The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

P.Reinharts WGB starter questions...

DanOMite's picture

P.Reinharts WGB starter questions...

Tuesday night I mixed together the ingredients for P.Reinharts WGB starter(I used orange juice instead of pineapple) giving it one quick aeration/stiring before bed. To my surprise I already had quite a bit of bubbles and a mild yeasty smell coming from my starter wednesday morning and by afternoon quite a bit of rising as well, once again stiring it up 3x a day as perscribed by P.R. Thursday morning I came down and I had quite a bit of fluid at the top of my starter and a vinegar-esque smell. so my questions are....

1. Is the vinegar smell I listed normal?
2. Is the liquid at the top normal? I want to assume this is "hooch" but I figured I should ask
3. If I mixed it up tuesday night, should I be proceeding to the next step/phase in the book tonight(thursday) or would it be friday night??

This is my first time doing starter and I just want to make sure I'm getting the right idea. This is quite fun and exciting for me :)

I appreciate your help and time everyone, love this site..:)


xaipete's picture

I think everything you are experiencing is normal. Move to the next phase/stage. Often you get a flurry of activity in the beginning but then as things settle down they slow way down for a while. Just keep plugging along and in less than 2 weeks you'll have your starter. NB: do not abandon it because you think it isn't working in a few days. It really might take 2 weeks.


Ford's picture

I very much doubt that anything is wrong.  Vinegar odor is good.  At this point the starter is 200% hydration, and separation of the flour from the water is to be expected.  Just whisk it and go to the next step.



DanOMite's picture

I walk away for a few hours and I've got responses!! Everyones so helpful here its wonderful.

I went ahead an proceeded on to phase two. I asked those questions just to make sure, even though I was pretty sure everything was going just fine. I have been doing alot of reading about wild yeast cultures and what not over the past week but I just thought i'd check.

Also I have a couple other questions....

how do you feel sourdough has on whole grain breads in general, I've heard some people say it helps the texture out a bit. opinions??

also how about peoples experiences in firm vs. wet starter in the matter of how sour....I've read many conflicting opinions on this....I'm definitely looking for a more mild flavor and not an overwelming intense tang....just a subtle hint...

once again can't wait to hear from ya guys :)

flournwater's picture

I certainly agree with the comments previously written.  My first batch of that starter, now several months old and working well, took almost six weeks to reach the point that I felt it was where it needed to be.  Not that I didn't use it before six weeks had passed; it was lively enough to use but hadn't developed the flavor I had expected.  At about that six week point I was better pleased with what I had made.  I found it to be quite mildly sour and, even though I would like it to develop a deeper sourness, my family prefers it the way it is so I'm not going to push the envelope.

I used it for the first time with whole wheat flour last week and was amazed, truly amazed, at the degree of rise I got during fermentation and how the oven spring was half again what I had exprienced previously with white wheat flours.  I'm not sure what the food science explanation is for that, perhaps someone else can help explain it, but I was not unhappy with the results.

DanOMite's picture

hey guys thanks for keeping up with me

At this time i'm kinda stuck on phase 3....i fed it friday night and it was already even begining to bubble a little before i hit the sack, saturday morning it looked frothy and I was going to feed it but I had to wait a little stayed in the kitche and my mom had the ceiling fan on and for whatever reason there seems to be no activity now....i've been stirring it as perscribed and I've got nothing....the smell of that vinegar/yeasty smell is almost completely gone too...

do you think it needs to be fed??
or should I wait until theres more activity again??

anxiously look forward to hearing your opinions :)

DanOMite's picture

I fed it and its slowly starting to show signs of life again.  I marked the small plastic jar i'm keeping it in to see when its doubled about so I can go ahead and move on the the next phase... making the mother starter

its so fun and interesting!

DanOMite's picture

amazing how quick this stuff sprung back....after giving it about 4-5 hours it already doubled in size and was ready to be made into the mother starter...and I did just that...its now sitting in a round plastic tub and is marked...I can't believe that by the middle of the this week I'm gonna be able to make the rye hearth  meteil recipe from the WGB book...

this is so exciting...Its going sooo much better than I had planned, I know so many people have issues getting their starter going so this is quite a pleasant surprise.