The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bulking a Starter

crackher's picture
crackher

Bulking a Starter

Hello Hello Hello.

So I finally signed upp after lurking in weeds for manys months.  Ill post something more about myself in the general section

Sourghdough bulking is my question.

I finally have created a healthy starter and I have two versions currently healthy

1) active on the counter

2) dormant in the fridge

I have used both in baking with improving results.  I would like to know what the procedure for bulking the starter to larger proportions for baking more loaves at once.  You see I have a masonry oven and I am moving my recipe into it this weekend (if possible).  I only have at best 2 cups of starter and I would like to bulk it to 10 or 16 cups since I can bake more loaves on the oven at once (and frankly without that many the humidity is hard to maintain).  The starter is 100% hydration, it was based on Rye flour to start but it has been on a healthy diet of AP for 2 weeks.

vtsteve's picture
vtsteve

Sixteen cups fully risen or stirred down? Is it 100% hydration by volume or by weight?

It's easier to work by weight -- a cup of flour plus a cup of water makes LESS than two cups mixed (and it's really around 167% hydration by weight), but a kilo of flour and a kilo of water is always going to add up to two kilograms (at true 100% hydration).

The only possible answer to your original question is another question: how did you get to two cups? Just do the same, but multiply all the inputs by 8. If it used 2T of seed starter, use 16T, etc.

raqk8's picture
raqk8

If I'm understanding you correctly, you just want to have more starter on hand, right?

Many people throw out a cup of starter before they feed it, the feed it, let it ripen, use the starter, and feed again before it goes in the fridge. If you want to bulk up, just keep feeding it without throwing any starter out (and let it ripen before any additional feedings). I don't really recommend just throwing 16 cups of flour (do try to use weights - your life will be far easier) onto two cups of starter... that's a lof of stuff for a relatively small amount of yeast to do, and it will take a long time to ripen and won't have as acute a taste.

As for the amount of bread you will be making, how in the world will you eat all that?! You must really like your bread, or have mouths to feed!

crackher's picture
crackher

my fault for not including all the details.

my starter is 100% by weight.  I used the idea of 16 cups (stired) just as a speaking point.  I supposed the real question would be the fastest method for increasing the amount of starter I have on hand prior to bake day without jepordizing the starter it self.

I have, in the past, fed the starter without disgarding the starter, but if I only want to keep a small amount on hand, but need a large amount say on Sunday's that would be a little problematic.  I realise that just throwing in a large quantity of flour and water is not going to achieve my desired result, but does anyone have any experience in the "maximum" ratio of starter to "new flour/water" for a feeding?

sournewb71's picture
sournewb71

It is my understanding (someone can correct me if I'm wrong) that if you keep feeding your sourdough starter increasing amounts of flour and water without removing some starter you may end up with a starter that's weak in the yeast department.  The acids from the lactic acid bacteria will acidify the starter keeping bad bugs out but at the same time slowing down yeasts.  That's why it is best to remove some starter before feeding it.

 

I would take your 2 cups of starter and divide it into 8 quart mason jars, 1/2 cup by volume each and then feed each of those containers to get your 16 cups.  Like others said, a digital scale would help make the process easier.

vtsteve's picture
vtsteve

Excellent!

I use anywhere from 1:3:3 to 1:5:5 (one part seed starter, 3-5 parts each of water and flour). It's possible to expand it faster (1:10:10 isn't unheard of), but there's the possiblilty of letting the stinky critters take over if you dilute it too far. I usually keep ~20 grams as seed in the fridge, then let it mature and do a couple feeds at 1:3:3 (but small quantities, like 5g : 15g : 15g to minimize discard) until it's vigorous, then go for the expansion. If you started with just 5g and *didn't* discard, at 1:3:3 it would go from 5g -> 35g -> 245g -> 1715g in three feeding. At 1:5:5 you'd end up with 6655g!

Darxus's picture
Darxus

You could increase the speed of your starter propagation with increased heat.  The question, as with all of this, is whether or not the result would be desirable.  Your best bet is probably not rushing it, and just feeding your starter at the same ratios you've been using, without discarding any.  Just before you mix it into your dough, take out a small amount to continue maintaining your starter.  

I wonder if I can find the story I read about rushing starter bulking....

Darxus's picture
Darxus

Yup.  An experienced baker's attempt to rush starter bulking:  http://www.sourdoughbaker.com.au/stories/the-day-the-starter-died.html

(I think this person is a member of this site.)

Darxus's picture
Darxus

At least one person says the optimal temperature for sourdough starter is 85°F.  There are so many variables involved, and so much conflicting information on what's best.  The graph of relative growth rates at varying temperatures in this graph may be a useful explanation, but it's still oversimplified enough that its application to actual sourdough starters is unclear:  http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/27634-sourdough-bread/page__p__1769486#entry1769486 

In the graph, "L. sf" = lactobacillus sanfrancisco, a bacteria related to desired sourness.  "Yeast (C. milleri)" = Candida milleri, one of the yeasts common in sourdough.

vtsteve's picture
vtsteve

In Bread, Hamelman does his wheat-flour levain builds at 70°F. If it's much warmer, he recommends adding some of the dough salt, at 0.2%-2% of the levain flour, to control the speed - I think the window of ripeness is too short otherwise, and the protease activity goes off the scale. I've tried to rush a build before, and ended up with a bucket of sudsy slop while my back was turned... He does the Detmolder multi-stage rye builds a little warmer (73-85°F, depending on the stage), but the non-Detmold ryes also specify a (longer) 70°F levain build.