The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My starter gets wetter

peauters's picture
peauters

My starter gets wetter

Hi all

I've been trying to get a starter ... started but have an issue with the consistency after a fees.

I started with 50g strong flour and 50ml water. Since then I'd've been adding the same every day. I get bubbles, but no rise. The smell isn't great, but I'm not sure I know what I'm looking for yet.

Last night I decided to try a different tack and take 50g of what I had, throw away the rest and add 50g flour and 40ml water. This morning there is the smallest of rises, but it seems to have gotten considerably looser! Any ideas? Should I be thinking of starting again?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

loose is good, one sign of fermentation but if you add more water, fermentation will progress faster.  

More information would be helpful like specific temperature, how long you have been playing with it, and what it does smell like.   Are you now following a  recipe?  

Starters take a lot of patience to let them start, too often a method is changed just before the yeast start showing themselves. There is a tendency to over feed and many times the best solution is "nothing,"  just leave it stand and wait.  Let the starter show you the next step.  You will want to feed when the starter changes its aroma to one that smells more of extremely over ripe fruit or beer.   Take notes of aroma when you stir to release them.  Keep covered.

With the small amount of information provided,  I would suggest increasing the water by at least 10g (I would add another 60g myself) and not add anymore flour for another 12 hrs.  Then add 20g flour daily with water without discarding.  Stir several times a day until I it smells very yeasty.  When that happens, remove 15g of stirred starter and add 100g flour and 100g water and time the rise marking the level in a tall narrow glass or jar with a loose cover.  

peauters's picture
peauters

Wouldn't I be taking it past 100% hydration? 

More info (sorry I left it out):

  • Temperature is around 16 - 21 degrees centigrade
  • I started on Saturday and have fed daily since. Last night was the first night it throw any away. 
  • Smell isn't pleasant at the moment. Kind of off smelling. 
  • I can't find te recipe I saw (at work at the mo) but it was a long the lines of 50g flour 50ml water daily for four days and you should be laughing. 

I think I'll follow your advice about leaving it be a little more. I was just worried about the lack of volume. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Change to add water and wait 24 hrs, then feed 20g ever second day.    The four day recipe works better in the summer.  Aim for 8 to 12 days in winter.  Lower temps slow the whole process down doubling the time it takes.  Be patient and stir often.  :)   

peauters's picture
peauters

Thanks Mini! I've taken your advice.

I'm going to add some water tonightand then tomorrow 20/20 flour/water. Then add 20/20 everyother day.

Hopefully we'll see some results on the weekend =o)

Thanks for your help.

 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Considerably looser is actually a good sign at this point. Gluten degredation indicates that the pH has dropped, and yeast will probably start growing soon---maybe they already have if you got some rise. Resist the temptation to feed too much until you know for sure.

peauters's picture
peauters

Thanks Debra 

It's reassuring to know I'm on the right track =o)

Out of interest, whats the downside of over feeding? Does it just dilute the mix too much and not give the yeast a chance to get established?

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Wild sourdough yeast don't activate and start growing until the pH drops fairly low. Each time you feed, you dilute acids made by the bacteria and raise the pH, which can set things back too much. People sometimes get alarmed when they see it sort of liquify, but that's a good sign that the pH is moving in the right direction (and it's a temporary condition). It hasn't run out of food at this point, so feeding isn't always necessary, and can actually be counterproductive.  Enjoy!

Tommy gram's picture
Tommy gram

Id say leave the lid cracked, let the air move around it, my starter was on the rocks once when I used a too tight container. Loosely goosey. When it will float in water you know you got it. You saw bubbles? Them bubbles your friends, let them bubble, watch the rise and fall of the starter. Get two going at once- if you are doing 50 g batcheit what the heck. Make sure the water is nice and warm, keep it out of the fridgerator for the start.  Try 25-30 degrees cent you running too chill in the beginning go warm.