The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

1 week old starter still rises/bubbles very fast, but smells great! (newbie)

greentiger87's picture

1 week old starter still rises/bubbles very fast, but smells great! (newbie)

So, my starter is a little over a week old (9 days). I'm using tap water and an Indian chappati flour that's been premixed 50/50 - half high extraction, unbleached, finely ground durum wheat (Indian), half unbleached white flour. Originally used a local whole wheat flour to seed the starter. After getting what was apparently that initial Leuconostoc explosion, it quieted down. On the second day, I started using an acidifier as I've read about here... sometimes unbuffered vitamin c powder, and a couple times just lemon juice. I got almost bowled over by the acetone smell the third day, at which point I started feeding every 12 hours. Temperature is high 70's in the oven, or around 70 on top of the refrigerator, depending on if the oven is available. Ratio of flour to water is about 1:1, maybe a little wetter. I admit, I do it by eye. I discard 1/2 to 3/4 of the starter at every feeding, and replace it with an equal amount. I transfer to a clean container at every feeding...because mold freaks me out. I used the discards to make an Indian fermented flatbread, Dosa, after fermenting it with black gram or mung beans. The taste has been outstanding, if a little on the sour side because of the double fermentation. 

By the fourth day, the starter smelled *amazing*. Obviously yeasty, but also pleasantly sour - almost fruity. No trace of acetone, and no smells I would consider "bad". It continued to improve over the next 5 days. But there's just one thing...

The starter easily doubles, maybe triples, within 3 or 4 hours. If I stir it up well, it will double again before the second feeding. Lots of fine bubbles, scattered larger ones. 

 Isn't it supposed to take around 12 hours to double? Does this mean I still have Leuconostoc hanging around? My first loaf made from the discards is proofing now, and it's rising very quickly too. 

Just in case you can't tell, I have no idea what I'm doing. Any advice would be appreciated. 

breadforfun's picture

There is no fixed time for a starter to double or even triple.  There are many variables, including temperature, seed (old starter used for a feeding) size, activity of existing flora, etc.  You can control the time to some extent by adjusting the seed size.  If you are removing about half of the starter and replacing it with equal parts of water and flour, your ratio is roughly 2:1:1 (starter:flour:water).  You didn't say whether you are measuring volumes or weights, but as long as you maintain the consistency of the starter, your feeding schedule is fine.  If you adjust the size of the seed relative to the flour and water, you will affect the time it takes for the starter to double.  For example, using 1:1:1 ratio would be half the seed starter of what you now use, so it will take longer.  As you look around the TFL site and read the formulas used, you will see that the commonly used ratios can range up to 1:10:10 (for a 100% hydration starter), which could take 16 hours or more to double.  Note that these are measured by weight and not by volume, so if you want to be really consistent, get yourself a digital kitchen scale.  It will also help with following the formulas for making bread.  Welcome and good luck with your new hobby!



greentiger87's picture

Thanks so much Brad! I really appreciate the explanation of the ratios and hydration, I was a bit confused about it. I have a kitchen scale, but since my main aim is to make nutritious food and not artisan bread, I prefer to develop my estimation skills for speed and practicality. 

I'm in absolute awe of how great my first loaf turned out. It must be beginners luck, combined with all the invaluable information from the community. Thanks again!

- Jayan