The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Betrayal Of a starter

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Mebake's picture
Mebake

Betrayal Of a starter

Just to finish off 2010 with a "cheerful ending , my starter has failed me twice. Having ventured on to bake Hamelman's Pain Au Levain with Wholewheat, My Doughs have twiced turned slack and headed to the trash bin instead of the oven, twice in a row? that is a killer. Add this to my lower back pain, iam not inclined to bake anytime soon. 


Iam a keen caretaker of my Starter, but lately i was unable to please it. Long story short, i have to keep an eye on it more often, inorder to revive the healthy population i always nourished.


Now i have to watch all the wonderful Year end bakes of my fellow TFl members, and drool on.


EDIT: Light Bulb On! I believe the reason behind my starter problematic vigor has to do with overfeeding right from the fridge. As Underfeeding reduces the number of viable yeasts that ensure fermentation, Overfeeding, seems, also overwhelms the starter, and the end result is same.


khalid

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Khalid,


Really hope that back pain eases very quickly.   And I'm sure you'll have that starter working for you again soon


Best wishes for 2011


Andy

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks, Andy! very thoughtful of you..


and a very Happy New Year to you, and yours!


khalid


 

ananda's picture
ananda

and my guess is you will therefore be surpressing the all-important bacterial fermentation too!


Thought you'd figure it out quickly.   Let it sour right through.   Then discard most of it and use a small portion to re-build with.


A

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


My Doughs have twiced turned slack and headed to the trash bin instead of the oven, twice in a row? that is a killer.



Debra Wink has helped many with hard to diagnose problem.  See her comment HERE or


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/18144/sourdough-loosing-elasticity-please-help#comment-121566

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

I've been having a little trouble with this myself since my hubby cleaned out the fridge and I ended up converting one scary looking glop of old rye starter ( not my primary) into a WW to use for my WW breads. I keep looking at my doughs after kneading and thinking "Wow, that's really stretchy!". I thought it was the formulas I was using since everything else was working pretty well but now I think it's the starter. The other thing I've noticed is that when I feed my starter ( about 80%) and stick it in the fridge, it's a tripled, liquid mass in a day or two. Never seen that before! I'll increase the feeds and see if I can turn things around. Geez! I was just over my acetone starter from this summer. At least this starter doesn't smell bad. I think when I get this one just right and a rye one going off of it again, I'm going to store some in the freezer. My hubby NEVER cleans the freezer. How do you bring the frozen starter back to life?

RikkiMama's picture
RikkiMama

Last spring, instead of discarding the "mother starter" (from ABED), I portioned it into ziplock baggies and frozen them.  I've since thawed a couple to give away to new home.  Simply letting the starter thaw at room temperature seems to have revived the starter just fine (expanded with lots of air bubble pockets).  Once the starter was completely thawed, I instructed the new owner to fed/refresh at 67% hydration (1 part starter, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour).  Feedback regarding the thawed starter was that it's been fine and the new owners have successfully made bread with it.


Now that my main starter has matured, I think it's time to replace the old frozen starter with new portions.

RonRay's picture
RonRay

I had read that posting, but completely forgot it, until this post of yours. It would seem another good reason to store backup samples of one's cultures.


... Ron


 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Yes Andy, The Starter is running good... i'am afraid that the levain build from liquid suddenly to firm, and introducing rye which is not in the Starter is the culprit.


Thank you Mini! Another Light Bulb!! YES, Breads were baking just fine, until i switched to A firm levain and Rye.


Jumping from a recipe to the other isn't as simple as it seems..


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yes, that, and maybe letting the regular starter feeds grow too little before popping it back into the fridge.  When going to make a firmer starter, I might suggest the transition  might go smoother if no extra water is added to the ripe liquid starter; an amount of starter is mixed with flour until it is firm enough.  This is then allowed to ferment and then a portion of this ripe starter is taken and the exact proportions for the desired firmness is added to it.  The firming process should go thru several feedings, allowing the starter to get fully ripe.  Then use as a firm starter in a recipe.


It has been my observation conditions for this invasion tend to happen when the starter is fed and refrigerated too many consecutive times without letting the starter ripen at room temperature after feeding or refreshing.  The beasties need to feed and produce protective acids or compounds to ward off invaders.  When not allowed to do this, they weaken just enough for problems to happen.


Mini

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Nursing thousands of living things back to life should bring you great rewards.


Happy New Year, Khalid.  Feel better.


Glenn

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Ron, That is precisely why iam reviving my frozen starter now. A Whole Thesis could be written on this Phenomenon... The demise of a starter. Seems, that like everything else, A starter has a Vigor life span, after which it is easily prone to be overcome by competing Bacteria/yeast population which are not desireable to us for Baking.

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Khalid, I am pleased that you had the foresight to have frozen starter backups. So many people neglect to do that.
Ron

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thank You , Glenn!


Thanks, Mini! you are absolutely right! Lactic acid is the Key here. So, it is not a life span that a starter goes through? I stand corrected..


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"...it is not a life span that a starter goes through..."


The starter is dependent on us.  It reacts to the conditions we set for it.  As far as life span goes... I would say that is about 8 hours at 23°C.  After that, there is so much reproduction and production of by-products, the starter has gone thru a life span already with several builds of population and changes in pH and lots of bacterial growth.  By 8-12 hours it is ready to do it again if we give it more food energy. 


This is general, your temps may vary and also your ripening times.  It all depends upon how you feed and store your starter.  Don't forget to adapt to seasonal changes!  We humans do too!   We all have general ideas about how we maintain our starters, when something isn't working out with the starter's preformance, we have to change the way we are handling the starter to get it back on track by practicing artificial selective evolution.  Those undesired changes most likely didn't happen overnight (unlike chlorinated water) but happened over time with each population cycle of the starter.


Na ya, you see our starters exist in nature but nature is not as demanding from her starters as we are.  (Nature also doesn't care if it flat out kills the wee beasties.)  We want our starters to perform consistantly, specifically and only in certain time frames.  In Nature, the environment changes constantly (just check the weather report) and those natural yeasts and bacteria respond to the environment they survive in. 


We set up little artificial worlds of starter cultures and try to control them to the best of our ability.   We humans are not perfect culture world lords so don't expect perfection in growing sourdough cultures.  That's what TFL is for... to make comparisons, play with trial & error and fix problems or change stuff around until it works.  Sometimes we figure things out and sometimes... we start up a new starter.  (You know...  mad scientist stuff!)  Where else can wannabe starter world lords get together and not be thought crazy? 


Lucky for us the life span of a starter is not 100 years or the changes in starters would be so slow, so slow we would have to keep yearbooks.  What stays active for 100 years would be the beasties ability to survive us thru so many generations!


Mini


 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Well Said, Mini! You a microbiologist per chance??