The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie help

cantrelephant's picture

Newbie help

I have been trawling through the starter pages on this site trying to find information on how to resurrect my starter. So much fantastic and helpful information. thanks.

So...basically I started my first starter about 6 days ago with whole wheat flour and tap water. At day 4 I had a layer of hooch on top of the starter and a slightly alcoholic fruity smell.  I have continued to feed it small amounts of flour and water - 1:1 by volume every afternoon. The smell has changed from pleasant to 'pain thinners'. It has been very warm here in western australia so I am thinking it has been chewing through the food very quickly and has not been fed enough - I havent been discarding the starter before thats probably the main problem

So now that I am read up (thanks to this site) my plan of action is 1. purchase some scales then 2. take some of this starter - 10g or so and add 30g water and 50g plain white unbleached flour to make a stiffer starter and continue this at every feeding. I also think it best to switch from whole flour to plain white flour to achieve a bit of microbial balance?

Any other suggestions would be really welcomed


pmccool's picture

First, your diagnosis that the starter is underfed is spot on.

Second, using weight measures will give you more accuracy than volume measures. Also note that the proportions and percentages you see bandied about here are all based on weight; if you use those numbers with volume measurments your outcome will be very different.

Third, your proposed amounts of starter, water and flour should work very well.

Fourth, while switching from whole-grain flour to white flour is fine, do so on a gradual basis.  You might want to do a few days of feeding a 75% whole grain / 25% white blend.  Then you could switch to a 50:50 ratio, then to a 25:75 ratio, and finally a 100% white flour feeding over the course of the next couple of weeks.  That will give the organisms in your starter an opportunity to adapt to the changing conditions, rather than stunning them with a complete change.  Some folks here choose to use a blend of 70% white, 20% whole wheat, and 10% rye to feed their starters.  Nothing magical about that.  I typically feed mine all white.  Unless I give it something different.  It seems to tolerate my idiosyncracies fairly well.


cantrelephant's picture

So I switched from whole to white flour and it worked fine. 3 days on the starter is increasing in volume by 3 or 4 times. It is nice to be using a stiffer starter. much easier to monitor progress.