The Fresh Loaf

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Has my starter started?

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carburylapills's picture
carburylapills

Has my starter started?

Hi,


I'm working through my copy of crust and crumb...with a pause at the barm section. I am attempting to bake a sour dough loaf but I'm having some trouble.


So far, I have produced a nice bubbly barm sponge, which looks healthy and gassy. Moving from the barm to the "firm sponge" has been a problem...maybe. I am not seeing any bubbles or lacing in the firm starter. It also seems ultra gooey. When I attempt to form a dough, after "rising" the starter for a day, the dough is extremely slack with no bubbles. Shaping is a bit difficult because the dough can't hold it's form, spreads out in a glob.


 Is this normal for a sourdough? Or should it have a similar texture to a french bread?


I've tried again and left the firm starter out at room temperature for nearly 48 hours, and bubbles are still lacking. Am I looking for the wrong signs of life?


Thanks for your help!

SnDBrian's picture
SnDBrian

I had this problem too, try baking the bread it might turn out nice. Otherwise i say let your starter mature longer with daily feedings at room temperature. Oh, and for that 48 hour barm at room temp it is probably dead. After that long time at room temp it probably depleted its' supply. Try feeding it you might be able to save it.


It is all patience, true story it took me 1 whole month to get a starter going and when it happens you will know.


I hope i could help you.


-sndBrian

carburylapills's picture
carburylapills

Yes...I was wondering if I had killed it. After leaving out at room temp for 48 hours bubbles were present, but few. And the starter had a smell of finger nail polish, which doesn't seem like a good thing....


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is in the whole picture.  Are you just putting together the starter and trying to get it to grow?  (PR doesn't use the term "barm" anymore, led to too much confusion.) 


What page are you on?  Don't throw out anything yet...  Are you on page 74?


Mini

carburylapills's picture
carburylapills

I am on page 77 and 78...where it describes the "sponge" to firm starter phase....


I have allowed the 5 days of feeding (page 73-74), and original starter seems to be healthy, but not really capable of levening the firm starter. The firm starter does not double in size in 6-8 hours as noted in the book.


Do I need a few more days and a few more feedings for the original sponge?


Should I just pitch the firm starter that I left out for the 48 hours? Or should I just keep going to see what happens?....note acetone smell.

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Sorry.....

liseling's picture
liseling

I fed my starter about twice a day for two weeks before I tried baking with it. By that time, it could triple in about 4 hours. I think one rule of thumb when dealing with starters is to proceed according to whether yours is ready, rather than going by a timescale in a book. Peter Reinhart's starter may have been ready in 5 days, but starters are unique thingd and it doesn't seem like yours is ready. The fingernail polish smell you noted is probably the alcohol that the yeast is producing as a biproduct of its feeding. This means that it is hungry! What I would do if I were you is get rid of the firm starter (or use it up in some other creative way-maybe add it to dough levened with commercial yeast) and keep feeding your starter, maybe up till this weekend. If it's at least doubling in 3 or so hours you could try again.

carburylapills's picture
carburylapills

Thank you. I will contine to feed my starter till it seems able to bubble up on it's own then try again next week.


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

But I would dump the acetone smelling firm starter and not use it for anything.  Lueconostic bac. is not good to have around but if it was your only source of starter, with time, it could be rescued. 


Now to prevent them getting into your starter,  add some acid to the starter to lower the pH a little bit, either by using  unsweetened pineapple juice instead of water, or a squeeze some lemon juice into the water.   I would also discard and reduce the size of the starter to a few tablespoons.  Feed it then equal amounts of juice and flour.  So that if you have 3 tablespoons of starter, feed 3 tablespoons juice and 3 rounded tablespoons flour until you see more signs of life.  You might want to wait 24 hours before discarding. 


Type: signs of life   into the search box (upper left corner of page)  there should be some pictures somewhere.   Once it is growing and smelling more yeasty you can go back to water.  Patience is the key.


Have you read Debra Wink's Blog articles? 


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

carburylapills's picture
carburylapills

Very Helpful! I have pitched the acetone glop and am attempting to save the original sponge.


Meanwhile, I think I will build a companion starter with the Wink's formula, as a point of comparison.


Thank you for the great resources!