The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Struggles with sluggish sourdough starter

mikeinnyc's picture
mikeinnyc

Struggles with sluggish sourdough starter

I have just relocated to San Francisco, and in keeping with the spirit of the place (plus my graduation to a kitchen larger than a closet) tried my hand with sourdough starter. I'm using Peter Reinhart's 4-day procedure (using first pineapple juice and coarse rye, then water and KAF bread dough). By day 4, a Friday, after giving the seed culture an additional feeding because it seemed pretty inactive, I got enough of a rise to move to the "barm" stage. What he writes is that I should then expect a significant rise in a 6-hour window, what I got 12 hours later was .... pretty much nothing more than some bubbles. I put the barm in the refrigerator at this stage because I was heading out for the weekend, and today (Monday) what I see is the same volume with a lot of bubbles in it. Can anyone give me tips on how to turn this into something resembling a lively starter/barm? What am I doing wrong? Here are few things that might be influencing the outcome:


-My apartment is at about 68 degrees most days. I put the seed culture on day 4 into the oven with the light on to see if this speeded up activity (it did, some) but otherwise let it grow in the open air. I also kept the barm in the oven for the first 12 hours for the same reason.


-I have used a 2-liter container, which increased the surface area of the starter


-I only used plastic utensils


-My timing was generally good, but during that last rise after moving to the barm stage, I only checked the barm up until about 4 hours, then again at 12 hours (I had to get some sleep!).


Thanks so much. I really don't want to throw this out and start again as I'm optimistic that the bubbles = activity, I just want to perk up this rather sluggish barm! Right now it's residing in the refrigerator.


 


Mike now-in-SF

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

At 68 degrees things will move pretty slow. Might think about getting a styrofoam cooler and putting your new starter in there. You can add a liter of very hot water in a canning jar ever time you feed.


I'd stay with the rye flour until you're sure it's really lively but that's just me. Also, Debra Wink (at least I think that's who recommended it) has a recommendation for a small amount of vinegar if the starter is sluggish after a week or so. Still, I think in your case, since you're not getting any off smells or molds it's simply temp related.


Check out the pineapple starter threads written by Debra. I think they are far easier to understand than Peter's and I believe this is where he actually got his information from. I'm not sure why he calls his barm. Other people have wondered the same as it simply causes confusion.


For now, I'd say you're not quite ready for the fridge but you're not stuck to a 4 hour schedule either.


It seems to me I used a combination of sourdough.com and "The Field of Greens" for my information when I was just starting out. Sourdough.com is loaded with information and very useful.


Debra is the best though. Also, one thing I've noticed through TFL and that I did myself. We all seem to start with this soupy, high hydration, volume measured starter. This is really difficult to maintain and you will be throwing away pounds of flour a week. Once you've gotten your starter going, make sure you thicken it up to no more than a 100% hydration, possibly as thick as 50-60% (by weight of flour to water). I use a very small amount of starter (25 gms or less) to feed up a 150 gram amount of starter (either 60 or 100% hydration depending on recipe) and am always amazed at how little culture it takes to rise the starter.


Basically, if you've got a bowl with a bit of leftover starter stuck to the bottom of it, you have enough starter to maintain/feed to keep a starter going. That's really how little you actually need! Or, like the amount that's stuck to your spoon after stirring it!


When I think I'm not going to use my starter for a little while (my whole wheat doesn't get used as often as the rye) I make it really, really stiff. I just add a bunch of flour to a tiny bit of starter and a little water. (about 40-50%) and knead like a stiff bread dough. I will store only about 25-30 grams of this in a shelf on the fridge in a tupperware style container.


By the way, I always use plastic containers and wooden spoons or my hands.  Never gave it much thought but it's probably a good idea. Whatever you do, don't use a reactive metal. With a stiff starter though, don't have to worry too much about "blowing the top" off the container, especially in the fridge.


Have fun, that's what it's really all about!

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

"Debra Wink (at least I think that's who recommended it) has a recommendation for a small amount of vinegar if the starter is sluggish after a week or so."


I think you have me mixed up with someone else :-)  I have always advised against adding vinegar, but I do agree with everyone that the cool temperatures slow things down, and this was just too soon in a young starter's life to be moved to the refrigerator. It needs more time and more feedings, and I think you will see it improve.


-dw


 

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

That's why I said I couldn't remember where I had read it. I was hoping the OP would go and read your information before doing anything crazy!


My first starter got smoked out when we had a house fire. Before that I did just about everything wrong that a newbie could do and amazingly it had survived to bake bread. Wish I had found your information at that time though, would have saved me a lot of work and wasted flour.


Now I have a starter which Eric H so kindly sent to me. It's wonderful and I'm having so much fun making it my own.

msfitz3's picture
msfitz3

Mike, I too am just beginning PR's starter from his book Artisan Breads Every Day. Today is day 7 for my starter and I just converted it to the "mother" starter...as of yet it has not been refrigerated. I did not see much change in it for several days after starting it on April 26th. I am totally new to bread making and this is my first attempt at making a starter so I can't really give you any advice...just letting you know my process. Good luck...I'll be following the thread..there are a lot of seasoned bakers here, I'm sure someome can help!!!

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

My stuggles ended when I thickened my starter, fed it three times a day, and kept it on top of the refrigerator. The top of the refrigerator, close to the front, is warmer than the rest of the room but not too warm. My doubtful starter became a happy starter. Now I can keep it on the counter, and it is still happy.


At this point, the starter is stored in the refrigerator between uses, and it is always ready to be used for baking after one or two feedings. I wait for two or three feedings before using the starter, but that is more a timing issue and wanting the starter to exercise at room temperature for overall health.

diverpro94's picture
diverpro94

I had the same problem, but I fixed it by letting the starter ferment for another couple of hours to a day without feeding it. Just stick to his words and you'll be fine! Trust me! The worst thing for new sourdough bakers is not having enough confidence in their starter.

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Mike from Australia,


I had finally got a S/D starter going based on a German mixed grain flour and pineapple juice. I now feed it water and plain white or your all purpose flour. It is just thicker than a pancake batter, certainly not stiff. The "beer" smell is there as well. It now lives in the fridge in a jar with the lid having 3 small nail holes for it to breathe. I swap it into a clean jar every 10 to 14 days to keep it's envirnoment clean. It is a living item as there are small bubbles and sour odours but I would describe it as lazy rather than active. 


Our climate is now heading into the winter and the days are cooler. Being one to experiment I took out a third of my starter the other day and fed it to bake in a couple of hours. For a change I placed it the sunniest room under a closed window ledge. I did the same with the main starter plus a fresh feed of AP flour and water. I came back nearly 3 hours later to find that both had nearly tripled in size(I used a rubber band marker around the jar to gauge). There was more starter than I would ever need and the size of the gas bubbles were bigger than I have obtained before. At last after a 5 weeks I was happy to say I had a healthy active starter. When the main feeder was placed back in the fridge it collasped back to the height of the rubber band overnight. There are now howhever bigger and more gas bubbles.


It blew me away because I thought I just had a lazy starter that I was always going to battle with. The only difference was placing it in the warmer room on the colder days. The main feeder is now back in the fridge and the discard I had taken and fed gave what my wife and I thought to be the best S/Dough lunch buns I have made to date.


I guess what I am saying in a long winded way is extra time and warmth is certainly needed in proofing, final rise after shaping before baking using artisan ways. I feel I found this out the slow hard way by experimenting and taking note of what is written by others on this site.  My wife always tells me that I am a bull at a gate and to take my  time. Don't rush Artisan bread baking.


Sounds like we are going through the same hassle over time and warmth don't you think?


Cheers..............Pete


 

mikeinnyc's picture
mikeinnyc

These are some great suggestions - and I think what some of this boils down to is that I forgot the baker's maxim of letting the dough be your guide. I'll take this out of the fridge and put it in a warmer spot (that styrofoam cooler trick is a great idea, as is putting it on top of the fridge). I'll try feeding it, too, because after three days I'm thinking it might need that. Hopefully this will help get it moving. And Pete - yes, as SF heads into its foggy (and hence cold) summer, I've found myself wondering how San Francisco sourdough ever got started here in the first place!


 

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Debra and Doc,


I have only ever seen "apple cider vinegar" being recommended for a sluggish starter. Never a plain vinegar.


Can anyone else verify this, maybe I am wrong. Something to do with bringing the starter's acid level down to neutral ph level that yeast like.


I'm no technical expert and maybe someone else can help please. As the difference between the 2 ciders may make the difference in your starter?


Hope this helps................Pete.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Pete, I do recommend apple cider, as opposed to apple juice in the first days of making a brand new starter, because apple juice just isn't acidic enough for the job. But cider is just as effective as orange juice. Neither has quite as low a pH as pineapple juice, but they're fine if it saves an unessessary purchase. However, if you don't use it on the first day, then there isn't much point, as it won't do any good after leuconostoc bacteria grow, or later in the process.


Vinegar of any kind is not a very good idea in a starter, new or otherwise. Small amounts may not hurt, but they don't help either. What a sluggish starter needs more often than not is usually more food, more often, not more of something that tends to be a toxic waste product. Yeast aren't really affected by pH after they start growing. At least, not in the normal range of sourdough. But they are inhibited by too much acetic acid.


-dw

mikeinnyc's picture
mikeinnyc

OK, so with a little patience, some warmer temps (I remembered reading that a dishwasher after a full wash is an option and stuck my bucket of starter in there) and additional feeding, my starter looks far more active. Thank you all for the help! But one thing I'm not certain about is whether and when I can use my starter if I have fed it, and then kept it out on a counter rather than put it in a refrigerator as per PR's instructions. In general, how often do I need to feed it if it's kept at room temp rather than refrigerated? And finally, how do you folks use your starters to maximize their utility and minimize the waste? I just discovered a recipe for waffles made with a sourdough starter - wasn't even thinking about this but it sounded great. 

dlstanf2's picture
dlstanf2

I worked on my starter today. I've been patiently waiting for my starter to acquire the umph and sourness I associate with sourdough breads.


I lived outside SF for several years during the late 70's and then again in the mid 90's. I loved going into the city to eat clam chowder in sourdough bowls. And I would get a loaf, some cheese, a bottle of Napa and have a fine time. Even here on the east coast of NC we have some good sourdoughs. Heck even the local Harris Teeter makes a great loaf.


But, my starter has lacked that punch, even though it is a mature starter. Today I decided to 'boost' things a little. My usual starter feed is 3/8 cup flour, (51 grams), and 1/4 cup water, (56 grams), or about 100% hydration. With this my starter doubles in about 2 to 3 hours. I changed to 1/2 cup flour, 1/8 cup water, 1 tsp WG Rye, 1 tsp pineapple juice, and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar. Today in 3 or 4 hours my starter more than tripled!


I have never had mold or hooch with this starter. Probably because after the yeasties feed, I refrigerate the starter and then feed again in a couple of days or so. Here's a jpeg of my starter after the usual feeding cycle. I think this is a 12 oz container. I keep about a cup of starter going and use the discard for baking which I leave on the counter and feed several times before baking. Today's rise lifted the lid of my container, so it tripled at least.



I usually let my sponge ferment about 10 hours on the counter. Then I make my dough and let it proof for several more hours on the counter. Finally, I shape my dough after proofing and let it stay in the fridge overnight. Then after letting it shake of the cold for a couple more hours I bake. You would think it would cause your mouth to pucker, but it doesn't.


My guess is there is not enough acetic acid built up in the dough to create the sour. Today, I brought some citric acid to add to my dough. But first I think I'm going to try to increase the acid of my starter. Yeast like an acidic environment. My test today proved that a more acidic starter is healthy. It also keeps the hooch and mold down as well.


I've read so much on starters and I've tried most. However, sometimes you have to find your own way.


(Edit: amout of water was incorrect, change to correct amount)

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I think what you proved is that a thick starter will rise higher than a thin one. You were keeping your starter at 110% hydration, and then reduced the hydration significantly.

dlstanf2's picture
dlstanf2

Here's a list of the acidic value of several common kitchen ingredients.


Pineapple Juice - pH - 4.00


Apple Cider Vinegar - pH - 2.97 (Bottle says 5% acidity, I trust the bottle)


Lemon Juice - pH - 2.46


Rice Vinegar - pH - 1.67


I fed my starter this morning, the discard from yesterday which I left on the counter, 50 gr flour and 35 gr water, 70% hydration. My next feed will be at 110% hydration so I'll have around a 100% hydration of my starter before I start making my next loaf. I'm monitoring the results and will post pics later.


I suspect that with all the discard required to maintain a starter the original starter becomes weakened and diluted. I figured mine was becoming more neutral in pH since my starter never develops that sour (acidic) taste I want in my bread. This prompted me to give my yeasty beasties sort of a Thanksgiving Meal.


My combination of the 1 tsp WG Rye, 1 tsp pineapple juice, and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar provided about a 3.5 pH at 20 grams weight. This was a total fluid weight of about of ~ 48 grams to flour weight of 64 grams which I calculate at about 75% hydration. I don't do this often, but every now and then I will, like every couple of months. I add 1 tsp WG Rye about every 2 weeks.


I'm a novice at this, but a determined one. I do bake a lot and I started this as therapy and to add another dimension. Wasn't but a few months ago I had to do therapy just to re-learn the kitchen and how to accomplish things with limited mobility.


Every baker is an artist in their own right. And no 2 will be the same. You learn from others how to make things work in your area. Folks in San Francisco have one environment, folks in Denver have another, and folks in the North East have yet another. No 2 recipes or methods are the same, either in different parts of the country or different times of the year.


 


 


 

jj1109's picture
jj1109

5% acidity is different to a pH of 5, if that's what you're implying by "trusting the bottle". so just because it says 5% doesn't mean that it can't be pH 2.9 :)


cheers


JJ

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Like JJ, I guess I'm just not sure what you're trying to say. Is it that you believe you are acidifying your starter to about pH 3.5 by adding juice and vinegar, because that's the average of 4.00 and 2.97?

dlstanf2's picture
dlstanf2

Since my sourdough basically taste like yeast, I figured my starter was in need of some acidification. The reason for using pineapple juice along with apple cider vinegar was not to overwhelm my starter with either one, but to lower the pH just slightly. I have really good yeast activity, but it was not producing the acetic acid I was looking for, even with a long counter-top ferment and long proofing in the fridge.


I'm having some pH strips shipped to me so I can test my starter's pH level.


I'm baking the same loaf of KA's Merlin's Sourdough now and will post results later. This will be with the adjusted starter. So far the rise has been great and the smell is there. It's proofing now and I'm about ready to pop it in the oven.


Have you tested your starter's pH level? I may be on the wrong path, but I'll know shortly.


BTW, thanks for the help.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Good yeast activity is a very good place to start. It looks like your yeast are already very healthy, which is excellent, but the thing to understand is that they don't make sourdough sour. If your starter isn't producing any acid then we need to figure out why and address that, because ultimately, you want it to be able to do the job on its own. And that means building a healthy population of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Let's take a look at maintenance, because there may be something in your routine that you can change to help them along.


Based on your photos and what you've written so far, there are two questions in particular I'd like to start with:



  1. What flour are you using (type and brand) when you're not adding rye or other amendments?

  2. How long do you ferment at room temperature, and at what point in its rise to you refrigerate? Do you refrigerate after every feeding?


Okay, that was really three questions for you :-)
-dw

dlstanf2's picture
dlstanf2

I use Pillsbury Best XXX, all purpose unbleached flour. This is a soft wheat flour.


Today I purchased PB XXX Bread Flour which is a hard winter wheat variety.


I normally take my starter from the fridge, dicard half, feed once, let it double, stir it down, feed again let it double again, and then refrigerate.


No problems with hooch or mold. No bacteria off-gassing, but plenty of yeast activity. My starter always doubles within a couple of hours.


I used your method to start my starter. Took several times to get it going.


A friend gave me a "Friendship Starter" and this is how all this began. Got tired of all the milk and sugar feeds and the expense of making Amish Friend Bread, though I do make a good one. I like sourdough and began down this "addictive" path.


I trying the Norwich More-Sourdough recipe now, with the addition of a 1/4tsp citric salt just to be sure it has the tangy flavor I seek.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I know a lot of people here use doubling as the benchmark of readiness, but I find that very problematic. From my own experience, I can tell you that a healthy, well-fed starter, made with a suitably strong flour at 100% hydration, will triple to quadruple in 6-8 hours after feeding. That means that at double in volume, it's not ripe yet. Feeding before it's ripe is very beneficial to yeast, but doesn't allow the LAB time to grow. Refrigerating restricts them as well, compounding the problem. When they aren't allowed to grow, they will get diluted more with each feeding. So, you were right in a sense; the potential for acid production was being diluted as the LAB population shrank.


I think switching to bread flour (at 100% hydration) will help you to gauge ripeness a little easier at this point. Forget about doubling and stirring down. Let your starter rise as high as it wants to (in a container 4x your refreshed volume), and don't feed before it begins to fall. Keep it at room temperature for a few days and see if it doesn't start to develp some sourness. There are other things that can be done, but let's start there and see how it goes.


Let me know what happens :-)
-dw

dlstanf2's picture
dlstanf2

Thanks, I've started.


I took a chunk off my mother starter, 65 gr, right out of the fridge, hydrated it a little to get 100 gr, then added 50 gr BF and 50 gr H2O. It's doubled in the 3 hours since.


But, my mother starter is now a stiff starter and I had to knead flour into it. It has now tripled in volume in the same time.


In the meantime, I gave another recipe a try. It's the Norwich More-Sourdough, halfed to make one loaf, and with the addition of 1/4 tsp of citric acid to boost the tartness.


Here's the loaf just our of the fridge after a 12 hour retard. I scored it and put it a 475F oven, reduced to 450F for 10 minutes, steamed 3 times, and then baked an additonal 22 minutes without steam. Turned the oven off, cracked the door for 10 minutes.



This is the result.



The oven spring was great and the color is just perfect. Internal temp was 200F.


This is the crumb and I'm satisfied with the result.




The crust is thick and chewy, without being tough. I used 12 grams of sea salt and I think it could use another gram or two. Sourness is still lacking, though it is similar to some sourdoughs I've purchased.


I'll use your technique to improve my starter.  The yeast isvery happy, but the LABs are missing. Will keep you posted.

dlstanf2's picture
dlstanf2

I used Sourdough Lady's guide for developing a starter when I first began my starter. That has been 6 months now and I still consider my starter as new as it has not developed that characteristically sourness associated with a good starter.


During this time I have noticed some interesting conclusions. I'm still a novice, but there are some issues open for discussions:


1) The use of pineapple juice in the beginning of starter development.  This promotes acidity and retards bacterial off-gassing during the yeast development stage.


While pineapple juice has a pH of 4 it still contains sugars. Yeast uses these sugars as a food source and  produces alcohol as a by-product, normally referred to as "Hooch". Pineapple contains 9.26 grams of sugars per 100 grams It also is a significant source of vitamin C, 32.6 grams per 100 grams. Pineapple contains the proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which breaks down proteins. Does this include flour proteins?


2) I've mentioned my use of vinegars; apple cider, pH of 2.97. Red Wine vinegar has a pH of around 2.4, about the same as Lemon Juice.


My starter has reacted favorable to the addition of vinegar. I would only add a few drops during feedings now and then and the resulting boost in activity was very noticeable. Therefore, as a test, I took 50 grams of 100% hydrated starter, fed it with 50 grams of bread flour and 50 grams of Red Wine Vinegar. I expected this to kill the yeast, but not so. The yeast responded favorably.


Vinegar provides an acidic solution of liquids without the addition of sugars. Lemon juice will do the same and lemon juice contains a high concentration of citric acid which helps induces sourness.


I'm not recommending this as a solution to problems with sluggish starters. I understand that over acidification can kill a starter. It's an experiment I conducted for my starter, which had a healthy yeast population but lacked the acidity I was looking for in taste; i.e., a sourdough that makes a decent loaf but taste like Wonder Bread.


But I would suggest  you take the discard of your sluggish starter, before feeding, and use the discard to conduct your own experiment, with either vinegar, pineapple, or lemon juice.


I'm waiting for my pH testing strips to arrive so I can monitor the health of my starter and it's acidity. Does anyone have the information about what the pH of a mature starter should be?


I'm careful with the both staving and overfeeding my starter. This involves the refrigeration of the starter and countertop ripening.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

When LAB grow, they will produce acids that lower pH. But LAB are sensitive to low pH, and will stop growing after a certain point. Adding acidic solutions will put them closer to that point from the get-go, and cause them to stop growing sooner. If a sourdough culture that produces its own souring acids is the goal, then you will want to give the LAB as much latitude as possible to grow in number and create that potential for you.


I wish you the best in your soudough endeavors,
dw

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Are you using a Frendship starter that was fed with sugar and are now trying to make it more sour?


If yes, then I suggest you start a new starter staying clear of adding any type of sugar.  Hang on to this one when you don't want sour.


If no, then just ignore me.


Mini

dlstanf2's picture
dlstanf2

Mini, Friendship Starter is what started this quest. I decided I did not want to go the sweet route and therefore chose the sourdough path with development of a good starter. I have spent months on making a good starter and that's where I'm at now.

jj1109's picture
jj1109

you switched from 110% (as debra said) to (by my guess) about 50-60% hydration. my starter at 50% hydration is a nice firm dough, whereas your picture there looks quite wet!


the amount of acid build up is usually from having a nice healthy active starter - a happy starter will have a high microbial load so will create lots of acid (I'm guessing, this soudns right in my head). Happy starter will also have a lot of competition so the mold be able to get a hold in there.


As I understand it, the hooch (alcohol) is a by-product and is a symptom of an old or starving starter.

mikeinnyc's picture
mikeinnyc

ok this is way too advanced for me ... so far. actually, my question right now would be whether i should pop my starter in the refrigerator if it doubles after feeding it, or keep it out if it doesn't and feed it again tomorrow? i'm just using unbleached white bread flour, and 50-50 flour to water every time i add to the starter (doubling the quantity each time). is true that a room-temp starter should be fed twice a day, and does this apply when i'm trying to get a decent culture started?

jj1109's picture
jj1109

I always feed my starter again immediately before putting it in the fridge. should you fridge yours... if mine hasn't doubled I'm inclined to leave it out and check it in the morning.


HTH
JJ

mikeinnyc's picture
mikeinnyc

Much obliged ... there's definitely some art to this.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

After reading this thread, there are some good questions raised and answered. It does seem like we are all in awe somewhat of the ability to get a culture going and active. I remember I was somewhat surprised at how well it worked after I learned the basics and understood what a proper feeding schedule is. Debra Wink is the expert in this area and I would certainly defer to her advice in all cases.


One thing that hasn't been mentioned is how to prepare your starter for placement in the refrigerator for later use. Once you have your culture established and have a room temperature stable environment feeding schedule for a couple weeks, your starter should be tripling in 12 hours and smelling great. At that point, I like to feed and build a stiff starter of about 60%. I make sure it is well blended and I usually build about 200-250g of culture. I get best results if I immediately place the fresh build in the cooler that has room for a 100% expansion. I use a 3 cup glad food container with a small slit in the cover for breathing.


From this point on, when I want to bake, I remove a large Tablespoon (50g) of starter and inoculate the dough for the new mix. I usually make up my mix the night before and find the dough expanded and fermenting well the next day. A 2 loaf batch is usually ready for stretching and folding first thing in the morning and baking around noon.


My experience is that the refrigerated "Mother" starter will be ready to bake with for approximately 2 weeks. After that time I feed what ever is left according to my usual ratios. I can bake about 4 times using a 50g amount to inoculate and still have enough to feed back to 250g. Every now and then I treat the mother culture to a few days on the counter at RT with twice a day feedings to make sure everyone is happy.


Hope this helps.


Eric

dlstanf2's picture
dlstanf2

After some research and much reading I found that the pH level of a mature sourdough starter should be around 3.4 - 4.1. As pineapple juice comes in around 4.0 it's a good start to killing of the bacteria at startup. As my sourdough had good yeast devlopment, it was probably around a pH of 5.0. Using a few drops of vinegar, with it's lower pH probably helped my starter achieve the correct pH level.


As stated by others, a steady diet of either PJ or ACV/RWV will lower the pH enough to kill the starter.


But, by testing a starter discard with the addition of eith PJ or ACV/RWV will give an indication of your starter devlopment. Then you can adjust your feeding cycles to maintain a healthy starter.


Thanks to everyone for their input. My starter is now living outside the fridge, only fed when needed, and I'm using scales to keep my hydration levels correct. Will continue monitoring and as usual, reading the posts.