The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

1st starter attempt: Toss or not?

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

1st starter attempt: Toss or not?

Having a go at it now that the winter's over. It's not exactly warm yet, but it's not cold either, so I was hoping it would be alright. Maybe it isn't. It's up on the fridge where it's a bit warmer, but who knows.

After reading several guides I decided to do a 100% hydration starter, .5 oz WW .5 oz whole rye, and 1 oz ap flour. 

Showed some activity after the first 24 hours, smelled like yogurt, so I kept feeding it. It's now been about 4 days of feeding every 12 hours, and the rate of activity has maybe doubled (as in, bubbling), but it is still very slight, and very little rise is discernible. It has begun to smell like old cheese.

From what I can gather by this point in time if it was going to become a useable starter it would have at least started to resemble one by now. The activity is slowly increasing but not much.

Would you keep feeding this, or throw it out and try later? Might it just be slow to develop since it's not quite summer yet?

jcking's picture
jcking

It's doin' somethin' right? It can take a week or two to double. Stir it up: often. Some of the buggies need air.

Jim

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Are you still feeding it a 50/50 mix of rye and ap flour?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

This starter behavior is totally normal. Keep it in a warm place, and keep feeding it 2x per day for 7-10 more days, and it will be good to go.

Patience is a virtue at this point...don't give up now! :)

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

Yes, I am still feeding it the same mixture. I plan to change to all AP eventually.

Anyway, everyone seems to be saying to keep at it, so that's what I'll do.

Funnily enough, after just the last feeding it seems to be noticeably more active, a good bit more bubbly and gassy. Smells less rancid, but a bit salty somehow? Anyway perhaps I spoke to soon initially, it seems to be getting better all of a sudden... time will tell.

G-man's picture
G-man

That's definitely the way to think about sourdough. You will not have your answers after a week, and you may not have them after a month. Just keep waiting and feeding and treating it well and eventually you will be rewarded. It is difficult, especially these days when everyone is used to instant gratification. Sourdough doesn't care for anyone's "need it now!" schedule

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

Oh I was willing to wait, merely worried.

But funnily enough, since the last feeding it has gone from being rancid and weak to smelling nice and doubling itself. Really unexpected that it would change so quickly. But I'm not going to complain. 

I'll just keep feeding it for a week or so before I try to do anything with it, but it seems to be doing alright now.

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

Okay, thanks for the advice. After last night's feeding at a much higher ratio of new material, the culture appears to be just as active as it was previously. So it must be pretty busy. 

I suppose the only question I have now is, should I keep up this feeding regiment indefinitely, or will there be a point where it no longer requires it? 

Aside from when refrigerated, which eventually I'll do.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

The 2x per day feeding schedule is only required when you are baking (or 2 days before you are planning to bake, if your starter is already very active). 

Refrigerated, your starter will be OK for weeks at a time without feeding. I have had starters in my fridge, unfed, for months and revived them in a few days. I do agree that over time, this kind of lack of feeding can have a negative effect on your starter. 

To revive,  2-3 days before you are planning to bake start feeding it again at 2x per day, and you should be in good shape.  

 

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

Okay, I see. I've got to get it healthy before I refrigerate it though!

So you say the twice daily feeding is needed before you're planning to bake, okay. Makes sense since you'd want it active. But that seems to imply to me that it's okay to feed it once daily in the intermediate period. And I'm taking about room-temperature, to be precise, I don't know if you are.

So what I've been wondering is if there's a certain point where I can reduce the feeding of my starter and it'll be fine at room temp, or if it will need at least the same amount of material when growing (now) as it will when mature enough to bake with.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Yes. If you leave it at room temp, you can probably get away with feeding it only 1x per day while not baking.

Part of this also depends on how hot your room temp is though; the hotter it is, the faster the dough will ferment, and the more often you will have to feed it to keep it healthy. If your room temp is 80F, then you'll probably need to feed 2x per day to keep your starter from starving by the end of the day. 

But if you're planning to bake, you should be feeding it 2x per day at room temp.