The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wild Yeast Sourdough

Wayne's picture
Wayne

Wild Yeast Sourdough

My wild yeast sourdough starter is now in it's 10th day.............and I cannot seem to get it to double or anything close.  It bubbles, etc. but still smells like alcohol.  Have even tried a 1:4:4 build (see picture) but it never rises or doubles.  Maybe sourdough lady or Jim can shed some light on my problem.  All help is appreciated.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Have you been feeding it equal volumes of flour and water? If so, then it's going to be really wet and it looks like you've got a very wet batter. That isn't a problem at all -- it'll make bread just fine -- but as wet as it is, it probably won't double because the starter is so liquid, most of the gas escapes instead of being trapped in the flour's gluten network.

Super wet starters will froth actively when they're ready, and I'd say you've got PLENTY of froth!

Wayne's picture
Wayne

I had been feeding it with 1/4 cup H2O and 1/4 cup starter, 1/4 cup KA flour.  Even added a 1/4 tsp of vinegar that sourdolady recommended.  Maybe I will try to make a levain out of it and see if I can get any rise.  Thanks.

TRK's picture
TRK

That is a super hydrated starter.  I use equal weights of water and flour (6 oz. each generally and 1/4 cup starter to refresh), which is about 3/4 cup water and 1 cup flour.  I think maybe you don't have enough flour to create structure, so you just have bubbles instead of rising (the gluten isn't there to catch the CO2).  I bet if you make up a levain you will see quite a bit of rise.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Yes, your batter is pretty wet, but it will make great bread. I've had starters that wet -- sometimes they'd almost double, but most of the time they wouldn't, and the bread they made was fine. I just looked over SourdoLady's instructions and I didn't see where they say that the starter should double, just that it should bubble, but she'd know much more about that than I would. SourdoLady? :-)


In any case, if you want to see if hydration is a factor, you could take some of your starter, put it in a different container and feed it 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. That'll make a thicker batter with enough strength to capture some of the gas and, ideally, will at least double in size.

But given what your starter looks like in the photo, I'd say you're ready to make some bread.

Tess's picture
Tess

I miss reading her views on the problems were are having? 

I also appreciate you, JMonkey, and all the effort expended to help find solutions to various question.

Tess

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Wayne,

 

Your starter certainly does look active in that photograph.  I'm wondering if the appearance of not doubling is just that, an appearance.

 

I can't be sure from the photograph, but it appears that your starter is presently in a bowl.  How about doing another 1:4:4 build, beginning with an ounce or so of your starter, but this time put it in a container that is taller than it is wide.  A glass or plastic jar-shaped thing would be best, since you could mark the starting position of the starter and then compare its progress at intervals of a couple of hours to see how much it is growing.  You will obviously want to have a day at home to try this, so that you can check on it periodically.

 

If your starter occupies the bottom inch of the container when it is first poured in, then it will occupy the bottom two inches of the container if it doubles, or the bottom 3 inches of the container if it triples.  And so on.

 

If it doesn't double its volume with all of those bubbles, I'll be surprised.  And then you can come back here and ask someone who really understands sourdough, like Sourdolady, for further advice.  Good luck with your experiment.

 

PMcCool

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Good advice above, esp. on the container, I would just add that if not doing this already, make sure it is in a warm enough spot, like 70F if possible - mine didn't get really active when I first made it until I moved it from my 62F kitchen into a warmer 70F spot, then it quadrupled like crazy.

Val's picture
Val

I've been in the sourdough world about six weeks. I started out with an equal volume feeding regime with limited success. After attending the Sourdough class at KAF, I changed to an equal weight feeding method. It took a little time for the starter to adjust, but it is now very robust and expands very well sitting on my kitchen counter at about 66 degrees. I feed it daily.

Wayne's picture
Wayne

Thanks guys and gals,

I just refreshed the starter but I did not put it into a narrower container......will see if I have something to put it in like that. I have the starter in my master bathroom (warmest spot in the house), stays around 69 degrees. Will try all of the above and see what happens.  Also, have obtained all the parts to make my proofing box out of a $1.88 styrofoam box and a $1.80 cent light socket.  Already have an old electrical cord and a voltage regulator to control the temp.  So, for about $4.00 I will have a portable proofing box.  I suppose adding a dimmer switch would increase the cost to about $8.00 or so.  Will post some pics when I get through with it.  Thanks again.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Wayne, I think the key is the hydration, i.e. you need to use equal weights flour and water to get more structure. Also, if you use the starter for flavor, it won't be very sour if it is very wet, from what I've experienced, although it may have tons of yeast in it, as it is certainly frothing away in that photo.

 4.5 ounces of flour is about a cup of flour, so if you use about 1.5 to 2 cups of flour per cup of water, you'd match up more closely with recipes for wet starters like the one in Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, which to me has a very good explanation of what to do, although I found I had to use some acid in the very beginning to avoid certain problems, as in http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1930/7182#comment-7182

 Good luck with it!

Wayne's picture
Wayne

I think you are probably correct and I believe I have been using too much water in my refreshments.  I have one proofing now that is weight to weight and I am hoping this will do the trick.  Thanks.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I think your starter looks great! It really doesn't have to double to be able to rise bread. As long as you have good bubbles (froth) on top and small bubbles suspended throughout, it is fine. The reason I start the new starter so wet is because it tends to ferment better in the early stages when it is wet. Once it is active, feel free to maintain it at whatever consistency that you prefer. The most popular seems to be equal weights. Now go bake some bread!!

sewwhatsports's picture
sewwhatsports

Val-
Which sourdough class did you take at King Arthur and when? I took the class with Jeffery last November and loved every minute. I am going back next weekend for Jeffery's rye bread class. Just thought we might have crossed paths there...

Rena in Delaware

Val's picture
Val

Rena:

I took the basic sourdough course about two weeks ago. It was a four hour class on a Sunday afternoon, with lots of hands on instruction. We baked some bread there, and were able to bring dough home to try in our own ovens. Luckily, I'm only an hour away, so taking classes there can be a last minute decision.

Wayne's picture
Wayne

Glad to see you back Val......thanks for the input.  Have some Essential bread fermenting as I write.  Hope my levain rises the dough as desired.

Wayne

FloridaChad's picture
FloridaChad

Great thread.

I've been wondering about my two starters...same issue, but I started using 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup water recently and I've been much more pleased with the results.

 

I'm planning on doing my sponge this afternoon and try out a simiple "white" recipe tomorrow. 

 

David Little, Clearwater, FL

Wayne's picture
Wayne

David,

How much starter do use with the 1/2 cup flour and 2/3 cup water, 1/2 cup ??

 Wayne

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Wayne,

I know you addressed the post to David, but I'll put my 2 cents worth on it, if it helps. I think David's post said he uses 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup water, not 1/2 cup water with 2/3 cup flour. With 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup water, the proportions should be fairly close to 1:1 in weight. As far as how much starter, you just want the amount of starter to be something like 1/2 or less of the weight of flour and water added for feeding. You would get different speed of rising, flavors, and longevity of the culture by using different expansion ratios, but basically almost any ratio of expansion of the culture from 2 to about 5 to 1 ought to work fine. I would suggest you use something like 1/4 cup, i.e. roughly 2 oz of starter. That would be an expansion of roughly 1 to 5, since the weight of the 1 cup of flour plus the 2/3 cup of water is probably about 10 ounces. I've read that it makes sense to use feeding ratios of anywhere from 2:1 to 5:1 (flour + water added=5 to culture=1) in different books. I've used very high feeding ratios at times, and the culture will generally bubble up and rise to double within the course of the day. With a relatively new, robust culture, and a 5:1 feeding ratio it seems to take my culture about 4 hours to rise to double in volume. With an old culture that's been in the refrig for a long time and a 10:1 expansion ratio, it might take more like 10 hours. I don't have experience with very wet cultures, so maybe SourdoLady has some further advice related to the case of a very wet culture, but I think even if you stay with a very wet culture, you could use feeding ratios like the above.

Regards, Bill Wraith

Wayne's picture
Wayne

Hi Bill:

 Thanks for the information......I am currently trying a build of 1:4:4 (by weight)  just to see how it works.  Also, I am fixing to start a San Francisco sourdough starter I obtained from Sourdoughs International.  Had to build a proofing box first since it requires a higher proofing temp than most.  Just for fun, I also ordered a starter from Carl Griffith's Oregon Trail Sourdough which was started in 1847......in any case, thanks for the input.

Wayne

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Good luck with all that. I did purchase a SF sourdough starter from King Arthur. It has worked well for me, although I am now only maintaining the one I started from scratch, which seems to have a slightly stronger, tangier flavor for some reason. When I was maintaining the KA SF starter, I didn't really worry that much about precisely following every detail of what they suggested in their instructions, which were very detailed. I simply fed 1:4:4 by weight a couple times to revive it from the refrigerator, just like the one I have now. It seemed to do just fine. Each of the various suppliers has clues and suggestions for how to feed their culture and store it, either on web sites or in the literature that comes with the starter. Some of them are pretty interesting in that they provide clues about what various experts believe is important to the process. I don't recall the whole higher temperature aspect you are mentioning with respect to the Sourdoughs International starter. I'll have to go and see if I can find their literature, which I bet I have around here somewhere. I think I even have one of their packs in my refrigerator somewhere. I'm sure building a proofing box will be fun and have uses going forward. However, I also wouldn't be overly worried if you can't get the precise temperature they call for in their instructions. My experience has been that, other than some difficulties getting them started from scratch in the first few days, most everything about the process is very forgiving from feeding to storing to raising a dough.