The Fresh Loaf

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Starter issues - bubbles but no rise

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Bazinga's picture
Bazinga

Starter issues - bubbles but no rise

I'm new to starters, and created my first one 1.5 weeks ago.  I started with whole wheat, but have switched to AP flour, feeding every 24 hours with a 1:2:2 ratio.  I've monitored my starter and haven't seen a rise since the day 2/3 doubling which I suspect wasn't due to the right kind of bacteria.  There are definitely bubbles (but not to the degree I've seen in others' pictures), and very minimal rise.  By the end of the 24 hours, the starter is runny, not thick and marshmallow-y like I've read it's supposed to be.  Temp in the house is in the mid 60's as I live in Canada and we're heading into winter.


 


Is this expected?  Am I doing something wrong?  I'd like to get to a point where I can store it in the fridge, but if it won't even double now at 'room temp', then who knows what will happen at fridge temps?!

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

After the first couple of days(after the "not the right kind of bacteria die off"), the starter then needs to be fed twice per day. This means about feeding it every 12 hours or so.

Bazinga's picture
Bazinga

But shouldn't it double in the first 8-12 hours?  Or is it so starved (how do I know if it's hungry or overfed?), that it will take a few 12 hour feedings to get it to rise again?

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

At 60 degrees, your starter is not going to be getting too far at any time soon. You will want to put it somewhere where it can be maintained in the mid to high 70's. That will require a little detective work on your part and may not mean the starter lives in the kitchen between feeds.

Places that will be warmer:

Around household appliances that stay on all the time, like your computer or on top of your hot water heater.

Turn your oven light on and check the temp in there after about an hour; you will find this will be a nice toasty spot but be sure to check the oven isn't TOO hot. Use a thermometer to confirm it is at most low to mid 80's. Getting into the 90's is too hot although that may simply require propping the oven door with a tea towel to leave a small crack open. The tea towel will also be a visual cue to not turn the oven on until you've removed the starter. I'd even tape a note over the oven dial saying so to avoid someone else baking your starter by mistake.

Check the back of your TV, it may be nice and warm too. A small table lamp turned on in a draft free corner will also generate warmth, especially if you can rig up some sort of boxy enclosure around it. Then just place the starter near the light source but again not so close it gets too hot.

Even up here in Canada it is possible to find warm spots for our starter pets. If you have a cat, he's probably already found those spots so check where he hangs out.

Once you can keep your starter at a consistently warm temp, it will become a little more active and you should see more growth and bubblage. I can't vouch that your starter's past 1.5 weeks has created the environment that a young baby starter needs so you may have to consider this more like day three or four in it's development. Or maybe the culture has evolved somewhat even while kept rather cool. Hard to say.


But a warmer home will decidedly be a positive thing for the new pet.

Bazinga's picture
Bazinga

Thanks for the tips!  I'll move my starter around and see if I can find a warmer spot in the house.


 


Should I still continue with the 1:2:2 feed?  More/less?  And in terms of frequency, every 12 hours? 24 hours?  Can I move into the fridge?   (Gah, sorry about all the questions.  Clearly a n00b here.)

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Since this starter is really brand new and the week of very cool temps probably held it back, I'd say you could keep to 1:1:1 while it's getting it's act together. You want it to be at the point where it's doubling (or better) in 4 to 6 hours consistently and dependently. 


Once it's got to that stage and the culture is beginning to wrassle the other potential bacteria out, it will probably get to doubling in 2 to 3 hours. This would mean you'd be looking at three or four feeds a day. That's when you can switch to a 1:2:2 ratio which gives a bit less starter more food to work it's way through.


You'd be aiming here for a twice-a-day feed so you don't want it to run out of food too soon, ergo the increased feed amount to let it last a little longer.


When does it go into the fridge? Some people start doing that at about a week or two of good activity. I've kept mine on the counter and fed twice daily for a month in order to allow the culture to mature, develop flavour and build up the yeaties' strength. That meant a feeding schedule of "in the morning" and "after dinner" and that's about as precise as I got; it didn't need to be exactly 12 hours apart.


You can see the journey here.


One question I have here is how big is your starter? I've noted people reluctant to feed on the counter because they're using two or more cups of flour a day, tossing half or better out. If you check that link which tracks the starting up of a plain flour starter and a pineapple juice Debra Wink starter, you'll note it's relatively small in size and daily feeds are just a couple of tablespoons worth, although it has switched to gram measures soon enough.


Paul - Yumarama.com