The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough starter in hot and humid countries

teojen77's picture
teojen77

Sourdough starter in hot and humid countries

Hi there..


After reading about sourdough, I was very interested and went ahead to try out a sourdough starter. I have never tasted sourdough and neither do I know how a sourdough starter should smell like.


So there I go, trying my luck with my sourdough starter. On the first day, I fed it 8 hourly (based on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cusjbAtGzvg&feature=fvw). On the 2nd morning, my starter began to have bubbles and smell like vomit / spoilt yogurt, and I fed it once in the afternoon. On the 3rd morning it smelled a bit like nail polish. However, it is still able to rise and a lot of big bubbles are forming. As I researched on the internet that the nail polish smell could be due to underfeeding of the starter. Hence, I quickly fed it on a 1:1:1 (starter:breadflour: water) ratio for 3 more times. However, the smell just couldn't go off and it was turning very dense. In the end, I decided to throw the starter away...


Could it be due to the weather where I stay, where temperatures can go up to 33 C in the afternoon, and humidity is always above 90%, or is it the way i am managing it? By the way, this is the 2nd time i tried. The first time i tried with AP flour and waited 24hrs - nothing happened and mold formed. Night times in my location is 29 - 31 C. I read some articles on the Internet that yeast will die if temperatures goes above 60 C, and lactobacillus bacteria can grow as long as temp is between 15 C and 55 C. That is why i decided to go ahead with the "experiment". Did I get anything wrong from my research? If not, is it possible that people like us living in such hot and humid countries grow sourdough starters from scratch and maintain it at room temperature (i.e. 33 C) ?

Your help is most appreciated!


My references:


http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_survival_temperature_of_Lactobacillus_bacteria


http://www.theartisan.net/dough_fermentation_and_temperature.htm


 


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Here is a read for you (be aware there are others under Debra Winks blog as well worth reading.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2


Tropic heat presents some problems in that the warmth and humidity makes yeast and other beasties grow like crazy.  One way to control them is to feed them plenty and give them a pinch of salt with the flour to slow them down, but first you have to establish a starter.  AP will sometimes work but if you can get ahold of some raw grains with hulls, that might speed up the process.  Many imported goods have been radiated to control pests and spoilage.  This kills the natural yeasts that leave spores.  If you can get natural rice with hulls for example, that might help (or some whole coriander seeds from the market just for the first 24 hours)  you would only need a handfull to get started and combine with the AP.  Crush the grain a little with a hammer and get some unsweetend Pineapple juice, fresh works too instead of starting with water. 


You'll be glad to know that you are not the only member from Singapore!


Mini


 

teojen77's picture
teojen77

Thanks Mini,


Will give the pineapple juice method a try. Do you think I can try using brown rice?


Jen

tempe's picture
tempe

Hi Jen,


I am a newbie sourdough baker and I'm with Mini on debra winks pineapple juice method, it worked beautifully for me, I now have a very vigourous healthy starter.  Debra Wink is one smart lady, her posts are great reading.  I also used some organic rye flour while making my starter I found that really got it going as well.  In regards to humidity, I have yet to experience that, it will start getting humid here in Queensland in a month or so.


Can't help you with the brown rice query I'm sorry :(


Best of luck with our new starter :)


tempe

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or flakes?  Brown rice might be too clean already.  You could go for a country walk and pick some clean dust free grasses (not near a road.)  Try the AP with pineapple juice and be patient, it might take a day or two longer.  You can throw in some brown rice, it certainly can't hurt.   Plastic wrap and a rubber band over the top of the culture is a good idea and stir the culture a couple times a day.   Helps you get to know it better.   Good luck!

teojen77's picture
teojen77

Hi Mini,


Just managed to find wholewheat organic stone ground. Hope this is ok? I will take note of your advise to stir the culture a couple times a day. Going to try over the weekend! ;)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Mini

Avibabyau's picture
Avibabyau

You could try raisins or diced apple too. I live in Queensland and started my starter in the height of summer with temps and humidity very similar to yours. It's still going stron and now lives in the fridge.

Candygirl's picture
Candygirl

After months of making my own sourdough starter (made from Rye flour) and breads, my breads have been improving.  I used to follow everyone's timetable (those of you living in the US) and each bread turned out to have less oven spring than expected.  Turns out I've been overproofing my dough because of the ambient temperature in my part of the world (Manila, Philippines).  I don't really know how to calculate the time accurately but lessening the time I let the dough proof by an hour or more produced more oven spring - my breads have a more open crumb and not as dense and rubbery as my previous breads.  Regarding my sourdough starter, I often feed it more often or just let it bubble for about 4 hours when it has tripled before using it in a recipe.  In between bakings, I have no choice but to store it in the fridge. 


Of course the quality of my breads can still be improved, nonetheless I am hopeful! 


Best regards,


CG

teojen77's picture
teojen77

It is very true. I was trying the Jim Lahey's no knead bread, which requires 10-18 hours of proofing. First time, I used 18 hours - and I realised that the entire dough seems like over-proofed. It couldn't "firm up" when I was trying to shape it, and keep spreading out. Not sure if it could be due to humidity. Second time round, I used 10 hours of proofing instead, and it worked! - at least I can do the same like what I saw on the video in Martha Stewart's website. hahahah!


By the way, did you start your sourdough starter from scratch? If so, what did you start your sourdough starter with?

Candygirl's picture
Candygirl

I followed Susan's instructions and made a starter from Rye Flour.  http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/13/raising-a-starter/.  Halfway through I thought it wouldn't work but I carried on and was rewarded with a starter that I still use.  Goodluck!

ocling's picture
ocling

Hi everyone..

I am new to making sourdough starters. I am also from Singapore where the climate is hot and humid..

I am currently into the about my 8th or 9th day of starter making. Now there seems to be no activity for my starter and it has no smell. There are only a few visible tiny bubbles.

I am using plain white flour for my starter. Initially I was feeding every 24hrs for the first few days, then I started feeding every 12 hrs because the consistency seems to be very runny and I am assuming it is hungry for food? Am I feeding too much? Is my starter dead?

I feel like starting all over again.

Which type of flour is the easiest to get the starter going?

Really needed some advice.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

A starter should not take that long to get going.  Try the coriander trick mentioned above and start a second starter at the same time.  With the new one, let the first half day reach around 30°C and then keep it a comfortable 25° the rest of the week.  

Smelling like wet flour usually means overfeeding so with the 9 day starter just stop feeding for a few days and wait for the starter to change aromas.  Let the starter tell you when it is hungry.

Another thing to consider is the water being used.  Try letting it stand at least 24 hours open yet covered with a cloth or paper or boiled and cooled first.  I keep a pitcher handy for just water standing, using it for starter and bread when needed.  Some chemicals in the water can slow the sourdough bacteria/yeast growth.

ocling's picture
ocling

Hi Mini!

Thanks for your prompt response!

In that case, I will just leave me current starter as it is for now and see what happens. Actually I have stopped feeding a day and a half already.

All my water are boiled, cooled and filtered before I store in my pitcher. That should work right?

Do you think I can follow the steps as mentioned in Debra Wink's post? Previously I was weighing all the ingredients by weight.. her's was by volume.

And if I were to use the coriander seeds, how much do I use?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I know this sounds unscientific but just chuck in about a teaspoon.  

Stopped feeding already, good, how does it smell and taste (do spit it out after tasting.)

I'm in the neighborhood,  Laos.  Having Holidays at the moment so I'm out in the "garden" planting my wall "pots."

Try giving the culture a good stirring whipping it up and see if there is an improvement.  Keep the culture on the batter side of "dough."  Thicken it up if you want to trap gas if you detect fermentation going on and there seems to be a lot of tiny bubbles bursting at the surface.   

ocling's picture
ocling

Tried your advise to stir it up abit.. there are some bubbles right after the stirring... and it tasted quite sour... 

ocling's picture
ocling

By the way there is still no smell and the consistency is quite gooey

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

sounds good.   I would suggest feeding it but with more flour.   Try taking about 10 g of goo and add 40g water and 60g flour so it is more like a dough.   Drop into the bottom of a tall straight glass so any rising is obvious.  mark the level, cover with something to keep out bugs but still let gas out and watch it.

Save the sour tasting goo culture -- Chill as a "back up" just in case there is no reaction to the larger feeding.    

ocling's picture
ocling

I have discarded my previous batch of starter as there isn't much activities going on.

However, I started a new one thereafter following the pineapple juice method and it worked! I just tried making my first sourdough bread few days ago. 

Hurray!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sometimes one gets the right "bugs" with the first try and sometimes it takes longer.  Heat always seems to speed things up a bit.

Congrats!