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another starter question

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msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

another starter question

My starter is nearly 2 yrs old, made from Peter Reinhart's method, 100% hydration. Trying to establish a path to a good starter has been very difficult as there are conflicting "rules" from different sources. I decided to go by what he said and follow it all the way. I have had excellent results and the bread made always rises correctly. Killer taste as well. The only problem I am having is the constant refreshing, I do it every 10 days, it is left in the fridge after the refreshment completes its rise. It always doubles quickly and sometimes triples. (does tripling wear it out? in my notes the bread made next day with this did not rise as well) PR says you have up to 3 days to use it with good results. But, all of this time I have been refreshing at 1:1:1 by weight. Is this doubling or tripling? He says you should always double your barm, so if I am using a barm of 150 gr, I will use flour at 155 gr and water at 155 gr. When I go back and read his instructions over (and over) this is what I take from it. Then I began to think, maybe I was only supposed to be doubling the barm of 150 gr with a TOTAL of 15o-155 gr of flour and water, that being 75 each. If I reduced what I've been doing, there would be a lot less waste as I make other breads that don't require starters and use KA Sir Lancelot for the refreshment. Then if I am able to reduce it, am I going to be getting a stronger taste? That I don't want, what I do now taste's just right. These questions have been on my mind, can someone please set me straight!! Thanks so much for any advice. Jean P. (VA)

Grenage's picture
Grenage

Doubling would be doubling the mass, so 50g starter, 25g water, and 25g flour.  I'm not familiar with the Reinhart's sourdough methods, so I can't commend any further; many others here will be. :)

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... his exact instruction, Jean? I don't have his book, so can't check. Others here will probably know it off by heart.

But I can say that if you keep your refreshed starter out until it has doubled or tripled, you will be returning it to the fridge with no food left for the yeast to slowly digest over the next few days, which is why your starter performed poorly the next day - it was hungry! Unless, of course, you refreshed it again, prior to baking that second batch.

The usual wisdom is to refresh, let it alone at room temperature for a little while - an hour or so - then return to fridge. Others bung it back straight after feeding. I've done both and it's all good. The important thing is to return it to the chiller with some food still to feed on.

All at Sea

msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

All atSea, Thanks for your reply. The book is The Bread Bakers Apprentice if anyone is interested in a sound approach to starters.  He says when you get your final starter, which comes after a lot of building, throwing away, etc., you must feed regularly, which everyone knows. On page 231 he says to double it at least. 3 days or less before you want to bake bread, discard all but one cup and feed. Leave at room temperature for approx 6 hrs, or until the barm is bubbly. Then refridgerate overnight before using and it will remain potent for about 3 days. He says you can use it right away after rising, but the overnight in fridge seems to develop more flavor. I have always done it this way and refresh only once after 10 days and make bread the next day. No problems. However, I did notice on the days when the starter refreshment tripled, the resulting bread did not rise as much. After reading a lot on this site, I wondered about its effectivness. It is always interesting to read about everyone's approach and their results. I appreciate your input.

Happy baking, Jean

 

msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

Thank you Grenage, that is what I began to think, I was over doing it.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I believe PR considers expanding 100 grams to 200 as doubling but the language around sourdough expansion is IMO vague and confusing. I personally think of expansions as 1X, 2X, 4X, etc. where the number signifies the weight of the added flour and water divided by the weight of the starter/levain. 

Like you, I maintain a 100% hydration starter and I slightly overfeed. (like your 155 compared to 150). I usually feed my starter  at what I term 1X, adding 50 (actually 55 to 60) grams of flour and same of water to 50 grams of starter. Leave it out a short time (15 min to an hour) and put it in the fridge. That is enough food for it to be more or less ready to go in about a week. And it is reasonably active. But sourdough starters can be rather different in how they behave and how they want to be fed so think of everyone's comments (PR's included) as suggestions, not gospel.

Your 2X feeding should be adequate to keep your starter robust. At 1X I find the robustness of my starter gradually wanes and I periodically give it a single or double feeding at 4X to reinvigorate it (every three months or so). I typically do these feedings just like the first expansion in prep for making bread. Feed it, leave it out overnight. If it is properly inflated I know it is fully healthy, take 50 grams and add 25/25 flour water and return to my normal practice. If it is not properly expanded, I feed it again, (and again) until it is.  I find this approach useful for I keep 2 to 4 starters and one will sometimes get unused for a while and need to be reenvigorated.

Good luck!

Jay 

msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

Jay, I think you have hit the nail on the head with your explanation and thoughts. My sentiments exactly as to the confusing part. Peter R.  seems to change his instruction further in the chapter by saying you need a 1:1:1 ratio, which is different if you only doubled the refresh. Also, the methods differ a lot between the authors and chefs and it means a lot of sifting through all the info to come up with a workable solution for yourself. I still find myself reading and rereading all I find about starters, even after 2 years of what I'd consider success. It is very expensive to throw away all of the Sir Lancelot flour!

What do you do with so many starters?

Thank you for your input, Jean

Giggliato's picture
Giggliato

I recently started a starter :) I'm using the method in Bread by Hamelman. My starter smells pretty good and it's only been a few days. Regarding all that extra starter that you might have, I'm going to try making some of these,

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/09/11/sourdough-english-muffins/

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi Jean!

The most reliable strategy I know of for sourdough is to feed it pretty much however you want to (within reason, it does need to be reasonably heatlthy) and...when you are ready to bake... simply give it 4X expansions (50 starter plus 100 flour plus 100 water in my terminology) at 12 hour intervals until it is truly robust. If the starter is healthy it should only take one. If it is puny, two. If it takes three it really needed feeding. In any event, that way you always start your bread process with robust starter and after you feed the part you are saving you are saving a robust starter!

Hang in there! It is possible to have a life, with sourdough. (It doesn't have to consume your whole life!)

Jay

PS: I have a mild starter using white flour, a sour starter that is WW, but the sour is sometimes used to build a rye starter or a spelt starter. So I usually have two but...when I decide to get in a rut it expands...