The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

more questions about sourdough

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msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

more questions about sourdough

Hello Everyone,


I have a couple of questions about the initial starter for sourdough bread. I used Peter Reinhart's approach from BBA and while still in the seed culture stage, the stuff overflowed like crazy, day 2. I placed a request in the Blog portion here about it and Mrfrost was kind enough to explain what was happening. I also stumbled across Debra's (is it Wink) accounting of the same thing. A lot of people had that experience and she tackled it from a scientific stand and that was very helpful to learn that the overflow was due to the bacteria, etc. That is where she came up with the pineapple juice "fix". Of course the next step was it appeared dead. Deader than a doornail. I just kept feeding once a day according to the last day's direction. It has taken 7 days and it appears to be working nicely, has doubled only and is frothy on top. It took about 12 hours for that to happen from the last feed. The question is, how do I know if the rise is due to the good yeasty stuff or more bacteria from all the new flour I've been adding.


Then, this seed culture will become a "barm" that while I have 4 cups of it, will only use 1 cup for the barm. The barm requires 3 cups of flour along with 2 cups of water and the 1 cup of culture. That is a lot of product when the recipe only calls for 2/3 cup of it. I like his other approach that is in his Artisan Bread Book, starts out with tablespoons and does use the pineapple juice. Throwing that much flour away bothers me.


The other question I have is this: I have a starter in my fridge that is about 2 yrs old or so. I feed it every 10 days. It was started with a small amount of yeast along with the flour and what ever else went into it. No builds. I have only made loaf bread with it. After all this time, (no additiional yeast has been used) would it be considered to still be a commercial yeast product or might it be a real starter by now.


Thanks in advance, really appreciating all the good info on this site. Jean P.