The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Its alive!!..i think - Yikes, now what do i do?

taramills's picture
taramills

Its alive!!..i think - Yikes, now what do i do?

Hi TFL Followers,

After a rocky start i think my starter is off and running! Its taken about 10 days but since taking your great advice, special thanks to Keith, i think things are looking up. I did initially start by following a'what should be happening by what day ' approach, which was very unsuccessful and almost lead me to ditching  it but by referring to Debra Winks approach i've persisted and i think patientce has paid off (fingers crossed!). Unfortunately i've found attaching a photo a bit tricky and haven't been able to , but just so you know whats been happening, a quick summary:  

First couple of days very little,,

Third day  not smelling very good and not looking too good either 

Fourth and fifth day placed starter in a warm spot, decided to following the phase approach,  just kept feeding same amount in 24 hour installments.

Since the fifth day i've been feeding, 2tbls of bottled water with 2 tbls WW flour every 24 hours and been giving it a really good stir to get oxygen into it. Within the past 24 hours we have lots of wonderful bubbles, its increased in size, looks and smells great, a lovely yeasty/beer smell.

Please note this has taken about 10 days now to get to this stage, the weather has been cold here so i think that may have delayed it a little.

As i'm still waiting for my bread books to arrive from overseas i  feel a little lost. Do i  now get rid of some and continue feeds or do i just keep going for a few more days. Obviously the exciting question is when can i start to use it!

Thank you

t

chykcha's picture
chykcha

I think you can start using it at two weeks of age. Obviously, that will depend on how your starter is looking, smelling, and acting. I found it helpful to only use filtered water when feeding, and only use clean utensils. It helps with avoiding bacterial contamination of the starter so that the yeasties can happily thrive.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Congrats Tara!

Was just thinking about you earlier today, I'm very glad you had good news to report!

Yes, to start maintaining it, you should discard a portion each time you feed it, otherwise you'll end with enough starter to start doing air drops over the Arizona wildfire zone... ; )

While I understand you have been using measuring spoons to this point, do you actually have a recipe scale? If not, I'd -highly- recommend that, if you can swing it (they are fairly cheap compared to several years back). It will help you not only be precise with your starter maintenance, but a great deal of recipes that you might want to try will be written in weights.

You will want to feed every 12 hrs now, at a minimum, for at least a few weeks. You can cook with it very soon, depending on what you're willing to settle for in terms of fragrance and taste. It just takes a long time to become stable, and depending on your sourdough palette, this might take months before you get the desired 'profile' you're thrilled with. For now, though, you've broken through one of the tougher barriers, and the sky's the limit... let us know how we can help!

PS - To post any pics, you can host them offsite and link to them (subject to the offsite capabilities), or upload them here. To upload them here, go to the 'My Account', click the 'File browser' tab, then click the upload icon. Browse to the image and follow the prompts. That image is then stored here on the TFL server. You can then imbed that image into any post by clicking the 'Insert/edit Image' icon built into the text processor for posts/comments. It's extremely simple after doing it once or twice. Good luck girl! Welcome to SD!

- Keith

taramills's picture
taramills

Hi Keith,

Thanks so much for getting back to me, I was hoping you'd manage to catch my update.  I'm so delighted that i took your advice and hung in there, i just hope i don't muck things up now!  I'll continue with Debra Winks guide, 2 oz of starter (dump the rest)/1 oz flour/ 1 0z of water.  I do have baking scales, as i'm a keen cake baker, but have been meaning to invest in some digital scales, is that what you mean re recipe scales? sorry this might all be 'lost in translation'.

Should i just do the above for the next few days? I dont want to rush the important last part but not sure of the timings?

Many thanks again

t

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

I wouldn't worry about mucking anything up... once you're to this point, it becomes harder and harder to screw anything up, as long as you keep a reasonable feeding schedule.

2:1:1 starter maintenance is 2 parts starter, plus one part water, plus one part flour. If you are doing oz, then yes, 2 oz retained starter should be mixed with 1 oz water (whip oxygen into it at this point), and then 1 oz flour. That is also known as 100% hydration (equal weight flour and water). If you're using Tbsp's, then 1 Tbsp water is heavier than 1 Tbsp flour, so you're going to be maybe closer to 110-120% hydration. Not a real problem. You could always just use a slightly heaping Tbsp flour, or a scant Tbsp of water to get closer to 100%.

This is why the scale comes in handy. hehe.. and yes, that's what I was referring to, a digital kitchen scale. When you get into this type of baking, and especially sharing recipes nowadays, it's almost a must-have kitchen item, and as such, demand for them has gone up, and prices have come down. It's a great investment, but do a little research to make sure you get one that is flexible enough to accomodate what you'll be doing with it (there are a few slight differences between models that matters). If you can afford a little extra, try and obtain one that has a power adapter to augment the battery compartment. They chew up batteries rather fast, and I'm glad to just be able to plug mine in and leave it on the counter.

Don't be consumed with starter care, just be aware and reasonable. If you intend to feed every 12 hrs and you can't get to it until 16 or 18 hrs later one night, it's no big deal, and in fact, many of us believe that if you 'abuse' a starter a little bit, it becomes tougher. Conversely, if you 'coddle' it too much, it can become fussy on you. Myth or fact, bottom line is, once it has matured, it can take a LOT of abuse. So don't let it take over your life.

After about 3-5 days of twice a day 2:1:1 maintenance, if it's still looking strong, getting even stronger maybe, and definitely still smelling 'healthy', you can switch to a 1:1:1 feeding. Just post back if you think it's time to shift gears and we'll help you with any changes.

- Keith

taramills's picture
taramills

Thanks Keith, your a superstar! ..will keep you posted.

Cheers

t