The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Changing starter food regimen

DohE's picture
DohE

Changing starter food regimen

I had a couple of questions about working with the starter from SourdoLady's post on this page:

 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233/wild-yeast-sourdough-starter 

 

Question 1: After you start the process, it says that on day 4 you remove all but 1/4 cup of the starter before beginning to feed it 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water daily. The question is, what if the starter still appears non-active on day 4 by producing no bubbles? Should you still follow the process of removing 1/4 cup starter and feeding 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water? Or, should you continue the original steps of not removing any starter and feeding 2 T. pineapple juice and 2 T. flour until the starter produces bubbles?

 

Question 2: The directions say to refrigerate the yeast after a couple weeks of the 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water feeding. At this point, should it continue to be fed daily? If so, should the food stay as 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water, or should anything else ever be used for feeding?

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Hi DohE,

Yes, even though you are not seeing any bubbles, continue with the instructions of removing 1/4 cup and feeding. You may not see bubbles for a few more days. Be patient.

Once the starter is growing and you are ready to keep it in the fridge you only need to feed it prior to going in the fridge. Wait for an hour after feeding to let it get nice and bubbly and then put in the fridge. Once it is in the fridge it doesn't need to be fed until you take it out to use for baking again. If it is going to be a long while before you will use it then it is a good idea to take it out  and dump all but 1/4 cup or so  and feed it, let it get bubbly, and put back in the fridge again. Weekly feedings will keep it very happy but it can go several weeks between feedings once refrigerating. With a newly created starter I would highly recommend that you not stress it by going long intervals without feeding. An older, well-established starter is strong and can take more abuse.

No, nothing more than flour and water is ever needed for feeding. Good luck with your starter!

DohE's picture
DohE

Hey SourdoLady,

  Thanks for the quick reply. Currently I am on day 6 since beginning with this starter. After about 3 days I could begin to smell the slight scent of yeast, and the scent has increased in strength since then, but I have yet to see a single bubble.

 

  While feeding it today I added 1/4 t. apple cidar vinegar for the first time yet. I will continue to remove all but 1/4 cup starter and add (feed) 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup filtered water and 1/4 t. apple cidar vinegar daily. When it begins to bubble, I'll continue this daily feeding for 2 weeks, then I'll refrigerate it and feed it once a week. This seems to be following your instructions to a T, so I'm hoping for the best.

 

  Thanks!
 

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

What kind of flour are you using in your starter? It should be starting to show at least some small bubbles by now. Were you using really fresh whole grain flour to start with? If you have switched over to white flour I would switch back to whole grain until you start seeing bubbles. If you have a health food store nearby that is a good place to buy small amounts of whole grain flour that is nice and fresh (they sell it bulk). The yeast lives on the outer layers of the whole grains so it is imperative that it be fresh. Rye flour usually activates the quickest. I used a mixture of rye and wheat when I made mine. 

DohE's picture
DohE

Hello SourdoLady,

 

  I've been using only Hodgson Rye flour from Wal-Mart this entire time. It's the only rye flour I've found, although I haven't looked as thoroughly as I could. I've heard good things about this flour, and it appears fresh, but who knows.

 

  After feeding and stirring, the starter does appear to have quite a few bubbles like shown in your photos, but they disappear after a few minutes so I assume they're just from the stirring. Aside from that, there has been no bubbles at all.

DohE's picture
DohE

Yesterday I noticed that there were small bubbles that had formed around the underneith of the starter (it's in a glass container), but still no bubbles on top. Also, today when I stirred the starter, it did appear to have expanded. The texture was similar to a light foam. It is really beginning to smell strongly, except now I am smelling somewhat of a nail polish remover smell (due to the alcohol by-product of whatever fermentation is occuring). I also forgot to mention before that the starter has been stored in an area that is slightly cooler than room temperature (probably around 60* F), but I didn't think this would have any major effect of the activity of the yeast.

What are you opinions, SourdoLady? Should this be scrapped and I start over, or should I continue and see how it carries out?

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

The acetone smell means that you need to feed it. It is common in the early stages of a new starter. Dump out all but a little of the old starter and feed it. It sounds like you are getting some growth now. You also should try putting it in a warmer place. It will make a huge difference.