The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter not rising?

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

Starter not rising?

Hi - I just found your site today and it has inspired me to try this whole sourdough business again.  I tried Maggie Glazer's sourdough starter back in November and thought it was working, but it never did "rise".  When she says the starter should "quadruple in 8 hours"...well, mine just wasn't doing that.  It would have a nice sour smell and had a definite fermentation going on (lots of bubbles under the surface), but was a sticky, gluey consistency and wasn't rising.  Now, hers is a "firm starter", so I don't know if that makes a difference.  I'm anxious to try some of the trickier breads in her Artisan Baking book, but they all require a starter!

 Any thoughts?  Am I doing this right?  Was my starter OK after all?

 Thanks.

Srishti's picture
Srishti

Mine just started to show life today, and it looks beautiful... Today was the 7th day... I would never expect it to do anything in 8 hrs. If you get any bubbles in the first couple days, it's usually due to bacterial action. Check out SourDoLady's starter recipe on this forum. Also there are tons of other threads here about sourdough.

All the best

Srishti

Srishti's picture
Srishti

Well, once the starter is established, it would most definitely qudrupal in 8 hours... Did you mean 8 hrs after starting making the starter or when you started making the bread itself?

Oh,and WELCOME to this site :-)

Srishti

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

It was doing this after 8+ days, though, so it should have been a "completed" starter by then.  I'm glad your starter is working.  I have SourDoLady's starter on my kitchen table as we speak!

 Bobbi

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

Thanks.  (:

8 hours after refreshing the starter, it "should" quadruple.  Mine never did bubble up or expand upwards at all.  Maybe because I was making it in the winter?  How important is room temperature in all this?

Jeffrey's picture
Jeffrey

When i do my starters with equal volumes, i.e. 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 water, it wouldn't rise.  The bubbles just floated to the top and disappeared.  When it's thicker, 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water, it rises.  Never quite quadruples.  It's cool in our kitchen so it might take ten hours to reach it's peak.

 

Does this help

 

jeffrey

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Hi All- New here though I've been lurking for awhile. I hear so many of you talking about Sour Do Lady's starter but haven't been able to find the recipe and instructions for it. Would someone be kind enough to let me know where I can find this on the site or be willing to share it on this thread?

 Thanks!

Trish in Omaha

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

Don't let me stop you trying sdl starter method. Mine is probably about the same. 

 How To Make Your Own Starter From Scratch.


• 1. Take:


2 oz (50g) of Whole Wheat or Rye (Organic if you can)

2 oz (50g) of Chlorine free water 70-80F (20 - 25C)(boiled, filtered, bottled,

some good tap waters)


Mix in a container with a loose fitting lid or film and set aside in a warm

(70-80F (20 - 25C)) place.


• 2. After 24 hours throw half of the mix away and feed with the above.


• 3. Repeat until the mixture shows some bubbles, probably on the third or fourth day.


• 4. When the mix starts to show some bubbles feed, for best results, with the flour you intend to bake with.


• 5. Once the mixture shows a lot of activity two - four hours after feeding and smells of flowers (sounds odd I know) or of alcohol it's ready to use.


If you don't want to use straight away, put the starter in the fridge one hour after feeding. 


If you don't use the starter for more than 3 days or so you'll need to 'build it up' by repeated feedings of 1 part starter, at least 1 part water and at least 1 part flour.  A dryer starter will last longer without feeding. Knead in some flour until it's like playdough. This will help the starter stay active for upto a month and viable for six to ten. This really does work. I've activated them with no problems after 10 months of not being used.


Here's a recipe
and pix of the bread I made with my starter.



Jim
Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

I've Sourdolady's starter going as of this morning. I'm getting ready to go in and start yours now.

cmcadams's picture
cmcadams

I just made a starter, using whole wheat and water.  It took 4 days to show anything, then by day 7 looked great.  I used some of it, replenished, then forgot to feed one day, and I killed it. :(  I'm going to start a new one this weekend, and hopefully won't murder my starter before it's going well!  

 I did make one sourdough pumpernickel that turned out really well, though.

Curt McAdams

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

I'm sure you didn't kill your starter by not feeding it for one day. It will take a lot more than that. Just think what happened to the organisms before they ended up in your starter. I've had starters come back after being in my fridge for 10 months which probably equates to about 3 months on the counter. 

Jim

cmcadams's picture
cmcadams

Jim, it's too late now! :)  I tried feeding it for a couple of days with no response, so I pitched it and will start over this weekend.  By next weekend, I should have a new starter going.  From the little I know, I guessed that I didn't have a stable starter yet.

 I'd also heard, whether or not it's true, that whole wheat flour can make a more volatile starter than other flours, but that sounds like bunk to me.

Curt McAdams

sadears's picture
sadears

Curt,

 

I feel your pain.  Did the same thing once.  I have since found my patience and hopefully know better.

 

Steph

cmcadams's picture
cmcadams

Here are some photos of what I did with the sourdough.  I learned a lot, like to slash the dough whether it calls for it in the recipe or not, when I think it should be done.  The pumpernickel still tasted really good.

And a first try at a French country loaf; I either handled it too much or didn't give it time to ferment after shaping, but it tastes great.

 

 

Curt McAdams

FloridaChad's picture
FloridaChad

Hello everyone. I just "joined up" today but have been lurking for a few days. I've baked off and on for many years - especially breads, but I'm just beginning my first foray into the world of sourdough.

Curt, I'm Chad from the bbq forum, glad to see you here! My wheat starter, began on 1/22, is doing great...I'll probably hold off until Superbowl weekend to try it out. I've got my organic apple juice getting happy and should be able to start creating starter by this weekend. OH yeah, get over to "Introductions" and let us know about yourself! :)

I'm impressed with the attitude of this group...it should be fun. After all, nobody doesn't like bread!

David Little, Clearwater, FL

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

That's a shame. If that happens again. Feed it about sixe times the water and about flour flour. Leave it in a warm place for 24 hours then feed it again. Either normally or as above depending how you think it's going. Sometimes it takes a few 'washes' but mostly just one and you're away again. It's a combination of the warm and the high hydration that helps it get back to health.

Jim

cmcadams's picture
cmcadams

I just started a new starter last Friday, but I used double the quantities I did the first time (a quarter cup of whole wheat flour and water each, every day).  After 3 days, I already saw bubbles, and this morning it was bubbling pretty well.  I'm going to load it up with a cup each tonight and see how it does.  I know it's a simple recipe, but I'm ok with that; it's also easy to figure out how much flour and water I add by weight to a recipe. 

Curt McAdams

Srishti's picture
Srishti

Hello Trish,

Welcome to this site, here is SourdoLady's starter http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233

Hello Bobby,

Today is my 8th day on the starter. Yesterday it was doing beautifully. I fed it a whole cup last night as I wanted it to build up some bulk before I'd bake with it. I had 1 1/2 cups last morning and not it's only 1 3/4 cup. We turn the heat down in the nights, so the house is cooler. Let's see what happens during the course of the day. There are a lot of beautiful bubbles in it though, so it's happy at least.

Also, it seems like if you make it with white flour it really bubbles up a lot, as I have seen some pictures of it on this site with sourdoughs bubbling out of the containers, don't remember the name of the person.

Whole Wheat is much heavier and it wouldn't rise that much.

Keep us updated

Srishti

gothicgirl's picture
gothicgirl

I am using SourdoLady's starter recipe and so far so good!

Welcome!!!

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Thanks to everyone who replied to my question. I'm off to the Whole Foods Market after work to pick up the whole grain wheat and rye flour. Can't wait to get started. I'll let you know my progress!

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

Hmmm...maybe I'm using the wrong water.  I'll try using filtered water this time - is Brita water OK?

 I started a new one last night using organic ww flour - I can use that instead of rye, right?

FloridaChad's picture
FloridaChad

I just started my first batch a few days ago - really simple with 1/4 cup whole wheat (KA if it matters) and 1/4 cup water. I used tap but have since changed to bottled spring water. I moved it today to a quart container and it's doing fine.

I actually started feeding one day too early - i.e. it was just bubbling with no real growth - but it has taken off since then. I did switch to KA unbleached white for the feedings.

Good luck!! 

David Little, Clearwater, FL

gothicgirl's picture
gothicgirl

You can start it with any flour you like, from what I understand, but whole grains (such as rye) have more yeast in them naturally because the bran is not removed.

At least, that is how I understand it.

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

Thanks all for your interest in this topic - I now have 3 different starters on the go (!) and will report back in a few days.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Pseudobaker, I used Maggie Gleezer's starter method and it has been great for a couple of years (still is) BUT it never quadrupled in size! 
I used to worry about that, but it makes great bread and works fine, so I've stopped caring - if it is very bubbly and active,I'm sure it will raise your loaf. Also, her book worried me to death by suggesting that if it hasn't "crested and fallen" before you use it, the loaf won't work and the starter will die. Honestly, I haven't found the starter to be temperemantal at all - it lives as a stiff starter in the fridge, left alone for weeks at a time, then comes back to full strength quite happily when it is fed.Also, I seem to remember that the orignal starter, made with rye, took about 2 weeks before it really got going. But it has never looked back!
This is a great site, and there is so much advice, you will certainly get a good starter going if you follow all the tips and suggestions here.
Happy baking, 
Andrew

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I made the Glezer firm starter beginning January 4 and it finally quadrupled but took about three weeks.  I then used the completed starter recipe which, for those of you with her recipe knows, uses a very small amount of all ingredients.  That is one reason I wanted to try this recipe in addition to Glezer stating you need this firm starter for the recipes in her book.   But now it seems so much less active despite refreshing it twice per day.  We are experiencing very frigid temps here but surely that is not the reason this starter does not rise as Glezer states it should.

I refrigerated it last night in order that I would not lose it and was hoping I can get some sage advice here.  What would you recommend I do? Since the starter  "barely" rises but is still showing bubbles is this just the way a firm starter behaves especially at this level of ingredients? Btw, I made some wonderful bread with only my starter last Friday and they rose very well.

Also, if one wishes to use other recipes not using a firm starter is there a method for converting it for use on those recipes?

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Zola blue,  to convert from a firm starter (which is how I keep it in the fridge) to a not firm starter, I take 30 grams of firm starter and add 40 grams of flour and 40 grams of water. This is left, mixed and covered, for about 8 - 12 hpurs, then I add 100 grams of water and 100 grams of flour, which, after another 8 - 12 hours, gives me 300 grams of highly active starter at 100% hydration. It works for me - I can't guarantee it work for anyone else, but give it a go! You'll still have your stiff starter in the fridge to fall back on! And for the firm starter to live in the fridge, I'd use 30 grams starter, 30 grams of water and 50 grams of flour. This is mixed, covered, and left on the side for around 4 or 5 hours, then put on the fridge. It seems to like this routine - for me, at least. Again, what suits one person / starter may not suit all - but try it! 
Good luck,
Andrew

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Andrew, thanks for your reply and instructions. I'm a very new bread baker (roughly 6 weeks) and new to this forum.  Maggie Glezer's recipe for a completed starter, which I have done, is 10 grams starter, 25 grams lukewarm water, and 45 grams unbleached bread flour.  Are you saying then it is ok to depart from her formula and that your ratios perhaps will make a better and more active starter?  Sorry, if I'm being redundant.

Glezer's recipe for final days of creation is; starter - 60 grams; water - 45 grams; unbleached bread flour - 90 grams.  Do you sometimes have to return from the completed starter recipe to the one before to get it more active again?  Or just do as you instructed and abandon her recipe?

Also, I was wondering if there is a formula for how to use a firm starter in a batter-starter recipe without actually converting the firm to batter.  Or is that not how it should be done?  I love Glezer's book and recipes and she says they require her firm starter recipe.  So confusing!

 
andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Zolablue,
I followed Magie Glezer's starter recipe TO THE LETTER for the first two weeks (until it was really up and running) , then  for a while longer - but I resented throwing away so much flour and effort - so eventually began on the regime I outlined above. As I say,it works really well for me - but there are loads of different opinions and one person does not always agree to the letter with another.
Once the starter is active and able to raise a loaf , I think you can relax a bit more with it - keep two in the fridge and you'll always have one you can experiment a little more with and one you can be more precise with! 
I find that a covered stiff starter can survive WEEKS without feeding or bothering, and to bring it back to use, it is a matter of taking 30 grams starter, 40 grams water and 40 grams flour - proceed as my posting above! The remaining starter will need to be fed , left for a few hours and then refrigerated. 
But as I say, there are lots of different approaches - this is one I am very happy with and which works well for me.
Happy baking!
Andrew
If you'd like the bread recipe I normally use, email and I'll send it -  simple and effective - I find.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Many thanks, Andrew, I will start on this tomorrow.  I did already raise some loaves very successfully so that's a good thing!  I'm also very interested in not having to toss so much flour and effort so I appreciate your help.  I would love to know your recipe so will email you. 

Edit: Sorry, Andrew, as I said I'm new to this site and unfamiliar with how to email you for recipe.  Can you post it here?

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

email me at   stickleback4@mac.com
andrew

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I followed Andrew's instructions on the Glezer starter, splitting my one "mother" into two and using a different ratio for each as an experiment.  One is definately the firm starter I wanted to maintain and after two refreshments is very active today.  The other, as instructed, is a bit wetter, still not a batter, and it is going great as well.  The starter was obviously very healthy despite my concerns and the fact it had been in the fridge for a few days. Thanks, Andrew!

sewwhatsports's picture
sewwhatsports

When I get home from work in the morning Tuesday I am going to feed my starter in preparation of making a sourdough build Tuesday night and baking on Wednesday.  I take the starter out of the frigerator, feed it and let it sit all day.  When I get up from sleeping but before I go to work I make my build. I will put that in my laundry room as it is cooler and I need a slower rise as it will be almost 14 hours before I get home to bake.  I am going to do my favorite pain au levain and maybe a light rye bread.  I am not sure of the 2nd kind I will make.  I am out of the sourdough bread at home and miss it...I was away from Friday to Monday so missed my weekend baking. 

I find I get a good rise in about 8 hours with my basic feed which is 1:1:0.6 (50 gm starter/50 gm flour/30 gm water).  I then do the sourdough build according to the recipe. My kitchen stays in the 66-70 degree range and it has worked well.  If I need it warmer I put it in the cold oven with the door shut and the light on.  It will get about 78-80 that way and I know that there will be a good rise there. If I need cooler I put ion my laundry room which stays 56-62 degrees in the winter.  I am lucky to have these ranges of temperatures during the rising period.

Rena in Delaware