The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough newbie needs advice

cassandra87's picture
cassandra87

Sourdough newbie needs advice

Hello,


    On Saturday, I started a brand new starter.  It was a one/one mixture of flour and water (2 cups each), inoculated with apple peels.  It started bubbling and foaming quite early.  For the first few days I fed it every 12 hours (dump half, feed 1c water 1c flour), and before each feed the volume of the starter didn't change, but there would be a layer of liquid on top.  After doing some research, I realized that my starter was starving.  Since it wasn't practical to feed it more than every 12 hours, I tried dumping out half the starter and feeding with 1/2 to 2/3 cup water and 1 c flour.  This seemed to help, as my starter quit developing the liquid layer, and started expanding.  After 12 hours, it had not doubled, so I waited until 24 hours to feed it (dump half, add 2/3 c water and 1 c flour).  At that point it hadn't doubled, but I fed it anyway.  This morning (24 hours after last feed), I checked on it, and it had expanded by maybe 25%, but still not doubled.  So, I didn't feed it.  Am I missing something?  It smells gloriously of sourdough, its just not terribly active.  Should I go back to feeding 1c water 1c flour?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

GAPOMA's picture
GAPOMA

I've been carrying a robust starter for 18 months now and I think you're on to something using less water and more flour.


Most people seem to carry a 100% hydration sourdough stater.  That means equal WEIGHTS of flour and water.  When I feed my starter I use 50g of starter and add 100g of water and 100g of flour.


In my kitchen, 1 cup of flour weighs ~140g and 1 cup of water weighs ~240g.  So, if I add 1 cup of water to 1 cup of flour I may have a 1:1 volumetric ratio but by weight it is 240% hydration! (Remember that hydration is calculated by dividing the amount (weight) of liquid by the amount (weight) of flour.)  So by cutting back to 1/2 cup (120g) to 2/3 cup (160g) of water to 1 cup of flour (140g) you're actually close to a 100% starter (specifically you're at ~85% using 1/2 cup of water and ~115% using 2/3 cup of water). 


And running your starter at too high a hydration accounts for the liquid on top.


Keep using less water and if there are yeasties in there they'll probably come back pretty quick.


- Greg

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

may improve the yeast numbers.  I think you were mistaking water for hootch and over feeding.  With your starter being fed too much too soon, it's hard for those yeasts to increase in numbers before being reduced.  Not to worry, letting the culture sit another 12  hours will help it and you should see the starter rising much more.


Next feed... if sticking to cups... save 1/2 cup culture and give it 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour and adjust the water to a thick batter.  Wait until it rises and falls before feeding again.   Temperture of  75°F or 23°C or above is just fine.


 

cassandra87's picture
cassandra87

Before I got this, I fed it last night, which was about 36 hours after the last feeding.  It still hadn't risen much, and it seemed like it was getting too stiff, so I fed 1c flour and about 3/4 c water.  That was pretty close to a thick batter. Maybe for the next time, I'll let it sit for 48 hours.  I should also probably find a warmer place, I think my kitchen counter may be too cool.  When I was in grad school, I used to bake bread and put it on the back of my computer monitor (who has CRT's anymore??) to rise. 


Thanks for all your help!

GAPOMA's picture
GAPOMA

The consistency of a thick batter is just about where you want to be.  Should work fine.

coffeetester's picture
coffeetester

Be Paitent. As long as you seem some bubbles keep feeding it. I fed mine for almost 4 days with very little growth but lots of bubbles. Today with a 16 day old starter I am getting almost a 2X increase in volume (1" start to 3" finish) after 4 hour and it rises to 3X and falls around hour 10.

cassandra87's picture
cassandra87

I really don't understand my starter at all.  So, I didn't feed it last night, deciding to wait for some growth.  I also put it near the radiator to get some more warmth, my house is chilly.  When I got up this morning, it was foamy, hadn't grown at all, and was the consistency of a very very thin batter.  Clearly, it needed food, right?  Rather than dump some out, I just dumped a bunch more flour in to get it back to a thick batter.  It seems like it's eating the flour up without actually expanding.  Am I on the right track here, or should I just throw it out and start again? 

G-man's picture
G-man

Smell it. If it smells yeasty you're doing it right. Patience is the most important ingredient now. Foaming is a pretty good sign, actually. Bad signs at this point would be a total lack of activity of any kind after several feeding cycles, a foul smell, or mold.


 


Keep discarding half, since that will "clean the cage" so to speak and make it so the yeast and bacteria aren't living in their own waste, circumstances that are unhealthy for any living thing.


 


 

cassandra87's picture
cassandra87

Okay, I'll be patient.


It doesn't smell yeasty or foul, it smells very sour.