The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Not growing!!

sadears's picture

Not growing!!

Haven't made starter in a while, first time in the winter. It's not growing. I threw out the first try. I put the current batch on a shelf above a heat register hoping my issue is it's too cold. I also ready somewhere that when it's cold, it helps to feed it twice daily. House stays 66-70F depending on if I'm home or not. 




Donkey_hot's picture

"Wait.  Your starter will rise!" (Daniel Leader, Local Breads)

sadears's picture

I'm supposed to making sourdough wheat rolls for Christmas dinner.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

at cold temps?...  good luck on that, you will need it.  

Try tucking it into your vest pocket instead and keep your feeds low, once a day, only a tablespoon of flour and don't discard any of it until it smells beery or very yeasty.

cranbo's picture

just like the old miners used to do! practical and good advice, plus a way to build your relationship with your starter :) 

thanks Mini, this made me smile because it's funny and because it's true. 

embth's picture

My home is kept around 64 in winter and may hit 70 on a very sunny day with passive solar.  My starter does fine on the kitchen counter (or in the fridge when I do not plan to use it a few days.)  The starter has been kept going several years in this way, fed 2-3 times a week to maintain and 8-12 hours before using.   My impression is your starter is just too new and needs more time to develop strength.   For your Christmas whole wheat rolls, it may be best to use a bit of commercial yeast along with your starter if you're in doubt about its readiness.  The dough could be made on Christmas Eve and retarded overnight in the refrigerator.  With luck, this will give you nice dinner rolls with a bit of sourdough flavor.   

Bakingmadtoo's picture

My starter took weeks and weeks to get going, it was all because my kitchen is sooooo cold, much colder than yours. But, it did get going eventually. At this time of the year the only way to get a rise out of it, is to put it in the oven with a jug of hot water. It rises and is ready to use in about four hours then. The rest of the time it does very little. I suppose what I am trying to say, is that it could easily look like the starter is no good, but actually it is very healthy, it is just cold. I expect that is the case with yours. 

I wouldn't have thought increasing the feeding would be of much benefit if it is not using all the previous food first. How much warmer was the place that you tried putting it? Did it rise at all there? Just wondering, as I took mine out of the fridge last night and fed it, I put it in the oven, without the jug of hot water, thinking that would be okay to get it going overnight, nothing happened at all. Put the jug of water in this morning and it grew straight away.

placebo's picture

If you're shooting for Christmas, it's likely too late if your starter isn't already going. You might look into finding an established starter locally if you insist on having the sourdough rolls. You could also try a "fake" sourdough using baker's yeast where you let the dough or pre-ferment ferment for several days. It'll develop a sourdough tang over that time.

With cold temperatures, feeding twice daily is exactly what you don't want to do. Low temperatures slow down the development of the new starter, and every time you feed it, you dilute the mixture, setting back the little progress it's made since the previous feeding. As Mini suggested, keep the temperature up and the feedings relatively small until the starter establishes itself.

sadears's picture

I have a shelf that sits above the heat register. Doesn't get really too warm but I figured it was warmer than where it was near the stove. I started using bread flour and it seems to have helped. After reading the posts here I am only feeding once a day and with less flour. I made a batch of rolls yesterday. No sourdough flavor but still tasty wheat. I'll repeat the process Christmas eve and refrigerate the dough overnight, take them out Christmas morning and bake them when I get back from the dog park. If nothing else, I'll have a nice batch of wheat rolls. Hopefully there'll be a sourdough flavor in there somewhere.

Do you think frequent stirring will help?

Thanks everyone! Merry Christmas, too!

sadears's picture

It started to smell good when I started using bread flour, but now it's taking on that acetone smell that I get when the water was too hot. I checked the temp..110F. So I dumped most of it and fed it.  Going to put it in the oven with the light on, No doubt it's too late for a nice sourdough taste on Christmas...planned on making the dough tonight.  

Any suggestions besides give it up?



nmygarden's picture


While you work out your issues with your starter, may I suggest to focus on your task at hand, make rolls with commercial yeast from a recipe you trust, bring them and share them with a smile and it will all be fine. Enjoy a Happy Christmas!


sadears's picture


Yes, that is probably what I will end up doing. I have put it in the oven with a pan of hot water and the light on. It's doing something.  I was only doing sourdough because that is what my sister requested. No doubt she will be happy with anything tasty.