The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie from Texas

Bluebonnet's picture

Newbie from Texas

I'm very new to this whole breadmaking thing.  I am not very new to loving artisan breads though :P

I started my first starter on Monday night on a whim, thinking I had nothing to lose if it didn't take off and I could try again.  Right now it's Friday and it's been fed every twelve hours (except for day one, when it was a 24 hour feed).  Seems to be doubling just fine, and I've had to transplant it twice because I didn't know what I was doing...the smell right now is quite sour, so I'm thinking it may almost be ready??  How do I know for sure it's really ready?

I've never done anything like this before, but I'm excited to see if this one turns out and then experiment some more.  I'm absorbing lots of info from this site and I'm excited to learn a new hobby!!



Ford's picture

Have patience.  It will take a month or so before the starter is really mature.  If it is doubling in volume in about 2 hours at room temperature and it has the fresh sour aroma, you can use it now, BUT the flavor will not have been really developed.

Well, you probably have to throw some away to make room for fresh feedings, so make a loaf, or make some English muffins.  What have you to lose?  Just a few ingredients, and it won't kill you to taste it.


ehanner's picture

Welcome to the site! I agree with what Ford said above. You didn't mention what your feeding schedule or flour to water ratios are so it's a  little hard to know what the progress of your culture is. When you first add a liquid to flour, anything that will grow, starts to wake up from it's state of dry waiting. There are yeasts and bacteria by the millions just waiting for life giving moisture. After a few days of providing water and new food for these critters to feed on, the stronger ones begin to multiply and establish strength in numbers. We see the bubbles and watch the volume grow and that is the yeast becoming larger in number and active. The other thing we want to encourage is the Lactobacillus, which creates the lactic acid and give the sour we want in some degree. Here is the Wiki article for more in depth understanding. Anyway, as Ford said, be patient. It will take some time before your culture is stable and the hierarchy is established. It is entirely possible for you to see doubling way before the culture is established and stable.

If you feed an equal weight of flour and water All Purpose flour, discarding all but a large Tablespoon every 12 hours, you will soon have a happy culture of beasties that will smell like wine or apples or some other natural product, perhaps even cheese. It will stabilize faster if you leave it at room temperature but can be refrigerated later if need be.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing your breads.