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Rye to wheat starter suddenly inactive

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lynnmichael's picture
lynnmichael

Rye to wheat starter suddenly inactive

Mixed together a rye starter (water + rye) four days ago. It doubled on the second day and was still robust when I fed it. Third day, I replaced rye with whole wheat. Per recipe, I'm mixing half my starter (40 grams) plus 100 grams whole wheat and 125 grams water. Today my starter has little activity (i.e not doubled) and I did notice that the water I have been using (reverse osmosis) was a bit cold. Just fyi, I keep the starter out on the kitchen table covered with a thin towel.

Questions: Can cold water make for a sluggish starter? I have not been taking the temperature of the water...

Was it wrong to feed the starter while it was robust? Should I have waited until it collapsed? How do I know it's time to feed?  Novice here...

Would it help to add more rye?

Any tips?

Thanks!

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

That may not have been yeast that made your starter double on the second day.  It sounds like you're talking about a new starter, is that right?  Other bacteria sometimes get active in the first few days, then naturally die off as the more desireable bacteria start to ramp up.  Keep up the feeding, etc. and try to keep it a little on the warm side- luke warm water rather than cold. 

If you search for "Pineapple Juice Solution", you find a wealth of information on this issue!

lynnmichael's picture
lynnmichael

Hi there! Yes, it is a new starter. Now on fifth day. Had no idea something other than "good" bacteria could make the starter swell like that. I'm feeding the starter every morning. It was my understanding that I should stay on a set feeding schedule (i.e. same time every day.) Should I maintain that or are there  things I should be looking for before I feed? Will try not to use cold water again...thanks!

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Did you just begin the starter 4 days ago or was this mixed from a previous starter?  A 4 day old starter is no where near ready to bake with nor is it really quite a starter....yet.

Any starter can stumble when the flour is change, in this case from rye to wheat.  If you have a viable working starter that you want to change flour wise, I would begin by substituting a small portion of wheat for the rye and increase that substitution with each feeding.  Reverse osmosis water is suspect with regards to its quality in bread making as it has been stripped of all minerals.  I would use something different.  Another note, reverse osmosis water can strip the minerals out of you too.

There is a wealth of information on this site regarding starters,  use the search function and look particularly at the work of Debra Wink.

Happy Baking,

Jeff

lynnmichael's picture
lynnmichael

Hi there, 

I just began the starter 4 days ago. I used a formula from the French Culinary Institute's "The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking." I had tried a 50/50 all white and wheat starter last year but had little luck and abandoned it. I know my starter has quite a while to go (would you call it a culture?)...I was just a little stumped as to why it would double immediately and now have little activity. 

I've switched to plain bottled water...hesitant to use tap but perhaps I should give it a try. What do you use/recommend?

Will do the search you suggested. 

Thanks!

 

charliez's picture
charliez

I am also starting a starter just now, I am following Maggie Glazer method.

I mixed 100g of lukewarm water and 100g of rye flour.
The first day nothing happened.
The second day it doubled and had some air bubbles.
At the end of the second day, I added (all these per recipe) 100g of all-purpose flour.
On the third day it just expanded a little, not much.

 At the end of tomorrow, the fourth day, it should show some superficial bubbles and I
will refresh it again... let's see what happens...  

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I would recommend that you stay with rye flour until you have an active developed viable starter.  I would say use rye for at least a week and then make the transition to another flour (if you want) gradually.  I keep a 100% rye starter that I use for almost everything as it adds great flavor and is a very willing fermenter.

Jeff

lynnmichael's picture
lynnmichael

So, can you switch back to rye after using whole wheat? Could I just replace the whole wheat with rye and keep going?

Just curious what kind of bread you use your rye starter for? The reason I decided to try rye is because I read exactly that...that it's a very willing fermenter...

Thanks!

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Yes, switch back to rye and keep going. 

I use the rye starter for Vollkornbrot,  light rye with caraway, another bread that is a mix of various wheats, rye and spelt...these are the obvious breads that one would expect a rye starter.  I also use the rye starter in a variety of breads that are mostly white flour.  These begin with a small portion of the rye starter and by the time the final dough is mixed, the percentage of rye is very small.  Rye flour is often refered to as "rocket fuel" relative to the wild yeast process.   You can use rye starter for almost any bread with the rare exception of a bread that by definition has only white flour.  I would suggest that you maintain the starter with rye indefinitely and use it as your starter.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the wonderful flavor it imparts in almost any bread, as well as its enthusiastic properties of fermentation.

Jeff