The Fresh Loaf

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Starter rises doesn't fall

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SusanJoM's picture
SusanJoM

Starter rises doesn't fall

Hello and thanks for everything I have gleaned by lurking !!

I am trying to do something new  after 70 years and follow directions.  My Tartine starter has been in the fridge for a month or two and I am working on renovating it for another try.  I have fed it four times at 12 hour intervals with 50 grams starter, 50 grams water, 25 grams white flour, 25 grams rye flour.

It looks gorgeously funky, triples in its allotted 12 hours....

But....I get no "fall".

I can't tell exactly what that means about the strength and condition of the starter at this point and how I should proceed, since what I have read so far seems to indicate that there is a rise and fall cycle, but I don't want to risk missing a feeding just so I can see it fall if that isn't the right 'next step'.  I'm not in any hurry, not trying to rush this. 

I've been very successful over the past few months with the WildYeast Overnight Ciabatta, so....I've got bread in the bag and bread in the freezer and can use this exactly when it is ready and not before.

Thanks in Advance.

Susan

tchism's picture
tchism

Hi Susan,

It sounds like your starters doing just fine! Not seeing a fall after 12 hours most likely means that your starter has a longer peak time. I have two starters that I feed the same as you do. One is all white flour and the other is all wheat. They peak at different times but I still keep them on a 12 hour program. Both work nicely. 

What I have found is that my whole wheat starter peaks later which also means that when I use it my ferment times are longer for the loaves I make with it vs my white flour starter. It might be because of the flour or it might be because of the culture which is from Australia, I'm not sure. 

At any rate, as you use your starter more, you'll learn it's characteristics and fine tune your process for great loaves. 

SusanJoM's picture
SusanJoM

Excellent.

How often do you use that starter that you are still feeding every 12 hours?

And, can I use this one to do a conversion to a second one or would I have to start all over?

Susan

who will have more questions the more answers she gets

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Get it up to 75°F or more and let it peak.  Watch the starter not the clock.

SusanJoM's picture
SusanJoM

The starter is living in temperatures hovering around 68-70;  I haven't taken the temperature of the starter itself.

Does "let it peak" mean let it go until and note when the volume does decline? 

I guess that was my original query, whether to feed it just because it was 12 hours or to wait until I had seen evidence that it had passed its peak.

And, finally, is there a reason I shouldn't see if I can find the peak with it at what are my usual temps here rather than forcing it to a higher temp and then looking for the peak at that temp?

Susan

 

 

 
Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but your tarter has been neglected for several months (chilled) and you need to get your yeast levels back up to working levels (with heat.)  Find a warm spot for the next few days and when it's finally going gangbusters, it will be much easier to raise in cooler temps.  Right now, you want to build yeast.  Then go back to cooler temps when you are getting more fermentation. 

For starters, it is better to let them reach peak and fall back some before feeding again.  One sign that acid has built up in the starter enough to help fend off invaders and be high enough to encourage growth with the next feed.  It's a delicate balance that needs to be checked occasionally.  Maintain your starter too long without ever letting it go through a complete cycle of rising and falling, can lead to rapid decrease in yeast numbers.  

 If you want to use the starter to build toward a loaf in cool temps, mix in fresh flour at peak or after depending on your flavour profile with similar ratios as the starter so that in your final loaf mix, you have at least 1/3 of the dough pre-fermented.  Half would also be acceptable. 

Another thing, in cooler temperatures, rye becomes stiff, stiffer than wheat.  With pure rye starters, one has to open the top of the risen starter to make sure it is still rising.  The starter can often have a hollow stiff domed crust giving a false peak when inside the structure has long fallen.  I have not witnessed this with 50% rye starters but with the cool temp, you might be seeing a rise that doesn't fall except when you gently poke or lift part of the top.  

tchism's picture
tchism

Susan,

I use my starter every week or two. When I'm not planning on using it I store it in the refrigerator. When I pull it from the fridge to use of just to feed, I let it go through at least two 12 hour feeding cycles before using or placing it back in the fridge. 

In addition to the great advice that Mini gave above, I can add that you can also add warm water when feeding to speed up the process. When I pull from the fridge I have added water up to 85 to 90F to help get the starter up to speed. During normal feeding cycles I wouldn't go that high but certainly you can add water up to 75 or a little higher. 

Lastly, yes, peaking is allowing the starter reach the max height and even let it just start to fall. I think most bakers do that.  I have found that as long as my starter has gone through a couple to three cycles and is very active, that I can use it before it peaks or even after and still get great results. Typically when I use my starter, it's after a 12 hour cycle but I have used it after only 6 hours. I believe that Chad Robertson, of Tartine Bakery, advocates using a starter within just a couple of hours of feeding. It obviously works for him. As long as a starter is healthy and active, you can use it and get great results. Then it comes down to your process. How long do you go in the first and second proofings? Do you use cold fermenting during a proofing? those factors play the bigger role in the final results if the starter is healthy. 

SusanJoM's picture
SusanJoM

Okay, that all makes sense, and I think I am going to delay "using" this starter for a while longer while I study its behavior.

For the past several months I have been using a recipe/method that starts with a 6-hour yeast poolish developed at room temp, bulk ferments overnight in the fridge, warms for an hour, then rises at room temp. 

I was planning on changing over to (or adding to my repertoire) a starter based bread like Chad Robertsons.  I did his bread several months ago and it was easily the tastiest I have ever made, but it felt like I was just lucky and not really understanding what I was doing so ....it felt too hard.   My experiment with the yeasted ciabatta recipes have at least given me more confidence working with the very wet doughs, and my hands seem to understand their part in the high hydration game of stretching, turning, folding, etc.  So now I'm going to try something along those lines again.

Your input and advice is so appreciated.

Susan

 

SusanJoM's picture
SusanJoM

Since I've got the Brod and Taylor proofer, it is really just a very simple matter for me to put the starter in there...

SusanJoM's picture
SusanJoM

At 75 degrees in the proofer, the starter seems to have at least doubled in about 4 hours....Greedy little beastie :-)))

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Go for a loaf!  :)