The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A bunch of starter questions!

butterflygrooves's picture
butterflygrooves

A bunch of starter questions!

I have a 2 month old white starter that I don't measure the flour and water for when feeding but have kept around 100% hydration.  The one time I used it to make bread, I noticed there wasn't a very sour flavor but mostly a slightly tangy aftertaste.  At that time I was measuring the flour and water for feedings and it was exactly 100% hydration.


I don't dump starter off when I feed it, I add some flour and water, stir and put the top back on.  I now have about 4-5 cups of starter.  This morning I added more flour than I normally do to lower the hydration level (guessing it's around 75% now), I've read that this makes for a more sour final product.


#1 Is it ok to measure/feed this way?


#2 If I want to go back and forth between 100% and a lower hydration, is that ok to do?  Should I wait until the yeast eat and then take some of the lower hydration starter and make a seperate 100% hydration starter so I have 2 starters?


#3 Do I even need the same starter at different hydrations?


#4 Sometimes my starter smells as strong as tequila (burns my nose) and sometimes as mild and beer, should I be concerned with the stronger smell?  It rises well and seems to be doing well overall.


#5 My kitchen is cold, in the 50-60 range during the day, colder at night.  Would keeping the starter in a more stable environment (the fridge) be better for it?


 


Any other advice you feel like giving would be much appreciated, links to sourdough sites would be great too!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

your starter would be in rough shape.  With those temps, the starter is working at very slow rates.  If you find you have too much starter, remove a few cups and make a loaf.  No need to feed the stock pot too soon.  You may run into problems when the room & starter warms up, this will speed up fermentation and the starter beasties will eat more.  Then it might be wise to tuck it into the fridge until the room cools off again.  So far it seems to be working for you. 


However, if you make a loaf and have all kinds of issues with tearing and dough that just won't rise well or cooperate, you may have too many waste products in the starter.  Then it would be wise to take out a small amount and double it with a feeding and then discard the rest.  Let the newly fed starter rise and then use some of it when the rise is starting to level out.  (Timing it would be a good idea so that you know what the feeding schedule for your temperatures should be.)


Mini

grimeswh's picture
grimeswh

My goodness 50-60 degrees in the kitchen??? I thought I liked my home cool. It's sounds like you need to warm up your kitchen. Starts usually grow best when the kitchen or room stays around 75-80 degrees. When feeding I usually use the ratio of 1 cup of flour and 3/4 of a cup for every one cup of starter. Although my mother and grandmother just "eyeball" it. The problem with that is they've been doing it since dirt was formed. My grandmother's mother started it and my grandmother will be 91 this year. So it just depends on long you been using your start and knowing what the consistancy should be when your done feeding your start. It just takes time and practice.


Good luck =D

butterflygrooves's picture
butterflygrooves

The house we live in was built in 1821 and in the winter gets really cold (in the summer it's sweltering inside).  Heating the house gets really expensive (the landlord doesn't want to pay to winterize the house) so we keep the heater at 70-75 but it doesn't heat the whole house, just a hallway and part of the livingroom. 


I used to have a heater in the kitchen just for my starter but that made for a really expensive starter.


My scale came in yesterday so I can now feed the starter properly and then pop it into the fridge.

grimeswh's picture
grimeswh

I noticed a comment once and I can't remember where I saw it or even if it works. This person put there starter behind the fridge because the coils were warm. That would be possible good idea to try and it would be cheaper than keeping the house warmer.


Good luck =D

Chuck's picture
Chuck

If you put either bread or starter behind your fridge, you may need to keep it in a sealed container. Between the gunk that boilds up on the coils and the small fan many refrigerators have, it can be awfully dusty back there, sometimes even enough for non-trivial amounts of dust to go right through the pores in a tea towel.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

(to save some folks some time: this post has nothing to do with bread:-)


I'm another old house sufferer (not as old as yours though). I still notice the absent insulation and the leaky windows.  ...but just snuffing out all the drafts when I first moved in here made a huge difference. And I didn't have to spend much.


For a couple of winter months every time I noticed an especially cold spot I tracked it back to a draft and tracked that back to where it came in. With judicious use of adhesive foam strips, duct tape, spray can of expanding foam, pads behind outlet covers, adhesive folding strips for windows, replacement screen door wipers, scraps of masonite to jam in latches so they close more tightly, and so forth, I eventually plugged them all up. It took a non-trivial amount of time and attention over those months, but only cost a total of about $100.


I now walk around the house barefoot, the furnace runs a whole lot less, and the temperature in my kitchen has gone up 10F-15F. This was cheap enough and simple enough I didn't even bother my landlord about it.