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Carl's Sourdough Starter - My hyperactive child

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Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Carl's Sourdough Starter - My hyperactive child

I recently sent away for some of Carl's sourdough starter after reading about it here.


After having it awhile and using it I have a question that i am almost afraid to ask since most topics here relate to starters that won't start...'Carl' has been revived and I have been baking with it.  


I am keeping 'Carl' at room temp. and am having a heck of a time finding a feed schedule that lasts a full 12 hours.  


I began with a feeding routine of 10:37:50 = 75% hydration.  Ripened well before 12 hours.  (Room temp. about 65°) 


I switched to 10:13:20 = 65% hydration.  Same thing.


Today I dropped to 5:15:25 =60% hydration and still not making it to 12 hours....(It has been about 6 hours today...)


I was leery of only using 5g of starter because I have read that is too little to use to keep a starter viable but I did it anyway and 'Carl' seems just fine...


So, do I keep dropping the hydration level since that is the main thing I can control in this process....(or I can increase the amount of flour but I am trying to limit how much I toss at each feeding)  60% is already a very stiff piece of dough....


I want to keep him on the counter rather than storing in the refrig. if I can....have some in there as a back up...


Any ideas?


Thanks


 

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

There's nothing wrong and certainly no shame in storing your starter in the fridge. Many of us do so because we aren't baking every day and don't want to waste flour and effort in maintaining a room temp starter for two or three bakes a week. My starter has been kept in the fridge since shortly after I got it rolling in August 2009. It works just fine and has worked with whatever flour I feed it, AP, rye, white whole wheat, whole wheat, and blends of the flours I plan on using in the next loaf. When I refresh, I try to keep it somewhere around 150-180 grams so that I have enough to build up a new starter for both of the loaves and the pizza I bake each week and a seed for next week's batch of starter. If you need a backup plan, dry some of your starter and keep it in a cool, dry place. I keep mine in a zip lock bag in the freezer. It's really easy to do.

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Hello Janet:


  I read with interest your "hyperactive" child. I am, unfortunately, have the opposite problem.  My "child" is dead and I have no one to blame but me. During my leg operation in Nov.2010 I remained wheelchair bound for two months. I did not bake for more than 4 months!  I try hard to keep up the feeding but I must not be vigilent enough to keep mine active so it is dead!


  Where did you send for "Carl's Sourdough"? Also, I am now rusty and the feeding of the 10:37:50?  ( does it means 10 starter, 37=water and 50=flour?).


I would love to have a "hyperactive' child!!!!


mantana


 


 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook


Where did you send for "Carl's Sourdough"




I got the address off line.  Google


Carl's sourdough starter

 and it will come up with how to revive too.



Yes - starter:water:flour   

Zeb's picture
Zeb

Hi Janet, I've read in Jeffrey Hamelman's book that one can control/slow a starter down using a little salt.  A method he recommends particularly in hot climates.  I have never tried as it doesn't get that hot here. My sourdough tends to peak 8-10 hours after a feed, but I don't always re feeed it on the dot and it is good to go for a few hours past that.  The more you feed and refresh it, the happier and stronger it will be, so maybe that's what's happening and you should just ignore it for those four hours and feed every twelve hours if that's the schedule you want it to be on.  I would experiment, making sure you keep a back up going at the same time.  hope this helps.  Happy Baking Joanna

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I don't really want to put it into the refrig. as I am in the process of experimenting with starters on my counter to see which I prefer.


I have been using refrig. starter up to this point and am just surprised by the vigor of this specific starter.  It is very robust compared to my other starter.


I am guessing that the robustness is due to it's age.  Has been around for many a year compared to my original starter.


I will keep on the 12 hour feed and see what pattern develops.  It doesn't seem to mind if it has to wait a couple of hours before a feed.  


I can keep monkeying around with the hydration and size of feed too.


I guess I was more curious about others using this specific starter and seeing if they found it to be very active too. 


Thanks for the suggestions.

Cachi's picture
Cachi

I wouldn't put it in the fridge as acetic acid takes over the sweeter smell produced by lactic acid. According to Professor Raymond Calvel, starters kept below 50 degrees F will still rise your bread but will lack the characteristic taste of 'pain au levain' or leavened bread.


It's better to feed your starter three times a day rather than once. You can lengthen the period between feeding times by using less starter relative to the flour added. Also, if you make a stiffer starter by reducing the hydration, you can acomplish this as well. Try to find a cooler place in your home, generally close to the floor. One trick is to use a camping cooler and place a cold pack on the tray (if it has one) then place your starter on the bottom as cooler air will settle below. You can adjust the temperature by partially covering the cooler. You can maintain a cool temperature by changing the cold pack every 12hrs or so. Aim for 60-70 F.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


 It doesn't seem to mind if it has to wait a couple of hours before a feed.  



Then keep it on a 12 hour schedule.  It's being a good starter.    There is no need to refresh it sooner.  When you say it doesn't make it to 12 hours, and it is ripe at 6, that is just fine.  If after baking a recipe, you want your loaves to rise slower, use less starter in them.  Shift the extra ingredients to the dough amounts.


I noticed that when you fed  you were dropping the hydration but did you see what happened with the food ratio? 




I began with a feeding routine of 10:37:50 = 75% hydration.  Ripened well before 12 hours.  (Room temp. about 65°) 


I switched to 10:13:20 = 65% hydration.  Same thing.


Today I dropped to 5:15:25 =60% hydration and still not making it to 12 hours....(It has been about 6 hours today...)



To simplify  10:37:50  is feeding 1 to 5 (starter to flour)


10:13:20  is feeding  1 to 2


5:15:25  is back to 1 to 5  (one part starter to 5 parts flour)


That 1:5 flour feeding,  will encourage a fast starter.  If you want to slow it down feed less flour like the 1:2  or 1:3 and stick to 12 hr feeds.   The water is up to you.  


Conversely, feeding it every 8 hrs (and high flour ratios) will speed up the starter yeasts.  So if you had a slower  starter and wanted it faster, I would suggest alternating 8 hour with 12 hour feeds over the period of a few days.


That's been my experience. 


 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook


That 1:5 flour feeding,  will encourage a fast starter.  If you want to slow it down feed less flour like the 1:2  or 1:3 and stick to 12 hr feeds.  



Lost again...Seems the more I read the more confused I become. I think I have grasped a concept and then it gets blown apart....


I was thinking that by increasing the amount of food I was slowing it down...How is it that feeding it less is what slows it down? 


In my mind and grasping something I do understand I was thinking of it this way:


If I were to put 5 slices of bread in front of my son it would take him longer to eat those 5 slices than it would if I only  placed 2 slices in front of him.


The 5 slice meal would also keep him fuller longer.


Please explain how less for yeast = slower..


Thanks

Cachi's picture
Cachi

Mini


Hmm...That is like saying if you had ten plates in front of you rather than just one, you would finish eating sooner because you had more to eat. Eating rate and amount of food are two different things. I think the digestion rate would have more to do with temperature and hydration rather than flour quantity. Providing more flour, however, allows for more time between feedings, before the available food runs out. (intervals between rise and fall) Maybe I'm being too analytical...:)


I would increase the ratio to 1:10:5 (starter:flour:water)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven



I was thinking that by increasing the amount of food I was slowing it down...How is it that feeding it less is what slows it down? 



If you were feeding one organism, that  might be the case.  But you are feeding many organisms that are stimulated by pH and amount of food.  (we can add temp and humidity too but for now let's keep it simple)    
Let's go back to your son eating a plate of bread slices.  He sits there looking at 5 slices and starts to nibble.   After the first hour, he splits in half and becomes two sons.   In another hour he splits again, four sons.  The bread is gone and they are very good at consuming bread quickly.  You need more food because you now have 4 sons each now very hungry.


Ok, let's try this again.  Refresh a starter.  When the starter beasties notice the rise in pH due to the added food, something tells them chemically they've rested long enough and they can eat, burp and multiply (sounds like my own son)  and they do.  The pH starts to sink as the yeast & bacteria use the food and create waste products.  They do this until the amount or level of acid waste products builds up enough to sink the pH lower and slow down the forthcoming generations.  As the food runs out, the wee beasties spend less energy for multiplying & burping and more energy on preservation.   That is why if you underfeed a starter, the yeast numbers appear to drop off.   By continually feeding large % of flour (all other conditions ideal)  those that live to produce quickly under those conditions when food is introduced have the advantage in numbers over other slower reproducing yeasts.   So with plenty of food, you are in essence breeding shorter living but faster producing gas making yeasts.  
If you were to feed sooner, say in 6 hours, a discard would more or less wipe out most yeast that takes longer than 6 hours to reproduce in the conditions (temp & hydration) you set up.  That encourages faster yeasts.   


One thing you could try to slow them down, dilute the starter with colder water. 

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I hate to say, 'Oh, I get this now' because as soon as I think I have gotten something I find out I don't really know ANYTHING....


That being said....I know the routine so I will plunge in anyway...


I kinda get this and LOVE the examples you gave.  Makes it much easier for me to picture what is happening.


So even though I am feeding only 12 hours I am still encouraging the fast guys?


In order to not do that and give all a 'fair chance' I should try to do a 1:2 ratio as you stated with colder water?


That makes sense...I say with a quaver in my mind...BUT you stated in your previous response above that how MUCH water doesn't matter....so that doesn't make sense and here I am again....puzzled...


My understanding up to this point....which, we now know = zilch, has been that the higher the hydration the more quickly the starter will peak which is why I have continued to lower the hydration level..


Will you be so kind to explain that discrepancy to me too?


Thanks


And to think this all started just because I wanted to bake healthy bread for my family.  They get healthy bread while mom is loosing her mind.  :-0


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In feeding starters, the flour is the most important ingredient, how much water is up to you within certain parameters (which vary with absorption in each flour.)  Everyone has a favorite hydration and will vary the water amount, that is what I meant when I said it doesn't matter.   Water is not food and many get confused thinking it is food.  Water is a vehicle.  Flour is the food.  You know that.  


You also know if you reduce the water enough, it slows down the speed at which the beasties move to get to the food.  The yeasts will move around but the bacteria will let the food come to it.   Lower temps will also slow yeast.  


Keep to the 12 hour (or longer) low ratio feeds (1:2) (starter:flour) to slow down the starter rise times.  


 


 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

for another great explanation.


Since my last entry temps. here have stabilized a lot and my starter is responding to that.  I have finally hit on a ratio that is indeed giving me the 12 hours I was after.


Feed amt. is now 5:13:25  which is about a 55% hydration level. 


I am sure that will change as we get into warmer weather but at least I have a bit better grasp on this process now and am prepared to deal with the changes that do occur.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yep, spring is just around the corner and I'm already feeling differences in my starter.  

mredwood's picture
mredwood

Hope some folks can help. When I have baked I often try to follow the formula to the letter. In a lot of the the recipes it says adjust the hydration, add flour or water to make it ??. So I know tacky but not sticky, I know how the dough can change with stretch and folds, I know how the dough changes just letting it sit. I know how it changes with enrichments.


What I don't know is how water and flour combined should feel at different hydration levels. So today, a bit tired and not much good for anything serious I decided to figure this hydration level stuff out. So I took 20 gr. of  AP flour (whole foods 365) with 4 gr. of protein per.1/4 cup. I added 20 gr. of water. Interesting  the blob of dough sticky but held together. Not soupy. As I stretched and folded it it held together better and got some what stretchy and clung to it's self. Nice. Almost tacky and not sticky. It is sitting out in the kitchen resting. 


Then I took another bowl with 20 gr. of the same flour. I measured out 20 gr. of water. I added 10 gr. of water to it. Didn't even wet all the flour. That's a  50% hydration correct? Then I added 5 more gr. of water. It almost wet everything. 75% hydration correct. Then I added the remaining 5 gr. of water. 100% hydration correct? It wet all the flour and was very stiff and dry. Never would bake a loaf that dry. 


So.. Which one should I be looking for at the different hydration levels? Does the same flour act differently within minutes of weighing? What am I doing wrong? 


I keep my starter anywhere from batter to very thick almost doughy. I pitch some when it gets more than I can handle, a couple of 3 cups. Refresh 2x a day when it's out. I need to figure out how to start with the proper hydration and end up with the proper hydration. 


It is extremely difficult for me to to weigh my starter, my flour, my water each time i refresh and I can see that a few grams difference or a different flour can change a dough remarkably. Hence adjust accordingly. My breads usually come out pretty good even when I guess and wing it. I have made a good # of the recipes in BBA and have become fond of extraordinary good bread. Using sourdough has thrown me off. 


Thanks for any help. 


Mariah


 


 


 


 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I am puzzled by your results and am curious to see if someone with more knowledge jumps in here and solves your mystery.


What I don't understand is that both of you 'doughs' contain the exact same ingredients....just mixed in differently but produce very different end 'products'.


 20g flour with 20g water all at once vs 20g flour and 20g water mixed in at different intervals.... 


Sorry I don't have an answer for you...

mredwood's picture
mredwood

It was interesting going back about an hour later. The different interval mix was not as dry as first thought. Guess the flour absorbed the water evenly. it held it's shape nicely.  The all at once batch was still very wet, but stretchy and oozed out of shape slowly. Very interesting. I know something but don't have the words for it. Good exercise.