The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

It is ALIVE!

  • Pin It
azaelia's picture
azaelia

It is ALIVE!

I'm so excited I just HAVE to share! I decided to try my own sourdough starter this past Friday, and after doing some research on here and looking through my pile of library bread books, I settled on using Peter Reinhart's method from Whole Grain Breads (which is essentially a variation of the pineapple juice method using different ratios). The first and second day I was skeptical because it didn't seem to do anything, but I knew it just needed more time. I prepared myself for a long wait...


 


Lo, and behold! The next day it had risen a was bubbling! I transferred it to a glass jar so I could observe the rise better, and fed it with flour and some more pineapple juice. It just took off! I fed it again yesterday, this time with flour and water, and then fed it again today, discarding about half and adding 2 oz. flour and 1.5 oz. water. This is what it looks like after two hours!



 


I can't stop looking at it and smelling it! I named him Wilson :-)


I'm gonna keep feeding and try to make bread sometime this weekend if possible. I just need to figure out a regular feeding schedule. Any suggestions?

Ford's picture
Ford

Your starter will take several weeks before it fully develops its flavor potential.  However, you can use it until then knowing that the flavor will be more developed later.


Ford

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

A standard would be:  Take 1 oz ripe starter (12 hours old) and feed like you did above with 1.5 oz water and 2 oz flour (for a 75% hydration) on a 12 hour schedule.  A lot depends on your room temperature but it must be about right! 


Mini

azaelia's picture
azaelia

That's what I've basically been doing since yesterday, and it seems to work well. I feed him when I get up in the morning, and then at night.


The first time I fed him all-purpose instead of rye I think I needed to discard more because he doubled in 4 hours and hit the top of the jar!

SourFlour's picture
SourFlour

Congratulations on your first starter.  There are so many ways to keep a starter, so it might be helpful to play around to see what works best for you.  Keep in mind that different temperatures will have different effects.  Also, depending on how much effort you want to put in you might want to try different strategies.


I am currently keeping my starter fairly stiff, at around 50% hydration.  One advantage I like about a stiff starter is that it takes so much more time to run through its food, so I can get away with not feeing it as often.  That said, I do sometimes feed it several times a day at 2:2:1 (starter:flour:water), and I can notice it getting much stronger. For a long while I was doing 1:1:1  or 1:2:2, which kept my starter at 100% hydration, was easy to feed, and was quite active.


Good luck in your experiments.


Take care,
Danny Paz Gabriner
Sour Flour

crumbs's picture
crumbs

wow, that looks well and truly alive. I think I should transfer mine to a glass jar too because it's difficult to tell what's going on by looking at the surface (just a few bubbles so far). What kind of consistency is it? Is it runny/very liquid?

azaelia's picture
azaelia

It was about the consistency of very sticky dough when I took that picture, but I have since brought it to about 75% hydration and have been feeding it all-purpose flour so it's a little more wet now. The bubbles aren't as big because of the high hydration, but it still rises.

hazel75's picture
hazel75

I'm jealous -- I've been trying to get a starter going and not having much luck.  I think part of my problem is my cold, drafty house...but congrats to you!! Good job!

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Try a yogurt maker to keep your starter at the right temp while you're developing. Or, a styrofoam cooler with a big jug of boiling water.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Our house is pretty cool in the winter, too.  But there's an insulated box right on our counter--the microwave.  I heat up 1 cup of water to boiling, and stick my starter jar in the microwave next to the warm water.  It will stay close to 80 degrees in there for a very long time.  If someone needs the microwave, just reheat the water and put the starter back in when they are done--it won't hurt your starter to be in the cooler room air for a while. 


A styrofoam cooler or even just a plastic storage box will do as well with the cup of just boiled water as a heat source. 


 


 

plevee's picture
plevee

I do this too, but I cover the cup with plasti-crap (thanks Doc Snyder) because all the condensation was causing rust in the seams of the oven.

plevee's picture
plevee

I do this too, but I cover the cup with plasti-crap (thanks Doc Snyder) because all the condensation was causing rust in the seams of the oven.

hazel75's picture
hazel75

Thanks so much, Janknitz and Doc Tracy -- I tried putting my starter in the microwave with hot water -- the next day, it had a couple of bubbles.  Then, two days later it doubled.  I refreshed it, and it tripled overnight.  Then, today, I refreshed again and left it out at room temperature and it tripled in eight hours.  Looks like it was stalled at room temperature initially and the hot water/insulated box did the trick!!  After two weeks of trying this is very exciting! 


I look forward to attempting bread with it tomorrow!  It too late tonight. 


Is it okay if I stick it in the fridge tonight?

azaelia's picture
azaelia

Our apartment is pretty chilly too, but I've been keeping Wilson on top of the fridge where the warm air pushes out from under the cabinets. I think he's got the best spot in the place!


Try putting yours on top of the fridge if you can, or somewhere high. Hot air rises, so you may have better luck.

katyleah's picture
katyleah

This! 


I have a 3 quart (I know he's huge) sourdough starter and I put him on the fridge and he nearly overflowed he rose so fast!


 


I'm Azaelia's little sister and new to the forum btw :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Tell us more about the starter!  How far along is it?  How many days has it been?  What feeding schedule are you using?  What does it smell like?


Stir down to control and cool some down like... bring it off the fridge.  How does it smell?  Take a small portion, like half a cup to feed.  Feed it when you reach 12 hours after the last feeding that rose so high.  


After we know more, we can help you deal with the rest of the 3 quarts.  How did that happen?  But I think you should find a cool place for it before it gets too ripe.


I'm going into night and will return in 10 hours.  I hope you can provide more information and get some ideas soon.  Help is on the way!


Mini

azaelia's picture
azaelia

*waves excitedly* Hi little sister!


Yes, Bob the Blob is a beast. There's just more of him to love :-)

hazel75's picture
hazel75

Thanks for the advice.  I'd been keeping it on top of a bookshelf, but it was only getting to around 71/72 there.  I'll try the cooler or microwave trick tonight after I feed it.  Hopefully this will help.

azaelia's picture
azaelia

After I started feeding him KA AP flour, he started to slow down considerably. He's not dead, I don't think, because he still creates quite a few bubbles, but it takes WAY longer for him to rise, and he can barely double, if at all. This morning I fed him a bit of rye with the AP to hopefully get him active again. Did I switch to AP too soon?

azaelia's picture
azaelia

I think Wilson died...it's been almost 2.5 hours since feeding, and there has been no activity and he smells like flour and water. No yeasty or acidic smells at all.


What did I do wrong?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

With a lag time in the beginning.  2 hours is nothing.  It will be slower with wheat and higher ratios of wheat flour to starter.  Now would be the time to mark off at 2 hour intervals.  It should be rising by 6 hours but peaking under 12. (that's a loose time frame)  Marianne would say that feeding a starter rye was like giving it steroids.  Now is the time to keep track of your weights, what you feed as you get to know your starter.  When you use a recipe with similar proportions, it will imitate the timing.  It will give you some idea as to your starter's preformance.


If you did happen to shock it with switching flours too fast (very possible) then wait until the starter has peaked and starts to fall (no longer domed) before feeding and returning to a 12 hr feeding schedule.


Your starter is at a crucial turning point at the moment and you can choose to "set" the timing for it.  If you want a slow yeast, then feed it 1:1:2 (S:W:F) every 24 hours, and stick to it.  If you want "normal"  use the same ratios or (1:1:1) but feed every 12 hours and stick to it.  If you want a faster yeast, then watch those peaking times and reduce them one hour daily until your feeds are down to 8 hours.  Then change slowly to a higher ratio of flour at whatever hydration you prefer, watching the starter to keep the peaking around 8 hours.  More water (up to 150%) speeds up the peaking time, less water slows it down.  And if the water is warm... speed, cold... slower.  So watch out!


There is a big debate when it comes to using the refrigerator and truly all the options have not been explored but it is generally agreed that when starting up a new starter, the refrigerator is not helpful.  ...But I have found it... LINK


Mini

azaelia's picture
azaelia

So I'm not sure what I did to cause this, but my starter is no longer rising AT ALL and smells very sour. Is there something I can do to rehabilitate it, or should I just start over?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

It is only 9 hours after the last discard and feed.  Wait until the 12 hour mark unless u didn't discard.  You could be right about reducing the discard to a smaller amount.


Try discarding and feeding it again, at the 12 hour mark, put it into the refrigerator.


Read: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/16521/starter-quottimingquot-amp-refrigerator-2010


Mini

azaelia's picture
azaelia

But I'm still confused. Should I still discard and feed if the starter has only risen a millimeter at the 12 hour mark? And do I refrigerate it immediately after feeding?


Sorry I'm asking so many questions. I really have no clue what to do.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I was trying to say refresh at the 12 hour mark (1:1:2) (S:W:F)  (which is soon) Wait another 12 hours and then put it into the refrigerator.  Wait a day.  Then take it out and refresh it anew and give it 12 more hours on the counter top and observe it.  See what it does.


Mini

Sam49's picture
Sam49

I am bringing my first starter along right now also - probably about 24 hours or so behind you.  This morning it looked very similar to your picture and is returning to that point after the morning feeding - my first with water and rye rather than with pineapple juice.


Obviously, I'm no expert, but I read a number of cookbooks, but most importantly the writings of Debra Wink that are on The Fresh Loaf.  Reinhart's Whole Flour book tells you to read her stuff.  It is great - some of the essays get incredibly technical regarding the microbiology - but she always moves back to plain language.


I think some of the advice you are getting is good, but some of it deviates from what I read.  I'm not going to try to explain it.  It is not necessary to have warm temperatures to grow a starter - it just goes faster.  But it can be too warm and it seems like some of these suggestions would get into the tropical zone.


Look at these two postings and the other two also linked there and you'll get some good reliable information.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/debra-wink?page=1


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2


Don't throw it out yet.  Start another if you want, but keep trying to nurse this one along because it might surprise you.  I've read over and over that the schedules vary and that you have to be flexible and patient.


Sam


 


 

azaelia's picture
azaelia

After feeding every 12 hours at a 1:3:4 ratio (s:w:f) Wilson has fully recovered! I fed at 1:2:3 last night and he doubled in less than 8 hours! All on AP flour, too! Hopefully he will be bread worthy soon :-)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think you can try anytime and test him in a loaf. :)   You want to use him just at the time he's peaking or just before, when he's nice and foamy.   The hydration is 75% (w/f) if the ratio is by weight.  If you need a 100% starter for a recipe, refresh with a 1:4:4 feeding.


Mini

katyleah's picture
katyleah

Hey guys,


I made the dough from my enormous starter. It made four loaves! It's rising nicely so far. Hopefully it'll bake well. I fed the leftovers with 1:1:1. It'll be much easier to take care of this starter because it's not a huge blob! I'll be feeding it every 12 hours and leaving it on top of the fridge as usual. I plan to hibernate it in a Mason jar in the fridge fairly soon.


Have you baked with yours yet Amy?

azaelia's picture
azaelia

I'm baking with him today/tomorrow :-) I'm crossing my fingers he behaves as well in bread as he does in my pickle jar...

katyleah's picture
katyleah

Yay! Go for it Ame! If I can make a decent loaf with the monster starter I had, you're sure to be successful with Wilson :)