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Feeding vs Starving -- a new starter

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Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

Feeding vs Starving -- a new starter

As previously mentioned, I used the WW:Rye:Pinapple Juice method (1:1:2) for 4 consecutive days. My starter never became bubbly but it did move through a series of smells (yeasty, yeasty w. paint thinner) all on the “pleasant” side of the spectrum. Inside my bowl, things were wet and humid with condensation forming on the plasticwrap covering. 

Last night, after a very long day 4 (we had tickets to a thing and did not get back until late), I decided to start feeding it. I reserved 2 OZ of the starter (put the rest in the fridge just in case) and added 1 oz bottled water and 1 oz AP (2:1:1). Then went to bed.

This morning, 2 large bubble wholes and some very minor bubble evidence on the bottom (I switched to a clear glass bowl so that I could see all around.) But still, no major visible activity. (I have no idea if it doubled and reduced while I slept.) The smell is a very faint yeasty-alcohol. My starter is not dead, but it’s certainly not ready to do any heavy-lifting. 

The question now is: what now? Do I feed it just a bit before I leave for 10 hours (adding a bit of flour and water to the existing - maybe a half oz of each to the 4 oz base)? Should I repeat the previous (2:1:1)? Or should I let it starve for the day? I do not want to raise the pH before its ready, but I also don’t want the hungry yeasties to die.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/32065/thick-putty-yeasty-smell-no-bubbles

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/32049/pineapple-starter-day-4-help

Kneads_Love

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

underfeeding if your temperatures are under 22°C or 72°F.   The smell, "faint yeasty-alcohol" sounds like the beasties are on track.  If your temps are higher up to 24°C  or 75°F  add just a flat table spoon flour and two of water to the 4 oz base and give it another 12 to 24 hrs.  STIR the culture,  meaning at least 4 times during the day.  If your temperatures are higher, wait 12 hrs (no feeding) and then do a whopper feed  5g:50g:50g  (1:10:10) and measure the growth in a straight sided glass.  As I have no idea of your seasons or location, which helps tremendously when giving advice, this is rather general.  If you have colder temps or special conditions, do say so.  Like if you are parked at the top of a mountain with fluctuating temps keeping your eye on a volcano or camping.

That is my suggestion anyway.  Oh, switching from juice to water tends to slow things down so be patient and let the starter smell stronger before feeding.  

When you are feeding small amounts and the aroma goes back to a wet flour smell, then back off the flour.  

By a whopper feed, it will smell like flour and water and take about 4 hrs before seeing any action.  That is called "lag time" while the yeasts are multiplying and not really into gas production yet.  Once they get their numbers up, they start producing enough gas to raise the flour & water mixture.  With 100% rye, 8 hours is about the maximum stretch you will get from it before the stretching matrix falls apart, the wheat in the starter will continue stretching but not by much while it has to carry the weight of the rye as well.  Fermenting will continue so just let it go at least 12 hrs before even thinking of feeding.  If the starter is peaking at 8 hrs, go ahead and throw some into a sourdough bread recipe.  That does mess up waiting for what is left to fall, so just wait for any bubbles left in the remaining  whopper feed to flat line (roughly 4 hrs.)  and smell stronger of alcohol before using a 1:2:2  feeding for the next 12 hrs.  

Staying on a 12 hr feeding schedule for a week or two will stabilize the starter.  No need to use lots of flour unless you're baking at the same time so keeping amounts small by discarding is frugal during this phase.  Once stabilized, and predictable, you can decide if you need to chill your starter depending on your baking needs or use increased flour amounts for 24hr feedings. (Switching to 24hr feedings at warm temps right now can slow down your fermenting times.)  

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

I am in Brooklyn, and its 20 degrees (F) this morning. In my living room, near the lamp, its probably about 70 (F). I am going to let it alone until this evening. And then I will do the 1:2:2 per your suggestion. (The 1:10:10 is still a bit scary to me) and then try it for a few days ever 12 hours and see where we get. 

Also, I just wanted to thank you, Mini Oven. Your name is all over this site and it is clear that you are a tremendous resource. Thanks for your time and generosity!

Kneads_Love

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sorry to mess you up, too much info too fast.  You got cold conditions and with a lamp on during the day, that means that half the time, it is colder than 70°F so...  the starter is slow, do not feed it today and certainly not everyday.  Do not use the routine of discard and feed that is more for maintenance starters.  (you ain't there yet)  You are starting a starter culture and the process is different.  (see Debra Wink's pineapple solution #2 and #1)  There are stages to go thru that are different and you are just at the beginning.  So....   you will notice that your steps will take longer.  So stir often and feed less often.  You have half a cup of starter and in my opinion too much.  If you reduce it to 1 oz and make it thinner, it will ferment faster using less flour.  Trust me.

Now your instructions are to take that 1 oz of starter and add another oz of water.  Yes it will be runny.  Place in a see-thru container with a loose covering lid but tight enough so you can walk by and slosh it around a little bit.  Wait 24 hrs before feeding any flour (water just raised the pH.)  Then feed every second day until the end of next week.  (no discarding) Today is the 2nd (Oh, Ground Hog's day!  Happy Ground Hog's Day!)   Where were we?

Yes,  so feed on odd days.  Let's get simple.  Take a soup spoon and dip into your flour mix (start with mix of 2 oz each rye & wheat) and roughly level it off.  Stir that into the growing culture and add one or two tablespoons of water.  (the water will now separate from the flour when it stands alone any length of time.  Clean off the spoon and cover the container.  Let stand and slosh around (or stir if you want to dirty a spoon again) about 4 times a day or when ever you walk by or take time to look at it.  Open the top to exchange gasses a couple of times a day, but if you're not there, don't worry about it.  

At the end of next week, do a whopper feeding as described earlier and place the starter in a warm spot.  (everything mentioned after the whopper test applies to a successful test.  ... not the beginning days of starting a starter.  Hope this helps you get a starter going.  :)  -Mini

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

Hi Mimi - as always, thanks for the thoughtful feedback.

Last night, after reading your suggestions, I undertook 2 experiments.

The first was a watery dilution. I took 1 oz of starter and mixed it with 1 oz of water. And put it in the little house I have created for this project (an insulated picnic bag with a desk light pointing inside. Temp in the low 70s). Stirred it throughout the day. And while it developed a light alcohol smell there is not much else to report on. 

The second was a more aggressive approach based on the hope that my starter was, if not fully developed, at least into (or beyond) Day 4 of the pineapple juice approach. I mixed up a 1:2:2 sample. As of this evening, this mixture was lightly bubbly although not particularly smelly (a light alcohol.) When I mixed it, the bubbles would dissipate but come back within 15 minutes or so.

These evening, I discarded the watery dilution (#1 above) and used the bubbly mix for the next step. Again, I have taken two approaches.

#1. A 2:1:1 mixture. Like a thick pancake batter. Almost immediately it had some "puff" to it -- with some bubbles forming around the edges after about 15 minutes. Smell: wet flour. I figure I should continue with a 2:1:1 feeding every 24 hours for the next 2 days or so and see what happens.

#2. A 1:2:2 mixture. Thicker. Like oatmeal but with stretchy rubbery gluten feel to it. I do not see any bubbles just yet (but its only been 15 min and the ration of starter is lower, so it's understandable that liftoff may take longer.)  Smell: wet flour. If this mixture gets "jiggy" in the next 2 - 4 hours, I will continue the 1:2:2 feeding every 12 hours, and see what happens.

Thanks

Kneads_Love

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

After around 9 hours I smelled the 1:2:2 mixture (#2 in my above post). It had changed from smelling like “wet flour” to smelling like Sour Milk -- Not like yeast, beer, or alcohol, but sour milk.  (Does anyone know what might cause that? Is it normal?) It was mildly bubbly and puffy.  

Meanwhile, my 2:1:1 (#1 above) was still percolating away. Bubbly but not smelling like much of anything. I stirred it, “coo’d” at it a bit, and went back to bed for 3 more hours.

This morning, at the 12 hour mark, 1:2:2 still smelled sour but not as strong. I stirred down, took an ounce and did a 1:2:2 feeding. (I put the discard in the fridge to use in pancakes tomorrow – hopefully I won't poison my household.)

I stirred the 2:1:1, which is still bubbly and starting to smell a bit like a mild sour alcohol. I will go one more day with the 2:1:1 -- 24-hour cycle feeding (next feeding: tonight) and then try to figure out which of the two versions is the most viable.

Any recommendations as to how to determine which batch is the strongest? (Remember, they both come from the same initial build-up. I am just being more aggressive with the 1:2:2 in terms of feeding.)

Thanks in advance.

Kneads_Love

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Take out the discard, let it warm up and keep going as I suggested.  Do not discard but slowly add small amounts fresh flour and water every second day if left at room temp.  In a heating box, fermentation speeds up letting you feed it daily.   Let the water that separates protect it and stir often.  It doesn't look like much and is too thin to rise but I think your winner is in that sample.  As you wrote but didn't reconize it was fermenting from yeast...  :(  

And while it developed a light alcohol smell there is not much else to report on.

 I hope you still have it.   The 2:1:1 might need a 1:1:1 if smelling beerish or winey.

A test would to be to mix 10g of any starter with 100g luke warm water & 100g flour.  Place in a tall narrow glass or jar and mark the level.  Do not stir.  Then mark in 1 or 2 hrs increments (or there abouts) and watch the domed dough rise until it starts to level out (peak) stay at that level for about an hour and then start to shrink back down as gas escapes.  Typical for 75°F is that the first few hours nothing happens, then the dough starts rising.  Keep track of temperature.  Peaking in about 8 hrs  at or more than double the volume from the start, would indicate that it can raise bread.  Then use this starter sample to raise bread.  You can use it as it levels out or within an hour of peaking or refrigerate for a day with no problem.   After using most of the starter, put the rest into a jar to feed a few hours later (total rise after initial feed 12 hrs.) as your maintenance starter.

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

Hey Mini,

For the past 36 hours, I have continued to cultivate the 2 starters: feeding the 1:2:2 every 12 hours. It's a 5 Oz mix. So, I reserve 1 oz, mix in 2 oz of water and 2 oz AP flour. I “discard” 4 oz. I was saving them, but following your recent admonition, I dumped the accumulation of the past few days, but starting saving again this evening.

I converted the 2:1:1 (24-hour feeding schedule) to a 1:1:1 also feeding on a12-hour cycle.

Both mixtures are really starting to resemble one another. At the end of 12 hours, I have a smooth mixture with considerable bubbles and puff. Maybe it doubles. It's at least 50% greater for sure. They both smell very sour (a bit like rancid milk or strong yogurt) just before feeding -- Nothing smells beerish or winey.

I understand that you are recommending a highly diluted mixture that will ferment slowly (gaining an alcohol smell while the yeast multiplies) and turn into a winning starter.

My question is: “why”?

Is there something about my current starters that leads you to believe that they are somehow not “correct”? (I am not adverse to doing the dilution, its just that the two starters that I am currently working on seem to be coming along nicely – assuming that the sour smell and bubbles is proof of yeast. If you think its proof of something else, some sort of other bacteria, please say so.)

Thanks

Kneads_Love

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

 You have given me the gift to smell and taste greatness, so that I may know how mediocre my efforts are!

      (Paraphrased) Salieri. Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, the play.

 

The sour milk / stinky cheese is what Leuconostoc smells like growing on white flour. From that detail, I can confidently say that you are overfeeding at this point. Don't worry about the liquid---it isn't hooch. Let this feeding go at least a full day (and 48 hours wouldn't hurt), and then reduce to 2:1:1 once a day until it takes off for you. You may need a feeding with whole wheat at this point to provide yeast :-)

Welcome sunnspot9,... many

Submitted by Debra Wink on December 12, 2012 - 2:11pm

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2

It would seem that what I thought was my "winning starter" is, in fact, nothing more than a jar of Leuconostoc happily munching away at my Whole Foods Organic AP Flour, while my little yeasties cower along the edges.

Father why have you forsaken Me?!!! (Too much?)

The question now is how to salvage.

Mini… I am going to retry your original suggestion from above…

1 oz of starter and add another oz of water.  Yes it will be runny.  Place in a see-thru container with a loose covering lid but tight enough so you can walk by and slosh it around a little bit.  Wait 24 hrs before feeding any flour (water just raised the pH.)  Then feed every second day until the end of next week. 

Take a soup spoon and dip into your flour mix (start with mix of 2 oz each rye & wheat) and roughly level it off.  Stir that into the growing culture and add one or two tablespoons of water.  (the water will now separate from the flour when it stands alone any length of time... Let stand and slosh around (or stir if you want to dirty a spoon again) about 4 times a day or when ever you walk by or take time to look at it.  Open the top to exchange gasses a couple of times a day, but if you're not there, don't worry about it.  

And so it goes...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Keep in mind that a thinner starter ferments faster, not slower...    It's not a starter yet but the fermentation that we want to smell (as a yeast growth indicator) is promoted with a thinner mixture.  Heat or raising the temperature will also speed fermentation.  Alcohol smell is an indication that waste products are being created from yeast.  A good sign.  Alcohol also means that the starter needs to be fed a little more flour (and water.) 

I understand that you are recommending a highly diluted mixture that will ferment slowly (gaining an alcohol smell while the yeast multiplies) and turn into a winning starter.

Yes, as you discovered, I believe you are over feeding your starters.  And Yes, I think the discarding is not helping.  Use less amounts of flour, and you don't have to discard to reduce the size of the starter.  It is ridiculous how big some starter formulas are when actually starting out with a spoonful of flour is enough.  It is hard for the mind to grasp but a spoonful of culture is loaded with tens of thousands of bacteria and it is so easy later on to make cups of the stuff when needed.  Why throw out cups of beginning starter when that can be avoided?  A small starter amount works just fine as long as it is covered so it doesn't dry out.  Keeping a thin water layer on top of the starter is the best way to prevent drying out.  The water layer will start to darken as yeast byproducts build in the water.  

It is very hard to talk about smells and aromas in writing.  Very frustrating for me as I am "all nose" and not sure if others have the same smelling capabilities as myself.  The starter does have a cheesy smell that gives way to a ripe fruit smell and later fermenting ripe fruit and then to wine or vinegar or beer depending on personal tastes and smells.  As the pH falls (acid levels rise) in the starter, the aromas change in the direction of yeast promotion and fermentation.  Every Time flour & water is added to a culture, the pH rises (gets more basic.)  In the beginning it is very important that the pH doesn't rise (get basic) too fast so that the bacterial chain of events can happen to promote yeast growth.  The trick is to let the culture get more acid.  Then THEN once the yeasts are there and increasing their numbers, the whole feeding thing gets turned around.  Our tricky job is to figure out when this happens. 

When the yeast shows signs of going thru the food and being hungry (alcohol smell) then it becomes important to feed the starter enough to keep the bacteria and yeast going and this suddenly takes more flour.  Read the signs too early, feed too soon, BAM! you go backwards in the starter process.  (one step ahead and two back)  Being aggressive at feeding only works when enough yeasts have built up in the culture.  Patience and waiting is key.  Once the yeast gets into feast and production mode,  then regular discarding and feeding becomes important to keep the newly formed starter from turning into a flour munching monster.  So we feed it twice as much flour weight as starter weight for a few days and see how long it takes to go thru the food.  Watch it carefully.  We want certain strains of yeast growing that aren't too fast or too slow and we get that by "setting" the starter.   "Set" the starter by giving it a routine for a week or more that varies little.  

Example:  say we fed it every 4 to 6 hrs, we would be breeding a swift hungry monster; feed it every 24hrs, we breed a slow poke.  It depends on what you want from your starter.  You can manipulate it very easily at this stage.  Once "set" it becomes quite a process to speed up or slow down the starter timing.

The average is double within 6 to 8 hrs and feeding every 8 to 12 hrs to maintain an average sourdough starter.  Cold spells and temperature and water amounts have to be considered.  If the room and starter temp is too low, growth will be so slow that setting the starter becomes difficult and it is easy to overfeed the starter.  (going backwards)  To prevent overfeeding, always wait for the starter culture to peak in growth before feeding, even better if the starter is allowed to fall back a little and get overripe before feeding.  There will be variations with flour and the hydration of the starter.  I tend to go by smell when my starter is growing, peaking, over ripe and needs feeding.   I also do a lot of starter poking with a fork.  Anyway, have fun prodding your starter.

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

Ok, I have 2 starters crying out to me...

A diluted one -- just starter and water which I mixed yesterday evening but the base starter had not been fed since evening before last.

And a 1:1:1 fed last night.

Both are in a warmish room (let's call the temp mid-70's)

They both smell like paint thinner... alcohol. Which, as I understand it, is a sign of Yeast.

Based on comments in the above string, I have slowed down the feeding process, but both are due to be fed this evening. 

When the yeast shows signs of going thru the food and being hungry (alcohol smell) then it becomes important to feed the starter enough to keep the bacteria and yeast going and this suddenly takes more flour.  Read the signs too early, feed too soon, BAM! you go backwards in the starter process.  (one step ahead and two back)  Being aggressive at feeding only works when enough yeasts have built up in the culture.  Patience and waiting is key.

The question is:.how long is too long? 

If the alcohol is strong smelling, should I feed them, or still wait until another 7 hours? I don't want to over-feed, but I also don't want to under feed...

Thanks

Kneads_Love

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Then I think you should feed them on schedule.  

On the other hand, I tend to test them when I can watch them.    Try little samples of each stirred up starter and race them.  Mix 5g (a teaspoon) each with 50g water and 50g flour and see what happens.  Mix and pack each starter level in a juice glass, mark the sides and cover with plastic wrap.  Put a tray underneath to catch any overflo.  Use separate spoons and label the glasses.  Get going now so you can watch for the first 8 hrs.  Tomorrow morning you will also see which smells stronger.   Still take care of the other starters in case nothing happens with these tests.  ...but I'm pretty sure something will.

By the way paint thinner can be many different things, acetone, terpentine, water and kerosine to name a few...  I can't remember thinning paint with alcohol...  If one of the starters smells like nail polish remover (acetone) then use pineapple juice instead of water when feeding that starter.   

Here's wishing you fun with your starter races!   

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

Hi Mini...

Thank you for reminding me that Alcohol and Acetone (Paint Thinner/Nail Polish remover) are different. I was using the wrong terms. 

The batch I am referring to smells STRONGLY of Acetone. It is bubbly, but I think these are not yeast bubbles (since Yeast waste does not smell like acetone.) After much research, I have decided to not try to salvage this one. I have been feeding it a 1:1:1 once a day or once every other day for a few days, but it seems like the effort to save could be better spent on simply starting over. (I think my original error was not controlling the temps early on and moving on from the Day 4 process (Pineapple Juice Method) too soon.) 

I also have the 1:2:2 sample. It had gotten really sour smelling. Then I starved it for a day and it got sweet-smelling. I got excited and at 7 pm last night (It is now 8:20 am) did two things... 

1. a 1:10:10 test sample -- It did NOT double after 8 hours. It did however increase by about 50% after 13 hours and smells a bit funky. Sour. (Mildly dirty socks?) But not as strong as it did 2 days ago. So, not a total bust, but not yet ready for prime-time.

2. a 1:2:2 standard feeding. I am not sure what it smells like. There might be a hint of acetone in this batch as well. Or it could be a grain alcohol. Its too soon to tell. 

I am not sure why the 2 samples made from the same batch, at the same hydration, (albeit with different starter to Water/food ratios) would smell different, but there we have it. I am thinking I should let the 1:10:10 sit until tonight and then discard most of it and resume the 2:1:1 daily feeding for a few days to see if I can stregnthen it. (Thoughts?)

And finally, I have my diluted version that I fed last night with a tablespoon of rye/WW mix. Per your previous directions, I am swirling regularly and feeding only every other day. It smells like a mild sweet rye with maybe just the most subtle hint of alcohol (but that could be acetone as well. I will have to wait a few more hours and smell it again.)

Thanks

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The 50% rise from the starter was bacteria and not yeast.  The starter that provided the inoculation for this 1:10:10 test should be fed lest flour or less often or both.  Patience.  

The acetone aromas in starter tends to clear up with more acid, so adding unsweetened pineapple juice instead of water tends to help out right away.  But if another starter is picking up acetone as well, do feed it with pineapple juice and skip the flour part of the feeding for a day.   

Don't add juice to the wet one.  Mine had one of those moments too but with stirring, it should start to smell more like new wine in the next few days.  

Don't rush them...  I know,  nerve wracking isn't it?   Go bake something with instant yeast while waiting.  A no fail recipe to take the edge off.  Today is hot & dusty, we might get rain tonight, first rain in weeks.  I've elaborated my rye/white starter (born middle of Jan) but the thought of baking...  maybe in the morning.  I hear there's a blizzard in the making in NY.  Any truth to that?  

Anyone else notice that half the world's earthquakes in the last 7 days have been shaking up Lata Island in the Solomon Islands?  We getting a new continent or something?   http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/

 

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

After much soul-searching, I decided to dump the starter that had been giving me trouble and start again (After all, I have a 5 pound bag of flour to play with.)

My second effort has been much more fruitful (yeastful?) I followed Debra Wink's process very carefully, but on Day 4, I repeated Day 3 - just to be "for sure, for sure.". Let's call it Day 3-b.

On "MY" version of Day 4, I did a 2:1:1 feeding in the morning.

About 18 hours later, the mixture got bubbly and smelled sweet & bready.

At 22 hours, the mixture was very frothy/foamy with maybe a hint of acetone or alcohol (not sure which) when I lifted the plastic wrap.

At 25 hours, the mixture tasted very sour but did not have much of an odor. And I stirred and reduced to 2 oz and did a 2:1:1 feeding.

Ms Wink say's the sour taste is part of Phase 3. And that Phase 4 should happen "soon."

Can someone provide a clue as to what I am looking for? Taste? Smell? Texture? Timing? I guess my question is, what do I do next and how do I know its time to do it?

Thanks

Kneads_Love

 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

It sounds like you're already there. You can taste lactic acid, but it has no aroma, so that's why it doesn't smell sour---and that's okay. If it's been quiet up to day 4, and is very frothy and foamy now with a bready aroma, those are signs that yeast have started growing. So you're done creating, and now moving on to fine tuning and maintaining. Congratulations! What I tell people is before yeast, don't feed too much; after yeast, don't feed too little. The turning point is when yeast become active. You're ready to begin larger and/or more frequent refreshments. You can do that in steps if you like until you get a feel for it, but the object right now is to keep the culture in active growth---feeding just after it peaks, before it collapses back down. It's rising power will increase, and it will probably become more aromatic as well. Best wishes to you,dw

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

Wow. I know it's an irrational pull to elevate folks to celebrity status, and that all people are fully good and worthy, etc, etc., but I must say, when Debra responded to my post, it was something akin to getting a phone call from the president. My question was just answered by the woman who “wrote the book on sour dough starters!” (Well, at least the article.)

Yes. I realize that I sound like a total baking-nerd. Yes. I appreciate that if this was a Sci-fi blog, I would be the guy who was one missed Thorazine-dose away from wearing his Star Trek Federation uniform to the grocery store. Luckily for me, its yeast we are talking about and not Romulans. 

I guess what I am saying is, thank you Debra for your work and the words of encouragement.

Yesterday I split my starter into 2 trials.

#1: 1:2:2 feeding. Which after 15.5 hours is just beginning to bubble. (Earlier on, it was starting to smell alcoholy – but now, it smells sweeter.) Was it too much too soon?

#2: 2:1:1 feeding. Which after 7 hours had bubbled and doubled. And after 10 hours was still holding its level. I stirred it down and 5 hours later it had re-risen to triple!

So, if you following along with the math, this photo is at 15 hours post feeding (it was just under 4 0z when I started)…

I am now strategizing on the next step…

I am thinking of taking #2 and splitting into 2 trials again…

A 1:1:1 and a 1:2:2 – mostly because, while I have put a great deal of attention on how to get the starter started, now that I am transitioning into the maintenance phase, I have NO IDEA what to do.

I do not know how much to feed nor how often. And I am somewhat shocked at how fast the starter is rising.

It seems like I should stir but not feed after the first double, and then wait for the following triple before the next feeding.  Although, I have also read that we should wait until after the crest, however long that takes.

If anyone has any thoughts, the call lines are open.

And this too shall rise…

Kneads_Love

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Now, the fun begins!  

It will start to go thru food now and you can literally feed it one to ten without problems as long as you let it peak before giving it more flour.  Stirring it down redistributes food and folds the gluten in the starter so that it will rise again.  No need to stir anymore after feeding,  then judge the readiness for using by the first peak.  You've fed it now the wait to see how long it takes to peak without stirring.  As soon as it is peaking under 12 hrs, feed then every 12 hrs. Sticking to the same feed ratio, each feed should shorten a little bit and peak sooner.  

Kneads_Love's picture
Kneads_Love

Thanks Mini. I think I will continue to follow your counsel of being patient and erring on the side of the conservative. My plan is to go from 1:1:1, to 1:2:2; to 1:3:3, every 12 hours, increasing by n+1 until I get to 1:5:5. I will keep it at 1:5:5 for standard counter feeding in order to conserve raw inputs (i.e. flour) and so I do not become a "feeding slave." Once every 12 hours is acceptable but not much more than that. [I will also start saving the discards for pancakes, crackers, etc. (No time to bake bread until Sunday.)]  

I do not know if it's true, but I have this notion that the longer I keep the starter on the counter, the stronger and more powerful it will become over time (i.e. for 2 weeks or so.) Is there any truth to this? Is it worth the investment of time and materials? Or should I just put it all in the fridge after the next feeding and let it sleep until the weekends?

Thanks!

Kneads_Love

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

of feeding. There are many schools of thought at this stage of starter development. Right now there are a variety of yeast speeds in the starter. How you feed and when (taking into account the temperature) will affect your starter's behavior.

One is to feed (1:1:1) or (1:2:2) enough flour to double within 8 hrs. Do this for a week to "set" the starter at doubling, selecting the desired speed of yeast. Letting it ripen (peak and start to fall back) to 12 hr feeds. Always watch the starter not the clock. A starter may tend to grow faster during the day and slower at night responding to temps and sunlight, drafts and water temps. Once "set" the starter is predictable. When the starter is fed 4 times the starter, it quadruples in the same amount of time.

If you want a starter for a bakery that will need starter every 6 to 8 hrs. then put it on a 8 hr schedule keeping the feed ratios the same. You will soon have a very productive starter. If you increase the food too soon, you may also be encouraging a starter that has a big appetite. To those who have stumbled upon this freaky fast wild yeast, it is a nightmare. There is a natural bottom line at ideal temperatures, I believe 4 hrs but the starter suffers with too little bacteria to defend itself from invasion.

It has been my experience that if you go with the average 12 hr feeds at 1:2:2 with doubling around 6 to 8 hrs, you've reached your goal and can refrigerate.

Go ahead to 1:2:2 keeping the starter at the normal room temp and see how long it takes to peak. Do this for a week to get yeasts that will behave then switch to 1:5:5 or more, go thicker down to 65% hydration (stiff like a dough) if you like and let the starter rise about 1/3 and then chill.

Then you can take 20g of this chilled mother starter (give it about 3 cold days or longer before using) to elaborate for a loaf recipe. The mother starter stays in the fridge for weeks at a time or when you get low you replace it. No waste. Label the jar well to prevent anyone from ditching it. Put the date you made it on the lid. Mine rye starter keep very well for 3 to 4 weeks. I tend elaborate the night before mixing up dough the following morning.