The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Liquid Levain petered out

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xaipete's picture
xaipete

Liquid Levain petered out

My liquid levain was going great gun while I had it out on the counter and was feeding it twice a day. I wasn't planning on using it for a week so I put it in the fridge. I took it out yesterday and refreshed it; it rose only a little and had a bunch of liquid in it. I stirred the liquid in, but it is refusing to grow. Any idea what is going on and what I should do from here?


--Pamela

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Pamela.


It sounds like your liquid levain is really pissed off at you for neglecting to feed it for a week. It's probably famished.


I really think you are okay if you go through 2-3 feeding cycles more. As far as I know, the development of hooch (the liquid on top) always means the levain needs more food.


For future reference, if you are not going to be using your starter for a week or more, you might be better off fattening it up in preparation for hibernation. Like the bears do. What I mean is, convert your liquid levain (100% - 125% hydration, I assume) to a firm levain (50-60% hydration), ferment it for an hour or less, then refrigerate it. Then, when you are back and ready to bake again, convert it back into a liquid levain.


David

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I don't even think it was a whole week that I left it in the fridge. I just got tired of starter-sitting one night or maybe it was the wine that caused me to shove the thing in the fridge. I refreshed everything yesterday including my rye sour (or whatever it is called) and all were happy but this one. I could just make another, but, for an experiement, I'll see if a little time in the intensive care unit will bring it back. Thanks for the information.


--Pamela

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

xaipete's picture
xaipete

and a really touchy runt at that. --Pamela

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

I had exactly the same experience with refrigerating liquid levain. It does come back after a few feedings but  just one night in the refrigerator was enough to make mine get really sluggish and 'split'. 


David has the right idea - better to use a stiffer levain for refrigeration, methinks.


--FP


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Glad to know. Thanks.


--Pamela

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I never have kept my white or rye  levain anywhere but in the fridge. they get out 1x week and gets fed 2x at that is that. Doubles in an hour and sometimes triples in an hour. It is 100 % hydration. Maybe it is just what it gets used to...house temp...strain in that batch since you say all others are great. I would try for a day or two and then just concentrate on the ones that are working. Just my experience of course. c

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I'll let you know how it works out. Thanks a lot.


--Pamela

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Pamela, like you, I have the little containers in the refer--WW, rye, and white starters. A friend just back from the SFBI says that you can convert any starter by feeding it for a couple of days with the kind of flour you want to bake with. I had been under the impression that certain strains worked better on WW, etc.


Anyone know about this? I hate to throw away the specific starters if I need them, but it would be handy to just feed one. They actually smell and taste different.


Thanks,


Patricia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

convert every thing into one. No doubt this is the way to go! But I just wanted to experiment a little. And, I've decided that it is asking too much of me (too impractical) to keep more than one or two of these containers around in spite of the fact that I might be able to garner some slight improvements as a result in whatever I bake. It is just too much work feeding these containers. One is all I can handle.


--Pamela

Prairie19's picture
Prairie19

I've always had good results keeping my liquid levain in the refrigerator and feeding it every week or so.  I think the longest it has gone between feedings is 14 days.


I started it about 2 years ago using the method in Jeffrey Hammelman's Bread (125% hydration).  As soon as it was strong enough to raise a good loaf, I kept the remainder refreshed starter (about 60 grams) in the refrigerator (about 40 degrees Fahrenheit).  At first there was some amount of hooch formed, but now, there is practically none.


When I refresh my starter to bake, I always use water that has first been boiled and then cooled to slightly more than body temperature, let it work for 8 to 10 hours,  and then store the remaining starter in a spotlessly clean jar.


If your starter was kept at room temp for a long time,  could it be that there is a fundamental difference between refrigerated and non-refrigerated starters?


Prairie 19

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I think mine was just too young to refrigerate. It seems fine now.


--Pamela