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I need some help troubleshooting my spongy crumb...

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Chode's picture
Chode

I need some help troubleshooting my spongy crumb...

Hi, 


I'm quite new to this, and really happy I found this site. My starter is about a month old and I'm having some problems with a dense kind of spongy crumb on the loaves I am baking. I'm hoping someone can make some suggestions so I can get a better result.


Some background:


I feed my starter about every 3-4 days (kept in the fridge), and I feed it a 1:1 ratio of BF/cold water. 


The starter shows signs of life, but doesn't double per say in the fridge. It does show bubbles on the sides of the container and on the top -- so I think it's doing OK.  About 2 weeks ago my starter looked really inactive so I gave it a boost by adding a packet of red star dry active yeast to it. I've made several loaves of bread since then -- and the ones I made immediately following the introduction of the DAY had the best rise but the worst taste (not like sourdough at all, but like white bread).


Since then I've baked at least 4-5 loaves of bread, so I think my wild yeast is starting to take back over. It has a more sour smell to than before, and the bread has plenty of rise.


My routine:


I use 500g starter, 300g bread flour, 91g of water and 16g of kosher salt when baking a loaf.  I mix this in a KA mixer with a dough hook for about 1.5--2 minutes and proof for two hours. I form a loaf without punching it down, by gathering the sides of the ball together to make a smooth round loaf and proof another hour. I'm baking it 15M at 450F, covering it with foil (my oven has a lot of hot spots) baking another 15 minutes at same temp, then basting it with clarified butter and baking at 400F for another 30M.


The crumb seems weird -- hard to explain but it is sort of dense even though there are lots of uneven sized holes in it. Spongy almost. Not entirely pleasant to eat. Not bad, but not the same thing I've experienced with loaves purchased from a bakery.


Any suggestions would be appreciated! (thanks in advance to any readers/replies)


PS: Here's a picture of the bread loaves themselves. Picture of the crumb below.



Crumb


Poolish Starter

clazar123's picture
clazar123

First of all, I would grow another starter.There is a LOT of info on this site as to how todo that. There is even a handbook (look at the top to the right of Forum/Lessons).


Second,the recipe seems very starter heavy. I use about 1/2 cup (150 g)of 100% by weight starter.Using 500g starter and 300 g flour seems like a backward ratio.


Third, bread flour is high gluten and will normally give a chewier texture than AP flour.Try a brand name AP,unbleached flour and see if the texture is closer to what you want.


Fourth, rising dough til double with sourdough usually takes a lot longer than commercial yeast to give a good distibution of air bubbles.It can take 4-12 hours or more so I don't think you are properly rising the dough.That is one reason for the thick,chewy texture.Sourdough takes time.And since you are not either stretch and folding or punching down to re-distribute the air bubbles,thecrumb is irregular and probably thick or gummy in some places.


I love sourdough but I do use a little commercial yeast when I don't have time for a long rise but I'm talking only  1/4 to 1 tsp per batch of 1-2 loaves.


Take a look through this site,esp in the Lessons and the new handbook section.There is much to learn and some to unlearn. Start out with a basic French Bread while you are waiting for your new starter to grow.Get the feel for what dough should feel like. Try double rising,rising til it falls,stretch and folding,hand mixing-ie all different things -so you can see how it changes the outcome.It is a process and sometimes it tastes good and sometimes you make bricks for birdfood.


Bread-very simple-very complex.

Chode's picture
Chode

Thanks for your reply. 



Fourth, rising dough til double with sourdough usually takes a lot longer than commercial yeast to give a good distibution of air bubbles.It can take 4-12 hours or more so I don't think you are properly rising the dough.That is one reason for the thick,chewy texture.Sourdough takes time.And since you are not either stretch and folding or punching down to re-distribute the air bubbles,thecrumb is irregular and probably thick or gummy in some places.



I've also tried proofing the loaves in the fridge for up to 36 hours with somewhat better, but similar results.  Do you typically proof your loaf 4-12 hours at room temperature?


I was under the impression that if I proofed it too long at room temp that it would run out of gas and I'd end up with a manhole cover.


I was also under the impression that If I fold/knead the loaf after the initial proof I would be building a lot of gluten and making the bread chewy and tough.


You've given me a lot to try here. 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

If you are using bread flour,you already have a lot of gluten.


I let my dough rise til double (for most doughs) or I stretch and fold 2-4 times with about 1-2 hours in between each. Sometimes I mix the dough up and then put it in a covered container in the refrig overnight.It rises some or a lot,depending on the dough.I then take it out and let it warm up for a while before I do 1 or 2 stretch and folds before shaping and final rise beofre baking.


Here is something I wrote for another person recently-it may be useful for you now.She was talking about bread texture that was crumbly but the basic description of what bread is may be helpful.


"What makes a slice of bread hold together to support sandwich fixins is a stringy,moist,flexible gluten and starch web(like a net) that was used to trap CO2bubbles from the yeast and expand when rising and then set in place when baked.If you have a lot of these strands, the bread can be chewy and dense. If you have just a few, they are very tender (like a cake).If they are dry/brittle or have sharp objects imbedded in them (like dry bran), it weakens them-even if there are a lot of them- and they crumble.The trick to any bread recipe is to achieve enough moist,strong,flexible gluten strands to trap the CO2 without breaking too easily or being too tough. Technique in handling these ingredients is AS important as the ingredients. Anybody can make gluten-just mix flour and water-if gluten capability is present, the strands form on their own. Kneading exposes more flour to more water and more gluten forms (or the gluten strands moisturize more). Doesn't mean more kneading is always a good thing.Depends on the texture of the bread you are trying to achieve.


The bakers that have gone before us figured out some good methods of dealing with all this.Sometimes the reasons were passed down and sometimes we just learned a rote method without understanding the process. Every loaf made the same way.I have been on a journey to learn about making bread this last year and have learned a lot. Mostly I've had to UNlearn a lot."


 


Hope that is helpful.


 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

The bread in the pictures is underproofed by a quite a bit.  Sourdough can take a long time to ferment and proof.


Jeff

Chode's picture
Chode

 @Jeff,



The bread in the pictures is underproofed by a quite a bit.



How can you tell by looking at the picture? I'm hoping to learn what you are looking at/for that is the tell for this.


How long do you proof a loaf at room temp?



Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

It was a combination of reading your recipe and doubting that you had fermented/proofed long enough for sourdough, your taste comment of "dense" bread, and then seeing the picture that shows a crumb that looks tight, possibly moist,  and dense.


You ferment and then proof sourdough until it is fully fermented and then fully proofed.  I know that sounds circular and unclear but it is the answer.  The dough will tell you not the clock.  It would be rare for a sourdough to rise in the time frame you describe.  Sourdough behaves very differently depending on how you have stored and fed the starter.  It is then further affected by recipe proportions, mixing temperatures, and ambient temperatures.  I have had final proofs that lasted from 2-8 hours depending upon all of the aforementioned factors.


There is a lot of great information about sourdough on this site.  Search through the forums and see what you can find.  Much of it is quite technical and not nececssary for your current questions.  I say this so that you are not overwhelmed by the information.  One need not be a chemist or microbiologist to make great sourdough bread but if those areas of study interest you, the information is here for the reading.


What you need to know most right now is how to tell when sourdough, or any dough, is fully proofed.


Jeff

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Change your starter feeding routine.  Feed it one part starter (a tablespoon) 4 parts water and 5-6 parts flour.  You can also us AP flour.  Leave it out on the counter 20°c or 70°F for at least 5 hours before refrigerating.  Right now if your kitchen is this temp or a little warmer, leave it out for 12 hours and then take out one tablespoon of sourdough starter (discard the rest) and feed again.   Do this for several days.


Now about the above recipe using 500g starter. YIKES!  All your observations are logical and can be explained.  Sounds to me like you need to understand more about starters, their microbes and how they live.  If you use 500g of starter that means you will have to add at least twice its weight in flour if you want to see doubling.  With the condition of your starter, that might be stretching it as it will take a long time for those few surviving to get up to expected numbers.   Improve on your starter, then improve on your recipe.  


As a guide (not a law) look at the total sourdough recipe, it should contain about one part starter to two parts water and three parts flour.   Flours vary with water absorption (higher the protein and/or ash content, the more water it absorbs) so this should only be thought of as a guide.  The flour you choose has a lot to do with texture along with many other factors.  But to get you onto the right track, work on your starter first.   


You can also refrigerate it, I do all the time, but the timing varies with food and counter time.  Let it stand 4-6 hours in warmth first, then refrigerate if you want to use in 2-3 days.  Mix more flour into it if you want to refrigerate it for a week or longer but then 12 hours or the night before you mix up your dough, take out a scant tablespoon and add water and flour in equal weights to make about half a cup or 75ml starter, need more starter? use a another scant tablespoon and more water and flour.  That would be 100% hydration.  Now from this starter, save a tablespoon and refresh as your next starter or use what is left of the one in the fridge,  remember to build up your starter the night before so it is strong and works well for you.


Law: You have to give a starter food to grow. 


Otherwise you are forcing your starter to retreat into a dormant state  where it will take days to revive it again. (Like when you thought it was dead and added instant yeast.)  Keep instant yeast out of your sourdough starter.   The action you saw earlier was the instant yeast and it died in all the sourdough acid and gunk as it got weaker and your results as well.  


Never forget to reduce your starter before feeding because after it ripens it is full of waste products and spent cells.  Give it fresh water and a healthy amount of flour (at least 3-5 times the starter weight.)


Good luck


Mini

Davo's picture
Davo

I'm not actually convinced the loaves pic'd are underproved. If the bread dough was made with a mix like MiniO specifies - with much more new food than the starter, then clearly 3 hours (2 bulk ferment, 1 proof) would not be enough. But with the starved mix noted, it might be. The main thing for me is the pic of the loaves from the outside. Seriously underproved laoves usually (for me, anyway) explode out of the slashes. And these don't.


Feed more per miniO, ferment, shape and prove over much more than a total of 3 hrs, and you will get better results.

Chode's picture
Chode

Based on the replies here (thanks to everyone who read and responded) here's what I did. I took my poolish from the fridge this AM and pulled off 100g (I had about 1500g total). I pitched the rest and fed the 100g with 300g bread flour and 300g cold water. It's on the counter at around 68F now. I hope to see it get active and start to double in size. 


I'll put it in the fridge after 5-6 hours, and repeat this process over the next 2 days.


As for my recipe -- here's how I plan to revise:


 



  • 100g (100% hydrated) starter

  • 200g cold water

  • 300g bread flour


 


If my math is right, this should give me a loaf that is %71.4 hydration?


Does this sound like a good plan of action?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I encourage you to feed your starter and leave it out on the counter top.  You can reduce your waste by reducing your starter down to a tablespoon.  


I'm presently activating two extra firm starters that lay dormant for the 5 months I was in Korea.    It has been a day and a half since I freed them from their leathery skins and they are working hard.   This morning I reduced to just two runny flat teaspoons before feeding.  I had half a cup throw away starter (each) this morning so I made muffins.   (If you want the recipe just say so.)  I've got lots of yogurt smelling starter (meaning I have lots of lacto beasties) but the yeasty beasties need time yet.  Mine are on the counter and it is just warm enough but warmer than your 68°.  You really don't need to refrigerate and at this stage, might be better for strengthening the rising power in your starter.   The yeasts like it warm.  You may have to put yours in a warmer place.


It's been 12 hours and mine are ready for another feeding so I guess I'm making more spelt muffins.   The rye is ahead of the wheat right now, no big deal.  One more overnight and these babes are ready for a bread recipe. 


I noticed a really cool observation: when lactic acid is in the starter, and I run water into the empty stirring dish to clean it up, there is a foam effect on the water and all the bubbles are pea size and so uniform.  It is just for a few seconds so neat!  Oh well, good luck, 


Mini


 


 

Chode's picture
Chode

@Mini, 


Thanks for the reply. I'm in day 2 of my starter "rebuild". I see what you mean by wasting... I could have done this with a much smaller amount. The starter has doubled and it has a lot of foam on it now. I plan to reduce it (throw all but 100g) and feed it again w/300g water+flour today.


I had the Chef from which I got the original recipe and method read this thread and he replied:



 


They're right, the recipe that I gave you was inverted, and purposely. As long as your starter is healthy and active, when you use this inverted recipe you're using your starter more like a pre-ferment but with the flavor benefits of an aged sourdough


 



His point was that the recipe that uses a lot of starter was geared towards a quick ferment loaf of bread that could be made in a single day.  I guess I've got a lot to learn. Yesterday I did buy a copy of the Bread Bible, a 9" brotform and a french baguette pan. 


 


How much starter (by volume) do you usually keep on hand for making bread?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

by more experienced sourdough bakers.  Shiao-Ping for one, likes to use this method and she turns out some great looking breads!  She keeps her starter in good shape and knows how to read her fermenting dough.


I think you can try it again when you get your starter up to snuff.  Sound like you're coming along.  I just love it when a starter gets thick and foamy, fun just slowly stirring it.    When you say, 



"I plan to reduce it (throw all but 100g) and feed it again w/300g water+flour today." 



Is that 300 water and 300g Flour?   Be gutsy!  Come on!  Now that it has doubled, try using 1 part starter (one tablespoon) to 5 parts flour and see what happens.  With 4 or 5 parts water which ever you prefer.  Time it and keep track of the room temp.


To answer your question:  I generally have around 1/3 to 1/2 cup rye starter sitting in the fridge.    The thicker it is, the less I have around.   I don't need more.  With a thick or firm starter, I just remove a good teaspoon and feed that to make 1/2 cup of starter maturing on the counter overnight to be used in a recipe.   Pretty simple.  Just remember to mix up a new batch of starter before you run out so it has a some warm hours and a few days in the fridge to ripen.


Mini

Chode's picture
Chode

@Mini 


This is what my starter looks like now, after 2 days of reducing it to 100g and feeding it w/300g each of bread flour and cold water



The picture below is blurry, but you can see the rubber band I put on the container yesterday after feeding it.  Does this look about right to you?



 


Lastly, the loaf I made yesterday with a 1:2:3 ratio is super wet and sticky. The loaf itself I had fermenting in the fridge and pulled it out this AM to start to proof. It doesn't look like it's risen much. I just kneaded it for about 5 minutes and will let it relax for 2 hours and do it again. From there I plan to let it just sit and rest until it either rises visibly or is clearly dead.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Check out "Stretch and Fold."  Kneading is awfully tough on wet sourdoughs.  If you fold your dough like an envelope and turn over to rest 45 min and then do it again, you will see how this helps your dough structure.  You might want to work in a little more flour as you fold by using a floured surface. 


oops.... battery out....


Mini

Chode's picture
Chode

I inverted my earlier recipe to use 1 part starter 2 parts water and 3 parts flour and I'm back to the manhole covers I started out with when I started my journey here. 


I fermented the loaf in the fridge for 24+ hours and proofed it at room temp for about 12 hours. During the last 6 hours or so I stretched and folded the dough 4-5 times with a 45 minute rest in between.


I got no oven spring from the loaf. When I turned out the loaf from the brotform it sort of fell flat and would not hold its form. I had this problem earlier and when I reduced my hydration in the loaf it seemed to hold it's shape much better and provided the right oven spring. 


Does this point to a lack of yeast in the starter? (that's my guess) or an overly wet loaf?



No Oven Spring, about 1.5" tall compared to my "starter heavy" loaves of 4-5" tall.



 


@Mini -- I took your advice and super fed my starter tonight. I stirred the starter slowly and it looked as if it was simmering -- I've never seen that before! I took 50g of starter and added 300g flour and 250g of water. It already has risen above my marker in a couple of hours.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

So you got your yeasts!  Good going! 


About the frisbee.  No big deal, you just have skinny sandwiches.  The next loaf will be better.   How is the taste?  I think you should add a bit more flour or as you said reduce the hydration.  If you do one of these high hydration basket loaves again and you suspect it will flatten out when gently turning out, do a shorter final proof and don't slash it.   The 1-2-3 is a guide but many times it works and sometimes water or flour has to be added.   The higher the protein in the flour, the more water it absorbs.  Many times hydration is a personal preference issue.  Shall I show you one of my frisbees so you feel better?


Q:  Did you steam your loaf?      That will help with the crust color.


Mini

Chode's picture
Chode

@Mini, 


I usually baste my loaf around 30 minutes w/clarified butter to brown up the crust. I didn't bother with this loaf, as I didn't think it was going to be edible.  I was right, the crumb looks worse than before. 



Here is the stater after yesterday's feeding 50g starter + 300g flour + 250 water. I don't think my starter is my problem anymore...



Alas, all was not lost. I did make some english muffins from the sourdough I pitched out on day 2 feeding...



As Jeff mentions below, something in my process must be off. I am flying blind when it comes to proofing the loaf.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Wow... I don't think I've ever seen that before.  Amazing.... Looks almost like alabaster!


The muffins look great.  That worked out. 


Maybe the dough needs a warmer first rise.   24 hour refrigeration in the beginning, right?   Is there a reason for the long first cooling of the dough?  Schedule wise?


I think you should try a simple sourdough recipe without using the refrigerator so you can see how the dough is working in your kitchen environment.  Go here to the handbook:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/process-and-techniques


How high was your oven temp when baking?


How long did the super starter take to peak or reach its maximum height?


Mini

Chode's picture
Chode

@Mini



Maybe the dough needs a warmer first rise.   24 hour refrigeration in the beginning, right?   Is there a reason for the long first cooling of the dough?  Schedule wise?



No reason other than I'm using the fridge to ferment the dough and hopefully get a more sour tang. Maybe I should nix that from my routine.



Go up to the site search box and type in stretch and fold



Yup. I did that yesterday. Thanks for the tip. That makes it much easier to work with this wet dough. I initially kneaded the dough for about 5 minutes, maybe that's what killed it?


After that I stretched/and folded about 4 times, resting 45 minutes after each time. I did the final proof for 2 hours in the brotform.



How high was your oven temp when baking?



450F for 30M then 400F for a final 30 minutes. The internal temp of the loaf was 200F. I baked it on a cookie sheet w/parchment that was resting on a fully preheated baking stone.



How long did the super starter take to peak or reach its maximum height



I just put it in the fridge now, as I thought it was going to start to foam again. It took about 8-9 hours to reach full spectacle.  What should that tell me?


I did read on some website that you shouldn't use metal bowls for sourdough. I've never seen that before. I use stainless (non-reactive) bowls.  That couldn't be a problem could it?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you're afraid to NOT use the refrigerator.  You've got lots of reading ahead of you to get the basics.  One basic is that yeast doesn't like the cold, it will not raise your bread in there nor will it get stronger in the refrigerator.   The refrigeration of sourdough slows down many important processes.  See if you can do without it.  Your starter will not spoil or rot as you  learn to take care of it properly on a daily basis.  You did force your starter to work before it was ready.  I understand your eagerness, I really do, but you have to maintain your starter and get it healty before baking with it.  And as you're doing all this research and reading, you may want to start another starter.  Be carefull not to use the same jars and spoons, so as not to cross contaminate your cultures and see if you can get a healthier one growing.  It will also give you something to compare your starter to. 


The rise of 8-9 hours to peak gives you a sort of time table using that feed ratio.  Feed less it will go faster, feed more slower.  Meaning that you will want to use this starter (at the same temp and feed ratio) just before it peaks.  Somewhere between 6-8 hours so you can keep the reproduction cycles going active in the dough.  It also means that your dough is not slow (compared to sourdoughs but slow compared to instant yeast) and that from the time you mix up the major addition of flour into your dough, you should not ferment longer that 8-9 hours, preferably less or there is a danger of the rise collapsing into itself.  I don't know if that is clear.


Have you done bread baking with instant yeast?  If not, then I think it wise to start with yeast raised loaves before making the move to sourdough. There is still a transition but it is not soooo big.


Mini

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

What you need to know most right now is how to tell when sourdough, or any dough, is fully proofed.


Did you pursue this suggestion?


Jeff

Chode's picture
Chode

But I came up short. What I read was fermenting and proofing is basically the synonyms for the same thing. I'm thinking that is my primary problem now is I don't know how long to proof the dough, and how to tell when it's properly proofed.


I'm admittedly guessing. I had the loaf in the fridge, covered for 24+ hours and at room temp for 12+ hours. In my inexperienced mind I thought -- well that must be enough.


Any advice would be appreciated. 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I would strongly recommend that you develop a strong background in basic sourdough baking principles before you try to customize your own formula.   You need to get a lot of experience making one type of simple sourdough successfully -- again and again -- from a proven formula, and then draw upon that experience in moving to other products.


Jeffrey Hamelman has written a great book that has been well received by most bakers who have used it.  You seem to prefer liquid levain, and he has a "Vermont Sourdough" formula that uses it, so you might want to start there.  If you can't afford to buy the book now, you will likely find it at a library.


Read the introductory 60 or so pages before proceeding with his formulas, and read (then re-read) his special section on developing and maintaining sourdough cultures -- toward the back of the book.  You'll likely need to try things a few times -- possibly failing along the way -- before you can start to recognize for yourself how to make this all work.  At least by using a proven, sound formula and maintenance system, you will know you're on the right track.


Your starter looks unhealthy.  Fixing it can be complicated, which is even harder if you're inexperienced.  Trying to fix it online is actually less reliable than using Hamelman's sourdough maintenance section to guide you.


--Dan DiMuzio

Chode's picture
Chode

@Dan, 


Thanks for the advice. How can you tell/what makes you say my starter looks unhealthy? I'm not doubting you, just wondering what makes you think this? 


I've had this starter going about a month and I'd like to save it if possible.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

This is what a healthy liquid levain looks like just before feeding or just before use in a dough formula:


The one in the picture was hydrated at 100% -- Jeffrey Hamelman hydrates at 125% with King Arthur's retail-branded "All Purpose Flour."  His would look a bit different, but not that much.


Chode -- there just isn't much more solid advice anyone can give you with the levain maintenance and formula you've chosen.  Choose what works as a foundation.  Then go about exploring and experimenting.


Maybe Debra Wink can advise you on how to salvage what remains of your starter.  It's possible you could use what you have as a seed, but you'll have to completely overhaul what you're presently doing to maintain your culture and make bread successfully.  Jeffrey is your ticket.  Why mess around?


--Dan DiMuzio

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Mini

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I second what Dan said: "Jeffrey is your ticket. Why mess around?"


I believe you can save this starter if you stop refrigerating it for now, and start maintaining it per Hamelman for a few weeks. Do that until you get a feel for how a healthy starter behaves, and can make a loaf of bread you're happy with. A class is a good idea too, if you have one available to you.

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

I'm new at this too, but I'm getting pretty good results with my starter. It looks like the photo posted above by dghdctr, and it never looks foamy like your photo.  The starter is 100% hydration and I feed it at a 1:2:2 ratio about every 3-5 days, refrigerating in between.  I feed my starter with 70% bread flour, 20% whole wheat, and 10% rye (a tip which I got on this website from either ehanner or JMonkey--it's based on an article by Dan Lepard). The flavor and texture from this starter is excellent.  I use the Peter Reinhart SF Sourdough formula and baking instructions in "Crust and Crumb".  Good luck.

seki's picture
seki

Based on the process you describe and the pics of the manhole loaf, I wouldn't be surprised if the refrigerated primary fermentation is doing your loaves in. Cold temperatures give the gluten-destroying enzymes more time to weaken your dough structure. Since your starter doubled after the heavy feeding that Mini suggested, it will probably be ok to make a reasonable loaf with, so I wouldn't toss it just yet.


 


I would recommend trying a room-temp / warm fermented loaf targeting ~65-70% hydration to test it out. The warm temp will help the yeasties, not give enough time for the enzyme action to destroy your dough structure, and the slightly lower hydration should make it easier to handle and develop. If you feel you must slow the process down with the fridge due to your schedule, do it after you shape the loaves. (ie, primary fermentation = warm, proof = cold). If you still get manhole covers, it's likely your starter.


 


If, after the above test, you think it's your starter, feed it for several days 2-3 times a day at a 1:2:2 ratio and see if it starts behaving better.

phil200's picture
phil200

Hi all,


Great thread and I have learned a lot from it.


There are two pictures on this thread, one of a healthly starter at 100% hydration :


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/14397/i-need-some-help-troubleshooting-my-spongy-crumb#comment-90469


and another of what is described as an unheathly starter :


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/14397/i-need-some-help-troubleshooting-my-spongy-crumb#comment-90291


Is the presence of foam the reason why its being described as unhealthly ?


Why is this a problem and what causes it ?


I'm new to liquid levains and my liquid levain is slightly foamy.  My normal levain is at 80% hydration and is fine.


Regards,


Phil.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The kind the lactobacteria make when they produce CO2 gas.   The deeper bigger bubbles are from gasses coming off the yeast.   Better when they are equally dispersed and not separated.  The separated foam as it appears floating on the top, is then an indicator of acid waste product, or hooch starting to form.    That is how I read it. 


It indicates the yeasts need a better climate to thrive and that means to lower the acid level by raising the pH thru feeding; mixing the starter with more water and flour. 


With a liquid levain, I might suggest tasting it to see if it is sour.  Liquid starters will ferment and sour sooner than less hydrated starters. 


Mini