The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dead starter?

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OttovonBrot's picture
OttovonBrot

Dead starter?

I am currently on day 4 of the levain starter from Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb and have growing concerns. The only difference from the recipe is that I used all wheat flour for day 1 and then half wheat and half white for day two then all white for days 3 and 4. Day 1 was just fine, there was a significant amount of growth and it smelled like strong sourdough. After day 2, the starter had quadrupled in volume, hit the plastic wrap covering the container and collapsed. Day's 3 and 4 were pretty much identical, there was no rising and no visible bubbling. The starter has the normal, sweet acidic smell of a sourdough. Days 1 and 2 were quite warm and very humid (mid atlantic heatwave): upper 80s/low 90s and 50-70% humidity, days 3 and 4 have been in the mid to upper 70s and not humid at all.


 


Should I be concerned that there is no longer any visible rising? The instructions for Day 4 say that the levain starter is ready once it triples in volume. Should I have used the starter after day 2? Should I toss it out and start over?


 


Thanks for any help!


Otto


 


 

JessicaT's picture
JessicaT

Your starter isn't dead yet. Keep feeding it every day and it will start to get poofy and yummy again. Your starter is currently in a bit of a limbo so to speak, and with regular feedings it will come back. Don't give up!

OttovonBrot's picture
OttovonBrot

Good to know, thank you for the encouragement! I fed it today and unfortunately have not seen any change. I guess it will be a couple more days.


 


Is there any reason why starter goes into this weird phase? Will starter always do this?

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

The first two days are a bacterial bloom. Now your starter is trying to get balanced between bacteria and yeast. Not quite enough yeast to take off yet, though.


This is normal and sounds perfect so far.

diverpro94's picture
diverpro94

I'd just keep going. I had problems too, but in the end my starter turned out great.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You need the constant replenishing of fresh "beasties" and it has more than the AP flour.  You can introduce AP once it's going stronger.  If you have a little whole rye around, try adding a spoonful of that for a little boose.  Don't forget to discard and feed. 


Relax, it will come around.

OttovonBrot's picture
OttovonBrot

Thanks a lot for all the info. I have only tried making my own starter a few times in the past and was never very successful but am now determined to make my own levain. I will try going back to whole weat and see what happens. Unfortunately I do not have any rye at the moment but I do have some barley flour. Would that work?


The next question is...if it takes more than four days to make a sourdough starter, why is the Reinhart recipe only four days?


 


Thanks again!

diverpro94's picture
diverpro94

Because (at least in the BBA) the four days is to make a seed culture (AKA Barm). From there you will use the seed culture to make the sourdough.