The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New starter

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Yolandat's picture
Yolandat

New starter

I have been given a starter in powdered form. I want to get it activated. The instructions that came with it say to use white flour. I would rather have a rye starter. Can I use the powdered starter and activate it with rye in place of white or should I start it out as white and convert it to rye later? This is my first attempt at a starter so I am unsure of what I am doing. If I start it off as rye can I convert it to white or do I need to bother. Can I use a rye starter in a white or whole wheat bread recipe or vice versa. 


Yolanda


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

is the history of that powder. Do you know the origin? Transporting or shipping "heirloom" starters in powder form is common, but so is selling nonsense in the form of flour, sugar and commercial yeasts and having the user treat it like a sourdough.


Remember that these starters represent a mixture of bacteria and yeast. Established starters have both and both have learned to get along together, becoming an effective team. Rise and flavor are the end products of a good starter. You don't get that from the nonsense, gimmicky stuff some are selling.


But assuming you have something worth working with, start it with white flour as per instructions. Get it up and running as per instructions. That will be your white starter. From that, if you want a rye starter, eventually start one by taking some discard from the white and transition it over by slowly upping the percentage of rye flours  to get to the level you want. It's not a big problem to have both. White and rye. Sample sizes can be kept small. Very small. As in total quantity of starter being less than 1/4 cup.


Or, if you truely want a rye starter, you can buy established starters for rye flours, or easily start your own.


 

Yolandat's picture
Yolandat

Thank you Ho Dough. I will start if off as advised. I received the starter though the freinds of Carl Griffiths. it is  1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough starter. I don't have much more information than that about it. The only thing that concerns me is that their recipes that are included in the sheet to get it started are for biscuits and pancakes and use yeast as well as the starter. What I really want to do i make tasty loaves using just the starter and no yeast or at the least very little.  


For now I am going to make Bridge rolls. I am going to play Euchre with the girls from  work so I guess they will be Eucher Rolls. 



Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Keep in mind the yeasts in sourdough and commercial yeasts are two different categories. A lot of recipes in books mention adding commercial yeasts to breads, obstensibly, to give more rise to the dough. With a good starter, this is not necessary. In fact, it may result in something less desireable. Yeasts provide the rise for leavening, but the bacertia are responsible for the wonderful flavor of sourdough. They take longer to grow, thrive and do their stuff. Throw in a commericial yeast, and they won't have time to work. For me, a loaf of sourdough is a 24 hour process.


The wild yeasts in sourdough provide enough rise and lift, it simply takes longer. A good thing. And the only food source for all this is the flours. No sugar. That just revs it up for speed.....to the detriment of flavor. (The exception being some heavy types of bread where sugar of some type is added for it's own flavor...not as a food source for the livestock).


And lastly, never ever contaminate your starter by adding commercial yeast to it. If yeast is ever added, it's only to the dough on a one time basis. The starter stays "wild".

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Its one of the "heirloom" versions, and probably kept by a lot of folks on this forum. However, if the instructions say anything about sugar or commercial yeasts, go slow on that. You only need clean water (I use bottled spring water......some use tap if chlorine is not an issue) and flour.


Many of these starter instructions also say stuff like "cup of water, cup of flour". This leads to  huge volumns of starter you you don't need. And expensive when you start discarding the extras after feeding. If you want to start it like this, fine, but you don't need to keep it going like that. More on this below.


Once you activate a powdered starter, you can expect activity to start (bubbles showing) within 12 hours. By 24 hours, it should be very active. These are temperature sensitive. Somewhere in the 75* to 85* range will kick it off faster. Initially, there may be some funky stuff going on with unwanted bacteria that are alway present in flours ( manifests itself as strange smells). Even with powdered starters. Keep feeding and this goes away, to be replaced by a pleasent yeasty smell in a day or so.


Any instructions on the package to the contrary, a good rule of thumb to keep this going once it becomes active is 1 part starter, 1 part water, 1 part flour.....by weight. If you have access to sensitive scales, a mix of 20 grams starter, 20 grams water and 20 grams of flour will do nicely. This would be a 100% hydration starter. A starter kept like this will expand 2 to 4 times in volume in a 12 hour period, then fall back. It is thick enough the bubbles formed are trapped in the mix, so it expands.


Equal volumes of starter.....say 1 tablespoon of each......winds up being more liquid....about 160% hydration. This will still bubble and foam up, it just won't expand as much by volume as the starter is so thin the bubbles are able to float to the top.


Both work, you just need to be aware of how they differ and what to expect. Later on, it matters a great deal, as the flour and water in the starter have to be taken into account when building the recipe for the bread. For any recipe, you have to know what the author was using as the starter....firm like a dough to liquid ike a batter. Both work, but do affect the outcome of the loaf. This will come later on. For now.....you are good to get started.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

be aware that it will be at least a few days before you can start on making dough from it.  First you have it activate it and get it going to "wake up" the yeasts from their dormant state and get their numbers up.  You will be growing a sourdough culture and using part of it to raise doughs and keep part of it fed and growing.  After it is growing, it is easy to take a tablespoon of the culture and feed it rye flour to make a rye starter.  Then you would have two starters. 


It wouldn't hurt to use the site search machine and see what others have encountered while waking up this starter.  Just type the name of the starter in the search box (upper left corner.)


I play Euchre too!


Mini

Yolandat's picture
Yolandat

Thanks Mini and HoDough. I am going to get it started today as I have a couple of days to attend to it. Then I have 4 days to work before I can even think about making bread again. I am excited to get started on this new bread adventure.