The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Consistency of sourdough

mluciano's picture

Consistency of sourdough

A simple question: The consistency of the sourdough starter in the pictures is like that before you stir it or after? Before you added the daily feeding or after? Is just that I've been feeding my sourdough starter for 7 days and doesn't have that much bubbles on it (and I see the bubbles only when I stir it, sorry for the "simple" question). With the 7th feeding (yesterday) I added 1/4 tsp of organic apple cider vinegar as suggested, but I don't know if my sourdough is behaving like is supposed to. Oh, by the way, I've been feeding my sourdough starter with organic whole wheat flour... Thanks for the help...

BROTKUNST's picture

I am not sure about the background of your sourdough starting process, neither can I comment on the apple cider vinegar from experience. (My first thought would be that the vinegar would be out-of-place here)

I can tell you though that a mature natural leaven will show fine bubbles on the top. It will be airy and creamy. When you let it sit too long it will tend to get 'soupy' again - which is caused by the increased acidity and the consequential reduction of the yeast activity. I'd think that the vinegar would interfere with the yeast activity and therefore I'd expect that you would see less 'bubbles. But then again, the author of your process will have a reason for the vinegar.

Just as a general statement (that is not directed at you): Sometimes the instructions and 'secret ingredients' for a sourdough get out of hand, I think. It appears to me sometimes that there is more (too much) focus on creating a sourdough starter than on maintaining and feeding an existing leaven. I think it's absolutely 'socially acceptable' to continue a natural leaven given by a friend or to buy a stable seed culture from KAF or others. I have seen bakers being discouraged and drawn away from baking with a natural leaven because the start-up was frustrating. Well ... I wanted to make that point - just in case you feel this is something you have to drag yourself through, which may not be the case at all. You may just be doing this for fun to see how and if it works.


mluciano's picture

Brotkunst: I totally agree with you... It can be a little frustrating the sourdough starter thing. I'll love to have somebody share its sourdough with me...

But, I live in Puerto Rico and believe it or not here, the people is not into doing bread because they think is too much work... I only know 2 people that do their own bread (both with bread machines) and they don't do it in a weekly basis as I do, only on special occassions...

That's why I have to make my own sourdough... I'm really curious about the taste of this bread, because in PR is imposible to find sourdough... You'll ask about sourdough and the people will give you this funny "SOUR WHAT?" look...

So, what know I learned it here!!! So, EVERY tip is welcome!


BROTKUNST's picture



how about ordering a Vermont Starter from King Arthur Flour ? Personally I'd rather do that and focus on maintaining the starter and baking bread. I believe they ship the starter for free in the continental US ... it can't be that much more to PR.



georgart53's picture

never mind


SourdoLady's picture

Mluciano, sounds like it is my recipe that you are using to create your starter. What is your water source? Bottled spring water is best to use. Sometimes city waters are too heavily chlorinated for the sourdough. At what temperature are you keeping the starter? If your room is air conditioned it may be slowing things down. You may just need to give it a few more days. You will know when it starts to grow. It will have lots of bubbles.

The vinegar is just to increase the acidity which in turn will encourage the wild yeast to start growing. Wild yeast needs a mildly acidic environment, whereas commercial yeast does not.

Don't give up--keep on feeding and see what happens within the next few days. Keep us posted.

expatCanuck's picture

Yes, I know that this thread is not recent, but since I came upon it searching for 'sourdough', 'starter' and 'consistency', I thought I'd offer the following:

If your city water is otherwise acceptable (health & taste-wise), pour it into a glass jar (say, a wide-mouth mason), loosely covered, and let it sit for a few hours or overnight.

After a few hours, you'll likely find that bubbles form against the jar's sides.  That's chlorine gas.   Tapping/agitating the jar will 'encourage' the gas bubbles to rise & dissipate.

I've been using tap water this way in my starter (and my fish) for years.

 - Richard

ehanner's picture

mluciano, your post is encouraging to me and I want to congratulate your curiosity! It is just your kind of spirit that this site is good for, helping you get through the first stages where everything can be a little confusing. I'm very glad that sourdolady has seen your post and is helping you. She is an expert you can be confident of.

I hope you are also baking with Instant yeast or some kind of commercial yeast while you get your starter going. You can still learn the skills that you will also learn when you have your own starter. It is to hot now to send you an active live starter in the mail to PR or I would offer to send one. It sounds like you are close to having a good starter now.

Please post your questions when ever you have them. We are a friendly family and I know you will be able to make delicious bread your friends will beg you for once they have tasted you success!I'm looking forward to hearing from you.


susanfnp's picture

Hi mluciano,

As others have said, please hang in there. You will be so satisfied when your starter really gets going!

A few things you might try:

Feed more often. A good feeding schedule that has worked for me is every 12 hours, mix equal amounts (by weight) of old cuture, flour, and water.

Use warm water. 85F is ideal. If you don't have a thermometer, this should feel just a little cool or neutral to your fingers.

As sourdolady suggested, a warm spot (around 80F if possible) is good for keeping the starter.

Try feeding with some white flour instead of using all whole wheat. Most white flours contain mated barley (check the label), which has an enzyme that helps fermentation.

Good luck, and do keep us posted!


jsz's picture


I have two small comments.

First, I have had excellent success using a bit of rye flour to get the starter going - it seems to yeild a much more active culture.  You can always switch to white flour - or whole wheat - once the culture is active.

 Second, I have found that a thicker consistency yeilds a better result than thinner.   If you have made the consistency thick - almost like a dough - you can judge the level of activity by the amount of rise you get.  I keep my starter in a deli-style plastic container, the 1-pound size.  You can see through the sides, and the level of the starter is clearly visible through the sides.  When the bubbles start, you'll see them through the sides as well.



BROTKUNST's picture

... one has a more intense fermentation in a thinner leaven, it will just rise less because air (Carbondioxid) bubbles brake out of the top and don't raise the entire leaven as much.



SourdoLady's picture

Yes, as jsz said, rye flour is excellent to get a new starter going. When I did mine I mixed rye and whole wheat. I have found that until the yeast wakes up it is best to not make the starter too thick, like dough. It actually ferments quicker and better when it is a thick batter. Once it gets going then go ahead and thicken it up.

Stir the mixture vigorously several times a day. It seems to help get it going also.

Have patience--it is worth it when you finally bake that first loaf!

mluciano's picture

Sourdolady, I've been using (my mistake) city water in the daily (I'll work on that), and I've been feeding the dough only with whole wheat flour... I'll add in tomorrow's feeding white flour... The temperature of the water in the daily feeding is like 85 to 95 degrees F. I'll try to change my schedule so I could feed the starter every 12 hours like Susan suggested...What do you think?

Eric, thanks for the support, and as they days pass, so my curiosity for the taste of the sourdough... And is true, all of you are great and what I know of bread I owe it to all the great bakers in this site...

 Thanks also to susanfmp, jzn and brotkunst. (I like thanking people when they help me, ji ji)

Take care all of you... I'll definetively keep you guys posted... I'm not giving up that easy on my starter!


bluezebra's picture

Sir Stinky for me? I mean it was within about 36 hours there was a huge difference in his behavior (rise time). :D

Stirring. I took Mike Avery's suggestion and stirred it - any time I went by it! Which was about every 4 hours. I would pick it up and stir it liberally for over a minute each time and really aerated it. It really perked up when I did that. I also noticed that his rise time really depends on if he's in a narrow mouthed container or a wider mouthed container.

Even when I take him out and play with him (feed him and bake with him) which is a weekly thing...I give him his "spankin'" often! :D He seems to dig it! hahaha!

Hope that helps! I had to have crazy patience not to throw my Stinky down the disposal a time or two! But in the end perseverence won out along with tons of encouragement from a few people here (you know who you are and huge thanks for talking me off the ledge more than a time or two!!!)