Does anyone have any experience with or tips for establishing a starter in a tropical climate?
I'm worried my starter will spoil or I will need to feed it too often.
Tropical climates make it very tough: great for activating a starter, tough for maintaining one. Yes, you have to keep it in a reasonably cool place or it will work too fast.
1. Use a firmer starter (60-80% hydration), this will slow down activity somewhat, compared to a very liquid starter.
2. Consider keeping your fed starter in a small cooler with an ice pack (cool but not too cold), if you have that option, to keep the temps in the 60-75F range, if you can't keep your room temp under 75F
I live in Cambodia, Southeast Asia, and I've successfully raised a starter in a humid and hot climate (28C to 32C), without the use of an air conditioner.To add to what Cranbo suggested, if you have a refrigerator, you can feed your starter with chilled flour and water. That'll slow down the starter's rate of fermentation and become more managable. Of course, you can also try to reduce your room temperature by covering your windows and minimizing the use of electrical equipment.I wrote a blog post about my experience; perhaps you'll find it helpful:http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/30741/raising-my-first-sourdough-starter-tropical-climate-lessons-ive-learned
Good luck raising your starter! If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask. :)
Summers where I live can be sweltering, with high humidity. The best success I've had in keeping an active, healthy starter through hot weather has been obtained by adjusting the proportion of flour and water to the portion of seed starter that's carried forward. Depending of seasonal temperature changes I feed the 100% hydration starter at ratios varying between 1:4:4 and 1:7:7 (starter:water:flour). In the hottest weeks of the year I fed the starter twice per day at a ratio of 1:7:7.
For a long time prior to switching to this method I had kept a 50% hydration starter, but it failed in a during a brutal heat wave last summer. This variable ratio feeding technique has proven reliable for me—so far.
Two clay bowls that fit together rim to rim or a large mouth clay jar with lid will work. All fired first in a kiln.
Soak them with water and pour off excess. One has to use low fire, bisque-ware for this job. No paint or glazes.
Set your sourdough container inside and cover. Water condensing off the outside of the jar will keep the inside cool, cooler than the surrounding air temperature. One could also set a pot of water on top of the container pot and the water will travel from it to the rim of the larger pot and on down keeping a water supply in the walls of the pot.
I would not suggest keeping root vegetables with sourdough but use separate pots. A fungi known as rope might easily jump from the roots to the sourdough and infect it.