The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

how long is too long to proof a culture?

John K.'s picture
John K.

how long is too long to proof a culture?

I am new to sourdough baking, and am using Ed Wood's Classic Sourdoughs as a baseline until I become more familiar with sourdough baking. Due to less than optimal planning, I wasn't able to commence the recipe after the 8-12 hour "Culture Proof" (at room temperature) specified by that book and by the instructions included with the dried sourdough culture. Is that a problem? Is there something I should do to the culture before using it in a recipe? It may be close to 24 hours since I started the Culture Proof before I am able to remove the amount specified by the recipe from the Culture Proof and commence the recipe.

Incidentally, someone said on another thread that the instructions included with the dried sourdough culture from Sourdoughs International contains inaccurate information, but didn't specify what it contained that is inaccurate. Might someone be able to shed some light on any inaccuracies contained in those instructions? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would say that it is good so.  Although I am not familiar with the instructions, I find that 12 hours after first wetting a dry starter (re-hydrating) is too soon if you expect the starter to raise the bread dough.  You should see activity in the starter.  

I would not discard and add half as much water and more flour to make a thick batter (not dough) and give it another 24 hours.  Take note if the mixture thins as it stands or changes from wet flour smell to something else.  When you look through the sides of the container, you should see lots of evenly formed bubbles that increase the volume of the starter.   

You may find this link helpful or try a site search under:  re-hydrating a dry starter  or  reactivating a dried starter

A starter is "too long" when it smells strongly of beer or alcohol, then it should be reduced in size and fed more water and flour and allowed to rise before being used in a recipe.