The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Overactive Starter

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Djehuty's picture
Djehuty

Overactive Starter

I'd been worrying about my sourdough starter, because after four days it hadn't really done anything.  Then, overnight, it woke up and bubbled and frothed.  So I fed it according to the directions for the last stage of a "seed culture" in Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.  It woke up even more, and had nearly doubled by 6:00 yesterday evening.  So I put 100g of it in my King Arthur Flour sourdough crock, and fed it 200g each of flour and water.


And Frankenstein's monster awoke!


Three hours later, it had more than doubled, and was nearly at the top of the crock.  So I stirred it to degas it, and left it.  Shortly before midnight, I checked in on it, and it had more than doubled again, and had overflowed slightly.  I cleaned up, degassed it again, and left it.  About 2:30 in the morning, I looked in on it again, and it had grown so much that it overflowed and made a sizeable (and very gooey) puddle on the counter!  I cleaned up again, discarded some of it, and left it, and this morning it had once again grown nearly to the top of the crock.  I discarded all but 100g, and gave it a 1:1:1 feeding, and so far it hasn't (yet) gone mad.


Is this normal?  Was this because it's a young starter, and thus overactive?  Or is it contaminated with something that makes it go into overdrive?


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Your starter sounds like it is acting just like it is suppose to. Did you use the pineapple juice? You may be experiencing yeast growth at this point because it is so new. Just keep following the various phases. You can repeat the final phase without any harm. It just takes times for everything to settle down.


--Pamela

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Your starter is doing what it is supposed to do. It doesn't sound overactive at all---just healthy. But it does sound like its shoes are too tight ;-)  You need a container that is 4x the volume of your refreshed starter.

Djehuty's picture
Djehuty

Thanks, that's good to know. :)  Today I was beginning to worry because it isn't going mad.  I thought, if what it did last night is normal, then I must have killed it!


It has calmed down quite a bit.  It hasn't quite doubled after its last feeding, a bit less than four hours ago.  There are a few bubbles, though, so it must still be alive and percolating.


 

marieJ's picture
marieJ

Well done!  Sounds like you are experiencing the lovely mix of thrill and uncertainty that is inherent to the process - obsessive or otherwise - of creating your first sourdough starter!  Well done!  Feels great, doesn't it!


Your posts on this lovely website sound exactly like me when I first started. :-)


I agree with our fellow afficionados that the response you've had from your starter is wonderful, dramatic and something we all hope & strive for. I'm certain, from my own experiences, that you will never look back from here. Don't be afraid to experiement a little with water and flour ratios. From this point on, your starter is so healthy and active the variations in flour & water quantities will only mean a differnce in speed of proofing, or 'rising', and flavour. It won't mean death to your starter. If you are baking only once a week, like I do, I would keep your new starter in the fridge and before you start your baking process, whether it be a 2 day or same day process, take some out and place it into a bowl at room temp once you start this process.  I have never had a starter go 'off', but from other people's questions and advice, it appears that it may do.  I feel that if you do decide to keep all your starter at room temp, you'll need to feed it at least daily to keep the balance of good yeast & bacteria healthy to stave off any bad ones that me enjoy this temperature. 


Also, don't be afraid to experiment with your first loaves. Just keep baking and baking and you will learn very quickly what conditions your culture is happy with.  I don't measure anything anymore.  I have developed a feel for it and thoroughly enjoy my sourdoughs and the whole 'culture' that goes along with it.


Well done, and good luck!!!!!!


Cheers!


 


 

Djehuty's picture
Djehuty

Unfortunately, it seems the mad overactivity was just youthful enthusiasm.  My starter has quieted down to a much more sedate pace... so sedate that I'm considering calling for a crash-cart.  It's in the fridge now, but even before refrigerating it wasn't doing much of anything.  And my first attempt at making bread from it is being very slow.  It was out all day today, and for most of the day it seemed dead.  It rose a little bit, maybe gaining 25% in volume, but then I had to toss it in the fridge lest it go off overnight.


Have I killed my starter?  If so, how?  I've been careful to feed it twice daily while it was out on the countertop.


 

marieJ's picture
marieJ

.....any bad ones that me (MAY) enjoy this temperature.