The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First starter- yogurt, help?

BooksAreNerdy's picture

First starter- yogurt, help?

Hello all!

I'm new here and hoped to get some advice on my starter.  I have made a starter in years past with yeast packets but only made a few loaves and didn't feed the starter to keep it going.  I am currently a few days in to making my first 'real' starter and am having confidence issues.  My starter recipe is from an old Sunset Bread book.  It basically called for 1 cup of skim milk heated, 3 tablespoons low-fat yogurt stirred in.  It was to sit in a warm (80-100 degree) place for 24 hours, then be fed with 1 cup flour and remain in the warm place for 2-5 days until bubbly and 'good and sour smelling'.  

I have it sitting in a water bath at about 90 degrees all day.  I am currently on about day 3 of the final few days of rising.  

I have been reading the articles and blogs on this site and have become concerned that I am not feeding often enough, that my texture is too soupy, my temperature is too high, my starter isn't doubling.  I did have a small bit of fuzz mold on the side of the jar, but after reading this forum, just scraped it off and moved on.  I do have a few small bubbles forming at the top of the liquid, but not much else going on.  I wonder if it is too soupy.  It is very creamy, like yogurt.  

Should I just keep on like the recipe suggests?  My other thoughts have been to take it out of the water bath and let it sit at room temp (72 degrees) for the remainder of the time.  Also considering whole rye flour to help feed/sour things up.  Any suggestions?  

Thanks so much!

LindyD's picture

Flour will naturally ferment when its mixed with water.  The process of making a levain (fermented flour and water) has been done for a few thousand years, so we do know it works.

Here's a good link to a pretty much foolproof method of creating a sourdough culture.  The actual formula is towards the end.

If you want to save the mixture you have, I'd dump out all but 25%, then add some organic rye and water so that you have a somewhat stiffer mixture, cover the container, and allow it to sit at room temperature.  Forget about the yogurt and milk.  Put a piece of tape on the container so you can measure the height of the culture; when it has risen and is just about ready to collapse, feed it again (bread or AP flour is fine).

You need to keep discarding and feeding a levain at least every 12 hours, so be patient and attentive, and let us know what happens.

But do read the link and give that one a try.

BooksAreNerdy's picture

The article was very interesting and helpful.  I have decided to just add a tablespoon of rye flour every day to feed and see what happens.  I am keeping at room temp (74) for convenience.  So far, I think the rye is helping get things bubbly.  I have noticed a release of gas each time I open the jar.  

I have a yeast bread recipe I like well that I am making while I wait for my starter so I am in no hurry.  

Here is to hoping things go well!  


mrfrost's picture

If you mean you can hear the gas escape, you probably have the jar sealed a little to tightly. The seal need not be air tight, and if so, could be a hinderance in getting the culture maximized.