The Fresh Loaf

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Seed culture/starter is bubbly but isn't rising

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robp's picture
robp

Seed culture/starter is bubbly but isn't rising

Long time bread baker, first time sourdough attempt.  I followed the sourdough method outlined in The Bread Bakers Apprentice.  I'm going to guess that I don't have to type it all out and that most people will be familiar with the method.  I'm currently on day 6.

The seed culture rose a bit after day 2, maybe by 25-50% but hardly at all on day 3 or 4.  I created the barm yesterday AM and refreshed it again today.  It smells sour and is extremely bubbly but isn't rising at all.  I feel that I have a seed culture that is primarily bacteria and hardly any yeast but this being my first time I'm mostly clueless.  I guess I'm looking for suggestions or thoughts as to what to do as it is my understanding that it should be rising and close to doulbling over a 6ish hour period like a regular starter would. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Discard half and feed.  Feed at a ratio of 1 part starter, 2 parts flour by weight and enough water to make a pasty wet dough, thick enough to rise an thin enough to encourage the yeasts, cover loosely.  Too thin a starter will not rise much the bubbles breaking on the surface.  If your starter is too thin, add some flour to it so it's more soft dough like.  Park it in 77°C or 25° C place and just let it rise and fall back on itself before discarding and feeding again.  As soon as it is rising and falling, the rises will come closer together each time so you can feed more often sticking to a 12 hour schedule.  

You might also want to reduce the amounts of saved starter to reduce waste saving maybe 30g (1/8 c) to feed.  A little bit of rye or whole flour into the food flour might also be a good idea but not a requirement.   Just be patient, that is the key, and give it plenty of room to rise should it decide to go yeasty suddenly.  

If you haven't read Debra Wink's Blog on Pineapple juice (#1 and #2) now is a good time to do it.  

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

I wonder if you are making the same mistake I made at the start -- refreshing my starter by volume rather than weight. So I would add a measure of flour and the same measure of water each time. What that got me is a very liquidy solution, where the bubbles indicated that the starter was doing OK but there was no rise because the liquid could not support itself. As soon as I changed to refreshing by weight, that all changed, and my starter started rising.

I use a 1:4:4 ratio for my refreshes: 1 portion -- by weight -- of the old starter, 4 portions by weight of water and 4 portions by weight of flour. I usually use 20 grams of the original starter, so I add 80 grams each of water and flour. The amount is not important, just the ratio. I use a small amount so I don't have to use too much flour, and thereby save some money.

robp's picture
robp

I've refreshed it three times now and after the 2nd day (today)I had about a 50-75% rise and a bunch of tiny bubbles. The top half of it has a yellowish tinge to it and it no longer smells as sour as it did previously.   A much gentler sour aroma is present and I want to say that there is a slight yeasty smell to it.  See the pic below. 


Unless someone has some other suggestions I'll keep refreshing it every evening and letting it sit out at room temp (70F) here for a while to see where that gets me.

robp's picture
robp

Well, I've since fed and had my starter double in volume.  I then put it in the fridge over the last few days.  I'm want to start transitioning it to white flour and I'm wondering:  what is the recommended time limit that one could leave the starter out at room temp for? My thought is to feed it in the evenings when I'm home from work every night this week.  Is there any issue leaving it out at room temp for 24hrs in between feeds?  Also, whats the longest anyone has let their starter sit out at room temp for?