The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

starter has risen and now...

ques2008's picture

starter has risen and now...

i made my very first sourdough starter based on gaarp's tutorial.  I started thursday.  i had problems in day 3 and onwards, but today, I think I managed to revive it.  It did rise, started at 1 cup and it's now up to 2 cups.  i refreshed it  2 hours ago.  will it get bubbly and frothy in a few hours, and should i leave it on the counter longer?

i didn't know that i had to stir my starter 2 to 3 times a day to aerate it.  is this good practice?  i won't be using it today or tomorrow, but wanted to know if i should wait a few more hours until it gets frothy and bubbly prior to refrigeration.

thanks much.

LindyD's picture

If you just began the sourdough culture last Thursday, that means it is only five days old. 

Why would you want to refrigerate such a young culture?  Do you have to leave town for the holidays?

ques2008's picture

thanks for your reply.  that question came from the fact that i followed gaarp's tutorial and he called it the final feeding.  here's how I started, just to make it easier for you to understand:

day 1, thurs, 6:35 pm:  started culture: 1/3 c rye, 1/4 c spring water

day 2, fri, 5:22 pm: 1/4 c bread flour; 1/8 c water; by 9:03 pm, it rose somewhat (barely 50%)

day 3, sat, 4:55 pm: discarded half, added 1/4 c bread, 1/8 c water.  dough went back to original level

day 4, sun, 4:52 pm: no change.

day 5 mon, 11:00 am:  woke up my starter by dousing it with 3-4 tbsp of rye flour and 2 tbsp water.

still at day 5, 1:00 pm:  stirred starter, added 1/4 c bread flour; 1/8 c water.

day 6 (today) 8:30 am:  it rose somewhat.  doubled.

11:00 am changed container, discarded half, and added 3/4 c bread flour and 1/2 c water.

3:30 pm:  doubled in size (was at 1 cup level of pyrex cup, went up to 3 cups)

right now:  it's now 3 cups!  but then it's not bubbly or frothy.

so i'm wondering:  should i give it a few more days?

and should i really stir it 2-3 times a day as breadtopia web site suggested?

sorry to give you my sourdough story, but i'm new at this.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and yes, feed it twice a day.  Don't forget to reduce the starter before feeding it.

Um ... how can 1 cup starter be expanded to 3 cups (triple not double) and not be bubbly or frothy? 


LindyD's picture

Hi, Ques2008.  

It's going to take at least ten days of proper feedings before the culture stabilizes. At least, that's what the pros write and I recall it took me over two weeks to get mine stablized and on an established cycle of fermentation that I could count on. 

It should be at least doubling after each feeding.  How long that takes depends on the temperature of the room where it's kept and if you're discarding and feeding right after it peaks.   

You should continue discarding and refreshing it until you plan to use it.  A sourdough culture is a living organism; it's going to react to how you care for it and what you feed it rather than some written timetable.

I certainly would not refrigerate it until I knew for certain that it could leaven bread and that I liked the taste of that bread.  When you get it to that point, it's pretty hard to kill it off.  When you do put it in the cooler, try to keep it at around 50F.

As to the Breadtopia advice it be stirred several times a day, never heard of that.  My levain is over two years old and the only time it is stirred is when I refresh it. I've always discarded, then added the water, stirred it very vigorously to a froth, then mixed in the flour.  It raises my dough and tastes good, so I have to presume it's happy and healthy.

Don't be afraid to add a tad more flour to your refreshments.  It will give you a slightly firmer levain, but that's not a bad thing.  

ques2008's picture

thanks for your comments.  the latest news is my starter at about 10:30 pm last night did have bubbles and it changed texture and became froth-like.  so i put it in a new container and then into the fridge it went.

Lindy - yes, i heard of starters taking 2 weeks to stabilize, but based on Peter Reinhart's BBA, gaarp's tutorial here on TFL, breadtopia and one other source, the average waiting time is about 5-6 days after which it goes into the fridge.

i realized that the "stirring" advice made sense and it actually helped activate my starter - i think the experts call it the oxygen requirement.  it also helped that i changed containers when i did the final feeding instead of using the same container that i started with on day 1.

i know there are a lot of variables that come into play that will determine the rate at which starters rise and stabilize and as the experts say, pick one that works best for you.

day 3 was the most discouraging.  my starter had formed a brown crust on top - and i don't think it was hooch because from what i read, hooch is a brown liquid.  the brown crust made me think that my starter was dead.

so i left it alone and in between day 3 and day 4, i tried to wake it up by adding 3-4 tbsp of rye flour and 2 tbsp of water and stirred it vigorously.

some have said that their starters don't like it when they're transferred to a new container - mine was the opposite.  it actually came back to life - and with a vengeance!  it rose double.  i stirred it down, and a few hours later it tripled!  i simply waited some more for it to get bubbly and frothy.

thanks for your comments, ladies.  you're wonderful.  i am happy to be a part of TFL!