The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Strong but bland starter

ianb's picture

Strong but bland starter

I've started to store my starter in the fridge, as opposed to feeding it every day. It's a fairly new starter - maybe a couple of months old. After a week or so in the fridge,  I "woke" it and fed it. No problems - it grew happily.


But, the loaves I've made from it are a bit disappointing - they aren't as sour as I remember. More like a good ordinary loaf. Is this just what happens when you put into hibernation/stasis? Or, is the starter just young? Or, what?



Pioneer Foodie's picture
Pioneer Foodie

so they say. They being Ed Wood, of Sourdoughs International. The character of any culture can be manipulated by changing the hydration or the temperature of the ferment, or what you feed it. The bacteria don't change. Only the environment changes.

If you keep it in the fridge most of the time, then the bacteria are dormant most of the time. Some of them will die off. If you want a robust culture, both in terms of leavening activity and flavor, then you have to get the bacteria into their most optimal cycle of reproduction. In other words, when they have a happy temperature and they are being fed regularly, they will reproduce rapidly. That reproduction creates the gasses which leaven and the byproducts which make sour.

Look on this site for MC Farine's post about Gerard Rubaud's feeding cycle for sourdough.

ianb's picture

Pioneer Foodie, thanks for the reply.

I assumed that the culture was robust, even after being in the fridge. When I fed it, it rose to three times the volume easily enough.


I prefer to work with a dry dough - it's easier - but I'm wondering if perhaps it's too dry. Maybe using more water (the hydration?) would restore the flavour I used to enjoy?


(I read the post about GR's feeding cycle. I thought it very complicated and prescriptive - more like caring for a new baby - but if it produces superb bread, who am I to disagree.



BetsyMePoocho's picture


Years ago we bought a culture from Mr. Ed Woods.  We named it "Vern" and he was with us for seven years.  We kept him in the fridge during the week and fed him IAW Mr Woods schedule once a week.  He was a good old boy, but, even with care, he seemed to loose luster over time and finally died. (RIP).

After about a year of trying to concoct a "home-brew" culture we gave up and purchased one from King Author.  We religiously follow the schedule they outlined for weekly feedings.  We continued using our same recipe and wow what a nice flavor!  It has been over a year and he is going strong!

By the way, we named this one "Cornealious" after all the cultures are a living "something".

For a "mild" flavor we make our "poolish, biga, or sponge" in the early morning and give it about four hours to kick off.  Then the Dough.

For a very strong flavor we mix up a sponge around 4pm the day before, let it sit out for about four hours then retard it in the fridge over night.  Next day take him out of the fridge and mix up the dough........ Now we have a real flavored baguette!!!

If he is not used during the week we take him out of the fridge, stir him up, discard one cup, feed the remainder one cup flour, 1/2 ~ 3/4 cup bottled water (not tap), stir vigorously, allow to start bubbling, then back in the fridge.

Cornealious Rules!!




ianb's picture

That sounds very similar to the way I do it. Except, I've been lazy and been skipping the fridge retardation stage. More fool me. I'll go back to that process, and see if it makes a difference.