The Fresh Loaf

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Starting a Starter - Sourdough 101, a Tutorial

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Starting a Starter - Sourdough 101, a Tutorial

(The following started as a blog, but I've had enough questions and comments about it that I thought I'd repost it as a forum entry so it would be easier to find.  Of course, if Floyd wants to add it to Lessons, that would be OK, too.)


Like many people, I found TFL in my quest to learn how to make sourdough.  I had a starter going and was sure I had killed it.  The advice I found here gave me the knowledge and confidence to make a starter that I've been using for months now, with ever-better results.


Although there is a wealth of information here, there was no one source that detailed the method I used, which was based on Reinhart's "barm" in BBA.  Now that I have succeeded in making several starters, I've been thinking about making a video tutorial to walk through the process step-by-step, day-by-day.  My own experience and that of others here has taught me one thing:  sourdough starters don't read baking books, so they don't know how they are "supposed" to behave.  I could have been spared the angst, the wasted time, and of course, pounds of precious flour, if only I had known what to expect and what to look for. 


I don't have the technical part of video-making worked out yet, so I have decided to do a tutorial blog.  This will be a real test, as I am trying out a modified starter that I haven't made before.  It's still based on Peter's starter, but I have altered the amounts, and possibly the times, to suit my own fancy.  If all goes well, I will end up with a more reasonable (i.e., much smaller) amount of starter, and I will get there with much less wasted flour.


So here goes:


Day 1: 


Ingredients:  1/3 cup rye flour and 1/4 cup water


For the flour, I use stone-ground rye.  Nothing special, just what I got from the grocery store.  My water is tap water run through a filter.  Before I had a filter on my sink, I used bottled drinking water.


Mix the flour and water in a bowl.  It will be thick and pasty, kind of like the oatmeal that's left in the pot if you don't come down for breakfast on time. 


Day 1 - thick and pasty


Once all the flour is mixed in, put it in a pint-sized or larger container and cover with plastic wrap.  Leave it out on the counter. 


Day 1 - ready to rest


And that's it for today.


 


Day 2:


Ingredients:  1/4 cup unbleached AP, bread, or high gluten flour; 1/8 cup water


There should be little, if any, change in the culture from yesterday.  Again, I'm not really particular about the flour.  I would just recommend staying away from bleached flour.  I am using AP flour for this batch.


Mix the flour, water, and all of the starter from yesterday in a bowl.  It will still be thick but a little wetter than yesterday. 


Day 2 - still thick, but not quite as gooey


Put it back in the container (no need to wash it), press it down as level as you can get it, and mark the top of the culture with a piece of tape on the outside of the container. 


Day 2 - nighty night


Put the plastic wrap back on top, and you're finished.


 


Day 3:


Ingredients:  1/4 cup unbleached AP, bread, or high gluten flour; 1/8 cup water


Around Day 3 or 4, something happens that puts terror in the heart of the amateur sourdough maker:  they get a whiff of their starter.  When you check your starter on Day 3, you may notice a strange, and not at all pleasant, odor.  And unless you know better (which you will now), you'll swear something is drastically wrong.  In fact, I would venture to guess that that smell has been the ruin of more amateur sourdough growers than anything else.  It's an acrid, sour, almost rotten smell, and it's perfectly normal.  And rest assured, your new baby sourdough starter will soon outgrow it.  So, take heart, and press on.


You may also notice that your starter has begun to come to life.  It probably won't grow a lot, maybe 50%, but you will start to see bubbles, like these:


It is ALIVE!!!!!


Regardless of the amount of growth, stir down your starter, throw out about half (no need to measure, just eyeball it), and mix the rest with today's flour and water.  You will get a slightly more doughy-looking mass:


Is is soup yet?


Once it's well mixed, put it back in the container (still no need to wash), pat it down, and move your tape to again mark the top of the starter.  From this point forward, keep your starter at a moderate room temperature, 70-72 degrees F.  Lower is OK (it will just grow more slowly); but don't keep it at a higher temperature, or you will encourage the growth of the bacterial beasties at the expense of the yeasty beasties.


Let 'er rise


Put the plastic wrap back on the container, and take the rest of the evening off.  You worked hard today.


 


Day 4:


Ingredients:  1/4 cup unbleached AP, bread, or high gluten flour; 1/8 cup water


And now, a word about measurements.  If you bake regularly, or even if you've just been nosing around baking sites for a while, you are no doubt aware that the ingredients in most artisan bread recipes are listed by weight rather than volume.  I measure by weight for my baking and for maintaining my sourdough starter. 


You might wonder why, then, am I using volume measurements here?  Two reasons: first, I have tried to make this starter as simple to follow as possible -- no special tools, no monkeying around with the scales, just a couple of measuring cups and a bowl.  And, when it comes to starting a starter, the measurements aren't as critical as when you actually go to bake with it.  So for now, we're just using measuring cups. 


Today is another one of those days where novice sourdough starter makers often lose heart.  Your starter is now coming to life, and like most living things, it kind of has a mind of its own.  Up until now, we followed the clock, making our additions every 24 hours.  Now, we will be letting the starter dictate the timeframe. 


Before you do your Day 4 additions, you want to make sure your starter has at least doubled.  If it doubles in less than 24 hours, you should still wait until the 24 hour mark.  If it takes more than 24 hours, be patient.  Let it double.  It may take another 12 or 24 hours, or it may take longer.  Again, be patient.  It will double.  Just give it time.


If your starter hasn't doubled after 48 hours, you can boost it with a shot of rye flour.  Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of rye flour and a bit of water (try to keep the hydration level about where it was) and mix it up.  Then wait for it to double before proceeding with the Day 4 additions. 


Eventually, you'll end up with a nice, bubbly starter:


Day 4 - rising to the occassion


You can see that mine more than doubled.  But I still waited for 24 hours.  Once it doubles, throw out half of the starter, then mix the rest with the flour and water, and back into the bowl it goes:


Day 4 - Edwina, back in bowl


Replace the tape and plastic wrap.  Then wait for it to double.   It could take as little as 4 hours, or it may take more than 24 hours.  This time, you can move on to Day 5 at any point after doubling.  It's OK if you let it more than double; it's also OK to move on right when it hits the double mark.  So, hurry up and wait.


 


Day 5:


Ingredients:  3/4 cup unbleached AP, bread, or high gluten flour; 1/2 cup water


Once your starter has at least doubled, it's time for the final mix.


Day 5 - alive and kicking


Combine flour, water, and 1/4 cup starter in a bowl and mix well.  Transfer to a clean container with room for the starter to at least double.


Day 5 - final mix


OK, one last time, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter until it gets nice and bubbly.  Don't worry so much about how much it grows, just so that it's bubbly looking.  This will probably take around 6 hours, but, again, don't stress about the time.  Let the starter tell you when it's ready.


Day 5 - Congratulations, it's a bouncing baby starter!


When your starter gets bubbly, pat yourself on the back:  you are now the proud parent of a bouncing baby starter!  Put a lid or other cover on your container and put it in the refrigerator.  Let it chill overnight, and you can begin using it the next day.


Day 6 and beyond:


By today, your starter is ready to use.  The flavor will continue to develop over the next several weeks to month, so don't be disappointed if your first few loaves aren't sour enough for you.  I would still recommend beginning to bake with it right away, especially if you have never made sourdough bread before.  That way, you can hone your skills while your starter develops its flavor.


Feeding your sourdough:  If you keep your sourdough in the fridge, you only have to feed it about once a week.  And you can minimize your discards by keeping only what you need and feeding it when you want to bake with it.  I recommend a 1:1:1 (starter:water:flour) feeding, which means each feeding includes an equal amount, by weight, of starter, water, and flour. 


Start by weighing your starter, subtracting the weight of your container.  Then add an equal amount of water and flour directly to the container.  So, for example, if you have 100 grams of starter, you would add 100 grams each of water and flour.  I generally add the water and flour at the same time, although some people recommend adding the water first and whisking to dissolve the starter before adding the flour. 


If you feed your starter right out of the fridge, as I do, warm your water to lukewarm (90 - 100 degrees F).  After you mix in the water and flour, leave it out on the counter for a few hours, then put it back in the refrigerator.  It's best if you feed your starter a few days before you intend to bake with it.


To illustrate, here is an example of my feeding routine, starting with the Day 5 starter and assuming that I finished making the starter on Friday night:



  • Saturday morning, I take out what I need to bake bread (2/3 cup using my normal sourdough bread recipe) and return the rest of the starter to the refrigetator.

  • Wednesday of the next week, I get out the starter, weigh it, and add equal amounts of flour and water in a 1:1:1 ratio, as outlined above.  My goal here is to build up as much starter as I need to make bread on the weekend, and enough left over for my next build.  It's OK if I have more than I need to bake with.  If I don't think I'll have enough after a 1:1:1 build, I will increase my ratio of flour and water, maybe to 1:2:2 or 1:1.5:1.5.  In that case, I will let it sit out until it almost doubles before returning it to the fridge, which might take a bit longer, as I'm using less starter relative to flour and water.

  • Friday night or Saturday morning, I again take out what I need to bake with and return the rest to the fridge, to be fed again mid-week.


This is just an example of how I keep my starter.  You can feed yours more often if you bake more than I do.  It's also OK to let it go more than a week between feedings.  If you do that, though, you might want to feed it a few times before you bake with it.


So, that's it.  Hopefully I've unravelled some of the mystery of sourdough starters and given you the confidence to try one yourself.  Good luck, and let me know how it works out for you!

rosiePearl's picture
rosiePearl

Wow, this is wonderful!  I was just thinking I'd really like to learn how to do this, and had no idea in the world - and here's your article, just a couple of hours later.


Thanks so much.  I'm going to get going on this tomorrow, I think; I'd really like to try using sourdough for various of the recipes I've been using.


Thanks again!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Thanks for the kind words.  Try it out and let us know how it goes for you.

jabby's picture
jabby

Hi Gaaarp.


After two unsuccessful starters that molded and had to be thrown away, I managed to develop a starter thanks to you! You made this so easy and  I can't believe it worked.


 


I have a question about the hydration. I'm a new baker and this is my first attempt t sourdough. What is the final hydration of this dough?  I didn't keep up with all the water changes at each step.


Thanks!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Jabby,


Congratulations on your first starter! The starter should be at about 100% hydration when you finish making it. If you follow the feeding instructions, and use equal amounts (by weight) of flour and water, it will be at 100% hydration within a few feedings if it's not already.


Hope this helps.

DaleCornish's picture
DaleCornish

Hi I have always wanted to do this and now I finally have time.

I would like to use something other than plastic wrap ( I saw a documentary on how soft plastic wraps drip chemicals into your food on tv recently) when covering the dough. Can I use a wet teatowel? 

 

Dale

 

Maverick's picture
Maverick

This thread is pretty old, but to answer your question... yes, you can use a tea towel. Also, I think you missed the part of the documentary where they were referring to microwaving with plastic wrap causing the dripping of chemicals. I don't really agree with all the claims of these reports, but I don't believe any of them have a problem with plastic wrap that is not heated up. Either way, a tea towel will work fine. They have been around and used for such purposes a lot longer than plastic wrap has :)

Just for the record, I have had much more consistent success using the pineapple juice starter method Debra Wink wrote about on this site. I have had success with methods such as the one above, but I always had to work through the stinky stages. The pineapple juice allows you to skip that stage.

Good luck.

mfruin's picture
mfruin

I am abit confused about the term 100% hydration and what it meams. How do I know that is what I have with my starter??  Michael

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Michael,


Here's a definition of 100% hydration that I wrote on my blog:


100% hydration - this term, used with sourdough starters, refers to the amount of water in a starter in relation to the amount of flour, both measured by weight. In baker's percentages (see entry above), the flour is always 100%, and all other ingredients are measured in reference to the flour. So 100% hydration means that the weight of the water in the starter is equal to the weight of the flour. So, for example, if you feed your starter 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water, the starter would be 100% hydration.


To answer your question, if you feed your starter at 100% hydration, it will be 100% hydration within a few feedings, regardless of what it was to begin with.


I hope this helps.

mfruin's picture
mfruin

Thanks, I get it now.  That is how I have done it. I have been searching thisblog for the BBA basic sourdough bread formula and cannot find it. Can you help with that as well?  I have a great started and am anxious to try it out. You may have guessed that I am new to bread baking.  Michael

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Michael, here a link to a recipe for Five-Grain Seeded Sourdough Bread. If you leave out the soaker, what you have is a basic sourdough bread.


If you're new to bread baking, I would recommend that you pick up a copy of The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. It is a great book with a lot of recipes, both sourdough and straight doughs. The recipe above is based on PR's Basic Sourdough Bread. Having recently baked every recipe in the book, I can attest that there are way more winners than losers.


Welcome to the "club".


Phyl

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Here is a picture of my first sourdough with the new starter that I created doing this blog.  For this bread, I followed Reinhart's Basic Sourdough Bread recipe (BBA), but I added 1/2 cup each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds and Bob's Red Mill 5-Grain Cereal.


Soourdough Bread with Seed and Cereal Soaker

cellotenor's picture
cellotenor

Thanks for this great tutorial gaaarp. The loaf you made looks beautiful.

johnster's picture
johnster

Phyl,


 


I've got it started just about an hour ago, and I may come back for help!  :)


 


Excellent, informative article.


 


John 


 

johnster's picture
johnster

Phyl,


 


I did my Day 2 additions this morning exactly as instructed.  A couple of hours later, I noticed that the level was just slightly above my tape.  My first thought was that I had placed the tape a little low and that maybe the starter had leveled itself off due to gravity and in doing so, gotten a little higher where the tape is.  That is not the case.  I just looked at it again, roughly twenty-eight and a half hours after I first put it together yesterday morning, and I've definitely got about a 10% rise, already.  This is the same thing that happened last time I tried this.  


 


Is this ok/normal?  That seems awfully soon to be starting....


 


One thought is that I bake a fair bit (probably like everyone else on here) so I may well have a lot of commercial yeast floating around.  Not really wild, per se, but no longer in the jar.  I hope that it's not just that.


 


Anyway, any thoughts, feedback, or especially reassurance would be appreciated!


 


Warm regards,


 


Johnster

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Johnster,


Take a mental trip to the Bahamas, mon.  It's all good.  Mine started growing by Day 2, too.  Just follow the plan, and you'll be fine.  By Day 4, you'll likely be seeing a lot of growth.  Remember that on Day 4, you still want to wait 24 hours, even if it doubles in less.  I suspect that "Day 5" might come later on Day 4 for you.  That's fine, too.


Phyl

johnster's picture
johnster

Phyl,


 


Thank you!  Comforting reassurance was what I was really after.  :D


 


Now, to go bake tonight's Dark & Soft Dinner Rolls out of KAF Whole Grain Baking.  It's "beef night" and I wanted a steak-house feel.


 


Have a good evening,


 


Johnster

johnster's picture
johnster

Ok.  Day Three, I have followed the instructions, and things are moving along.


 


When I got up this morning, the starter had grown to over two and a half times its original size and had clearly collapsed on itself.  I took it out of the jar, split it in two, discarded half, and added the flour and water to the other half.


 


That was about eight hours ago.  Now, (about 4:30 EST) it is almost doubled in size, and I'll wait until tomorrow morning for our next step.  After finding a recipe for sourdough pizza crust, I'm even more enthusiastic!


 


Talk soon,


 


Johnster


 


 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

After all the trouble I'd been having I figured it couldn't hurt.

Here's day three shot. I was surprised at the huge amount of growth. This is *before* it was fed after the day 2 feeding.

I'm feeding it soon for day 3. I'm hoping for a really good starter this time. :)

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Stephanie, that looks great!  I'm sure you'll get a great starter this go 'round.


Johnster, way to go!  All it takes is a bit of patience and nerves of steel.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

It hasn't grown at all since the little tiny amount on Day 2. I started it Saturday. It has little bubbles in it and on the surface but it is still the same size. It doesn't smell "rotten" or look bad. It is just not growing. so what shall I do? I looked at Wild Yeast's site and she has a lot more "toss and add". I don't know if I should start over or just let it set day after day and not give it any more food. Any suggestions ? THANK YOU . c

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Did you do the Day 3 addition?  Are you waiting for your Day 4 doubling?

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

It has tiny bubbles here and there but has never increased in size.It looks creamy and healthy etc...just not growing. I have it in a warm place now. I had it on a 72 degree counter for several days. Then moved it to the oven with light on. Now it is on the mantle in the kitchen above the gas fireplace which is on. About 85 or so there. So whatdayathink?  c

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Day 4 or 5 would be right on track to sprout yeast in the winter months. However, it sounds like you had the kind of bacterial growth in the beginning that sometimes slows things down. It won't be a problem if you stick with it, but the warm temperature you are using now, could be. The kind of yeast that you are trying to coax, grows best at a temperature in the low 80's, and does very well in 70's, but its growth rate drops sharply as the temperature climbs to the mid-80's and above. I have seen people keep yeast from getting a foothold, by exposing their starters to too much heat, especially if they're not monitoring the temperature. Remember, if it feels warm to you, then it could actually be above body temperature---yikes! Not the ideal conditions, and so the yeast may not break dormancy this way.


That said, 85-90 degrees is fine (but not necessary) for the first two days. Lactic acid bacteria love warmth, and they have to get going before the yeast will start to grow. But when it's time for the yeast to join the party, it's important that the temperature not be too high.


I know that the general thinking is that yeast does best at 85 degrees because it generates the most gas at that temperature, but that's only because it is metabolizing sugar the fastest at this temperature---not growing or multiplying the fastest. The reason it is burning so many calories is because it is stressed by the warmth and has to use more resources to survive. That means less energy for growth and division, which is the goal at this point.


Using whole grain flour at the next feeding would also help things along, by re-seeding your starter  :-)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Debra, then the idea is to get them to reproduce and increase their masses before we stress them out for gas...interesting.


Mini

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Once your starter is really going, it will grow and collapse on itself when the yeast peters out.  Are you sure that didn't happen?  I'd let it keep going for a while and see.  If it hasn't grown by tomorrow, repeat Day 3.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

It is in a glass measuring cup and the sides are pristine. OK that is what I will do. I'll keep you posted. I am so sick that maybe i ought to just breath on it...haha  c

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I agree with Debra (I'd better, she's the real sourdough expert around here) that you might want to add a bit of whole grain rye with your feeding to kick start it.

Candyboots's picture
Candyboots

My starter rose beautifully the first day and then I doubled it last night and left it near the radiator, where it appeared to be rising and bubbling up nicely.  Early this morning I saw that it had developed a rind on top of the bowl, and when I broke it I could see bubbly starter underneath.  I stirred the rind back in, where it melted, for the most part, and now it's lumpy and batter-like, with pin-hole bubbles. I divided it and put it in the fridge, but I'm wondering if it's okay or if it got too much heat last night with the radiators.

johnster's picture
johnster

Update: my started almost exactly doubled over the last day (most of the rise seemed to come by late afternoon, yesterday, before it leveled off and didn't do much else.)  


 


This morning, with Duran Duran belting out the classic 80's tunes in the background, I split it in two, added day four additions, and marked it with a green marker.


 


My intentions are to stare at it all day long, waiting for it to double.  If I can get motivated, occasionally I may succeed in dragging myself into my home office to start getting organized for my income tax filing...but, I'd prefer to continue staring.


 


This is further than I got last time that I tried, which means that I'm officially sailing in uncharted waters.  Wish me luck!


 


Johnster

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I may send mine to you for you to stare at LOL. I evidently don't do it right. The stuff is still sitting there..very happy but not growing. I am going to pretend that this is day three and toss and add...


 


Did you by any chance touch your starter with your hands at all like Phyl did? I have been so careful to keep everything CLEAN. maybe that is what is wrong. Just a thought. c

johnster's picture
johnster

No, I didn't touch it, but I can't imagine that touching it would be a bad thing.  There should be plenty of wild yeast and bacteria in the air, in your container, and on the flour to get it to start.  My biggest concern getting into this was that I had "captured" commercial yeast.  (With all the baking I do, there has got to be a ton of it floating around the house.  Heck, no matter how often I clean it up, every flat surface in the kitchen seems to accumulate a light dusting of flour....)  And, I was (am still) concerned that I have a commercial yeast culture growing in my container that seems to be benefitting from my stare.  And, would commercial yeast put the "beat-down" on any wild yeast and bacteria trying to join the party?  I don't know.


 


On my only previous attempt, it overflowed the container, and I had to keep stirring it to keep it down.  It never seemed to recover...


 


On a similar note, I made crock pickles last summer.  These are made by immersing cucumbers in a brine solution with some seasonings like dill, and then letting wild bacteria ferment them for about a month.  This, and sourdough for that matter, are what my hero, Alton Brown, would call "good food gone 'bad' in a good way."  The pickles were nerve-wracking for me, too, but I found a kind soul like Phyl on a gardening forum who walked me through it step by step like Phyl is doing for me, now.  Hmm.  I am starting to recognize an emerging pattern of anxiety in my life....I wonder what that's all about.... And, should it worry me....


 


Anyway, too much typing keeping me from my main objective.  Gotta go stare, some more.  


 


Quick question, did you try serenading your starter with Duran Duran?  That and the Howard Jones I'm playing right now seem to be helping.


 


Muchly,


 


Johnster


 


 

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

just an explanation. we have a friend from India , and when he makes this fermented dosa recipe he intentionally mixes it with his hands , he explained, as that assures it will ferment...

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Are you making an editorial comment about where my hands may have been?!?  ;-)

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I knew this would happen...LOL>..I will try and stay on topic...c

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

That made me laugh almost as hard as the comment about flying kites!


Did you try adding rye to your starter?  Did it come back to life?

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

You guys are giving me answers that are NOT helpful :) Please stay on topic...


OK full disclosure time here. I was so discouraged that 2 days ago I treated it like Wild Yeast does her starter...I removed all but 1/3 c of the "gaaarp" starter added 1/3 c water 3 or 5 tsp rye ( can't remember) and 1/3 c white. Mixed well placed in a new clean jar. Now it measures exactly 8 oz and has since that time. It has bubbles all through it and has a very pleasant smell. I think it is TOO nice. It has lost its slightly odd odor all together. So I will take out 1/2 and add a little rye and see what happens.


And play some music...will Bill Evans do ? We only have jazz in this house ! c

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Mine hasn't grown at all since feeding on day 3. Not sure what to do here.  I'm guessing that I should wait...maybe stir it...and just give it time. :)

johnster's picture
johnster

It's been five hours and twenty-four minutes of intense staring, and I've gotten less than 10% rise (maybe only 5%)....Who knew this would require nerves of steal?


 


Johnster

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Success !! Yeah....I stared and stared and sang and danced and offered sacrifices ( and no I am NOT going to tell what I offered) and it worked ! I moved it to a cooler place. Thank you Debra !! I had it reversed LOL. Cool the first days and then warm now. So it is back on the 72 degree soapstone counter and is happily climbing the sides of the container ! YEAH !


OK enough elation. Now to figure out what to do next ? I don't know what step I am on. So advice please. c

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I would consider yourself, or rather your starter, to be on Day 4.  Give it 24 hours, let it double, then feed it.  After that, move onto Day 5 when it doubles again, which could happen in less than a day.


Hang on.  You're almost there!

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Gaarp (is it Phyl?):  I've never been preceeded by my reputation before---I'm just relieved it's a good one! Now I have to measure up. You are doing a fine job helping people get started in sourdough :-)


Candyboots:  When you see a skin or crust forming, it's a sign that it is too warm. Use a thermometer and find a spot a little farther away from the radiator. 75-80 degrees F is just about ideal for the first three days or so.


Johnster:  "would commercial yeast put the "beat-down" on any wild yeast and bacteria trying to join the party?" No, they'll still take over, but on their own schedule. Commercial yeast really won't hurt anything, or change the end result. They just disappear.


Stephanie Brim:  Not sure how much time has passed, but if it didn't grow within 24 hours of the day 3 feed, I would go ahead and feed day 4. Not all cultures will grow and double on day 3, no matter how long you wait.


Trailrunner:  Way to go! Time to do your victory lap around the kitchen :-)

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Slowly since I still feel pretty weak from this virus from He!! It has already doubled. So I will wait the 24 hr anyway ...unless I hear differently. c

johnster's picture
johnster

Ok.  Our house is kind of cold, lately.  Here in Boston (MetroWest) it was below zero last night, and it's only sixteen degrees outside, now.  So, since it wasn't growing, and the house was a bit too cold, I put it in the microwave oven overnight, never turned on, of course, but with the light on, it stays at a toasty eighty degrees.  (I often use this as a proofing box.)  Still, no growth.  Clearly some bubbles on the surface, though.  I checked with BBA, and with KAF Baker's Companion, and consensus seems to be continue feeding if it hasn't risen, enough.  


 


Did normal feeding addition (1/4 cup flour and 1/8 cup water) instead of the increased one that you would normally do on day five, and now, I'm back to my staring.  Rest of the family has the flu, so I'm going to go start a fire in the fireplace, read through a cookbook, and see if it rises/bubbles/doubles anytime in the next twenty-four hours.


 


If you think that I should do anything differently, please let me know.  I'm committed to getting this one working.


 


Johnster

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Johnster, that sounds like a good plan.  As mentioned in a previous post, you could always goose it with a bit of rye flour.


I hope your family get to feeling better.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I had great growth from the rye. It tripled in the first couple hours. I waited anyway till this AM. Took out all but the required and added white and water. Took the discard and started the KA recipe for waffles for tomorrow. Only had enough discard for a 1/2 recipe of waffles but that is OK since we are just 2. So I am on my way. I hope. I don't think anything can go wrong now LOL.


 


Johnster...try Bill Evans jazz...streaming KPLU jazz works  !
Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I think I'll supplement with rye flour at the next feeding in 24 hours. Mine didn't do anything in 48 hours but there were bubbles.  I discarded about half of the starter and fed with 1/3 cup of flour plus a bit under 1/4 cup of water. We'll see what happens.


I don't really want to throw it out and start over because the smell of the starter isn't unpleasant...just extremely sour.  I don't think it would be wise to give up on it now.

johnster's picture
johnster

No additional growth, but sour smell, some bubbles, and there WAS a great rise on day 2....You would think that there would be some surviving yeast in there that would start to run....


 


I don't plan to give up, either.  I'll keep going and see what happens.


 


Johnster

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Great rise on day 2 is a sure sign of leuconostoc growth, probably Lc. citreum. The problem with this organism, is that it produces an antibiotic substance that "inhibits similar lactic acid bacteria" (i.e., lactobacilli). As the pH fell in your starter, the Leuconostoc stoped growing, but the antibiotic effect takes a few extra refreshments to dilute out. This is why sometimes it won't grow and double after the day 3 feed, even if you give it extra time.


Feed once a day, regardless, and you will advance the ball, even when you think all is dead. It's never dead :-)  But don't give bigger feedings in an effort to flush it out sooner, because this will also dilute the acid, and could raise the pH enough that this stuff can start to grow again and put you back at square one.


White flour doesn't have many dormant yeast cells, and so they get diluted out with each feeding too. Whole grain has about 200x more, so the best thing for both of you to do, is feed with whole grain flour until the yeast activates and starts to grow. You'll know when that happens, becuase the starter will begin to rise, and you'll start to detect that "yeasty" smell of bread dough or beer. But be patient. It won't happen until the starter gets very tart---the kind of sour that makes you pucker. I'll bet you're both very close now, so don't start over.


I'm rooting for you :-)

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Hi Debra.
Do you have your own methods for measuring the relative pH?
No I'm not going to ask if you have theories about the Hydrogen Ion activity. lol


I've got some tried and true methods for testing the acidity but would love to hear about everyones own methods.


Thanks. ;-)
  Mark

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Hi there Mark :-)


I have two methods for measuring pH---quantitative and qualitative. When I was working with this stuff in the laboratory, I studied it under the microscope, took pH readings before and after feeding, and measured rise. I bought pH paper to use at home as well. But at home, I also tasted it to corollate the sourness to pH. (No---I'm not afraid.)


In the beginning the flour-water mixture is very bland and starts out about pH 6.0-6.5. As acid starts to develop, it will get tangy---maybe pH 4-5---and then get really tart when it drops below 4. In all my trials, I have never seen yeast appear before the pH drops to around 3.5 or so. I find taste to be more reliable than smell, because lactic acid doesn't really have an aroma.


So, that's my preferred method ;-)
Debbie


P.S.  Hopefully, I'll get to post my article here by next weekend.


 

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Thanks for the numbers, very much appreciate it. :-)


Luv this stuff...I do have a background in R&D/Chemistry (I've owned Solomon Technologies since 93), one of my neighbors is still the Chemistry professor at ETSU.


I've seen nothing but good remarks from the best of folks about your tests.
Congrats!

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Hi Debbie. I have two starters, both about 3 weeks old (one is a little thicker than the other). Both are very active and do a great job at raising dough, but both have a pH of between 5 and 6. I live in Santa Rosa, CA, so I should be able to get an acidic starter and am really stumped that neither seem to have changed a bit on the pH scale. I am able to make pretty tangy sourdough doughs with these starters, but only because I'm using a very delayed fermentation method (4 days to turn out loaves). If you have any ideas, I'd be very grateful. I'm sick of scraping dough onto my pH paper and seeing it do nothing (I've tested other things with the paper, so I know it works). Thanks again, Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Pamela, tell me a little more. Is this the reading before or after feeding? What flour are you refreshing with, and what temperature are you keeping it between refreshments? Is it a firm or pasty starter?

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Starter 1 (from American Pie)


Starter 2 (WGB)


I'm refreshing with KA bread flour and keeping them in the refrigerator at about 40 degrees (they are very active even in the refrigerator). Both are about 3 weeks old--it took them about 11 days on the counter to get active. I refreshed them on Tuesday of this week. pH reading is the same before and after feeding; it is always the same--has never changed from day 1. Starter 1 is a little firmer than starter 2, but I would say both are pretty firm.


--Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Okay, very good---we have a lot of lattitude to work with :-)  Reviewing these two formulas, I see that American Pie is maintained at 100% hydration with bread flour, and the WGB is 75% and whole wheat. From your post, it sounds like you are using bread flour for both, and maybe have even changed the hydration if #1 is firmer than #2. Am I understanding that? It really doesn't matter how a starter was initially created, it's how it's maintained that determines its character.


Maintaining your starters firm and in the refrigerator will keep them very mild (which some people prefer), so the first thing you'll want to do is move them to the counter. Start with the American Pie one, and leave the other in the fridge for now. Sourdough lactobacilli prefer high hydration and warm temperatures. You don't want it too warm, because that's not good for the yeast, but too cool reduces the populations of bacteria.


Think of temperature/hydration as a sort of dial you can use to adjust your starter. At the high end, you have more sour/less lift, and at the low end less sour/more lift. We need to dial yours up enough to increase the bacterial count to get the sour you're looking for, without compromising too much lift. So, try 100-125% hydration at room temperature for a week or two and see how that goes. You'll need to feed at least once per day. Let me know what happens, and then we can tweak a little from there :-)


Once, you get it the way you want it, I think you'll be able to store in the fridge when not in use, but you want to get away from refreshing and maintaining in the cold. Also, you may want to read the 'Lactic Acid Fermentation in Sourdough' thread, especially this post to Pat (proth5) and exchanges with Eric (ehanner).


Lactic Acid Fermentation in Sourdough | Probably not L. Pontis

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Yes, I am now feeding both with white bread flour, and #1 (American Pie) is slightly firmer than #2. After I feed them both are pretty much the consistency of bread dough, but after 4-6 hours on the counter and they have doubled, #1 is a bit firmer than #2. Starter #1 is also going crazy in the refrigerator--everyday the thing is practically blowing its top off because it is expanding so rapidly.


So I'll take #1 out of the refrigerator, increase its hydration, and leave it out at room temperature for a week or so, feeding it each day, and see what happens.


Thanks so much for your help. I will keep you posted on how things are going.


Again, I really appreciate all the information in your post.


Best,


Pamela

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I took 4 ounces of starter #1 and mixed it with 12 ounces of water and 12 ounces of bread flour and will let it sit on the counter for a week or so. It is a lot looser now.


Am I suppose to discard all but 4 oz. each day and repeat the process?


Thanks,


Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

"Starter #1 is also going crazy in the refrigerator--everyday the thing is practically blowing its top off because it is expanding so rapidly."


Isn't it impressive? I got myself a small table-top wine/beverage refrigerator to keep my desem 50-55 degrees for a while, and found that after the initial adjustment period, it grew as fast as the white one living on the counter. Yeast seem to handle the cold much better than lactobacilli :-)


On the daily feeding, you will need to discard, but unless you want the discards to bake with during this time, you can scale way back, so that you're not throwing away so much flour. Try 1/4 to 1/2 oz of starter mixed with 1 to 1 1/2 oz each of water and bread flour. (An 8-oz jelly jar with two-piece canning lid is a perfect container for keeping 2 oz of starter.) Don't be afraid to adjust the proportions according to what you think it needs. Jot down how long it takes to peak and start to fall at different refreshment rates and that will help you figure out what fits into your schedule. You don't need to become a slave to your starter ;-)

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Oh, thanks so much. I refreshed at noon my time and don't see any action yet, but I will take note of each day's peak and fall. Tomorrow I'll scale the thing down too. I really feel so relieved now; I just couldn't figure out what to do and I was so sick of seeing no progress on my pH paper. Thanks, again, so much for the help and I'll keep you informed.


--Pamela

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Hi Debbie. I refreshed yesterday at noon (100% hydration) and my "little volcano" doubled in 6 hours and had overflowed its banks (more than tripled) by this morning. No measurement change on pH yet. I'll refresh at noon again today (will only save 1/2 ounce this time!) and up the hydration a little. More later.


--Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Be sure and use a container at least 4x the volume of your refreshed starter. It will (and should) at least triple between feedings. Sounds like it is right on track in that regard. I'm not sure how long it will take for the populations to shift and the LAB to repopulate, but you could try using a whole grain flour for one feeding to add some back in. And then wait until it starts to fall before feeding again. This will give the bacteria a little more time to catch up.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I got the message about using a 4x container this morning when I saw the "lava" flowing onto the counter!


I'd like to try the whole wheat flour feeding. I grind my own whole wheat with a Nutramill grinder. I also have some diastatic malt powder on hand. Do you think I should use my own flour or go out and purchase some for my starter? I plan to convert one of my starter to whole wheat at some point.


The only other wild card that I can think of regards my source of water. We live in an unincorporated portion of Santa Rosa and are on a well. The water we drink goes through a reverse osmosis process. Do you think this water is OK or should I buy some bottled water for my starters?


Thanks, again. You are a terrific help.


--Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Sounds like your water is fine. If it weren't, you wouldn't have had a lava flow ;-)


And I don't see any need to go out and buy whole wheat flour for this if you can grind your own (I'm jealous). It may help seed some LAB back into your starter and make the shift happen quicker. Then again, we'll see...  These are not entirely charted waters we're in. Consider it an adventure :-)


My experience has often been that you'll notice a shift more or less all at once, but not necessarily right away. 3-7 days generally. But I also know from the literature that cultures change and stabilize faster when the temperature is going down than when it is going up.


So have faith, and hang in there :-)
Debbie

xaipete's picture
xaipete

OK, i'll feed my volcano with whole wheat flour tomorrow. I'm excited and keeping detailed notes on what I'm doing and what its result. I replenished starter #2 this morning and am going to leave it out of the refrigerator too. I've got plenty of bread batches and recipes to make that don't need a starter, so being without the finished mother for a week isn't a problem.


I could keep the starter in the garage, which is about 50 to 55 degrees instead of the counter. What do you think? Is that a better temperature?


I have faith, patience, and will hang in there. More later.


--Pamela

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Well it is day 3 now and I only got a doubling out of yesterday's feeding. I aerated it this morning. Should I let it go another day before feeding or feed as usual?


--Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I'm surprised it slowed that much. Tell me what the feeding was yesterday in terms of starter, flour and water amounts. About how long did it take to reach peak, and was it completely collapsed this morning? Does it taste tangy or sour?


Don't skip feeding. It needs at least one feeding a day when kept at room temperature to keep it in good shape. Depending on answers to the above, we may need to adjust the refreshment rate or add a feeding.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Neither collaped; #1 is slightly tangy; #2 is bland; both doubled in about 6 hours and then stayed at double overnight. I aerated #1 but have done nothing with #2 yet.


Starter #1 doubled within an hour of aerating and now that there are in the water heater closet (about 3/4 of an hour ago) both are looking much more active. I'm not sure what the temperature is in there, it is still rising a bit and is now at about 77 degrees. I'm going to put a shelf in there because it looks like a great proofing box! (See picture I posted above.)


Yesterday feeding:


Starter #1: 15 g starter, 50 g water, 45 g bread flour


Starter #2: 1 oz. starter, 3 1/4 oz. water, 3 oz. bread flour


#2 is one day behind #1.


But since I moved them to the water heater closet, they are really bubbling.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I refreshed both starters at 11am with 1:3:3 ratio (starter:flour:water). I fed #1 with whole wheat flour and #2 with bread flour.


At 4 hours and a temperature of 75 degrees, both starters show 50% growth.


At 5 hours and a temperature of 75 degrees, both starters show 150% growth.


At 6 hours and a temperature of 75 degrees, both starters have doubled.


At 11 hours (I can't stay up to watch anymore tonight!) and a temperature of 75 degrees, #1 has more than doubled, while #2 seems stuck at double.


At 15 hours and a temperature of 72 degrees, #1 is tripled and #2 is still stuck at double.


At 19 hours and a temperature of 72 degrees, #1 has collapsed to double and # 2 is now tripled.


AT 21 1/2 hours and a temperature of 75 degrees, #1 is steady at double and #2 has now collapsed upon itself and is back to double.


What do you think Debbie? Should I feed both the same stuff at 11am again?

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

The conversation continued off-group until I got everyone's blessing to continue it here. Thanks again Phyl :-)  For continuity's sake, here's what we talked about:


what you did yesterday is fine for now. There really is no need to work with both at once. But if you wish to, then you don't want to treat them the same or you'll just end up with 2x the same starter for twice the effort. Keep feeding one whole wheat and the other bread flour. I think the wheat will get more sour in the long run, because whole wheat sourdoughs just do. But I think the goal here is to create a general-purpose white sourdough that you can push to make sour bread when you want to?


The next step is to find a basic bread formula that promises some sour tang, and use it to test your starter's progress. Do you have such a formula, or Leader's Bread Alone, or Hamelman's Bread...?


I don't have Leader's or Hamelman's books, but I am a current tester for Peter Reinhart and have a recipe that I've managed to make sourdough bread out of in spite of my starter problems I've been able to achieve sourness with a non-sour starter via many days of fermentation in the refrigerator--one day for the starter, one day for the dough, another day for the loaf proofing).


As far as the Reinhart formula is concerned, is it supposed to be sour? Not all naturally leavened breads are designed to be. Look for recipes that are described as sour. Leader and Hamelman both have recipes that are tangy by design. In fact, Leader has one titled San Francisco Sourdough, and Hamelman has "Vermont" Sourdough, among others. It's a mistake to assume bread or starter should be sour because it's made with starter. It's the process and method that determines that. Not even just the way you keep your starter, but what flours you use and how you manipulate the dough with time and temperature. It all plays in.


is the sign of time to feed the collapse? When it collapses after tripling, should I feed immediately or wait for a few hours ...?


In your shoes, I would let them collapse a bit before feeding again, to give the LAB more time to catch up at this point. Feeding at the peak favors yeast because LAB have a longer lag time than yeast--i.e., yeast start to grow first for a time, then LAB start to grow, then yeast stop growing, while the LAB continue on for a time. You can take advantage of this disparity by feeding sooner or later, depending on what the goal is. I prefer lighter, milder breads, so I feed earlier. But you'll want to give the LAB a little more time.


And this morning: My two starters are behaving the same--doubling in about 6 hours, tripling in about 11 hours, and collapsing back on themselves at about 16 hours... I checked their pH and smell this morning; think they smell a little less like "paint" today and think maybe they have moved down to a solid "5" now.


Sounds like they're moving in the right direction. I have been reviewing Leader's levain and San Francisco Sourdough process. It all makes good sense from a scientific point of view, so I want you to start maintaining one of them (whichever is more sour at this point) more the way he suggests.


Mix your flour 3 parts bread flour to 1 part whole wheat.


Feed equal weights starter-water-flour mixture (1:1:1)


Let sit 24 hours at room temperature. (Feed once a day at about 70 degrees. If your only choices are less than 70 or greater than 75, then go with warmer, keeping in mind that we may need to adjust the refreshement rate or frequency.)

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Hi Debbie. While you were replying, I was feeding, so I've added a 3rd starter made from discard of Starter #2.


Wednesday feeding:


Starter #1 Whole Wheat was 1: 3: 3.5    (starter: WW flour: water)


Starter #2 Bread Flour was 1: 3: 3   (starter: bread flour: water)


Starter #3 was 1:1:1 (made flour 3 parts bread + 1 part WW)


Temperature is pretty steady in the water heater closet: 75 degrees during the day and 72 at night.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Starter #3 fed on 1:1:1 has nearly doubled in 3 hours. The other two starters are are at 150%.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Everyone seems happy in the water heater closet. All three starters are tripling and then collapsing. And, all three starters are still at a pH of 5 and bland-smelling--definitely nothing acidic in the air in any of them.


Oddly enough, Starter #3 (the kind-of-newest-one) is much more soupy than the other two, but I'm not sure what that means.


So today's feeding will be the same as yesterday (starter:flour:water)


#1: 1:3:3.5  (all whole wheat flour)


#2: 1:3:3     (all bread flour)


#3: 1:1:1     (3 parts bread and 1 part whole wheat)

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Lactic acid doesn't really have an aroma, so smell is not a good indicator of sourness.


I have started toward making Leader's SF Sourdough tomorrow. I made the levain yesterday, and the poolish is bubbling away today. If my mild starter can make a tangy bread, then I'll have you try this formula. In the meantime keep feeding with the bread flour/whole wheat mixture in a 1:1:1 ratio. Taste it before feeding. That's when the acid will be the most potent.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I just tasted them and Starter #3 definitely tastes tangier than #1 or #2. Maybe I'm getting somewhere after all. I wonder why the pH paper doesn't show any change?

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Maybe your pH paper just isn't sensitive enough for this particular application. Taste buds are better :-)

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I'll test them again tomorrow. I tested other things with the paper and it seemed to work, so I'm a little surprised that I can't see any change with the starter.


Should I buy some different paper, or is there something better to use?

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I know I've thrown a lot of information at you, and you won't absorb it all at once, so this probably bears repeating:


The baked results will be a better indicator of change in your starter (and your method) than testing its pH. keep in mind that each whole number represents a 10-fold change in acidity---i.e., 5 is 10x (ten times) more acid (H+) than 6, and 4 is 10x more than 5 (yes, that makes 4 100x more than 6). Your pH paper may not be sensitive enough to show small improvements that your tongue can detect :-)


Well, San Francisco Sour- bread dough is fermenting, so we shall see. I haven't tried this formula for about 5 years. I can only hope I'm a better bread baker this time around ;-)  So far so good. The levain (stiff, 10 hours at 70F) was fairly mild, but the poolish (pasty, 24 hours at 77F) was very beery and sour this morning. It added a definite twang to the dough from the get-go.


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I tasted Starter #3 a few minutes ago and it is even more tangy than yesterday, so I'm going to start a starter for SF Sourdough this morning. Thanks for your continuing help on this project! What should I do now? Continue keeping these starters at 75 degrees and feeding them daily for a while, or???


--Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I think you'll burn yourself out working with 3 at a time. Unless you want to bake 100% whole grain breads, I'd scrap the the ww, and park the white one in the fridge for now. You might like to keep that one as your mother (or the Leader-style one, your choice). I would continue to feed the Leader one daily for another week to see if it is stable and can remain vigorous this way. But do go ahead and bake with it if you like.


Let me get this bread baked off and see how it turns out. I have divided the dough and it is now resting, getting ready for shaping. It's very airy and bouncy, so I'm hoping for light loaves. If they are sufficiently sour, I want you to try this formula, and I'll walk you through it since you don't have the book. We can start a new thread, and maybe some of the others will join in and bake along :-)  Sound like a reasonable plan?

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I started my SF Sourdough starter with the Leader (#3) this morning. I'm pretty sure changing the feeding to a 1:1:1 ratio and making the flour 3 parts bread and 1 part wheat was sine qua non yielding tanginess. So are you suggesting giving #3 one more week of daily feeding and keeping it in the water closet?


As for the other two, I think I'll keep the whole wheat (#1) and feed it 1:1:1 for a few days and see if it turns tangy, and just chuck #2.


I'm anxious to hear how your bread comes out. The method I'm using will take at least 2 days, so the earliest I'll bake is tomorrow, but more likely it will be on Sunday (I've got about 5 things in already process that I'm testing).


Let me know about your bread and I'd love to try your method/recipe, so let's start a new thread on it tomorrow. --Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I think with the 1:1:1 rate you could bring it out to room temp.


Wow, I got incredible oven spring---I swear it doubled in size after going in the oven. After it proofed to at least 1 1/2x. So triple what the dough started out after shaping. I wasn't expecting that from this formula. I'm going to wait until tomorrow to cut it, so will report on sourness then.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

The waiting is always so difficult for me. Days of work only to get it in the oven and then more patience is required! It's almost to much to ask of a mortal.


Isn't oven spring wonderful! It really makes one feel great and successful.


Room temperature it is on my babies; I'll go retrieve them now.


--Pamela

adoptedbyachicken's picture
adoptedbyachicken

[We can start a new thread, and maybe some of the others will join in and bake along :-)]


 


I'm in!  Let me know where the new thread is!


 


April

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

"I could keep the starter in the garage, which is about 50 to 55 degrees instead of the counter. What do you think? Is that a better temperature?"


Absolutely not :-)  Sorry if mentioning desem in this conversation was confusing---the reason a desem starter is kept 50-65 degrees is to keep it mild. But you're wanting sour, remember? The game plan is dial the temperature up in order to give the souring bacteria a chance to return. They like it very warm (90-ish). But if we indulge them too much, the yeast will drop out and you'll lose your leavening power. So you need to keep your starter in the 70's---mid to upper 70's if you can. That's a good compromise.


There are a couple other strategies to play with later on, but it's best to approach this systematically so that we can all learn from it. I thank you for being willing to do this and share your results. There is no need to stop using it for breadmaking during this process. In fact the baked results would be a better indicator of change in your starter than testing its pH. Bear in mind that each whole number represents a 10-fold change in acidity---i.e., 5 is 10x more acid (H+) than 6, and 4 is 10x more than 5 (that makes 4 100x more than 6). Your pH paper may not be sensitive enough to show small improvements at this stage of the game :-)

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Now Isee what you mean about your desem--wanting it mild, and why you are keeping it at that temperature. OK, I'll keep my starters warm--at night the temperature of the kitchen (where they are living) drops to the low 60's so I'll find a little warmer spot for them so they'll be in the 70's all the time.


I'll start another batch of starter with part of one of them today so I can bake tomorrow.


Today will be their 1st whole wheat feeding!


Also, I see what you mean (at least I think I do) about things happening all at once: After I refresh, nothing happens for about 4 or 5 hours, and then all at once the starter doubles.


This is really a lot of fun!


--Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

"Also, I see what you mean (at least I think I do) about things happening all at once: After I refresh, nothing happens for about 4 or 5 hours, and then all at once the starter doubles."


Well, that's not exactly what I meant, but you're right---there is a longer lag time with sourdough than with commercial yeast.


What I meant was that it will behave basically the same every day with subtle or no improvement, until one day it suddenly behaves noticeably different (significantly higher, faster rise, more fragrant, etc). Something that indicates a more dynamic change in the populations, maybe even shifting of dominance to a different organism and striking a new equilibrium.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've found them a new home: on top of the water heater, which is in a closet inside the house and holds a constant temperature of over 74 degees!



 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Just be sure it doesn't go over 80 degrees inside your starter. This may not be necessary if daytime temps are in the 70's. Thanks for the photo---it reminded me that you increased the hydration yesterday. That may be why it only doubled. Soupy mixtures just aren't going to achieve the same height as thicker ones. That's okay. It's physics.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I'll monitor the temperature and make sure it doesn't go over 80 degrees. But I'm really excited about finding this location, esp. if it holds a pretty constant temperature. I can put a shelf in there and it will be a great place for proofing.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I think it is pretty cost effective to grind your own wheat berries. I purchased a Nutrimill grinder several years ago and think it is a very well made mill that produces great flour. Plus it is a lot of fun to experiment with different types of wheat berries and other grains. I've really just begun to branch out and try things other than what I can get from Bob's Red Mill.


http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/index.aspx#Nutrimill


I;ve got buckets full of grain lining one side of my laundry room. Stored properly, I think the stuff last almost indefinitely.


I think the way to go is to find other people to share grain with; it seems like 25 pounds is what you need to buy to get a decent price.


--Pamela

johnster's picture
johnster

Day 6: fed as per usual, 1/4 cup KAF bread flour and 1/8 cup spring water.


 


Thank you for the advice and encouragement.  That also sounds like a plausible explanation.  The more I've thought about this, the less likely it seems  that I could have killed it.  I haven't done anything that should have proven toxic to the culture...


 


Report: smell is still kind of sour.  Fewer bubbles than before, and, still, no sign of rise.


 


Pressing onward,


 


Johnster

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

It will happen. It isn't dead at all, and you haven't done anything to kill it. It just takes some cultures longer than others. But, you don't want to start over, because that's like going back to the starting line every time you get to the hill. You have to get over the hill to get to the finish line. You're almost over the hill :-)


Keep feeding with whole grain flour, and Mother Nature will take care of the rest.


Hang in there :-)
Debbie

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Unlike Debra, I would never accuse you of being over the hill, but I do agree that you are almost to the finish line.  Just keep a stiff upper lip and press on!

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I was told that about my dreams, but I'm sure it works for sourdough, too.


I'll keep you posted.  If this one doesn't work I'm going to start one which I feed with all rye for a few days, then start going with the white flour to see how that does.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

If you remember mine was full of tiny bubbles but not growing. I added the rye feeding and it took off. It had a lovely yeasty smell. I then took the discard and added the waffle ingred. to it from the KA recipe last night. And I fed the original starter with the white flour and water. All is well everywhere. The waffles were MARVELOUS! Perfect. crisp brown light...you name it....gone ! 


The original starter doubled right away. I am going to feed it again today and am leaving it on the counter as I plan to make bread with it tomorrow. 


So as Debra and Phyl have advised....feed with rye and keep the temp cooler at this point. It will grow like crazy. As long as there are bubbles all is well.


You guys are great to be such cheerleaders....I was ready to give up too ! Caroline


 


 

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I got out PR's book and looked at the recipe for barm and the 1st soudough loaf I want to try. He said if you tap the culture on the counter and it immediately falls it is ready. So I tapped and it fell. He says to double it and then let it get bubbly and then fridge it and then use tomorrow to make a firm starter. So that is what I did. I weighed and I had 10oz of wild yeast culture. I added 5 oz white bread flour and 5 oz water from the tap. ( I forgot to use bottled...hope it doesn't matter at this point). Stirred and have a lovely creamy 2c about of barm. I will wait till it bubbles and then place in fridge . Tomorrow he says to make a firm starter and then fridge that. Boy this takes forever. Hope I can be patient enough to keep this up. I am actually looking forward to saving the tossed out stuff....those waffles were so fantastic ! 


 


How is everyone doing with the growth now???  c

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

trailrunner, congrats!  You're there.  It sounds like you are planning on following PR's recipe for Basic Sourdough Bread, which I think is a great place to start.  If your starter is bubbly and lively, you will get a very nice bread.  And your starter will continue to improve over the next month or so, so those waffles and loaves will just get better and better!!!

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

It's over double right now, about 17 hours after I fed it.  Trying to decide if I should wait or not.  It has that almost acetic acid smell...


I'm trying to decide whether or not to feed it now since it is over double.  I'm so excited.

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Stephanie, depending on what day you're on, you might be OK to go ahead with the next feeding.  Remember that your starter can't tell time, so going on a strict 24-hour basis is somewhat arbitrary.  If you are between Days 3 and 4, I'd wait the full 24 hours, even if it drives you nuts.  If your between 4 and 5, go for it.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I did what Phyl said and went ahead and fed. It was evidently the right thing to do...my starter does NOT know how to tell time...it has no  hands ! Anyway...the feeding that I did at 10:30 AM today has almost doubled !! WOW...I am on a roll. This is so fun. Whodathunk??  I am fridging it as now and will make the firm starter in the AM> I bet that everyone will have the same outcome. 


I am making the simple sourdough to start. Will see what variations I can come up with also. Wild Yeast has some great recipes on her site.


 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I went ahead and fed 1/4 cup starter with 1 tablespoon of rye flour, 7 tablespoons of white flour, and 1/4 cup of water.  I'm going to wait for this to double, which should happen in 24 hours, and then I'm going to feed again.  I'm going to do 1/4 cup starter, 1/3 cup water, and 1/2 cup flour mix (1 tablespoon of rye, then fill up with white to 1/2 cup).


I'm excited that I finally have something working. I can't wait to use it, either.  Buying some new flour today to try out. :)

saxmund's picture
saxmund

This is excellent!  I'm currently using a starter based on commercial bread yeast, but once I get the hang of it I will try a proper sourdough based on wild yeast.

johnster's picture
johnster

Phyl, Debbie, et al, 


 


Day seven: I fed it, today, with the rye flour as suggested.  (1/4 cup flour and 1/8 cup spring water.)  It seems thicker than with the bread flour.  This morning, pre-feeding, there were some bubbles on the surface.  Maybe a dozen, or so.  Very slight rise, too.  Perhaps between 5-10%.


 


Thank you for the continued support and suggestions.  Sooner or later, it'll come together!


 


Johnster


 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

"pre-feeding, there were some bubbles on the surface.  Maybe a dozen, or so.  Very slight rise, too.  Perhaps between 5-10%."


This sounds encouraging. Maybe the sourdough gods are smiling on you today.

crazyknitter's picture
crazyknitter

do any of you NOT use rye flour? 


I really am fond of rye, so I was wondering if it would hurt to just use regular whole wheat flour (I grind myself).


 

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

becky, the rye is just used to give the starter a jump start, as it has more natural yeast than wheat flour.  If you notice, only the first day calls for rye flour.  By the time you are done, you really have a wheat starter.

crazyknitter's picture
crazyknitter

Ok.  Thank you.  I am off to grind up some rye and get a new starter going.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Mine is doing well, but it's taking 18 or so hours to double yet. I'm not going to bake with it until it starts doubling in 12 hours or less I don't think.  It smells very bready so I think I'm on the right track.

johnster's picture
johnster

Before I went to bed last night, I noticed that the rye feeding definitely got me some small bubbles.  This morning, familiar "yeasty" smell that I get with my other breads, and a puffy dough.  It looks like it's working...


 


Ok.  Fed 1/4 cup bread flour and 1/8 cup water, and now back to the stare.  


 


Question: which day do I "pretend" that I'm on?  If it doubles by tomorrow morning, should I advance to the "3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water" of the day 5 feeding?


 


ALL of you have been GREAT though this!  I would have added this to my mulch pit a while ago if I hadn't gotten the support and recommendations that you've offered.  Thank you, again.


 


Johnster

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I am so happy for you---I think the sourdough gods were testing you to make sure you were serious ;-)  And you passed the test.

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Johnster, you are sooooooo close!  I would say "pretending" to be between days 4 and 5 is a good plan.  Watch for it to double, then feed it the day 5 feeding.  Then get ready to bake!!!

johnster's picture
johnster

Funny thing: I've been focusing so much on getting a sourdough starter going, that I kind of forgot that I'd get to return to baking once it's worked!  :D   Rather than feeling like what I'm doing is "baking", this part reminds me of buying my first set of Sea Monkeys as a boy.


 


Alright, getting ready for a double, then, viola, it's Day 5.


 


Thank you!


 


Johnster

johnster's picture
johnster

Very nice rise overnight.  It was puffy this morning.  Smelled sour and yeasty at the same time.


 


I went ahead and discarded half, and to the remaining half, I added 3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water.  Now, I'm waiting for "bubbly" and then into the fridge.  if I'm not mistaken, it's time for me to move off of this post and onto a "sourdough baking" thread!  ;)


 


I'm DYING to try the Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche from the BBA.


 


Johnster

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Johnster, you have outgrown our little thread and are ready to move on.  <sniff, sniff>  We're happy for you, but sad to see you go....


How 'bout a picture of your first SD bake?

johnster's picture
johnster

In the meantime, this is one of my recent bakes, from last month.  I do love the lean water breads....


 


 


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9938/jeffrey-steingarten039s-pane-genzanese




 

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I used mine to make the KA waffles. They were great and the discard LOVED the buttermilk. I have been storing my barm/starter ( not sure what to call it) in the fridge and have been letting it alone. It has cont . to have bubbles and smells great. I have not added anything to it. Just removed 2 different amounts for 2 different recipes that I am doing from PR. I am not going to replenish it till I am ready to use more from it. Trying the suggestion of leaving it alone  for as long as 3 weeks ( on another waste not...thread) and see what happens. 


 


You done GREAT johnster !! c

johnster's picture
johnster

I didn't think it was ready until after the 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water addition, which I did this morning.


 


Now, I'm waiting for the bubbly look, and then into the refrigerator, it goes.  If I understand correctly, I will be able to use this for sourdough bread, after it's been in the fridge for a couple of day.


 


Where did you get the KA waffles recipe?  I have their Baker's Companion and Whole Wheat Baking books.  That sounds worth a try!


 


Thank you!  Absolutely, had to wait for it to get there.  (Several times, my wife asked me where my last started was by this many days, and I had to say, "I had already thrown it out.")


 


Johnster

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Johnster, I was going to do you a service and look up the KA sourdough waffle recipe, so I did a search on TFL.  It came back with a bunch of hits, which led to a bunch of threads with a bunch of recipes.  All of them differnet.  All of them claiming to be a (the?) KA sourdough waffle recipe.  So, do a search and peruse the recipes to find one you like.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/RecipeDisplay?RID=93


 


They have a huge recipe file on their site. Anyway the thing about discard, Johnster, is that it is always ready. You are using it in addition to other stuff that already makes the recipe rise. So the waffles have eggs and baking soda and that along with the "newbie" discard is more than enough to get it going. Also you have to remember  the starter discard gets fed overnight with scrumptious stuff....sugar and buttermilk ....so it GROWS.  You will love it ! c

johnster's picture
johnster

I just printed it off, and we'll be good to go this weekend, at the latest!  My wife and I love a hot breakfast.  Our boy is only one and a half, so he eats whatever we give him (especially if it's blueberries) but he can go to town on some waffles.  ;)


 


Phyl, thank you for looking for me.  There is so much available on this site that it's overwhelming...I have a hard time just keeping track of the threads that I'm posting on, let alone all the new ones.


 


Johnster

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

That recipe looks like the bomb!  I know what we will be having for breakfast this weekend.

Lulu's picture
Lulu

Thank you for that site and recipe fo the waffles, everyone liked them here-


(Brisbane, Australia)


I'm, glad your pizza worked out-we always put fresh rosemary and oregano in the


dough for extra flavour!


Lulu

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Johnster....my 1 1/2 yr old will be 34 !! this weekend...he still loves his waffles.Make a topping out of sauteed apples ,sugar ,butter w/ cinnamon...goes really well. 


 


phyl...you are a treat ! Now you can tell your kids that is what they are called. :)

johnster's picture
johnster

Phyl,


 


The top is fairly bubbly, but only about a 10% rise, so far.  It doesn't look like your picture, and I did the mix about six hours ago.


 


Also, there is no way that this thing would have risen a loaf of bread, unless it was an overnight bulk rise....  Hmm.....


 


Are we still cool??


 


Johnster

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Johnster, you are on Day 5, right?  If so, as long as it's bubbly, you're OK.  Go ahead and stick it in your fridge and start using it as soon as tomorrow.  You will build a starter from this, so it will have plenty of time to come alive.


Phyl

johnster's picture
johnster

Ok.  Into the fridge, it goes!  


 


It doesn't look anywhere near as good as your photo, but here goes nothin'!


 


Johnster

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

is just more photogenic than others!

reesie's picture
reesie

I'm on day 3, and nothing is happening at all.  Should I throw it out and start over?

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Reesie, don't give up now!!  You are at the point where a lot of people want to cash it in, but be patient and brave -- there's life to come.  If your starter stays dormant the rest of the day, give it a shot of rye flour and see if that wakes it up.

reesie's picture
reesie

Sure enough after I wrote about my starter not doing anything at all, it started to grow a little.  I'm on day 4 now and it has not quite doubled in size, but it has grown some.


Thanks everyone for the encouragement.  I took a bread baking class in culinary school, but not too much of it stuck if you know what I mean. :)

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

remember that sage advice....keep it cool...early days yet...warmth is for later...don't give up...gaaarp is RIGHT !! c

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

just not warmer than 80F.

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

I realize this thread may be dead, but I was wondering if you had any advice for me-I live in Thailand and my house is always in the 80's. 

Ford's picture
Ford

From the table below you can tell that the yeast (C. milleri) is almost dead at 90°F (32°C).  The lactobactera (L. sf) survives until about 100°F (38°C).  I hope this helps.  Ford


                            Activity of Micro-organisms


Temp C    Temp F    L.sf          Yeast (C. milleri)
2                 36       0.019       0.004
4                 39       0.026       0.008
6                 43       0.035       0.013
8                 46       0.047       0.021
10               50       0.063       0.033
12               54      0.084        0.052
14               57      0.11          0.078
16               61      0.14          0.11
18               64      0.19          0.16
20               68      0.24          0.23
22               72      0.30          0.30
24               75      0.37          0.37
26               79      0.45          0.42
28               82      0.49          0.42
30               86      0.61          0.35
32               90      0.66          0.20
34               93      0.66          0.05
36               97      0.58          0.00
38              100     0.39   
40              104     0.1   
41              106     0.00

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

Thank you for your help.  My starter is extremely active and hungry, despite the high temperatures-however hot season is coming and the average temperature will rise into the 90's & higher most of the day, with high humidity.  Having this information helps give me a "head's up" so I can start thinking about how I am going to help my culture survive.  Maybe I will keep it in the fridge most of the time except to refresh or build up to make bread. 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I can attest to this working...I have two loaves in the bulk rise stage. :)

One thing I've noticed, though, is that my starter takes about 15 hours to double regardless of the fact that I'm on something like Day 14. It's healthy because it has the beer and bread smell, but it's just kinda slow. My kitchen is also cooler since it's been cooler here lately, so that could be the reason. I'm feeding it once every 24 hours with 1:1:2 by volume.

The two loaves of bread that are rising right now are done using the 1-2-3 sourdough method. 1 part starter, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour, all by weight. The first was given a preferment: 100 grams starter, 100 grams water, 100 grams flour. Went very well and I had good bubbles by 6 PM, but I waited until 9 PM to mix up the final dough. That dough sat in my fridge until 10:30 this morning. IT's now out and has been folded twice so far. Probably going for one more fold before I shape for baking. The other loaf was mixed from today's leftovers into a 1-2-3 loaf directly without a preferment. I'm seeing how each turns out.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Looking into my oven right now would provide you with the sight of two very nice sourdough loaves getting all toasty.  I am seriously indebted to you for writing this, gaaarp, and being so encouraging.  I dedicate the eating of my first (and second) sourdough breads to you!


Now if only I could improve my scoring...


I'll post a photo and info about taste later. :)

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I'm so excited. I know to let it completely cool, so that's what I'm going to do.

Thank you SO much!

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Very nice first loaf!! Report back with crumb and taste results..


Betty

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

That is a lovely loaf of bread. You SCORED !! c

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I'm really happy. I mean, this is the best loaf of bread I've baked, ever. The taste is sour. Would probably be REALLY good with turkey and swiss.

Needs more salt, though. I need to tweak my ratio.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

for you!!


Betty

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Stephanie, great job!  Your crust and crumb look wonderful!  I wish I could have a piece....

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I'm really happy with it, but it really needs more salt.  I put as much as I would put in a loaf of normal bread and didn't really realize that wouldn't be enough.  I'm going to go with at least 2% by weight next time since I figured that the regular loaf would take 1.5% for my taste.


These doughs were right on 600g minus salt. Tonight I'm going to feed my starter and mix up the excess to use tomorrow for a 4 loaf batch.  1800g or so.  Should be fun.  I really need to get myself a good container for rising large batches of dough.


My starter has some REALLY good tang.  I think I'm going to leave it out for at least 3 more weeks to see if I can develop it into an even better flavor.  The starter itself is pretty much doubling today in 6-8 hours.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

You have grear looking bread there....perfect ! c

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I have been leaving mine in the fridge untouched for a week. I took it out today and it is lovely and mild. I don't like a sour taste so this is working well . I took out one cup and added 65 g water and 65 g unbleached to it. Left on the counter in a cool place and it has doubled. The funny thing is that the discard is sitting there waiting for me to add stuff to it to make waffles tomorrow...and it has doubled too ! I haven't done anything to it. So I am well pleased with how active it all is. I plan on feeing my starter 1x a week only. Will keep you posted as to how that goes. 


Also on the issue of cutting up firm starter. I wanted to tell you that after the 24 hr rise in the fridge all the tiny pills were gone. My husband is a chemist and he said they dissolved. So that solves that mystery. I went ahead though today and mixed the warm water and the firm starter together with a whisk. I like that method much better. c

reesie's picture
reesie

Well, I have to start all over again.  My starter started molding and I have no idea why.  I'm begining to wonder if it is even worth it.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Don't give up! It really *is* worth it. Imagine how much you'll save on yeast! :)


Here's my tip, because mine is now...well...pretty happy.


Starting on day 2, when you're supposed to add the normal flour, stick a little rye in.  Do this until you get to the end of day 5, when you can either keep feeding the beasties (which is what I do now, with 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup flour) or stick it in the fridge. This was mentioned up a ways, and I think that's what got my starter through.  It's now a bouncing baby much like my little girl, only a bit less demanding.


It really is rewarding to see it go from smelling as awful as it does at first to having a mild, almost citrusy tang.  I love it.  It makes my day.


But I'm one of those crazy bake-once-a-day people. For the love of God, I'm going to put the discard in banana bread tomorrow! :)

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Finding ways to get rid of the "d word" ! Why are you using unequal parrts of water and flour to feed ? I thought it was supposed to be =. I have been taking the weight of the starter and adding 1/2 water 1/2 unbl bread flour to = the weight of the starter. Has a noce goopy pancake batter consistency. Just curious what others are doing.


Steph is right. Don't give up. The taste is wonderful and well worth it. Gaaarp needs to chime in !!  c

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Go, team, go!  Make that sour-dough!  OK, there's my cheerleading for the day.  I can only echo what everyone else is saying.  It's confusing and intimidating at first, but well worth the effort.  Stephanie's idea of goosing the starter with a littly rye is a good one.


TR, I think what Stephanie is doing is pretty close to what you are doing.  1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup flour are just about equal in weight, so she's in essence doing what you are.  Measuring is fine, as long as you account for the weight.  I encourage people to start weighing at the end because I think it is a good habit to get into for baking and the best way to achieve consistency in your recipes.


Phyl

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

We can be the Sourdough Starters!


.


.


.


Feel free to groan now.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Yup she is using cups...I am using grams...gotcha. I do love the weighing...never thought I would say that ! It is so much easier to get the same results time after time. 


I do hope the poster will keep trying...you are a good cheerleader Phyl. c

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I go by feel of the paste, but I weigh the final product before it goes into the dough for breads.  I love to weigh, but I've got a young daughter so simplifying one thing in my bread baking is helpful.


I've also finally bought Bread Baker's Apprentice, so I'm going to start going through that book and doing recipes as well, and I'll build the starter up by weight.  Doing the freeform breads I'm doing now, I can just weigh out my starter before I bake, and if I have any leftover it goes into something fun...like the banana bread.

johnster's picture
johnster

Phyl,


 


Are there any benefits to storing the starter at room temperature?  I don't mind a little extra waste if there is a flavor payoff.  (I know.  I know...The controversy rages on at other threads....But, your class, here, has been nicely void of drama.)


 


I used all but about an ounce and a half making the "horses-mouth" waffles on Saturday.  (HUGE hit with my wife!)  Now, I've got very little starter left, and I'd like to start building it up in order to bake my first loaf of bread, this week.  Should I just add 1.5 oz each of water and flour and leave out?  Then, do again, a couple of times?


 


By the way, congratulations on getting the Front-Page Photo!  Excellent picture and article.  That's got to be a feather in your cap!


 


Talk soon,


 


John

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

The main mother starter goes on top of the fridge. I've decided that, for the time being, that's where it's going to stay.  I want to make sure that the activity continues to be good before I put it in the fridge.  I have about a cup of starter.  I take out what I need to bake that day, and then feed the rest with 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup flour


Right now, my starter is doubling consistently at 6 hours.  The thing is unstopable.  Depending on how I build the final levain, the results vary from being very nice and sour to almost no sour at all.

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

John, if you are trying to build it up faster, leave it out and feed every 12 hours.  I know there is debate about flavor development in vs. out of the fridge.  All I know is that with my baking schedule, mostly on weekends, it just makes more sense to keep it in the refrigerator and feed it a couple times a week.  It may be true that the flavor develops more quickly with more frequent feedings, but even so, it should equalize within a few weeks whether you keep it on the counter or in the fridge.


Phyl

davidm's picture
davidm

True story.


Followed the above directions for making (birthing?) the starter to the letter, and was just as happy as a clam until after the day 4 feeding.


Then ... nothing. It sat there, and then sat there some more. 24 hours and ..still nothing. No growth. Not a bubble. Nothing.


Decided to read the instructions again, and came across some nonsense about patience, and waiting, and blah blah blah. Then I thought, well this guy's done it already so decided to try such silly advice. I mean he says "wait, it will double etc. etc." right?


24 more hours, 48 total, and ...presto! ... nothing. Though I did notice the intriguing (!) smell had shifted to a sweetish, citrusy acidic kinda smell that was quite pleasant. That's all. No movement. Dead as a mackerel. Waited eight more hours overnight. Nada.


Whatever. Set it on the counter and went to the dentist and ran around in town doing this and that. Figured I'd start over when I got back. Was gone maybe six hours. Came home, made supper, read a paper. Checked the dead starter. And we're talking about 62 or so hours now since the day four feeding. 


Voila! Almost double. Bubbles galore. Wonderful smell. Frisky as can be. Will feed again before retiring for the night. Onward!


We got some sunshine for the first time in days, and the south-facing kitchen got nice and toasty warm. About 80 degrees. Perhaps that was what did the trick.


Like the man says, patience, patience. :)


 


 

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

David, congratulations on your new starter!  And on passing the patience of Job test.  You will find it well worth the effort once you start baking with it.


Phyl

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Based on the discussions here and some of the experiences people have had, I edited the original post to note that from Day 3 on, the temperature shouldn't be too high.  And I edited the dreaded Day 4 to suggest the addition of rye flour if the starter seems to stagnate at that point.


Thanks to Debra and all of you for sharing your knowledge and experience!


Phyl

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

That is so funny...the Sourdough Starters it is ....our President is....drum roll....Phyl the gaaarp man ! 

alicat's picture
alicat

I started my starter on Monday using your fabulous instructions gaaarp and have been following this thread with interest. My starter was going great guns initally and doubled after day 2 additions in less than 24 hours.


But, it is now Friday and I'm still stuck on day three, waiting to be able to go ahead and do the day 4 additions.  At this point it has been about 44 hours waiting to do day 4 and it still hasn't doubled -- it has grown about 30% over the tape, nothing like 100%.  It looks nice and smooth, smells good and sour, and has some bubbles forming on the surface.  I'm wondering whether I should just leave it and keep waiting or go ahead and boost it with rye as you've suggested. 


If boosting it is the recommendation, I don't quite understand the instructions about what to do if it still hasn't doubled after 48 hours -- am I boosting the whole starter with the 1/4 cup rye flour and bit of water, or am I discarding half, as I have been all along and then proceeding with the rye flour addition?  Or am I boosting part of it, letting it double and then adding it back in with the rest?


Another question just because I'm new to all this: Does feeding the starter always mean discarding part of it, or can I feed the whole thing if I want to increase the volume so that I can take more of it out for breadmaking?


Thanks for your patience with my questions!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Alicat, I would boost the entire starter with the rye and water.  Don't worry about discarding until you move onto the next step.


Once you reach the mother starter stage (Day 6 and beyond), you can feed without discarding, just make sure you keep your proportions right.  So, for example, if you are keeping a 100% hydration starter and feeding with a 1:1:1 ratio, weigh your starter, and add equal weights of water and flour (e.g., 100 grams starter; 100 grams water; 100 grams flour).


Stick with it.  It will perk up within the next day or so.


Phyl

alicat's picture
alicat

Thanks for your speedy reply Phyl.  I've done as you suggest and boosted it with rye.  Your instructions are really clear.  I just realized I was reading the wrong way your comment about boosting the starter if its slow getting to day 4.  It might help to reword your revision to day 4 slightly by saying 'add 3 or 4 tablespoons of rye flour' rather than 'add a few tablespoons to 1/4 cup of rye flour'.


Just a suggestion.  Thanks for all the advice!


A

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Done.  Thank you!

Lulu's picture
Lulu

Hi Gaaarp,


You have created an international starter club!


I have made my own breads before, but am new to SD


I made my own sourdough (white starter) very easily, actually following from an older bread book which did not ask for discard. Easy as I am in a warm and humid climate (Queensland, Australia) Plenty of bubbles, smell good etc


I did tried my first bake last week-although OK the dough did not double in size


before baking, it rose in the oven but  the bread was a little dense.


Any ideas to improve?  You seem to be an authority on sourdough!   


After 11 days I bought Rye flour and the yeasty baby loved it.


I will try the Vermont sourdough tomorrow.


Lulu 

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Without seeing your recipe, I can only guess that it may have been a timing issue.  Given enough time, your sourdough would have doubled.  Long, slow ferments and proofs are your best friends when working with sourdough.


Let me know how the VT sourdough comes out.  If you're following Hamelman's recipe, you should have great success.

Lulu's picture
Lulu

Hi Phyl,


Yes, the VT was a success-BUT I copied the VT Hamelman recipe from this site-(another page) and for me it was too WET!


The dough called for 462g of water AND 338 g culture-is this the amount you use?


I was ready to give up, but having spent hours on my creation I addded more flour and I'm quite happy with the final results.


Do you have any banana or cranberry sourdough recipes that you use?


I will certainly try your 5 grain recipe later.


 By the way, fellow  sourdoughers may be interested to know I work with a girl from the Czech republic who says starter yeast is the best face pack she knows when addded to honey!        


Have a good week and thanks for all your web info!


Lulu

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Lulu,


The proportions you listed are correct.  I have only made that recipe once, but I don't recall it being overly wet.


This is the sourdough banana bread recipe I use.  I haven't made a cranberry one yet.


Phyl

Lulu's picture
Lulu

Thanks Phyl!


I have to wait til Friday to start baking again, so I have put my starter away so that I am not tempted-but I did buy the grains today!


Lulu


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD


"I copied the VT Hamelman recipe from this site-(another page) and for me it was too WET!"



Lulu, I checked my copy of "Bread" and I don't know where you got the numbers for the Hamelman Vermont sourdough, but they don't follow Hamelman's formula.


The final dough calls for 14.8 oz of water.  That converts to 419 grams.  The correct amunt of liquid levain is 10.8 oz, or 306 grams.


Little wonder you had such a wet dough.  On the other hand, you may have been following someone's modification of the Hamelman formula.  Glad it worked out in the end.

Lulu's picture
Lulu

Thanks Lindy,


I'll add the water bit by bit next time and check the dough!


Lulu

amolitor's picture
amolitor

The ratio of water to starter is, however, the same. As we know, making bread is all about ratios, not about absolute quantities.


It looks like you may have picked up a recipe that was increased by 10%. Without knowing how much flour there was, we don't know if you hit the right hydration or not.


 

johnster's picture
johnster

So, today, while my little boy is napping, I decide that I will finally make my first loaf of sourdough.  I've been keeping the starter at room temperature all week, feeding in the morning, and yesterday, I fed it twice.


 


I measure out 4 oz. to make BBA basic sourdough bread.  Knead it with my other ingredients, and leave at room temperature for what is supposed to be four hours, maybe a little longer before we refrigerate, and begin building the loaves tomorrow morning.


 


I measured it out about twelve hours after it's last feeding.  It was bubbly, but not risen.  (Mine always does that.  Very, very little rise, but bubbly and smells of tang and yeast.)


 


Now, SEVEN hours later in an admittedly cool (about 66 degree house) it has not had any discernible rise.  After kneading, I put it in a quart measuring cup, and pushed it flat so that I would be able to measure when it doubled.


 


There are clearly many VERY small bubbles in it, but it has not risen.  My plan is to leave it out, even until tomorrow morning to see what happens.


 


Does anyone have any similar experiences?  Should I not have waited 12 hours before beginning my build?  Does the starter just need to ripen for a few more days with twice daily feeding?  


 


I am not particularly frustrated, but a little confused.


 


Talk to you all, soon,


 


John

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, John.


You are describing normal behavior in a liquid starter. If your starter is 100% hydration (equal amounts of water and flour) or wetter, it sounds active and healthy. 


You judge the ripeness of liquid and firm starters differently. A firm starter (50-100% hydration) will expand, due to trapped CO2. It is ready to use when doubled or greater, with a domed top which may appear wrinkled. A liquid starter is ripe when it has lots of foamy bubbles on the surface. You may even see bubbles forming, growing and popping before your eyes. Because it is a more fluid medium, it doesn't trap the CO2. The bubbles float to the surface and pop, so it does not expand very much.


I hope this helps. If you have a firm starter .... I am mystified.


As for your intermediate starter, at that temperature it may take 10-2 hours (maybe longer)  to rise and ripen, I think.


David

johnster's picture
johnster

Yes, my starter is liquid.  The intermediate thing that I am working with right now, BBA calls a "firm starter".  It's still rising, and has been for about twenty-one hours.  It seems that it's starting to accelerate, and I've moved it to the microwave with the light on, where it stays warm.  Seems like an awful long time, though, as BBA said it would probably take 4 hours, or longer...


 


Anyway, once it's doubled, I will build the dough, and give it a shot.  


 


Thank you for the help!


 


John

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

66 degrees may be why it has been moving so slowly for you :-)

johnster's picture
johnster

I hate spending that money on heating oil...  ;)


 


Well, now it's resting in the microwave with the light on, and seems to be moving along.


 


When it is doubled, would you build the dough, or let it retard in the fridge overnight?  I'm guessing build the dough right away and begin another looooooong rise....


 


In the meantime, I've started a couple loaves of my favorite basic white bread, buttermilk version, this time substituting 10% white WW flour for whiteflour.


 


It's going to be a good weekend!


 


John 

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I did the same as you are doing . Two days ago I got out the BBA and decided to convert part of my liquid starter to a "mother dough" firm starter per the book's inst. I have had a great liquid starter and I have been keeping it refrig. and only feeding it 1xw and keeping it a 1:1:1 ratio with unbl. bread flour. I followed the inst. to convert and it made a lovely kneadable dough. I set it to rise on the soapstone counter in my sunroom. I was worried that it was pretty warm there but decided after looking at it at the 1hr mark that it seemed to be flying right along. Indeed at the 4 hr mark it was more than double. I placed it in the fridge immediately and am planning on using it today. I think it needs to be used by ?3? days , can't remember and then refreshed. It has grown more while in the fridge and has some really large bubbles on the top of the dough. 


What recipe are you going to use with the firm starter ? I am still trying to decide. 

johnster's picture
johnster

All I've made so far with my starter are your "horse's mouth waffles."  (Thank you for that one!)  Now I want to try the basic sourdough to see how it comes out, and reassure myself that my starter is up to the task.  My target loaves are the Roaster Onion and Asiago Miche, Pain Poilane (who doesn't have that on their hit list??), and I found a Desem recipe/technique on this site from JMonkey that I really want to take a whack at.


 


Which recipes have you done, so far?  Which are you most pleased with?


 


John

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I have used the liquid starter at 100% hydration to make the waffles 2 x and I have made 2 different kinds of baguettes. They were w/o any added yeast and they rose beautifully. I could have sworn they had yeast in them. Also they were not very sour but had a nice rich taste and great open crumb. I don't like sour which is why I keep my starter in the fridge. 


I have not used this firm starter yet. I keep futziing around today and have not done anything but admire how pretty lt looks sittin' there in the fridge. I need to go to the grocery and then get the show on the road. I have a cart that holds 90# and I pull it behind my bike to do all the errands etc. I rarely use a car anymore. I use my bread as fuel !!


 Are all of the 3 you listed from BBA?  I have looked at the desem but not sure yet about doing it. 

johnster's picture
johnster

Both the Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche and the Pane Poilane are in BBA.


 


Desem I got here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1986


 


 

alicat's picture
alicat

I waited about 44 hours to make day four additions.  My starter didn't double, so I added 3 tablespoons of rye flour and 1.5 tablespoons of water to my starter, hoping that it would be spurred on by the rye.  Now I've waited another nearly 60 hours and it has risen slightly, but I'm almost thinking that it has started shrinking -- not sure if I'm just imagining that.  Anyway, should I just start over?  It was growing so well at first, which had me thinking that the temperature in the house, water, flour was all okay and that it would just take time.  Since it wasn't doing anything, I stuck it in the microwave and left it with that light on, thinking that the extra heat might be good, but still nothing.  What should I do?  It smells sour.  Has bubbles breaking the surface.  No mold or anything undesirable.  Any thoughts?


 

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Alicat, I think with time, you'll be OK, but I understand your frustration.  Here's what I would do:  wiegh your starter, discard half of it, and double it with equal amounts of rye flour and water.  So, if you have 100 grams of starter, cut it to 50, then add 25 grams each of rye flour and water.  Then start the waiting game again.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Take a little bit and feeeeeeeeed it! 


I would save even less.  Maybe a tablespoon, add enough water and flour plus a tablespoon of rye to make 1/2 a cup of starter.   Now watch it go over.  I wouldn't eliminate the AP.


Stir it once an hour, that seems to help and cover it with plastic wrap and a rubber band.  A 2 cup see thru measuring cup is ideal. 


Mini

trey's picture
trey

I'm making my first Seed Culture (following the BBA procedure) and I think I might need to start over. I had a 2.5x rise by the second day, a .5x rise by the third, and when there was no rise on the fourth, I let it go another 24 hours. There was still no rise whatsoever at that time.


Regrettably, I hadn't read this excellent post at that point. I went ahead and halved what I had and made my 4th-day changes. (No rise again, overnight.) Noting how much NOT doing that is emphasized here (I wasn't patient enough), I'm wondering if I need to cut my losses. Or should I follow the advice you gave to Alicat (halve it, add rye), and if so, does that put me back between "day three" and "day four" in the rotation?


(Also, I'm struggling against some rather cold Chicago temperatures.)


Thanks so much for your time and thoughts. 


 


 


 

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Trey, I'd go ahead and try the rye.  It couldn't hurt, and there's a good chance it will wake it up.  No sense starting over if you can get this batch going again.

jdbaron's picture
jdbaron

Hi gaaarp,


Thank you SO much for creating this great starter recipe.  I'm on day 5 and I have an amazingly bubbly, nicely sour starter that I am itching to use.  Now I'm ready to bake, and I'm wondering what sort of starter I've got here.  I've been using Dan Leader's Local Breads book as a basis (measurement errors and all), and of course his book separates starters into stiff dough and liquid levains.  He also then takes about 1/4 cup of the mother starter and develops it overnight, then proceeds with the recipe.


Can I use this starter right in the main part of the recipe without developing it overnight?  I actuallly fed my discard in a separate container rather than toss it because I thought I might give it to a friend, but he's away for a few weeks and now I've got tons.  If I can, do I need to adjust the hydration in some way? 


Do you have a basic proportion of starter:water:flour that you like for a standard sourdough? 


Thanks in advance for any advice, and thanks again for this great recipe!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Most recipes that I'm familiar with call for making a firm starter out of your mother starter.  As an example, check out my Five Grain Seeded Sourdough Bread recipe.  The proportions given there are typical of those I use for many of my sourdough recipes.  If you want to make a basic sourdough bread, follow the Five Grain recipe but omit the soaker.


Good luck, and take some pictures!


Phyl

Julieta's picture
Julieta

Hi,


Thank you so much for the tutorial.


I am new at the TFL and also I'm new baker (well, trying to be) I'm been following the directions in your tutorial but I don't know what's wrong with my starter that it hasn't grown. I started four days ago and today I had to skip the feeding because I haven't noticed much change in volume. So I'm waiting for another 24hrs. to see if something happens. It does smell kind of funny, but the top of it it's kind of hard, although I can see see a little bii of bubbles when I stir the crusty looking top. Any suggestions??????


 


Thanks!!!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Welcome to TFL and to the wonderful obsession of sourdough!  You mentioned that your starter is "crusty" on top.  Have you been keeping it covered?  It shouldn't really be drying out, so make sure you cover it with a lid or plastic wrap.


Was it active up to this point?  If it has been active but now seems sluggish, try adding a bit of rye flour (see the Day 4 instructions for amounts).  That should perk it up.


Stick with it -- you're almost there!

rainwater's picture
rainwater

I just put my first starter in the fridge......it acts just like it's supposed to, but I think Houston, TX air is full of yeast, but low on bacteria. I used Reinhart's method, but used water with lemon juice for the first two days instead of pineapple juice. I'm like this, I'd rather use some 'fresh' lemon juice instead of canned pineapple juice. The starter rose from a little over 1 cup to 4 cups the last two days, and today when I started the starter......Hmmmmm.....I put it in a much bigger container...........this creation rose quadruple or five times in about 3 hours and bubbles.....so I put it in the refrigerator.....This starter is really "alive".....but I have to say.....this starter has never had any strong odor....actually, always smells rather pleasant.....like a nice bread dough.....
We'll see how she bakes......will bake sour dough bread tomorrow, and maybe prepare some sourdough pizza doughs the following day to put up in the freezer.......I've actually been dreaming of sourdough pancakes more than anything else though.......I'll be patient.....it will probably take time to develop a sour flavor.

Julieta's picture
Julieta

Hello,


Thanks for your comment.


 


I'm still having trouble with my starter, but I don't want to give up. Today is the sixth day since I started and it hasn't grown that much. I did put the shots of rye flour and covered it with plastic wrap, so the crusty looking top is gone. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. The starter smells kind of sour to me and it looks a little bit bubbly. Should I continue? Please advise!!!!!!


Thanks so much for your help!!


 


 


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If it's smelling sour, then it still going but probably needs more food.  Try reducing your starter to but a few tablespoons and then thin with water and add flour.  Do this daily.  As three days have gone by, I hope it got fed.  If it didn't get fed, please do it now but then reduce the starter to a  tablespoon. 


Mini

Julieta's picture
Julieta

Thank you Mini,


 


My starter is still bubly and it seems alive but not growing much. Maybe it's too cold here......mmmmmmmmmm I'll keep feeding it and I'll keep you post it. Wish me good luck!!


 


Julieta


 


ps. Do you have any recipes for Sourdough bread?


 

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Julieta, search for this recipe - I posted it some time ago and it is so reliable. It's the one that is cooked under a ss mixing bowl for the first 20 minutes. It might be under Susan's magic bowl, but I know either way you should be able to find it. Hope you like it, A.

Julieta's picture
Julieta

Thank you,


I'll look for it and try it. I'm still waiting for my starter. Followed the instructions that Mini gave me, so now I just hope it works.


 

cellotenor's picture
cellotenor

My starter is on day four now (probably day 6 in reality, we had a long day 3). It's looking good- lots of bubbles, seems to be almost doubled in just a few hours and smells like a mix of yeast and white wine. My only concern is that this morning, when I was adding today's flour/water, there was some mold growing on the sides of my container on the residue. The starter itself looked pretty clear, but I just wondered if mold is a make or break issue. Do I need to start over?


Thanks for the great resource!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Cello, welcome to TFL and the wonderful obsession, I mean world, of sourdough!


It sounds like your starter is moving along well.  I've never had mold grow on mine, so I'm not sure what to tell you.  But if you got rid of it and your starter is otherwise healthy, you're probably OK.  You might want to switch to a clean container the next time you feed.

cellotenor's picture
cellotenor

I decided to use the discard from my last feeding on a maiden voyage loaf of bread. It's 1/3rd whole wheat. It makes me slightly giddy that the entire ingredient list is AP flour, WW flour, water and salt. The flavor is good, mild but interesting- just a slight tang. Only complaint is my loaf needed a touch more salt. If you want, you can see the loaf and my starter babies on http://stuckihouse.blogspot.com/2009/02/adventures-in-wild-bread.html


So now I have two bubbly starters in the fridge. Ozzy and Harriet. Ozzy is whole wheat. Harriet is being fed on white all purpose. Thanks to you Gaarp and everyone.

moonbean's picture
moonbean

I'm another newbie, and I have found this to be the most helpful thread for getting a starter started! It's so nice to read about others' experiences, which has helped a lot when not getting textbook results.


I had a great starter last summer, my first, and it made a couple of loaves of great bread. But fruit flies moved into my kitchen and would not leave it alone if I had it sitting out. So I tossed it out. I guess I could have frozen it, but I didn't think to do this at the time.


I started again last week, and like some others, got stalled on Day 3/4. I let it sit for three days, but unfortunately, when it did finally perk up (and it did!), I discovered the sides of my bowl were mouldy. So I tossed it and started again. This time around, I made sure to put it in a clean container each day. On day 3, even with no doubling, I moved it to a clean jar and by the next day I was able to move on. Tonight I've got my bouncing baby starter.


So, thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread, and much thanks to gaaarp for getting me 'started' again!


Now, to make some bread!


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've never experienced any mold problem, however, I have used clean containers each day.


--Pamela

CarmenC's picture
CarmenC

In an attempt to get a second starter that's a touch milder than my OR Trail, I started this process yesterday morning. It's the middle of Day 2, and the new starter has already doubled! I thought perhaps it was contaminated with some trace of Carl the OTS, but this new one seems to have the Day 3 reek, so I guess it's ok.


I tried to grow a starter from scratch last year, and got nothing. gaaarp, thanks for these instructions. I have no idea why this is working so much better than my attempt last year, but I appreciate it.

bodger's picture
bodger

First of all, thanks for all this massively helpful advice.


 


Wow!  This is great.  I've been following this over the last few days and am now on Day 3.  I arrived home from work to find my starter is huge!  It has way more than doubled - just as well I had it in a very large jam jar otherwise it would have overflown.


 


My kitchen is pretty cool - 18 degrees C (except when I'm baking, obviously) and there was no activity before today.  A very pleasant surprise!  The smell is interesting, although not particularly disgusting or even unpleasant.  Perhaps I'm just used to bad smells?!?


 


As this is my first go, I decided to make a wholewheat starter. I now tend to bake a quick white sandwich loaf (for my wife) so this is intended to be for my "artisan" stuff and I thought wholemeal would be an interesting complement to plain white"quick" bread.


 


It all seems to be working well so far (touch wood) - I'm expecting something to go wrong at any minute because things are never this easy!

bodger's picture
bodger

Well, I thought I was going to come home tonight and do the Day 5 addition, but it's barely grown since my Day 4 feeding.


 


On this basis, I'm not going to feed it until it's doubled - I've just moved it from the kitchen (cool @ 18 C) to the living room which is a couple of degrees warmer.  That might help, we'll see.


 


I definitely got activity before so unless I've somehow killed it, I guess it's just quietened down while the enzyme activity is being replaced by yeast activity.


 


Fingers crossed!

bodger's picture
bodger

I left it for 48 hours and still no movement.  So I took a spoonful or so and added it to 50g of half rye-half wholewheat and 50g of water.  Let's see how she does.  I've been out all evening and after coming back there seem to be some bubbles at the bottom (glass bottomed bowl so I can see them).


 


It had an ok taste before I refreshed - quite sour and not "off" but not sweet at all, so I'm hopeful it will come back!

adoptedbyachicken's picture
adoptedbyachicken

Wow great thread, and very helpful pictures and discussion.  I just started this today, looking forward to see if this will be the sour taste I'm looking for.  I have had a sweet starter going for months now (milk:sugar:flour), and I can make a sour loaf with it, but not as sour as I want, and it's too high maintenance, it's more like a pet.  I love the results I'm getting with it in breads that are not meant to be sour tasting so I may try to convert it to living in the fridge and just feeding it weekly or as used.


Thanks for the post, and I'll keep you updated.


April

jdbaron's picture
jdbaron

Hi Phyl,


I promised a photo and boy did your starter deliver!  I made a couple of baguettes and a boule or two with the starter over the course of the week, diligently refreshing as necessary.  My first attempts were decent but not spectacular, but today I created a real masterpiece!  The scoring is a bit off, but it was absolutely delicious and super crusty, had great crumb structure, and was all together the best loaf I've made thus far.  


I used Nancy Silverton's Country White Loaf recipe and added two folds during the first rise.  This really seemed to add a tremendous amount of height to the loaf. 


Isn't she a beauty?  Thanks SO MUCH for creating this thread!


 


gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Beautiful bread!  Nice to hear you found it worth the effort.

adoptedbyachicken's picture
adoptedbyachicken

Well day 2 was uneventful of course so here I am on day 3 and I was late, instead of 24 hours I had left it 30.  The volume had tripled since day 2 and man it's got an odor too.  Not 'bad' but sour and certainly stronger than the Sherwood ever did.  Really looking forward to working with this starter in bread.


So I do still want to work with some SD without having sour flavor so instead of throwing out half I made up a second container and put a lable on both, sweet and sour, and fed the sweet 1/8 cup milk, 1 T sugar and 1/4 flour which puts it into about the same ratio as the previous sherwood I had.  I'm going to convert this to a fridge pet if it works, if not I'll just be out a bit of milk and sugar.


jdbaron your bread looks fantastic!  Congradulations!


April

Moriah's picture
Moriah

What temperature is too hot for a sourdough starter? I mean, what kind of heat can it take before it gets killed?

Moriah's picture
Moriah

They're dead :-( They're like a gummy, soft dough.  I guess I'll make it into thin patties with diced onion and garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and fry it up in a little butter. Sheesh... What a learning experience ... but tasty.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Gummy and soft how? Is it not bubbling anymore after feeding? What happens when you do feed it? Have you tried baking a loaf with it? What day are  you on?

Moriah's picture
Moriah

I placed my starters on a baking sheet inside the oven with the light on. My kitchen's really cold and this usually helps to perk them up when I feed them. This time I forgot they were in there and turned the oven on. When I remembered they were in the oven, the starters had puffed up with a semi-solid surface and an internal temp of 140 degrees! My babies! So, I proceded to cook some up and eat it - it was great. It just sounds wrong though, doesn't it? ;-) They were almost 3 months to the day.


Luckily I have lots of my grape starter left.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Ah, I see. Don't worry. I almost did that to the sourdough pizza crust that I'm about to write about here. It was in my big red plastic bowl in the oven with the light on and I started to preheat the oven for my cheese sandwich for lunch. Luckily I got it out in time. Turned out quite nice.


You'll get another started. I'd offer to send you some of mine, but I don't know where you are or how the post office would look at me sending sourdough starter around the US. ;)

FLGal's picture
FLGal

For many years, I kept a "sourdough" starter that began with commercial yeast, potato water and sugar.  It imparted a nice tangy taste to the bread, but the recipe that went with it did not have the chewy texture I craved.


This site has given me inspiration.  So now I am on day 3 of my *authentic* sourdough journey and OMG that smell!  I would have definitely thrown it out if I didn't know better.  Things seem to be right on track using your instructions...I am very anxious to get to the bread baking so I can see how it tastes!  Thanks for such a great tutorial!

Julieta's picture
Julieta

 


Hola,


Thanks again for this step by step tutorial. When I begin to make my starter I had a little bit of difficulties but  I kept feeding it until I got a bubbly starter with a great tangy "aroma",really similar to the one you posted on this thread. Well, now I'm totally in love with baking and I want to start trying all kind of different recipes using sourdough. I have no experience baking, I was never interested in before, but since I found TFL I just want to keep learning. I love to see all those beautiful pictures of the bread people make. To me they look like art!!


I already baked my first sourdough boule, using a recipe a found here. It turn out great, considering it's the first one I'd ever made. I managed to create a nice crust and the flavour was good too. I do not think the crumbs were what I was expecting, but I'll definitely do it again. I tried to upload pictures but I didn't have much luck, I'll try later again. I also made sourdough pancakes & English muffins (they were great as well). The EM were nice and crispy outside and moist and chewy inside. Perfect for breakfast. The pancakes were amazing too.


I'm addited to TFL!!!!


 


Thanks,


Here there are a couple of pictures of my first sour dough bread! Tonigh I'll be baking again! Wish me good luck


gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Julieta, that looks great!!!  I've let my starters rest for a while, but your results make me feel like I should feed them and do some baking this weekend.

Julieta's picture
Julieta

Thanks for your nice comments. I actually left my starter two rest for two weeks before I baked my bread and since then I've been feeding it once a week and keeping it in the fridge. Last Monday I baked four small boules using a different recipe. This time I think the flavour was better, the crust was nice and gold but I didn't get the big holes in my crumb that I was looking for.......... any suggestions? Too bad I didn't take any pictures of them. Yesterday I also made banana bread using the sourdough I was going to discard after the feeding. It turned out great!!Looking forward to hearing some advice!

Davo's picture
Davo

Generally, the softer your dough, the bigger the holes when it's baked. If it's firm enough to be easy to handle (kneading), you could afford to make it wetter. Think of the gas the bugs are putting out like blowing up a balloon. If the balloon is soft, it will blow to large size more easily. If the dough is stiff, it'll be harder for those bugs to blow up the balloons! I do french fold kneading because my dough is too soft for other styles of kneading (for me, anyway), plus I find that if it's too stiff to take repetitive french folds, that's a sign it's not (for my needs) hydrated enough...


Also, good slashing gives the expanding loaf somewhere to go - again allowing those balloons to blow up.


Also getting the prove just right is very important - underproved and the bubbles won't be optimally big, even though it springs like a demon in the oven. But overproved will collapse and you'll get flattened bubbles, and no spring in the oven. Trial and error until you get the feel for the amount of springiness left in the provving loaf when it hits the oven.

Julieta's picture
Julieta

Thanks for your advice. I'll try them on my next baking. Hopefully this week and I'll let you know. Like you said this is a trial and error experience, so I guess the more I bake the better idea I'll get how to improve my technique!! For sure want to try again


 


 

madzilla's picture
madzilla

Greeting everyone!  I am new to the forum as of, well...right now, and I have been working on baking my own bread for about three weeks now. 


 


I created a starter through a recipe in my Better Homes and Garden cookbook.  It was basically just flour and water, then feeding it with honey later.


The recipe said the starter would take about 24 hours to bubble, but mine was bubbling away and growing within a couple of hours! I live at an altitude of about 8,000 feet and wonder if this could be why?


Right now my biggest concern is what is happening with the starter after a couple of weeks.  It is in the fridge and I have only fed it maybe twice to three times since I started it.



Tonight is has about a centimeter of yellowish clear liquid on top, and really smells strong like alcohol.  I stirred it up, took out a cup, then replenished with fresh flour, warm water, and honey.  I set it on the stove and it bubbled away for a few hours before I stuck it back in the fridge.


It is beginning to take on a darker tan color when bubbling than before.  Is it spoiled or spoiling?



Thanks for your help,


Maddy


 


 


 


 

avatrx1's picture
avatrx1

I'm on day 5 of starting a starter.  I get bubbles, but no rise.  The method I've been using required the rye, white, and water.  on day 4 it said to throw away all buy approx a tablespoon and feed again.


I don't know that I've seen it mentioned anywhere why we have to throw any of it away?  does that help to concentrate the remaining?  Just when it seems to be working (little bubbles) I end up throwing most of it away and there goes the bubbles.


one method says - feed every 12 hours, the other says every 24 hours.  is there a reason for either of these?


thanks


-Susie

mmellis20's picture
mmellis20

Aloha...


I am new to Sourdough.  I finally got a good loaf out of my last starter and inadvertently chucked the remainder.  Oh well!  Practice makes perfect, right?  So, now I'm on to my 2nd starter.  


Both have been slower to double and the loaves seemed slow to rise (the first two were like bricks- but I think there were multiple problems there!).  Even my good and tasty loaf seemed a bit 'short'... How do I get a nice tall boule like the photos above?


Am I doing something wrong?  What contributes to the overall liveliness of the starter?  Can I perk these bad boys up a bit?


 


THANKS!!! Megan

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Megan,


A young starter won't have the rising power of a more mature one. Generally, you shouldn't expect a starter to reach its full potential for at least a month or two. Which isn't to say you shouldn't bake with it before then -- I'm a big advocate of starting to use a starter as soon as it's first ready. But you have to expect longer rise times and less flavor at the beginning.


Phyl

SaraBClever's picture
SaraBClever

I'm on my seond try and rising is not happening.  I got the pumpernickel flour and the high-gluten for my second try but things seem to be slow.  I wasn't sure what to do after 2 days with no rise on my first attempt so I dumped it, especially as Reinhart's book seems to assume it will have risen by then. This second attempt is a bit sluggish too, so I'm really glad to see this post!

mmellis20's picture
mmellis20

Sarah- Don't lose heart.  It will rise!  I promise.  Try using Rye flour.  I used that after mine wasn't doing anything and it perked right up.  Once you start baking with it- I recommend the 'french fold' over kneading it.  You can find the video somewhere on here.  


good luck!!  once you see that sucker bubbling you will be SO happy!!

djd's picture
djd

I followed the directions, took the starter out after a week and it bubbled but didn't rise... fed twice, baked anyway, and yup, the dreaded flat loaves. (With bulbous sides.) What happened? How do I get the starter to have more yeast?


 


p.s. It may be relevant that the portion I kept has been sitting on the counter for about 18 hours and has bubbles but no rise. So maybe I need to dose it with rye flour and make like I'm back on day 2 anyway?

Grama Colleen's picture
Grama Colleen

I'm realitivly new to sourdough baking..and I'm struggling! I have a "variety" of different starters I've had for over a month..They all seem to grow and have a great sour taste, which I wanted. I use them and feed them but; I'm really having problems getting good rise and no "oven spring". Some earlier loaves were bricks which I tossed..I have done the No Knead Method and have kneaded up to 15 minutes on others and everything in between!..I seem to get a good first rise and each time I expect to "uncover" a perfect loaf after baking and it's just not happening. There is definitely some rise and the bread tastes good. I'm baking in the Cloche I got for Christmas and I like it..However, I'm ready to try anything to get better bread. I want to bake once/twice a week and the pancakes have been awesome..but we can't live on pancakes alone :) None of my starters are rye and I have not added rye to any starter or bread. Perhaps I'll try yours. Is there 1) a favorite recipe you like for sourdough bread (with or without wheat flour is fine) and 2) a favorite all-around good book on sourdough. I don't want to give up but my frustration level is growing. Do you create a "sponge" the night before making your dough? I've tried that too! I look forward to any help anyone can give me...Thanks in advance!

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

..with some rye flour. It's got the goods for a more active starter. Room temperature also makes a BIG difference. My starter is really vigorous when the temp is over 72F but slower when the room temp is around 68F as it is today. I just put some dough in the 60F basement to slow the rise on my Friday night pizza crust and it will take about 4-5 hours to rise the same amount as one hour in a warmer area.


Try building a sponge the night before because it takes little time and can deliver better flavor. You can always use more starter if you want and nobody will worry about it or arrest you. As long as you keep track of what you're doing in a notebook, you'll be able to repeat the successes and improve on the not so successful.


If you want a book on sourdough, read the comments under the Book Review pages. There are a lot of good books and some people take to one rather than another. As long as your bread makes you happy it won't matter where you get your inspiration.


Finally, if you want good sourdough recipes, there's a boatload in the sourdough pages of the Forum at the top of the home page. You may have to go through a few threads to find something that clicks with you. Just keep in mind that once you get how to bake that first good loaf, you'll realize that it's not that hard. Once you have the procedures down, then you'll be able to figure out a recipe on your own and convert non-sourdough recipes to sourdough. You can do it.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

for keeping a starter healthy and active.  I've been tuning up my starter over the past few days.  The acid-producing bacteria had gotten the upper hand over the yeast, with the result that the gluten just dissolved before the dough could fully rise.  After two days of feeding nothing but rye and water, followed by a few days of feeding a blend of bread flour, rye flour and water, it is bubbly and active and smells great.  House temps are in the mid- to upper 70's, which is ideal.  I have a levain mixed up for tomorrow's bake and a smaller amount fed with enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough which will go into the refrigerator for storage until the next bake.


Paul

Grama Colleen's picture
Grama Colleen

Thank you for your responses! I will incorporate rye into my starters. Maybe they are not as viable as I think they are...but the rye can't hurt. I'm still not certain as to how much starter should be used in making a loaf....but, I am learning! The most important lesson for me is that sourdough does not have "instant" results...has many variables and takes lots of patience...and that's a good thing! I did resort several weeks back to adding instant yeast (forgive me) to my dough; and, of course, got much better rising...But, I want to have excellent results with my starter alone...If possible! I will continue to experiment with kneading techniques, etc. and press on for better results. I use my oven for feedings and rising...sometimes turning the light on for added warmth...Just realizing that this bread takes much longer to rise has been helpful. I'm so hopeful for that first beautiful, "perfect" loaf....I'll get there, I'm sure! This site is so informative that I don't think I'll need to buy a book! Again, many thanks!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

In addition to the rye recommendation, which I third, I would recommend finding a recipe you like and sticking with it, at least for a while. When I first started making sourdough bread, I used Peter Reinhart's Basic Sourdough recipe from the BBA. I baked the same recipe every week for several months, until I could bake it without consulting the recipe. By using the same recipe over and over, I was able to begin to discern little differences from batch to batch.

Grama Colleen's picture
Grama Colleen

Thanks for your comment...That has been precisely my goal...Find a recipe that works for me and once I've mastered that, I can expand my horizons from there! I may have a success story in the oven right now, on it's second rise! Using my own starter (hadn't added any rye yet)...First rise took 4 hours...was gorgeous..Second rise has been a little over an hour and is looking good. I sure don't want to overproof it. It is rising on my pizza stone w/ cornmeal...Planning on "slipping" it into my preheated Cloche...Hope I don't blow it there! I'm heading to Barnes & Noble tomorrow to look at Peter Reinhart's books...Thanks for the recommendation on his recipe.

rts306's picture
rts306

I followed your instructions here to the letter...got good results from days 1 to 3 then did not see the doubling so added 3 Tbsp of rye flour and little water as per suggestion here....the mixture would increase to 75% (after 2 days) but would not double...it has been 3 additonal days (day 8) and I had moved it closer and closer to the heater vent....how long should I con't to wait?....it has a nice color and small bubbles.  TIA !

mmellis20's picture
mmellis20

well... i'm officially a negligent starter owner!  i left my baby in the fridge for a few months totally alone.  i brought it out and am attempting to revive it. 


does it have any hope?


here's my strategy: feed 1:1:1 everyday until it looks decent again.


thoughts? 


thanks!!  megan

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Megan, your starter will be fine. Just feed it until it gets nice and bubbly again. A shot of rye flour wouldn't hurt, either.

diah's picture
diah

Thank you gaaarp  for the information on making the sourdough. I will try either later or tomorrow. Will let you know if its turn ok. Now I understand what you guys talking about sourdough. It takes few days for me to understanding all thses. Thank you you guys again. Will meet you guys again.

sunimrette's picture
sunimrette

Thank you for posting this tutorial!  On day 2, I found my container full of bubbly ill-smelling mash.  It had at least doubled.  I used AP flour for the day 2 addition, and 12 hours later it has rose substantially again.  I am very suprised at how fast this is happening. 


The only thing I can think of is that instead of covering with plastic wrap I have it covered with cloth... and with the spring weather the windows here have been open a lot.  So maybe in addition to whatever yeast was on the rye, I have picked up a bunch of wild yeast from the environment.  I hope it still turns out okay!

John B's picture
John B

I've been trying to make a 100% Rye starter with your recipe, (I'm following the steps, but using all rye flour all the time), but keep getting stuck on Day 3.  I get amazing action on Day 2, but after discarding 1/2 and add the day 3 ingredients the starter just sits there for a few days then goes mouldy.  My third attempt has just gone mouldy, (not just a bit - it'a all over the surface of the starter).


So, does anyone have ideas about what I'm doing wrong, or should I be following a different recipe for 100% rye?  I posted some pictures in a blog post at http://choicesthatmatter.com/2010/06/hairy-sourdough-starter/


Thanks,


John

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

might help.  Unsweetened pineapple juice instead of water.  Here is why, read: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2


That will get you over the "hump" of bacteria growth.  The idea is to get the pH lower with the acid from the juice so that the chain of events that lead to yeast growth don't get hung up like yours did.  Try to use a coarse rye (not white) and organic berries are even better.  Be sure to stir your starter a couple of times a day so there is plenty of circulation. 


Mini

John B's picture
John B

That is quite the write-up - and I'm convinced.  I had actually bought a litre of pineapple juice after reading the sourdough starter recipe mentioned on the sourdough lessons page, (this one: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233 ), but found this one and figured I would try without it.  However, the gas-producing bacteria seem to have a fairly strong foothold in my kitchen, so with any luck lowering the pH will do the trick - that & stirring.

Joey Moose's picture
Joey Moose

Newcomer here and trying my hand with the starter. Two questions though: Is it okay to use whole-wheat flour instead of rye, and since the tempurature here isn't colder than 77F [air conditioning] what will probably happen?

Joey Moose's picture
Joey Moose

Alright, Day 14 of this confounded starter. I fed it and waited, fed it more and waited. Waited for a few days and very small bubbles appeared. I fed it again and it risen very slightly, so that gave me hope. Not enough hope because it stayed like that for two more days. Yesterday I was knitting in the kitchen when I realized just how warm it was in there.

I should have guessed that, shouldn't I. :\

So, this morning I took half of the starter, fed it 1/4c wheat and 1/8c water, placed it in a clean pyrex measuring cup, and put it in the computer room, where it is always cool and somewhat sunny [with thick curtains on the window]. It was at the 2/3c mark, and now it is a good half-inch past the 1c mark, and it is FILLED with bubbles and smells so yeasty. I consider this as a success.

The question is now, do I consider this as Day 4?

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Joey, I would consider it Day 4. You could probably treat it as Day 5 and be OK, but one more good feeding won't hurt it.

Barmy's picture
Barmy

I made my wild starter using your instructions.  I now have a nice starter that is about 1 year old. 


I am a little confused.  Is a mature starter, one which is has been fed for a recipe and ready to go or just a starter that has a bit of age behind it?


I would like to make the 1,2,3 sourdough but am not sure what "mature" means.  I have some discard which I was wondering if I could just make the recipe up or whether I have to feed it first.


Thank you

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

When a recipe calls for mature starter, it means recently fed starter that is at its peak. Discards are OK for baking where you aren't relying on the starter for rising power (e.g., in pancakes or waffles).

Danai Wangsiri's picture
Danai Wangsiri

Hello gaaarp,


Following yr instuction a week ago, I have my first Pin au Levain made last weekend. I fail three times earlier. My pet is now entering  second week , it is at it maximum growth 2.5 times after 6-8 hours , not more than that. Do I need  to develope further before putting it at maintenane stage ( in the fridge)?


Thanks in advance


Danai

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

If it's more than doubling, it is ready to be put in the fridge.

Danai Wangsiri's picture
Danai Wangsiri

many thanks gaaarp


danai

Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul's picture
Paul Paul Paul ...

Is there some reason for using rye flour in the beginning? I'm not sure if I'm misremembering but doesn't rye have less gluten or something like that? Anyways all I have is AP and bread flour. I made a starter before but i just tossed it because it never grew, even though it bubbled.


 


Thanks.

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Your recollection is correct: rye flour is lower in gluten-producing protein than wheat flour. But that's not why it is used in sourdough starters. Rye flour is also higher in sugars and, possibly, natural yeast than other flours. That's what makes it useful in jump-starting a sourdough starter, and why I often recommend to people to "goose" a sluggish starter with a bit of rye.


You can certainly grow a starter without using rye flour, but in my experience, it's worth investing in a small bag of rye to get your starter going.

Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul's picture
Paul Paul Paul ...

Oh and also I was wondering if you guys knew what temperature range your fridge had to be in in order for it to be suitable for yeast to grow.

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Sourdough starter can survive at nearly any refrigerator or freezer temperature. In fact, one way to preserve a starter that you aren't currently using but don't want to discard is to freeze it.


As far as keeping it active in the fridge, according to Peter Reinhart, a starter will essentially go dormant at temperatures below 40 degrees F.

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

Hi Garp, I am trying your starter here in Thailand where the temperatures are usually in the 80's in my house.  We also have a lot of extra microbe activity here in Southeast Asia.  Do you think my starter will just turn into microbe mush or do you think I will be able to cultivate the yeast starter I am hoping to?  Thanks so much!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I think you'll be OK at that temperature. Keep an eye on your starter, though, as it may develop more quickly than the formula above states. Just be ready to move one when the starter tells you to. Good luck and keep us posted!

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

Thanks soo much for your quick reply!  Yes, it is day 3 and my starter has already tripled so I'm going to halve it.  I'm still kind of scared of what kind of Frankenstein concoction I am making here...but will try it anyway!  :)

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

Everything went fast, as you predicted.  I am on day 5 and it is full of small bubbles but no longer rising.  I am concerned that the high temps of my house (mid 80's) is going to inhibit the growth of yeast & that I'll just be using strange bacterial concotions to feed my family with.  Any thoughts?

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

Last night I put the starter in the refrigerator, but not before I took half out and made an overnight sponge.  In the morning it all looked very bubbly.  I made pancakes and then used a cup leftover to make banana bread.  The pancakes were tasty...interesting color & texture, though.  :)

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

As I think you've proven, it should do fine. Keeping it in the fridge is a good idea, getting it out to bake with and to feed periodically.

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

Thanks for your help & quick replies  :)  My sourdough banana bread was yummy.

Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul Paul's picture
Paul Paul Paul ...

So if starter goes dormant at 40 does that mean that your yeast will no longer expand and bubble? Or does it just retard it even more? If you know what temperature your fridge is at, could you please tell me? I feel like my fridge keeps my doughs from rising, so I could use some professional advice hehe.

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Paul Paul,


I don't know the actual temp of my fridge, but it should be below 40. The ideal temp is between 35 and 38.


The fridge will definitely slow your rising down to a nearly imprerceptible level, at least once the dough is chilled. The dough will rise until it gets down to fridge temp. And the warmer it is going in, the more it will rise. So if you put a fairly warm dough in the fridge and check it after, say, three or four hours, it will have risen considerably. But if you check it the next morning, it may not have changed much.

AK_Home_Baker's picture
AK_Home_Baker

I have been stuck at day 3.5 for three days...i tried a shot of rye flour ...it smells like i think it should ( sour-horrible :) and looks a slight bubbly but hasn't doubled since i started it...I keep it on top of a cupboard inside an insulated lunch box wrapped in a towel, inside a glass jar, covered with cheese cloth...( i live in alaska, my kitchen is never above 65, and can get to 60 during the night. in the winter..summer, its never below 80 :) 


 


I am very close to giving up...help :( 


 


...my only thought is that the distilled spring water i have been feeding it with ( along with AP flour ) has been in the fridge cold...should i let it go to room temp before feeding???

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try this...  see if you can rig something to go into your pocket, your body heat will give it warmth.  Use a zip lock with just a little bit of starter so there is lots of room to expand.  Every 4 hours or so, open the bag and press out most of the air and stick it back into your pocket.  At night it can go back into the cupboard.  During the day carry it around with you if you can.  Good luck!


Mini

AK_Home_Baker's picture
AK_Home_Baker

Thanks

zora.aisling's picture
zora.aisling

Hi, my first try went exactly as it was supposed to, until the last day when I noticed some pink mould growing on the inside of the container.  So, I threw that one out and started over.  The second only lasted three days before there was a layer of water just sitting on top of the starter, and it seemed like the poor thing had drowned.  So I threw that away, and now I'm on try three.


At Day 4 I waited about 60 hours for it to double then added what little rye flour I still had left after all of these tries, and sat down to write you this message.  I don't know if I'm doing something wrong every time (a different wrong each time - I moved the starter from the bench to the cupboard to keep it cooler after the first failure, and have been extra careful about the amount of water I've added since the second failure) or if, perhaps, there's an issue with the ingredients.  I'm in New Zealand, so am wondering if our flour needs more/less hydration than the flour in the US...


HELP!

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

First, mold, unfortunately, happens from time to time. The best way to avoid it is to always use clean utinsils and change your container periodically. When it does occur, there's nothing you can do but start over.


Your second starter was probably OK. The liquid on the top was likely hooch, which forms on starter when it is hungry. Had you stirred it back in and kept going, your starter would likely have been fine.


Depending on your room temperature, cooler might not be better. Starters, especially new ones, like a fairly warm room. Either way, you should be OK; it will just change the timing a bit. I would bet that your third starter is fine. Just stick with it and be patient.


Good luck.

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Hi zora.aisling


Welcome to TFL from another NZer. I'm on Waiheke and got a starter going about a year ago following Debra Wink's method and have made all sorts of delicious bread with it - NZ flour isn't an issue.


I would like to encourage you to read through the two posts below from Debra, her method appears at the bottom of the second post but reading the post through will give you a better idea of what is going on. Patience is a really important ingredient in sourdough making, but I think you may have been a little too patient, waiting so long before feeding your starter. What you saw on the top of your second attempt was actually a layer of alcohol, produced by the starter, we see this when the starter is starting to starve (people here usually refer to it as hooch).


In Debra's method pineapple juice is used in the first few days, to create an environment that is not conducive to the microorganisms in flour we do not want to grow, but is suitable for the yeast and bacteria in the flour that we do want to grow in our starters. I bought a small can of pineapple 'in juice', and used the juice I drained from that to get going. 


You may find reading through all the comments a bit daunting (they will teach you a lot), but please be sure to take note of Debra's recent comments in the second thread, in which she assists another newcomer with looking after the starter once it has been established.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10856/pineapple-juice-solution-part-1


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2


The starter maintenance comments start here:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2#comment-140505


On Paul's site there is also a useful series of photos documenting the use of Debra's method starting with this post:


http://yumarama.com/blog/968/starter-from-scratch-intro/


Don't hesitate to come back with questions, you could start a new topic in the forum. Sourdough is lots of fun, in just a couple weeks you'll have your own bread to enjoy!


Cheers, Robyn


 

zora.aisling's picture
zora.aisling

Thanks for all of the comments, I'm going to try this new fangled patience thing, but I'll update when (notice I said when, not if) it works!  Glad to see someone else from New Zealand on here, I wish I was on Waiheke at the moment, the weather is fantastic for a Waiheke wander!  :-)

zora.aisling's picture
zora.aisling

I think I may just have a successful starter!  After I fed it a bit more of the rye flour it doubled, but as it was the middle of the night, when I got up in the morning it had shrunk back a little.  I waited a few hours to see if it would come up again (have I mentioned I've never done this before?  Now I think that was a silly thought - that it would increase again without feeding...), and when it didn't I said "what the heck, if I don't carry on, I'll end up throwing it out anyway!" and so I carried on.  And it's all lovely and bubbly on top just like in the last picture!  I am going to take some out to bake with and then pop the rest in the fridge.  If anyone is having problems, I'd suggest two things - post on here, and don't expect absolute perfection and for it to look exactly like the photographs!  If it doesn't completely double, but is something like 99% of the way there, just accept it and move on, that kind of thing.  Let's just hope it works for making bread.  So SO excited!!  Thanks again everyone!

rhodriharris's picture
rhodriharris

Hi, just reading about zora.aisling from New Zeland above as i too have recently just started a starter and hope to be making sourdough in a week or so.  I trawled this and other sites to get the knowledge needed in order to get my starter going.  Lots and lots of different ways and water/flour ratios including adding anything from grapes to pineapple juice!  I decided that there was no way that i could follow one persons ideas or any particular recipie (as always) so i took the basics and started there, they said make a paste so i did, 100g flour 200g water, they said feed it every day by taking some out and replacing with fresh water or by doubling the original amount.  I went with doubling as seemed less of a waste of flour so i doubled my small start of amount and again the next day.  On day too it too looked like it was sitting in a puddle of water so i stirred it back in.  On day three it smelt like tuna fish and pretty bad but it was fed anyway (they said it would smell bad and i was happy it did, mmm what flavour this must give to the bread!).  So on day three after  feeding about six hours later it rose by about a third of its volume so i asume on day four it will be double at least and almost ready for another feeding and the fridge. Maybe ill double up again or throw half and feed  again.  Who knows but the main thing is it was so easy to start and make and went like everyone said it would. 


I'm sorry i didnt stick to any one recipie or ratio but i knew that when i came to bake with it i would have to have some idea of how much flour and water the ratio was so i could subtract it from the bread recipie.  I basically added 100g of flour to 200g water so if i weigh the amount of starter and it was 600g for example i would know that 200g was flour and 400g was water. I'm on day four feeding in a few hours so if anyone wants to critisize me and offer any help and guidance especially on my flour water ratios etc i would love to hear from you.  Please don't hold back as i like different opinions and would help me troubleshoot when and if future problems happen.

ggriffi's picture
ggriffi

I started this on Monday night and forgot to add the flour and water last night, so I added it first thing this morning. It has now doubled in about 8 hrs. Is this ok? Should I just wait until tomorrow morning and proceed with step 3? Or should I start step 3 sometime tonight?


 


tia,


g  

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I think either way should be fine. Personally, I'd wait until tomorrow and take it from their.

ggriffi's picture
ggriffi

Thanks much for the quick response! I will wait until the morning

ggriffi's picture
ggriffi

Made a two loaves from a recipe I found and they had a great taste!


Today is the day I plan on feeding my starter but I have a question. I weighed out the starter and its weight (minus container) is 235g. So that is how much flour and water in equal weight that I add? That seems like a lot of flour to add. Should I be throwing a portion out and then weighing? Just don't want to screw it up now that I have a starter!


 


g


 


 

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Glad to hear your starter is working well for you.


Generally, you will want to discard some of your starter before feeding, in order to reduce the amount of flour you are adding and to keep from having an ever-growing volume of stater.


There are lots of things you can do with your discards, from adding it to other bread recipes or pancakes to putting in your compost pile. There are a number of threads here that talk about what people do with their discards if you're interested. I keep such a small amount of starter that I don't feel the least bit guilty tossing it in the trash.

ggriffi's picture
ggriffi

New comment:
| Author: amolitor
| Title: Ratios -


The ratio of water to starter is, however, the same. As we know, making bread
is all about ratios, not about absolute quantities.


It looks like you may have picked up a recipe that was increased by 10%.
Without knowing how much flour there was, we don't know if you hit the right
hydration or not.


 


I followed gaaarps recipe and used 1/4 cup of starter out of it for the two loaves and that was it. I was trying to follow his instructions for feeding where he says 1 to 1 to 1 for a 100% hydration.  

ggriffi's picture
ggriffi

Gaaarp for all the help. And even though the loaves I made were a bit on the "brick" side they had that sour zing I was wanting. So thanks again for this thread and the help.


 


gary

Anjali's picture
Anjali

I would like to try my hand at making a sourdough starter. But I cannot find any rye flour here in India. Do you think the starter can be made using whole wheat flour? Any other suggestion welcome to get it going. Thanks.


 


 

Ford's picture
Ford

Yes you may use whole wheat flour.  I would also try Debra Wink's pineapple solution:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10856/pineapple-juice-solution-part-1

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2



Here is another site for information:


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

I hope these help.


Ford

Anjali's picture
Anjali

Thanks for your prompt reply. I will try it out.


 

ajmalton's picture
ajmalton

Glad to see this thread is still alive, because...


I have a starter which I captured in much the above way, and have used in much the same way too, for a couple of years or more.  It works fine.  It has a fine, healthy smell.  It's vigorous and raises lovely bread.  I feed it 100% whole wheat flour.  If I feed it AP white flour, it basically does nothing.


Since I want to occasionally make "white" bread, from time to time I try to get a starter going which feeds on white flour.   I've tried converting the WW starter to AP white flour -- but it just sits there for days without doing anything. I've also tried three or four times over the years to start from scratch, with various brands of white flour, some organic, some slighlty bleached (with azo), some neither.   In every case it starts OK (goes thru the smelly stage to the waiting-for-the-yeasts-to-catch-hold stage) but gets acetoney and sluggish, never rises more than about 33% before falling, gets very sour, and eventually won't even rise more than a few percent.  I've tried this with long long waits (3 or 4 days) between feedings, and with short waits (8 hours, 12 hours) and with daily feedings on schedule.


It's as though there's something in the flour which inhibits the yeast -- but the pictures here and "all the books" show that white AP flour can be used to feed a starter perfectly well.


Has anyone a similar experience?  Do I need more patience? Or a different kind of flour?

Ford's picture
Ford

Your story does sound strange.  You "should" be able to convert WW starter to "white" starter by simply refreshing the starter with white flour.  I use King Arthur, but any unbleached, unbrominated flour either AP or bread should work.  The yeast and the lactobacteria are there!  The fact that the starter gets sour shows that the bacteria are present.  I also use chlorine free water.  I pass tap water through a carbon filter (Pur or Britta).  My feed ratios are equal parts by weight starter, flour, water.


I suggest you refresh some of that sour starter and make a loaf.  Maybe, the loaf will rise in spite of the appearance of the starter.


Ford

ajmalton's picture
ajmalton

I use Brita filtered water too.  And I feed 1:1:1.  There's azo in some of my flours but no bromate (not allowed in Canada).  I have no doubt that the bacteria are there, but the yeast always loses the race (yeast vs. acid) unless I feed with WW. So it seems.


Well, this weekend I did make a 450g experimental loaf from this sluggish all-white-AP starter: 80% hydration, 100g of pre-ferment, 50g ww flour and the rest organic AP.  Final rise was very slight (20% at most) after 12 hours at around 62F.   Baked very hot (500/450) on stone.  Good oven spring, but finally still too dense for my liking.   From the other starter I regularly make a bread which is only 70% hydration but has 1/4 ww flour by weight (all in the pre-ferment) that that bread is positively fluffy by comparison.

michael p's picture
michael p

Question, and I know this is probably more of an art, than science.  I added the "day three" to a nicely bubbling container, that was at about 3:00 p.m.  It's not even 6 p.m. and it's doubled.  Is that okay? It smells all nasty and sour and delicious, like rotting forest, I almost want to eat it with a spoon!


My apartment is not particularly warm, but I've also been proofing a German rye overnight (in the oven now - yum!) right next to the "beginner" (my name - it's not quite a "starter" yet, eh?).  Plus I'm going out for about 15 hours so I won't be here to monitor


Should I retard it somehow, or let it run it's course?


TIA,


Mike

ggriffi's picture
ggriffi

As I read day 4 above, gaaarp says it must double first, so you may be ok.

honeymustard's picture
honeymustard

The way in which the instructions are given in this recipe are fantastic, I can't wait to give it a go tonight! From a person who loves bread but hasn't yet attempted sourdough, I thank you.

kiwimum's picture
kiwimum

I'm trying to make a starter according to the above directions, however, I'm also a New Zealander and it's the middle of winter here, our houses are renowned for being uninsulated, under-heated and generally not cut out for being comfortable in cold temps!  I have my starter in the hot water cupboard which would be slightly warmer than out on the counter - it might get to 14-15 deg C (around 60 something degrees Fahrenheit I guess?) in there.  I just can't find anywhere else to put it that's warmer - and I'm on day 4 of my second starter and no rising as yet.  Any suggestions?  :)

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Hi KiwiMum

Welcome to TFL.

Yes, significantly colder morning where I am today! When I bake I do make use of my hot water cupboard, using a thermometer to choose just the right spot. But I keep my starter on my counter beside the back of the fridge, there's enough warmth coming from there. You might find the top of your fridge/or similar will be OK once you have the starter established, but for now as you get going with a new starter you might be better to think of it like keeping a new born lamb in your kitchen! Possibilities include a wrapped hot water bottle inside a chilly bin, topped up regularly. Or if you have a Easiyo yogurt maker (or similar) you could use warm (NOT hot) water and change it every 8 hours or so. Many on TFL suggest using the oven with the light on or microwave with a cup of boiling water, but I want access to them and of course there is the risk of 'cooking' the starter. Think of what you could do to create an environment somewhere in the range 18-25°C (eg near the computer, under a low wattage lamp; they say old timers would keep their starters close to their own skin for warmth!) 

I would strongly recommend a kitchen thermometer - I bought mine, a Salter one with a metal probe and a digital readout at Briscoes when I was in the city on one of those random days when they have 30% off everything in the store. Not only for keeping an eye on the temperature for your starter but also when it comes to bulk fermenting/proofing your bread, in our 'cold' homes it helps a lot to learn where the warm spots are on any given day. It's possible to make wonderful bread without getting too carried away in equipment terms, but I do think that a kitchen scale and a thermometer make a difference for me. Of course it's possible to work without a thermometer, just need to go with the (cold) flow and work with the dough as it reaches each stage of its development.

btw I'm on Waiheke, where are you? 

Cheers, Robyn

kiwimum's picture
kiwimum

Hi Robyn. Thanks so much for your suggestions.  I can't get anything behind/on top of the fridge unfortunately, so I might have to give that a miss.   I'm desperately searching for a warm place in the house...might have to do as you suggest and buy a kitchen thermometer, I have a feeling it will confirm all my worst fears though!   I'm in Hamilton.   :)

thomaschacon75's picture
thomaschacon75

The room with the hot water heater works for me when I'm actively maintaining one. I put the starter near or on top of the hot water heater.

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Hi again

Often built-in fridges have cupboards above them, should this be the case suggest you check its temperature.

You'll find TFL a wonderful resource - make good use of the search box as there is a wealth of information in the archives. It's also fun reading right through the posts of TFL contributors whose bread appeals to you.

When I visit the Waikato I like to drop into a Bin Inn, for a good range of ingredients hard to find elsewhere (cracked rye & so on). Akl ones are in Browns Bay and Orewa, don't go that way so often.

Look forward to hearing of your progress.

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Hi kiwimum

I began my starter a few years ago in the middle of winter, when the kitchen temps were around 14-18C. I had a couple of false starts, and was starting to think the cold temperatures were responsible. However, with the online guidance of an experienced SD baker and a good online tutorial, I managed to get a lively starter up and running, and it's still with me a few hundred bakes later!

The key, for me, was switching to a premium quality wholegrain organic rye flour as a 30% component of my starter feeder flour (the rest being plain white flour). I had previously been using 30% refined white(ish) flour and which was glue-like when mixed up with white flour and water. This switch made all the difference. The cold ambient temps did slow the progress of the starter development. Mine took about 14 days to reach baking ripeness, whereas starters begun in warmer temps can take much less time than this.

Robyn's excellent suggestions will doubtless hasten the development of your starter, but just thought I'd share my experience with you as a reassurance that starters can thrive in cold temps without taking warming measures. Sometimes, it's good to have a precedent as reassurance.

Here's to your first SD bake!
Ross

kiwimum's picture
kiwimum

Thanks Ross!  I'm still storing mine in the hot water cupboard to try and get it to 'come to life'.  I used stoneground whole wheat flour for the first feed for my starter, then white AP as described above...maybe the key now is just waiting, waiting, waiting?  And not too much watching (I'm obsessed with trying to 'see' it grow LOL) 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

If I'd kept track of exactly what I did when to the starter I got going about a week ago, there would be a nice write-up here complete with times. But I didn't. So I can't really do that. However, I can tell you that the first loaf of bread (that will likely be less than sour due to the very, very young age of my starter) is getting its bulk ferment right now. It's a tiny, tiny loaf of 75g starter, 150g water, and 230g flour. I keep my starter at 100%, so that means that the dough was 70% or so hydration. It's going to be the cutest little loaf.

This is the third time I've used this method with success. Yay for success!

kiwimum's picture
kiwimum

I left the starter in the microwave oven last night with the light on in there. Checked this morning, STILL no rise.  Beginning to think I should just give up for now and try again in summer!

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Goodmorning

Don't give up yet. Patience is a really important 'ingredient' when it comes to sourdough bread baking. Sometimes it takes longer for a starter to get developed, it's a matter of hanging in there and providing good conditions for the bugs you do want to get a thriving colony established.  

Ross' suggestion of using some wholegrain flour (rye or wheat) as food for the starter is a good recommendation. There are more of the 'bugs' we are trying to encourage to grow present on these, than on white flour. Even if you don't plan to make wholegrain breads, the tiny amount you would introduce into your bread from a starter fed with a small portion of wholegrain will not influence the bread. (In fact many people making essentially white sourdough find a very small amount of whole grain flour a really worthwhile addition, the dough is lively and flavour enhanced without being overpowered)

What's your water like? Is it high in chlorine? I really notice the chlorine odour in reticulated water when visiting friends and family because I'm on tank water, nevertheless I do successfully maintain my starter with their water.. If this is the source of the problem and as you are only a few days into the exercise it might be worth trying again, this time with either some bottled water or with some water that you have taken from the tap and left to sit for a day or two to allow the chlorine to dissipate. To test this you would be better to start afresh as your current mix may have been affected. I would feed both the current one with the usual water and a 'chlorine-free' water one, as there is a good chance that in a few days with some TLC  (some warmth and a some wholegrain flour) your current starter will suddenly seem bursting with life, and if that happens you won't have to worry about fussing with getting rid of chlorine.

To learn about what is going on when you develop a starter, it well worth reading through Debra Wink's material (and added comments) on TFL:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10856/pineapple-juice-solution-part-1

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10375/lactic-acid-fermentation-sourdough

She makes many useful comments in this thread:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/14913/very-liquid-sourdough 

This is a lot to read but you may be able to relieve some of your Mum-of-new-starter anxiety.

Cheers, Robyn

 

kiwimum's picture
kiwimum

Hi Robyn (and all)

Yes, our water is chlorinated, I never notice how strong it is because I'm used to it!  Does this really make a big difference?  I have been using wholewheat flour and white, and yesterday I tried a 'booster' of a couple tablespoons of WW flour mixed with a little water to try and get things going with the starter again.  It's back in the hot water cupboard now...being pampered with a warm wheatbag underneath, a towel wrapped round it, so it's nice and warm.  And it HAS actually RISEN by about a centimetre...which is huge progress and I am very excited!  It seems to have formed a crust on top though, should I scrape this off or just wait until it rises a bit more?  Do I still wait until it doubles to do the Day 4 additions?  Thanks.  :)

Andrew P.'s picture
Andrew P.

Yes, it does make a big difference.  Chlorine is added to water to kill microorganism.  Yeast and lactobacilli in sourdough starter are microorganisms.  Chlorinated water kills yeasts and lactobacilli.

You can boil your water to evaporate the chlorine and let it cool down before using it, or buy a jug or two of purified water — distilled, reverse osmosis filtered, or chlorine-free spring water — for your sourdough experiments.  If your local tap water is very hard, or if it comes from a water softener, you may also want to avoid using it, even after de-chlorination.

kiwimum's picture
kiwimum

Back to square one this morning it seems.  I checked my starter (which is on maybe day 7 or 8 of its 'life'), it had been in the hot water cupboard all night with a warm wheatbag/hot water bottle type thing, with a towel wrapped round it. Yesterday it rose maybe 50%, but this morning it had separated, no rise, with a layer of nasty smelling liquid on top.  I stirred this back in (was that right?).  What to do now?  Just keep waiting and hoping?  No more feeding til it rises, right?

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