The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

VERY active starter even in the fridge

New2BreadMaking's picture
New2BreadMaking

VERY active starter even in the fridge

Hello,

Rather new to bread making.

I have 2 starters:

First starter - was started on October 15th which puts it at about 30 days old.  It was made with Gold Medal Whole Wheat flour and water.  It sat unrefrigerated for approx 6 days with daily feedings before I determined it was ready for making some bread and also time to start keeping in the fridge.  This starter has a very sweet and fruity wine-like bouquet to it.  It's also produces very good rise when making bread, both on the first rise (doubles in 6~7 hours @~75°F),  the second (more than doubles in the pan for 8 hours), and still rises quite a bit during the bake.  The resulting bread is, well...since the starter isn't very old and still has some time to go before it matures and develops a nice flavor, and I'm only using the same GM Whole Wheat flour, some added gluten and water (no salt or sugar)...the taste of the bread is, I guess what most might call "generic" since it tastes pretty much like regular (however sour) wheat bread - but it still tastes quite good, especially when it's toasted.  Overall this starter makes some really nice bread.  I'm very happy with it.

 

Second starter - was started(?), or abridged(?) - I don't know the proper terminology - on the 9th (5 days ago) of this month using some of the GM Whole Wheat starter described above and King Authur's Unbleached White Whole Wheat flour.  Basically, I took 1/2 cup of the Whole Wheat starter, added 1/2 cup of the KAU White Wheat flour and enough water to form the same consistency.  I did this for 3 days, letting it sit out at room temp for and hour or 2 so it could rise a bit, then refrigerating it till the next feeding the next day.  I hadn't noticed anything in particular the during those first 3 days - I simply fed it, let it rise at room temp for a spell, stir (to deflate) it, then stick it back in the fridge. 

 

I made some bread with "Second Starter" after it's 4th day.  Made the dough and had it sitting in the bowl for the first rise.   I naturally assumed that the first rise would also take about 6 hours so I set my timer for 6 hours and went on to do something else. After about 2 hours I decided to take a little nap.  I woke up 2 hours later, with the dough having risen for just over 4 hours and guess what?  The dough had almost tripled in size, @75° (was rather cool that day).  I thought 'wow...I've got a high powered starter here'.  Naturally, the second rise didn't go to well.  It barely doubled in size (in the pan for 10 hours) and even shrunk a little during the bake, practically leaving me with something that would make a better doorstop, or a bookend, rather than a loaf of bread.

 

I'm not too concerned with the bread I wound up with using this "Second Starter".  What I am concerned with is this: the starter itself.  It's staying very active in the refrigerator (@35~40°F - actual temp of the chilled starter).  I've had to stir (deflate) it once a day.  When I deflate the starter, the respective container is half full.  When I come back 24 hours later the container's almost completely full (almost touching the lid).  I usually stir it at night before going to bed.  When I wake up the following morning(s) instead of having a container half full of starter I know have it 3/4 of the way full and, like I said before near 24 hours, chilled, in the refrigerator, it completely fills up again.

 

I don't know exactly what to make of all this.  I don't have the same thing happening with the "First Starter".  I use it for bread, then replenish, (feed) it, let it sit and rise, deflate it, stick it in the fridge - it stays active for a little while before it's chilled enough in the fridge.

 

Anyone with any ideas as to what's going on?  Why is this "Second Starter" so active, even in the fridge?

 

I'm thinking - maybe the yeast that's in the "First Starter" likes the KA's U White Wheat flour better than the GM Whole Wheat flour. 

 

I don't know.

 

I am rather new to all of this.

New2BreadMaking's picture
New2BreadMaking

The best that I can calculate is that my starters (both the "First Starter and the "Second Starter") are at approx. 117% hydration.  I'm not even sure that I'm doing the math correct:

I'm using approximately 3/4 cup of water to 1 cup of flour which equates to approx. 177 grams of water to approx. 138 grams of flour.

So, if 150% hydration is equal to 150 grams of water to every 100 grams of flour would be written as something like:

150 x 138(grams of flour) / 100 x 177(grams of water) = 20700 (flour)/17700(water) = 117% hydration

 

LOL.

 

I don't know.

 

I was never that good with math.

polo's picture
polo

First off, I am figuring your starter's hydration to be 128%. (177/138 = 1.28 or 128%) Not really good at math either, but pretty sure about this.

Secondly, while I am not sure why your starter is so "quick", there may be things you can do to help yourself out. If you are feeding your starter daily, you don't need to refridgerate it. When you put it in the fridge you are retarding it, and it is not feeding on the flour that you provided it. Leave it out and let it eat. You can put it back in the fridge when you are not using it and need to store it. You also may want to change the ratio that you are using to feed your starter, and start using a scale.

You said that you are feeding 1/2 cup starter with 1/2 cup flour and enough water to maintain the consistency (so 1 part starter/ 1 part flour/ and 1.28 parts water or 1/1/1.28). Try this instead: Feed 75 grams of your starter with 150 grams of flour and 192 grams of water (or 1/2/2.56)(if you want to retain the same consistency), this may slow it down and you will be sure of you hydration percentage. I can't say enough for the weighing of ingredients, it has helped my baking tremendously.

My starter was also very quick and I found if I fed it more, it slowed it down. Kind of a neat thing to know, now I know I can speed it up if I want.

I am sure many others will post here with more detailed solutions, but this is what helped me. As time goes on you will learn more and more about your starter. It is all very interesting stuff.

New2BreadMaking's picture
New2BreadMaking

@polo:

My appologies. I made a mistake with my choice of words. I just started out with only 1/2 cup of the original starter - that was for the first day.  The second and third days I just fed it 1/2 cup of flour and enough water to maintain the same consistency.  So, in other words, I didn't (ever) add any more of the original starter - just flour and water.

Wasn't till the fourth day, that I made some bread, and then replenished the starter with 1 cup of flour (KA's U Whole White Wheat) and, again, enough water to maintain the consistency.

But...

After all of this has been said (written in this case)...I think the starter in question has finally peaked.  I stirred it again before going to bed last night (around 10pm).  I just checked it out and it appears to have stopped expanding, and I'm seeing signs of separation.

 

So, I think everythings okay now.

 

Don't know.

 

We'll see.

polo's picture
polo

Just want to make sure I understand. Do you discard any of your starter before replenishing, or do you just keep adding 1/2 cup of flour and the water each day until you have enough to bake with? I think my confusion here is that I was thinking that you are maintaining your starter with those feedings. Now I read that you are expanding your starter over a few days to make enough to bake with. Am I correct in this assumption?

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and chilling, then discarding and repeating a feed the next day (before the starter matured) you encouraged fast growing yeast.  Yeast that could bud quickly before the cold could slow them down.  The yeast that takes longer to bud got discarded with each feeding concentrating the faster growing yeast in the culture.  With repeated days of this practice, the fast yeast far outnumber the slower ones.  It might be compared to discard and feeding your culture on the counter every 6 hours.  

The older culture would take longer to repeat such behavior (with the GM WW) but it can also be encouraged to do so.  The fact that this coincides with a flour change to make a second starter also means possible introduction of other yeast varieties to your culture from the KA WWW that might have taken advantage of the new feeding changes.  If the starter is now separating, that means it has used up the food and wants to be fed more. 

Now you have to decide if you want to keep such an active starter.  Reverse the feeding to longer times, like leave it alone in the fridge for two, three, or more days before feeding it may slow it down.  Then again, you might just like a speedy demanding starter that can raise your bread in the fridge.   

Mini

New2BreadMaking's picture
New2BreadMaking

I didn't do any chilling and discarding.  As I was makin this new starter it stayed room temp (70~75°F) on the kitchen counter.  I didn't stick it in the fridge till after I made the bread dough (on "Day 4").

New2BreadMaking's picture
New2BreadMaking

I never made any discards of my starter.

I spent too much time writing that first post that I made.  I made a few bad choices of words and syntax.

Let me try and clear things up a bit here:

1.  "Day 1" - On November 9th, @approximately 9:00A.M., I spooned and measured out 1/2 cup of a starter (that I already had which consisted of Gold Medal Whole Wheat and water[GMUWWW]) and placed that 1/2 cup of starter in a new, separate container.  With me so far?

2.  In this new, separate container, with the above mentioned 1/2 cup of starter in it, I mixed in 1/2 cup of King Authur's Unbleached White Whole Wheat (KAUWWW) and enough water to acheive the same consistency (more or less) as the "original" starter.  Kept in out on the kitchen counter till the following morning. Still with me?

3.  "Day 2" - The following morning (November 10th) @approximately 9:00A.M., this new starter had doubled in volume.  I mixed in another 1/2 cup of KAUWWW flour, and, again, enough water to match the consistency.  I did not discard any starter, nor did I add anymore of the original starter (made with GMWW).  Again, kept it on the kitchen counter till the following moring.

4.  "Day 3" - November 11th, @approximately 9:00A.M., the starter had once again doubled in volume.  I basically repeated what I did in "Day 2" - mixed in 1/2 cup of KAUWWW flour and enough water to match the consistency.  Again, I made no discards of the new starter, nor did I add anymore of the original starter made with GMWW.  Still with me?  By this time I had about 3 ~ 3 1/2 cups of starter.  Kept it on the counter again.

5.  "Day 4" - November 11th, I figured it was time to make some bread with this new starter.  I spooned and measured out 1 cup of this new starter for the bread.  I didn't put the new starter in the fridge just yet.  I kept it on the counter.  I went ahead and made the bread dough.  After I finished the bread dough I went ahead and fed (replenished) the new starter with 1 cup of KAUWWW flour and water, matching the consistency, and all that jazz.  Left it on the counter for a short time, maybe an hour or two, before I stuck it in the fridge.   Please keep in mind that this was indeed the last time I fed this starter.

6.  "Day 5", and the remaining days up until yesterday evening - I really didn't do anything with the starter, other than give it a stir (in the evenings before going to bed) to deflate it.  The way things were looking with the starter being so active I didn't want it overflowing all over the refrigerator overnight.  I didn't add or remove, or discard anything, other than all the C02 or air from all the yeast development.

         

   

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

There is a reason for discarding.  

Healthy starters should be fed at least their own weight in flour.  It can be doubled or trippled or even added 10 fold but it is not good for the starter to be given less than the starter weight.  That would be too little food for the creatures in your starter culture.

That said, if your feedings matched your starter, the scenario would have properly read that with each increase in starter (one cup more each feeding) the next feeding amount would have increased instead of remaining at half a cup of flour.   It is good to discard and reduce the amount of starter to feed back to a reasonable amount like 1/4 c to feed.    Are you with me?  If you have 3 cups of starter and don't discard and it weighs, say 400g for example, you should be feeding it 400g of flour and then adding water to your correct consistancy.  The next time it would be about 1000g and you would need a whole kilo of flour to feed it.  By feeding it only about 65g of flour (1/2 cup) with each feed, you are creating desperate yeast that run for the food, bud panic and burp and the food is gone quickly so you see a quick drop in yeast activity.  You do not get the long sustained rise you would like to see in bread dough.  

After removing starter to make bread,  reduce your stock further by discarding.  Save a small amount of this ripe starter, give it equal amounts in weight of flour  and water to blend as you like.  Keeps the amounts small so there isn't a lot of discard.  You can actually go as small as a heaping teaspoon of starter.  Flour weighs about half that of water.  Give it a tablespoon of water and add enough flour to get your consistancy.   Then feed it 12 hours later.

polo's picture
polo

MiniO's post above is exactly what I was trying to get at (not that she needs my concurrence). When I started feeding my starter more it definitely slowed it down, but remember to discard some before feeding or you will have buckets of the stuff:)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

bubbles popped, you need to add (how runny is your starter? sounds like a little more than 100% hydration... pancake batter?) about 1/2 c water and 2/3 cup flour.  You can easily take 1c away from that to make bread and have some left over to feed with a small discard.   How does that sound?   

How are you feeding the other first starter? (while we're on the subject) (Don't suddenly change its routine, just want to know, afterall it seems to be working for you. for now.)

 

New2BreadMaking's picture
New2BreadMaking

...and, well...

hmmm.

How should I put this....

I discarded quite a bit of the KAUWWW starter.  Only saved 240 grams.  I took that 240 grams of starter and just let it sit out on the counter for 2~3 hours. It doubled its volume.  I then matched the 240 grams of starter with 120 grams of the KAUWWW flour and 120 grams of water.  It lowered the hydration of the whole starter quite a bit.  Before I added more flour and water hydration was probably around 125~130%.  I think it's probably around 110% now - it's like a really thick batter.  Anyways, I let it sit out on the counter long enough to at least double in volume again.  Afterwards, I gave it a good stir and stuck it in the fridge.  It did rise again, but nowhere near as much as it did before, and it hasn't risen anymore since.  It's staying put in the fridge now.  No need to make bread right now so I'll have to wait and see how it performs the next time I make bread with it.  I think it will do quite well now that I've kinda stablized it.

I did (almost) the exact same thing with the original GMWW starter.  I just kept more of the starter (320g and fed/doubled/peaked it accordingly) and then went on to make some bread with it.  After I made the bread dough I kept only 240 grams of the starter, fed/doubled/peaked it again, stirred it, stuck it in the fridge.  Incidently, the bread came out as good as it always did.

Funny.  I like to eat bread, but I don't (can't) eat all that much of it - I don't eat it everyday.  A loaf of my bread lasts me a good 2 weeks, just with me eating it, 1 week with 2 people eating it.

I sure do like making it though.  LOL  Quite fun.