any kind of flour at all to capture yeast.


Use extra rye flour in bread making. If you're not a big fan of rye bread, use it for multigrain bread.


Don't lose heart with trying to capture yeast. Warm room temperatures really do help. And when I was struggling to get my wild yeast captured, Susan's (Wild Yeast) post about raising a starter was extremely helpful.


-Elizabeth


P.S. These are two favourites of ours that use some rye flour and active dry yeast



And we are really fond of this recipe using some rye flour and wild yeast:



I've made the caraway rye bread with active dry yeast as well, using the recipe for rye sourdough in Joy of Cooking by Irma Bombauer.


(I had my own wild yeast starter that I kept going for a year and a half. Unfortunately, I "forgot" to feed it a few weeks ago and will have to start from scratch if the weather ever warms up again.)

Cara's picture
Cara

Okay thank you both, I am going to Publix today and will see if they have an organic rye.  If not I will stick with what I have because we do not have any "specialty food stores" here where I live.


Okay and about the lid/plastic on top of the jar.  Should I pull the plastic wrap super tight on top of the jar?  Or put it on there lose?  The lid has a rubber seal, should I just put the lid on it?

ejm's picture
ejm

Don't pull the plastic wrap super tight. The starter needs to breathe. The plastic is there just to stop it from drying out. When I was capturing wild yeast, I used a small pyrex casserole dish that has a pyrex lid. After the lid was placed on top, I covered that over with one of those elasticized plastic covers that look like shower hats. That worked really well.


As for adding the onion to increase acidity, I would be disinclined to do that. (I had enough problems with too much sourness as it was.)  


Don't worry to much if you can't find organic rye flour. I'm quite certain the rye flour you have will work just as well.


-Elizabeth

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

actualy you can start a sour dough with reg yeast and that is how the bakeries do it.


start with 2 oz of flour 2 and 1/2 oz of water and a very small amount of yeast if using fresh yeast a bout 1/4 oz will work


let this rise for 24 hours


then add 2 more oz flour and 2.5 oz of water and rise another 24 hours


keep this up for 3 more days and the starter will be ready


i keep abour 8 oz of this mix in the fridg and it will go for 2 weeks with out feeding


when i make rye bread i need about 10 oz of sour so i take 4 oz from the sour and add enough flour and water to make the 10 oz i need for the bread and leave that out for 12 to 24 hours and make bread


a also will add abour 2 oz of flour and 2 1/2 water back to the sour and put it back in the fridg till next time


yes i know it is not a wild yeast starter but it works with consistant results


and that is the goal good, bad, or indiferent a baker should strive for consistent results.  that is why there is so much to learn.  you are allways fighting the weather, the flour that can vary from bag to bag (even the same brand), and trying to control the yeast. when you can get consistent results then you are a master.  something i have been trying for, for the last 30 plus years


ps during the building of the starter you can add one onlon cut in quarters to increass the acidity but be sure to remove the onion after 4 days.

ejm's picture
ejm

It probably does work to use commercial yeast at the beginning, but it's just not the same, is it? (Says the person who murdered her wild yeast starter.) If you start with commercial yeast, you miss the thrill when the stuff starts bubbling on its own.


Incidentally, Cara, there's bubbling and there's bubbling. The first set of bubbles are not the kind that make bread rise. They are the lactic ones (the sludge will smell like yoghurt). The bubbles that make the bread rise cause the sludge to be almost foamy. They don't smell like much at all as I recall.


However, bread made with wild yeast smells fabulous as it's baking. (Heh, I've almost - but not quite - convinced myself to try recapturing wild yeast again.)


-Elizabeth

CarlSF's picture
CarlSF

My baking teacher once told me a starter can be started with a little bit of yeast.  On the first feeding and after, just continue to feed it with flour and water and over time the dough will become sour.  He added that starting a starter with crushed grape juice, potatoe water, milk, or whatever is different, but over time the different starters will end up being the same.  I have never heard of adding an onion to the starter to increase the acidity.  I will have to make a note of it.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

From my limited understanding of it, one should not try to "kick start" a SD culture by adding commercial yeast at the beginning. I've read somewhere (perhaps in "Bread Builders"?) that the particular kind of yeast present in commercial yeast, will not survive more than approx. two feeding cycles in an active SD culture. This is because commercial yeast, as opposed to the different strains of wild yeast present in SD, will die off in the low pH environment of a SD starter.


Several authors suggest that one should rather add some pineapple juice (to reduce the pH and improve "living conditions" for the desired yeast cultures), or various fruits that are rich in the wild yeast one wishes to perpetuate.


From my own limited experience, I've found that the easiest way to get a SD culture going from scratch, is to make a rye starter. Rye is very rich in nutrients for wild yeast, and I also think there are more wild yeast in rye flour to begin with. Use whole rye flour, and preferably organic (to avoid any unwanted chemicals). After your rye SD is ready, you can easily make a white or wholewheat version of it, by feeding it with those flours a couple of times.

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

i started a rye sour the way i stated and i have about 8 oz in the fridg because i only use it once every 2 or three weeks


i take it out at midnight and add enough flour and water to one half to make the amount i need to make bread and leave it out over night and bake the next day about 14 hours later.


then i add about 2 or 3 oz of flour and water to the other halv and back in the fridg another 2 or 3 weeks


it about 9 months old now and still fine and no wast


no wast is the bakers mantra it was drilled into me from day one

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've done it in the past, years ago, and it did take a few months to get the starter to where I liked it.   The simple fact that this method has not "gone away" and pops up now and again is proof of it's value.


One question about the above rye sour....  Do you raise the bread with it or do you have to add more yeast in the morning to guarantee a rise in the dough?   I have no qualms with the method, just curious.


Mini

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Here's a helpful reply from Debra that just might explain the usefulness of adding a pinch of commercial yeast in the beginning.


I'd also be interested in hearing if you use your rye starter to raise dough after a 1-step build, Norm!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I also do lots of 1-step builds.  Did you add any yeast?  :)


Mini

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

you could but in most shop formulas the sour is for flavor and gives added push to the bread some fresh yeast is added to the final dough along with the sour.


my formulas for deli ryr and corn bread ar in here


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6103/craving-crackly-crust-sour-rye-bread

Elagins's picture
Elagins

i usually put in about 1 tsp -- a grape-sized glob -- of my sourdough starter, and also the soaking water from the dried onions i use for bialys, onion rolls, etc. Norm's a great teacher -- NOTHING GOES TO WASTE!!!!

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Cara, what size is your jar? You are going to need a half gallon container for the BBA formula (one I am intimately familiar with), or it may overflow when it gets to expanding. Like many seed culture formulas, this one is a tad wasteful.


Rye, whole wheat, it really doesn't matter. Both work well. Neither does it need to be organic. But make sure and start with whole grain. Chances are that it will follow a similar course as your last one. But, no worries. If that happens, just continue to feed it the same as you will on days 3 and 4, and it will turn into sourdough. Just don't rush to the barm stage before day 4, or before it smells yeasty and is expanding well. It may take 7 days or more.


If you want to avoid the stinky stuff and coax it along, here is a trick that will help. Do you have any ascorbic acid powder on hand? 1/2 tsp. mixed with the 4.25 oz dark rye flour and 6 oz water on day one will keep it more on track.


No ascorbic acid? Then you can substitute 6 oz of pineapple juice, orange juice, or apple cider, whichever you might have on hand, for the water on days 1, 2 and 3. (Peter Reinhart even recommeds the "pineapple juice solution" now for this formula.) It won't change the end result. It just controls the pH to get you there with less frustration.


So relax and let Mother Nature do what she does. You don't need luck, just patience :-)

ejm's picture
ejm

A half gallon container?! Oh my. (I'm not at all familiar with the amounts that Reinhart suggests using.) That seems really excessive. Why not cut the amounts in half? There will still be plenty of starter for home bakery use.


It took me 17 days to get my starter going (cool kitchen) but it did get going. It worked wonderfully in warm weather.


-Elizabeth

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

People often underestimate how much these things can expand when they take off. Three-and-a-half times the refreshed volume is typical in my experience, so I always recommend a container that is 4x the refreshed volume, to avoid a big mess.


ejm's picture
ejm

I agree that the container should be plenty large enough to allow for expansion.


What I'm suggesting though is that there is absolutely no need for a homebaker to use giant amounts of flour to make a large wild starter. So much of it has to be discarded as it is being created. It seems like such a waste to create enough wildyeast to open a bakery.


Before I let my starter go (because of cold temperatures in our kitchen making things far too difficult and resulting bread far too sour), this is what I did for buildup to make two loaves of bread:



buildup preparation



  1. Day before Baking - Morning Take 30gm (2 Tbsp) of wild yeast starter (discard the rest) and stir in 30gm (2 Tbsp) water and 30gm (3 Tbsp) unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave in a warm draftfree spot (counter in summer, oven with only light turned on in winter) til midday.

  2. Day before Baking Midday: The mixture should have doubled and there should be lots of bubbling. Take 30gm of above mixture (reserve the rest to add to something that doesn't HAVE to rise... something like onion rings). Stir in 30gm water and 30gm unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave... etc.

  3. Day before Baking Evening: Stir 80gm water and 80gm unbleached all-purpose flour into ALL of the above mixture. Cover and leave… etc.

  4. Baking Day Morning: The mixture should have doubled and be a bubbling mass.

    Reserve a portion for future bread making:
    Take 30gm (2 Tbsp) of above mixture (RESERVE the rest for making bread) and stir in 30gm (2 Tbsp) water and 30gm (3 Tbsp) unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover and leave for 2 hours on the counter. Put it into a covered glass jar and store in refrigerator. (Feeding: you should be feeding the starter every 2 days: take 30gm (2 Tbsp) of the refrigerated mixture - discard the extra - and stir in 30gm (2 Tbsp) water and 30gm (3 Tbsp) unbleached all-purpose flour. To use the refrigerated starter for baking, begin at step #1.)


<rant>The amounts of flour that had to be discarded were the primary reason that I "forgot" to feed my wild yeast starter. We just weren't using it enough to bake bread. I hated that I was virtually throwing away flour every two days. Flour is way too expensive to do that. And the amount of flour I was throwing away wasn't even close to the amount of flour required to maintain a starter that is housed in a half gallon container.</rant>


-Elizabeth

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Your insight is Very much appreciated.

Note: I'm not snubbing anyone else here, just always seem to be aligned with what Debra is pointing out.


That is just how the World rolls...
We do not have to agree at all but we should try to help. ;-)

Cara's picture
Cara

So I am five days into this.  Things where going very well up until day 3 when the book said to start dumping half of the starter before feeding it.  Day 4 it grew maybe 25%.  I stirred it about  3 times on and off yesterday, maybe that hurt it.  Today I took half out again and fed it. 


My jar was getting really "gunky" on the sides so i fed and mixed in a separate bowl then cleaned my jar, and put the mixture back into the jar.  An hour into it, it doesn't show many signs of doing anything.  There where a bubbles on top, but i think it was just air rising to the top.  I will keep at it another week to see how it goes.  But feeding this thing a cup of flour a day, just to turn around and throw it away is going to get very expensive, especially if it ends up dying.


Good news is the smell is getting better since i started dumping 1/2 before feeding.


(oh he only says to feed this thing once a day, but I hear a bunch of you mention feeding it twice a day.  Are you feeding your starters 2 cups of flour a day?!)

arzajac's picture
arzajac

Until it can double, there is no reason to feed it more often.


I would say if it can double in 12 hours or less, start feeding it 1:2:2.  When that can start to double in 12 hours, feed it twice per day.  Continue aerating it three time every day, that certainly helps the yeast.


 


But I'm no expert or anything.


 


 


 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Was that before or after the Day 4 feeding?


You won't generally see anything an hour after feeding. It takes longer with sourdough than with baker's yeast. But today will tell us a lot about where your starter is in the process. If it grows more than yesterday, then the yeast have activated and your starter is taking off. If it grows less or not at all, then the yeast haven't started growing yet, and it needs a little more time. Another feeding of whole grain flour is often helpful to re-seed the culture and get it moving in the right direction.


You can scale back the volume to conserve flour if you like. It won't hurt anything. Just scale everything down proportionally, i.e., throw away 3/4 of the starter insted of half the first time, if you are going to cut the flour and water by half at feeding. And you can put it in a quart size container. I agree with the gentleman before me that you shouldn't feed more than once a day until it is expanding well and smelling yeasty.


Hey, you're almost there :-)

Cara's picture
Cara

It didn't grow at all.  I got some bubbles on top though.  I think I am going to give it a full 24 hours before feeding it again.


Eric suggested me adding some more rye with the next feeding to kick start it again, and if it is still sluggish by tomorrow then I am going to do that and see if it works.


Even though I am having issues with it right now, it is still a whole lot better than my first attempt, for sure.

Marni's picture
Marni

I apologize in advance for jumping into this when others have offered advice, but I respectfully disagree about feeding only once per day - especially at the beginning when you are trying to get the yeast established and healthy. 


I'm not at all an expert, but my understanding is that the flour is feeding the yeast (just one of its functions).  If that is the case, waiting for it to rise before feeding it is like asking it to grow on and empty stomach.  ( I may be paraphrasing Mike Avery of Sourdoughhome.com here,)  The yeast needs to eat to grow.  Feeding it every 12 hours or so should really help.


I do agree with cutting back to a smaller quantity.


Good luck and I hope this helps, not confuses.


Marni

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

- The yeast aren't eating or growing either one, while they are dormant.


- They don't start growing until they activate.


- For some reason, they don't activate until the pH drops and the starter gets pretty tart.


- Every time you feed, you remove half the accumulated acids and dilute what's left, thereby raising the pH.


A good example of overfeeding is a well-known method that involves three feedings per day and takes about two weeks to get going. It will get going, because Mother Nature always wins, but it takes much longer. We can help her, or we can get in her way.


On the other hand I have tried procedures where you let the initial mix sit for three days before giving the first feeding, and the yeast will activate on day four, the same as one sitting next to it that was fed every day. I'm not particularly recommending that, because there is a very high likelihood of growing mold. But food doesn't appear to be the bigger issue at this point. Not as much as letting the acids accumulate.


I don't think anyone is suggesting not feeding until there is rise---only to refrain from feeding too much until the yeast activates :-)

donenright's picture
donenright

Hello- I have been reading a lot of the very helpful posts on sourdough starter. I started mine six days ago so you and I are very nearly on the same track. I almost pitched it yesterday as I couldn't see any discernible progress. Last night I noticed a little extra bubbling so I left it. Woke up this morning to find it doubled in size. I felt like a proud parent. Good luck!

ejm's picture
ejm

A cup of flour a day!! That's insane. As Debra said,

You can scale back the volume to conserve flour if you like. It won't hurt anything. Just scale everything down proportionally

And I don't think you even have to do it gradually. Start with the very next feeding. Using a quarter cup of flour at a time when feeding will create plenty of starter. (Weighing the ingredients really helps too.  Feeding equal weights of water, starter and flour works really well.)

Also, I can't recommend enough that you look at Susan's (Wild Yeast) post on capturing yeast: Flour + Water = Starter The photographs alone are worth the trip.

-Elizabeth

Cara's picture
Cara

Okay the first two pics are what i had when i woke up this morning.  The second set are after discarding half and feeding it as normal but i added 2t of rye flour to give it a kick start.  The second set of pics are about 6 hours after feeding it this morning.


 


This Morning


Morning day 6


Morning Day 6 2


 


Evening Day 6 after discard and feeding (6hrs)


Day6Discard/Fed/7hourslater2


Day6Discard/Fed/7hourslater

donenright's picture
donenright

Nice work.


My first sourdough loaf just came out of the oven. I'm pretty chuffed.


don

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Looks like blast-off to me :-)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Looks great Cara. Try the basic recipe I sent you and let us know how it works. The key with sourdough is to control the temperature, first with water temp when you mix and then during the ferment. You want to try to end up with a 78F dough and maintain that temp. A couple degrees will make a big difference in how long it takes to double.


 


Eric

Cara's picture
Cara

My oh my do I have a lot to learn about this stuff.


First off, yes i used way too much flour in my colander when i was letting it proof.  Those weird dots on it are from the colander........lol  It had huge holes/bubbles on top that did all kinds of weird things during baking.


Can't tell you how it tastes because it is cooling, but hopefully it will taste a lot better than i looks.  I honestly think this is the ugliest loaf of bread that i have ever made, and that is definitely NOT the recipes fault.


sourdoughattempt1


Sourdough attempt 1

ejm's picture
ejm

Not ugly at all! Congratulations! I hope you like the flavour and that it isn't too sour. Well done.


-Elizabeth

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

extra flour can be removed by brushing it off with a stiff dry brush.  they look fine to me also

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Very nice Cara! It looks like your starter is fine for rising bread. Next time try a straight free form with no colander. Just shape it tightly with no extra flour and cover it with a bowl for 45 minutes, score and bake. Even if it sags a little when you score, the spring will make up for it. Good job Cara!


Eric

Cara's picture
Cara

lol yes, I think that my colander's only job from now on will be straining veggies...lol


I have you to thank for that loaf!

Marni's picture
Marni

I think it looks great.  I hope it tastes just the way you want.  Sourdoughs are so variable.  Congratulations!


Marni

Cara's picture
Cara

I'm a happy girl.  And the flavor is intense to say the least!  It's perfect as long as you like yoru sourdough......sour.  I just took a bite a while ago......and can still taste it...lol  It's chewy but not too chewy.......yumm


 


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Classic sourdough crumb. Looks like you're in business.


If you don't like the appearance of the boule, you could do as Eric suggests, line your colander with floured linen or buy bannetons. 


David