The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

building a new starter

metropical's picture
metropical

building a new starter

I began with 1 tbsp of rye and ww each and  2 tbsp unb AP and an equal weight of around 90F water.

I've been adding every day or 2, another couple of tbsps and equal water, except once when hooch developed and I compensated the amount of water, based on feel.

It's been smelling quite nice, a little grainy and a little like apples.

I decided to try to activate it more today in hope of making  loaf.

I added 1/2c bread floor and water to about a 1/2 of the starter.  It "grew" about a half inch in a quart jar, then started to fall.

I have it in the oven with just the light on, perhaps 80F

I was expecting more growth.  Is there something more I should do?

Ford's picture
Ford

I cannot tell from your narration how old the starter is at this point, but it sounds to me that it is no older than about a week.  That being the case, it is not yet a mature starter.  It will take about six weeks to get a mature starter, but you might still be able to make a loaf with a good taste much before that.  Go ahead and try a loaf, if you get the starter to double in volume within four hours.  Be careful of the oven with only theoven light on -- mine will get above 95°F -- use a thermometer and do not exceed 85°F for the proofing of the loaf or of refreshing the starter.  Wild yeast are more sensitive to high heat than commercial yeasts.

Ford

 

metropical's picture
metropical

maybe 10 days.

It didn't come close to doubling, let alone 4 hours.

My first starter, years ago, was a Silverton grape starter.  Unfortunately I killed it.

I made the first and many excellent loaves after on about day 10.

Must have been lucky.

wildman's picture
wildman

Life is easier and better when using a scale for all weights and measures. 100% water to flour by weight for your starter is good for most room temperture cultures. 

Realize what you are trying to do is essentially selectively breeding a culture of yeast and baceria that you want to be the dominant cultures in your starter. To give them the best possible chance to grow you need to control the environment including your starter's food and temperture. Feed the culture at least twice a day and use more flour than you are currently when trying to get your starter going. It may seem wasteful but having a lot of food available is important as it is consumed very quickly even by wild yeast. Be patient a wild starter culture can easily take several weeks to find a good balance of yeast and bacteria even using large amounts of flour and the time will be even longer using small amounts of flour as you are doing. Keep as regular a schedule for feeding and temperature as possible using the same flours. Living in SoCal and minimizing my use of home heat and A/C I found it necessary to use a large water bath to keep the culture cool and the same water bath with a small 25Watt submersible aquarium heater when the kitchen got cooler than 60F at night. Keeping the culture clean is also very important when starting a new culture so keep your hands out of the mixing process and keep it covered with a plastic lid or food wrap. Once you have a strong starter culture going the culture will be a bit more tolerant but if you like the way your active and stable culture is working don't change much in what you did to get the starter going or your culture may change in  unexpected ways.

HTH!

 

 

 

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... twice a day, as wildman says, not once or every other day, if your ambient temperatures are in the 72-80 df range. Your comment,

"I've been adding every day or 2, another couple of tbsps and equal water, except once when hooch developed and I compensated the amount of water, based on feel."

- suggests that if hooch formed, you have yeast action for sure. But hooch is a sign of underfed yeast. I think your current feeding schedule is too infrequent unless you have very cool temperatures. Also, you need to discard half your mix before feeding the remainder - are you doing that? Forgive me for asking, but it's not entirely clear. If not, then the yeasties are getting even less nutrition than they need.

Wildman's suggestion about increasing the quantity of flour and water to make a larger mass to encourage yeast activity holds good, but you can also raise a totally successful starter with only a small amount of flour and water. I only ever cultivate starters with a couple of tablespoons of flour and water,  reducing the water content to 70% once the yeast begins to bloom - and never have a problem. The key, I believe is heat and regular feedings to suit.  Once broken of its dormancy, yeast will roar away at temps around 78-80 df. And the faster you create a strong colony of voracious, active yeast, the less likelihood that mould and miscreants will infect your culture.

All at Sea

 

metropical's picture
metropical

thanks both.  I hadn't thought about daily double feed though I use to do it with my old starter.  Guess I'm out of practice.

The ambiant is around 54-70F.  I temp'd the starter yesterday as soon as I took it from the lighted oven and it was 82F.

Which do you think would be a better daycare for the starter?

I have not been discarding half until yesterday when I thought I'd try to activate in prep for making a loaf.  

I used 1/2c starter, 1/2c KAb and 1/2c 85F water.  I've been in the habit of using tap as that is what I always used.  Our local water is amongst the highest rated in the state (whatever that means ......... eh?).

 

wildman's picture
wildman

A daytime temp 70F is fine but if your starter is getting into the 50's at night you may find the oven with a light on a better place for the starter overnight. The temperature swings are helping some yeasts when warmer and helping other yeasts when cooler which usually makes it harder to get your culture well established. Eventually your culture will become established but patience and regular maintainence is required. Again remember, you are selctively breeding a culture and whatever you are doing now to establish that culture will need to be maintained once the culture is established or it may behave badly or unpredicably usually at the worst possible time. Sounds paranoid doesn't it? But this is why people have sudden failures of their often well established cultures as even what seems like a very small change can be a major issue for the established culture. A caveat, I do not have much experience with rye starters and have not explored rye starters much in the real world yet. But I think a rye starter will work much like any other wheat flour yeast culture and unless my bio memory has failed me they should all work in a similar way. 

That said my favorite straight wheat wild yeast starter is a 100% hydration 50/50 mixture of KAF unbleached bread flour and KAF unbleached white whole wheat. I innoculate whatever weight I need of the 50/50 flour mixture and equal weight of water adding 5% (baker's percentages, so if I use 100g flour I innoculate by adding 5g of mature starter) of the old starter and discard or bake with the remaining old starter. Depending on the average kitchen or water bath tempurature I get a triple to quadruple (sometimes beyond!) volume increase within four to six hours usually peaked out by about eight to ten hours and collapsed by twelve hours at which point I feed 5g to another 100g 50/50 mix and 100g cold tap water again using a silicone spatula in a lidded one quart round Cambo. I use 100g flour as my counter top culture when not baking. When I plan to bake I increase the starter weight depending on what I will need for the next days baking. I also sometimes purposely do not feed the starter if I am planning to build a double fed starter to proof overnight in the fridge or if making a hybrid bread dough for overnight proof in the fridge. I minimize my touching the starter and keep it lidded to keep the starter culture as clean as possible. 

HTH!

 

wildman's picture
wildman

say that you are using a 50% innoculation and that this is WAY too large an amount of active starter to innoculate with. Your yeast culture is probably just starting to grow only to be starved right away! Give your yeast culture a lot more food to increase their potential for reproducing. My culture is mature and very active and 5% is more than enough to burn through a feeding in twelve hours. If you decrease your innoculation percentage  to say 25% and the culture improves keep going and reduce the innoculation to 20% then down to 10%. You should see longer time periods before the starter collapes and less and less alcohol smell.

HTH! 

 

metropical's picture
metropical

Pulled away as I remembered.  Nice rise after 30 mins or so on the counter.  Next time I'll rise in the fridge as previously.

The result of probably 25% starter and the rest flour and water at 50/50.  Fed once, let it bloom.  Dumped half or more and fed again in the same manner.

The result, tripled, at least, in about 3 hours in the oven with the light on.  Back on track I hope, as long as I can feed and bake regularly.  

Excellent pbj's.  Any turkey sammiches tmrw.