The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Unable to revive my "levain". It smells like a SOUR sourdough starter. Anyone have a non-sour starter to trade?

  • Pin It
KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

Unable to revive my "levain". It smells like a SOUR sourdough starter. Anyone have a non-sour starter to trade?

I loved my starter and raised it myself. By sheer luck (or by whatever was living on the wheat I used), it turned out to be a totally mild, almost milky sweet starter. It was GOOD. Does anyone know what I mean? I probably sound like a nutcase! I used it for a long time and then took a break from baking.


Turns out the break was too long and the starter didn't make it. Does anyone have a sweet starter to trade for this sour stuff? I've only smelled the new one, not baked with it. It really smells strongly sour to me, like a really sour starter I borrowed from my cousin once. I see people here so earnest about getting really sour sourdough -- mabye this new starter will do that -- it smells like it may. We have some local bakeries that have levain breads as well as sourdoughs, but they're not the same. They're not as good. If anyone can help, that would be great.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to feed it like you did years ago.   


If the abused starter has been sitting a long time the acid levels are very concentrated.  The danger in feeding a high concentrated acid starter is in not dumping enough and maintaining the imbalance and encouraging the more acid loving yeasts to produce.


Lots of detail is missing... like the method you used to wake up the starter, how much you kept, and how long you have been at it.  It sounds like reviving it has left you frustrated.


You might want to follow your original method and start up a new starter.  :)


You might also want to test it first.  I hear often enough, "Although my starter is sour, I can't get that sour taste in my bread!  How can I get more sour in my dough?"  


Try it and see.


 


 

KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

Thanks! I dried it out when it was at peak activity and froze some and some I dried and kept in the fridge. There was about 300g. The first feeding I just wet it. Then I started feeding it at 100%, saving 1/2 per day. I skipped one day when it looked diluted w /no activity at all. It has been about 6 days and it bubbles like before but doesn't rise.


It has been about 6 days. Maybe it was just re-started? You're right -- I think I do have to give it time and also test it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

just be patient.  :)

KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

Well, either I started a new starter or the old dried one survived around 2 years in the freezer/fridge. I don't care, really. The bread is back!

tuziksmith's picture
tuziksmith

Hi KristinKLB,


Would you please tell me how you revived your sour from a frozen one? How much you had, what was the feeding schedule and what was the old sour/new food ratio every time you fed it. Did you mix the new food by weight or by volume?


I have the same problem, but it happened right after I made Nancy Silverton's grape sour. I stored it for a day or two in my new wine cooler, and my theory is that the yeast was hungry and kept feeding even in the wine cooler until the yeast ran out of food, and acetic bacteria took over. I am not a chemist, but I suspect, that's what happened. My sour is very, very sour. Like you, I much prefer a very mild, sweeter taste of sourdough breads. Can't stand San Francisco type sourdough bread. But that's what I have for now. I can't figure out what went wrong. Everybody says that sour needs to be stored at 55-56F, but my old sour that I used to store in a regular fridge was much, much better:( I really hope, you will have an explanation and suggestion for me as to what can be done to raise the PH of my sourdough starter. Feeding it 3 times a day doesn't seem to do the trick.


Thanks. Olga

KristinKLB's picture
KristinKLB

My starter is pretty much back to normal now. I took a bunch of 100% hydration starter at peak and spread it out on waxed paper, dried it, and then froze it (thought it was for a couple of years, but more like just over one year). It revived within a few days at a 1:1:1 starter, water, flour once a day feeding schedule. But I think you can start a new starter within a few days like that so maybe i just started a new one. It seems to be similar to the former, though so there were probably some similar bugs.


I think if you start a starter with fruit juice, the ph starts out really low so the organisms that thrive in that environment will grow. I wouldn't start a yeast culture for flour with fruit. I think yeast like to live where they are born (grape yeast on grapes, wheat yeast on wheat). Mine was really acid and stinky for a couple of days and then it calmed down. Like Mini said, feed it for a while and then test it in bread. If it's still sour, I'd start anew with just organic wheat flour and water. Or contact me and we can trade.


There are so many peopele here that are much more educated and experienced on this than I am though (on the biochemistry of it all and if you do X, Y happens). I just started a starter and developed my loaf with that by trial and error. Now I'm just getting back in practice and luckily kept a record of my best recipe.

tuziksmith's picture
tuziksmith

Good for you, KristinKLB! My very first starter was perfect. I made it with rye flour and when it was ready, I turned it into white wheat starter. In about a year I noticed changes in how my breads were turning out. So I decided to try a new recipe for the starter, i.r. Nancy Silverton's. It didn't even occur to me that I would get more than I bargained for with this new grape sourdough starter. I guess, you are right, it's easier to start a new one than try and raise the ph on this grape starter.


So you are saying you took your frozen one and mixed it in 1:1:1 proportions. Is it by weight? I feel very comfortable operating by weight and very uneasy operating by volume. How much dried sourdough starter did you have by weight, do you recall?


Thanks for your advice. I'd be happy to send you some of my sour sourdough starter because I have more than I can possibly use. Just let me know, and I'll dry out some for you.


Olga