The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is it dead ?

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

Is it dead ?

... my starter seams dead... has stop breathing... After a few hours of feeding it has a layer of liquid on top and no sign of bubbles.... Is it gone? 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

is just playing possum.  Patience......then wait some more :-)

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

so I keep feeding it ? or just wait ... (it's been like this for a couple of days... I keep feedign it... ) btw, this is a new starter (few days old)

placebo's picture
placebo

Pineapple Juice Solution, Part 1. It'll probably explain to you what's happened so far.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

you should add some more flour until you achieve a thicker consistency.  How thick is your call but at least aim for pancake batter consistency.  You could add enough flour to make it like a dough and that would work, too.

Right now, your starter doesn't have enough flour in it to 1) provide adequate food for the yeasts and bacteria, 2) provide enough structure to trap bubbles as they form.  Any bubbles that do form will just float to the top and collapse without actually expanding the starter's volume.

I don't know where you are in the process, but it is common that a nascent starter will have a couple of days of hyperactivity followed by a couple of days of no activity followed by renewed activity.  It's that last phase when conditions have changed enoough to favor the yeast so that they start growing enthusiastically.

Paul

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

I've split the started in two and started separate revival processes... 

on the first I've added a little pinapple juice and flour. first day, not much happened. by the second day it bacame same funny smelling almost liquid paste. Feed one part water and 2 parts flour - which made it a quite stiff. on the third day some bubbles show up. Again 1:1:2 feed. And... by the forth day...  a nutty , bubbling paste !!! I gave it one more feed 1:1:2 and today i baked !!!! I had to modify the recipe as my starter is at 50% hydration. It probably is not the best sourdough bread (not much oven spring), but it's a start(er) ! 

second batch I gave 1:1:1 whole meal flour... nothing.  second day 1:1:1 back to plain flour... nothing... third, forth and fifth day 1:1:2...  and finally today some light bubbles began to show up.... I think its coming to life...  

conclusions: patience and flour helps.

 

now question: since I am having 2 different starters, do I combine them ? I dont really wana feed 2 , but i dont want to throw one away... 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grenage's picture
Grenage

Throw one away, or combine them - the result will effectively be the same.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

or combine doesn't really make a difference in the end.  Either way you get 1 at the next feeding.  Don't let the starter get over 100% hydration for storage so not to starve it.

I keep 80 grams of starter at 56% hydration in the fridge to keep feeding and waste down.   We only bake bread a couple of times a week and need 40-60 g of starter for that.  At the end of the week we have 20-40 g left depending on what we baked that week.  Toss all but 10 g,  add 30 g of flour and 25 g of water.  Let it increase in volume 50% at room temperature then mix in the remaining 15 g of flour and put it in the fridge.   Will easily stay 2 weeks like that and probably a month.

My feed mix is 33.33% each rye, WW and White flour.  When you bake, just build the levain to what ever you are baking (rye WW or White) in (3) 4 hour each process to the amount of levain and hydration you need.   Works for me.  I just got tired of keeping so much starter, feeding so much and throwing too much away.

Happy baking.

placebo's picture
placebo

I ended up with two starters when I first got into sourdough. I had started them both with whole wheat flour, and I converted one to AP flour. The other I kept as whole wheat. After a few weeks, however, I realized I was just wasting flour keeping the whole wheat one around as I rarely baked whole wheat loaves. I didn't want to toss it, however, so I gave it to a friend. Since then, I've made a few more starters as experiments. Now that I understand what to expect, the feeling of accomplishment is no longer there when I create a viable starter, so I usually just throw them out once my curiosity is satisfied.

You could, of course, make bread with the two starters and see if there's a significant difference in flavor. If there is, you can keep the one you prefer or perhaps keep them both, taking care not to cross contaminate them.

You could also advertise the fact you have a starter to give away, perhaps on a local mailing list or a site like craigslist. If someone local has had trouble making a starter, he or she would probably be thrilled to benefit from your success.

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

I've decided to combine them. maybe they developed different flavour and "bugs" and together they will be stronger. Or not. It's done. 

Will continue feeding it daily 1:1:1 for abother week or so to mature it (is it really needed ?) and then store it in the fridge with 1:1:2...

Grenage's picture
Grenage

Some people bake in less than 3 days, which I wouldn't recommend; I started using mine after 3 solid days of predictable growth, after discards and feedings.

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

Grenage : I know I should have not bake so soon but I just couldnt help myself.

 

Now it is sooooo active it doubles in about 3 hours. I give a stir and then another hour later is back to double size.... It is too hot in my house (living in Singapore and average temp these days is 28C.... I will feed it again and put it in the wine chiller (12C or 16C) and feed it once it doubles - probably 2 days... 

If anyone has better ideas please let me know... 

PeterS's picture
PeterS

about 4-6 hours or less to be ready for baking if the starter is about 20% (baker's percentage; 1:5 starter flour) of a formulation that has to double in 2-3 hours at room temperature (75 +/-) during bulk ferment and also proofing. 

Developing the starter also allows some of the trace ingredients that give a bread good flavor to build up, too. However, if using a long ferment and/or a retard, these should accumulate then.

I have no problem storing a 125% hydration starter in the fridge and have even let them go 1-2 months without feeding them. Of course, the longer they go without food, the longer (2-3 days) it takes to revive them--which one wants to do as dying and dead yeast create some undesirable chemicals which must be worked off in the refreshment cycle and is a major reason for feeding on shorter intervals if baking frequently. I like the higher hydration as it is easy to stir and tends to be less vinegary.

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

I've deflated the starter and moved it in the wine fridge at 15C (59F) and it doubled the size (again) in just couple of hours. I gave it another stir to deflate and I'm going to bed (it's 10pm here). Hopefully by morning it wont pop the lid. 

Btw, does it make a differnce if the jar is tightly sealed ? 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

always store it in a 38 F fridge instead of 59 F the activity and required feeding will be reduced significantly .  You can also store at a lower hydration and amount too.

PeterS's picture
PeterS

it will do so. Keeping the lid on just allows the pressure to build such that it will blow the lid and overflow. Leaving the lid cracked will allow the CO2 to vent keeping it at room pressure. When the CO2 concentration builds, it actually suppresses the yeast activity, but, alas, our containers are probably not strong enough to contain pressures that high. You can stir at regular intervals to degas it, use a larger container, cool it,  reduce the amount of material or up the hydration to the point where the surface tension of the dough is not strong enough to hold large amounts of gas.

MoonshineSG's picture
MoonshineSG

I was hoping to feed it daily for about a week or more to get it fully developed and add more flavours. It is a "new born"...  I dont wana store it yet, just want to slow it down... It's growing very very fast... (in my opinion, at least)