The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Has my Barm gone bad?

nina1's picture
nina1

Has my Barm gone bad?

Hello:
Can someone point me in the right direction to potentially fix my barm? I made my seed culture from Reinhart's TBBA about a week ago and for the last 3 days I've been growing my barm. However, even though I read his book religiously daily, I somehow missed the line that says to store in the refrigerator. So now, is my barm bad? It is being stored in a ceramic bowl with plastic wrap, and I just put it in the fridge after 3 days of being on the counter and starting to smell really gross. There are bubbly "curdles on top and I just tasted a tiny drop and it's pretty sour. I really hope I don't have to start over.

Thank you for your help. I hope it can be fixed... Otherwise I'll start again!

Nina

fancy4baking's picture
fancy4baking

I guess you can go on feeding your starter, but you need to do that in room temerature with feeding intervals every 12 hours on 1:1 basis untill you see sign of maturation there like increase in volume (i.e: it rises in the jar to double or even more), smells like acitic or more like over-rupe fruit, lots of bubble distributed all over the barm and froth formulation on the surface. When you get these keep on feeding your starter for some time, i kept feeding it while it's been sitting on the counter top for two weeks before i had put it in the fridge. Once in the fridge, and in case you use it weekly like the majority of us, you need to feed it once a week. If you use it daily then you can feed it every time you use replenishing the amount you use. But don't worry about it just take it out of the fridge and keep on feeding it.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

so steal a heaping spoonful out of the middle.  Do this by carefully opening the top pushing the "curds" aside.  Take that deflated heaping teaspoonful and feed it according to your directions.  

(If you don't have any, then just double the amount adding water and then add as much flour as it takes to get the same firm dough ball of starter.   Place into a clean bowl, cover and wait about an hour in a warm spot before you refrigerate.)

nina1's picture
nina1

Hi Mini Oven,
Thank you so much for your help. This email is going to sound very basic -- but since this is my first sourdough starter, I have a million questions. Today will be day 3 without feeding, from seed culture. Should I take it out of the fridge and let it get to room temp? I have Reinhart's directions, and there's a LOT of barm. Do I really only need a teaspoon full of barm and then 16 oz. bread flour, 16 oz. water? Or, do I take 1 c barm and mix with 4 c flour and 2.5-3 c water, stirring until flour is hydrated? I prefer less sour bread, but don't want to bake yet. He recommends feeding every 3 days, but others on this forum feed weekly.

Sorry to bombard you. But thank you!
Nina

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

(a PR barm in this case) so you don't waste a lot of flour.  You won't be using it, just keeping it alive until you are ready.   A heaping teaspoon should work with about 1.oz water &  add flour to get consistancy.  A day or two before you bake you can increase the flour and water.  If you want to go back to Reinhart's big starter, you can do that too.

As you run searches thru the archives on discussions about PR's "barm" take note that when he first wrote about it, he used the wrong word.  It is a firm starter.  He regrets that it has led to a lot of confusion.  

About warming up the now cold starter, after you add a little warm (no way near hot)water to the heaping teaspoon of sour starter and start stirring to blend, the starter will be warmed up.  Right now the starter is very ripe and needs to be fed to a point where it is hard to smell the sourness of the starter.  When you have fed it, it will smell closer to wet flour than the "barm" you now have.  

You might want to experiment.  

After refreshing the starter, make another one and leave it out at room temp for a day.  Set it on a small plate and cover with a custard dish or other glass bowl you can see thru.   Take notes and pull it apart ever so often to see the changes it goes through over 24 hours or longer.  Smell it, prod it, play with it, leave the lid off, put it back on,  sprinkle it with flour, spray it with water, note the physical changes until it reaches "too stinky" or darn overripe where it gets stringy and deteriorates into a blob.  

You can even work more flour into half of it along the way and see what that does.  Getting to know your starter is a big jump in understanding not only it, but how your loaf dough will behave as you work with starters.  A dough is essentially just a bigger starter with added ingredients.  (We just bake the thing and call it bread before it gets too ripe.) Relax and have some fun.  When you're done you can throw it into the compost pile.  Nothing really gets wasted.