The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does this look more like it's supposed to?

KenB's picture
KenB

Does this look more like it's supposed to?

A couple of days ago I posted an introductory tale of woe related an unfortunate experience I had with PR's wild-yeast starter in BBA. I don't know how to properly describe the first batch, but suffice to say it didn't work like it was supposed to. I threw out the first batch and started another. Below is what it looks like three-quarters way through Day 2:


Day 2 BBA starter


Note that it has doubled in about 18 hours, even though PR says it may not show much rise in the second day. I'm a rank beginner with starters; can anyone tell me by looking at the photo whether it's working too fast, or are things on the right track?


Ken

xaipete's picture
xaipete

It's not working too fast; it's just working. Make sure you follow the instructions about avoiding and/or overcoming the dreaded "leucostat (sp?) bacteria. It takes time to get the starter going (probably at least a week).


--Pamela

KenB's picture
KenB

Patient I shall be, then. It's nice here today; such weather always inspires Yoda mode . . .

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Wow, that looks big on day two.  Mine didn't rise that high until day 11.  But again, I live in NW Canada and it's cold and dry here.  The temperature and humidity could make a big difference. 

KenB's picture
KenB

I thought it looked big too, but that's one of the reasons why I posted the photo. As for cold and dry, I've seen other discussions on the site regarding altitude, but these discussions were inconclusive, I thought, about humidity. We're at about 3700 feet altitude here; the normal humidity is bone-dry. Spring is always a struggle around here. Temperatures will stay on the cooler side (daytime fifties and low sixties) until mid-May, punctuated by days in the seventies (such as we had yesterday).


Now this morning, it's pouring rain. The weather forecast says it will get cold enough to snow Tuesday evening. The starter is in its third day, and while it has risen since I fed it last night, it's not going gangbusters the way it did in its second day. The weather during the period when I made the first ill-fated starter was best described as early-March-miserable, windy cold (daytime highs in the forties) and dry.


The weather appears to have something to do with it, then. Maybe I should wait until things even out in May. I can remember in past years, during warm May months, kneading a yeasted dough and feeling it grow beneath my hands as I worked it, as if it couldn't wait to expand.

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

that the growth you're getting is the one that they warn about if you get a really bubbly response on the second day. I would suggest going to one of the educational blogs on sourdough here and checking it out.


Good luck!


Patricia

hoek59's picture
hoek59

I agree with Pamela, it looks great!  It's working and I wouldn't worry about how fast either.  When you refrigerate it later, it will settle down.  I just finished my mother and will start using it very soon.


--Kevin

SulaBlue's picture
SulaBlue

You're not the only one worried about an over-active starter!


 


I started my Rye seed culture per Reinhart's method yesterday around 10pm or so. It was very dry and paste-like. Well, this afternoon I did the Day 2 addition, and it became slightly more maleable. That was around 3:30 pm. Now here it is 11:15 and despite Reinhart's statement that I would likely see only a 50% rise, It's doubled and I'm truly concerned it might creep up out of the container if it keeps going!


It's very, very dry here (desert-like conditions almost this year!) and rather warm. The house is around 78F. I'm fairly certain that nothing could have contaminated the culture (other than the flour itself being contaminated) as we'd just did spring cleaning, which included cleaning the kitchen with a bleach solution. I cleaned the bowl, utensils and container that my starter went in with a quick bleach/water rinse as well so I'm not too worried - other than having visions of The Blob!

executor's picture
executor

... And very active. From what you have there I usually start developing a solid barm instead of the sponge, so I keep all the starter. For me it is easier to work in this way.

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

If it smells good and not funky, that's a good sign. I just mentioned the possibility of picking up something undesirable (that's a scientific term) because I did. I kept discarding and feeding and finally it settled down. It didn't smell like something that would be good to eat for awhile.


Executor, will you talk more about a solid barm please? I have used a 100% hydration starter for most things.


Thank you!


Patricia

KenB's picture
KenB

It's a little calmer now, especially since the weather has turned cold and windy (in fact, there's a weather advisory today here because of the wind and cold). But it smells good; after taking a whiff, my wife said it reminds her of the smell of San Francisco sourdough.


Thanks, everyone, for all the comments and advice. I'll take it to the next step.

executor's picture
executor

Hi Patricia, Some times I have to bake a lot of Sourdough, so I have to have a lot of starter ready to be used, but a sponge like starter is a little hard to keep in this case, because sooner or later one have to get rid of a lot of starter or simply it becomes a nasty mess due to the big amount you finally get. So instead of a sponge like starter I use a Biga like starter, that works exactly the same as the sponge but is easier to keep. In order to do this I first start with a sponge using a 100% hydration, and feed it every day, but after 4 days I usually increase the amount of flour so the hydration decreases to 65%. Then I just feed my barm every 4 days by replacing a 50% of the barm with 50% fresh dough or symply adding 100% fresh dough if I'm running low of starter. This dough should have three times its original size after 4 days in the refrigerator, and smell a little between sour and something like glue. As leavener agent this starter is powerful and fast. I keep mine in two boxes in the refrigerator, so it is easy to have total control over temperature, fermentation and time. When I'm planning not to use it for a long time I just roll it in a plastic bag and then freeze it. In order to make bread I use a 50% of this barm in relation to the flour, and the bread is wonderfull and is not as sour as when the sponge is used. My starter is now one year and a half old =)


Please, just let me know if you need more information.


Esteban.

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Thanks, Esteban.


This is very useful information.


Patricia

nijap's picture
nijap

My starter initially showed bubbly surface when I made it few months ago.  Now, it is not as bubbly but accumulkates brownish liquid at the top even when I refregerate it.  It also has pronounced sour smell.  Granted that I have not been feeding flour unless I plan to make bread, that may be one reason for no activity and the liquid on the top.


Last few days I have started to freeze it when I do not need it.  Am  I on the right track or not doing what I am supposed to?


nijap

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Actually more than one way.  It's full of living organisms that need to be fed and cared for.  Ignoring them brings certain peril.  It may not be too late.


Mini

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I had prepared my two starters for a long refrigeration by adding lots (and I mean lots) of flour to them.   Last night, after 1 1/2 months, I carefully cut them open and removed the porous gooey center of each, about one teaspoon.   They got beaten with a little water and flour and I set them out overnight (covered) to (live long and prosper) grow.  


Today they are happy and foamy and maturing. :)  I will use them and save a tablespoon of each adding water and flour to form a firm starter.  Then put the newly fed firm starters directly into the refrigerator for a longer time 1 - 3 weeks.  They will not develop hooch in this time because they have enough flour and they are slow to mature in the cold temperatures.   (Ready to use in about 6 days)


The starters that I will use today are just small amounts so I will have to add more water and flour if I want a decent amount of starter for bread dough.  That means my starters gets refreshed or fed twice before being plugged into recipes.   Both are already at about 100% hydration.  If I can't use them in a recipe today, I can put them into the fridge for a maximum of 3 days only.  Otherwise I will have to reduce them to smaller amounts and feed again at room temp, letting them mature to maintain a high amount of potency. 


Hooch on the starter is a sign that the starter organisms have used up the food in the flour, produced a waste product (for them) and are dying.  They need more food to prevent death.


Freezing an already hooched starter is a sure way to kill them.  It might be better to dry the starter first, then freeze if you like.  That way the organisms have a better chance of survival, they have more time to revert into a spore state.  Drying hootched starter is also risky, better to remove a small part, feed and let it partially mature, then dry,  the starter will mature also while it is drying.


Mini


 

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

As I understand it, you're saying that you can refrigerate a well-developed starter for three days (and then use it by bringing it to room temperature)?


I have two happy, well-adjusted starters, one ww, one French style, not too sour. They give me great pleasure, and I wind up adding them for flavor to almost everything even if it's not a sourdough recipe. I also make straight sourdough bread, some lately with buttermilk and half ww. The past couple of days, I've put the discard from both starters together and built loaves from that. It's fun to play with sourdough and get the hang of it. It's like a difficult but loveable teenager for me at the moment.


Thanks,


Pat

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


As I understand it, you're saying that you can refrigerate a well-developed starter for three days (and then use it by bringing it to room temperature)?



Yes, a cold mature starter (but not too mature) can just be added straight into the loaf ingredients, like a 1-2-3 recipe.  Three days is pushing it but it can be done. 


The ingredients warm it up and I must add from my experience today, that the dough is very fast too.  (I also used warm water.)  I thought I had more time but ended up with an overproofed loaf, darn.  I mixed up a loaf today and 8 hours, with a bulk proof and folds, banneton and rise, was just too long.  It just got away from me,  should have had it in the oven sooner especially as it was mostly whole wheat.  I'm not used to WW.  


The loaf is very sour and flat as a frisbee but tastes great!  I will bag it for the night and in the morning cut paper thin slices to dry as crackers.  And who knows?  Maybe they will find their way into another loaf....  God forbid they go stale or I forget to chew anything long enough. 


Mini


Now after cutting it I realize it just didn't have the gluten structure to hold itself up.  The crumb looks fine, half the loaf is eaten, half is sliced and drying...Flat ww/rye sourdough drying for crackers


While baking it tore completely around the top and just flattened out in a rolling motion.  The white banneton edges apear under the loaf as well.  If I had scored it, it would be flatter.  If I do it again, bread form not free form.


Mini


 

nijap's picture
nijap

Thanks MINI.  I did not realise hooch was indication of trpoble ahead.  I read somewhere that it is nothing to worry about.  I believe now I know what the problem is.  Thanks again.


 


nijap