The Fresh Loaf

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Problem with feeding starter

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Frustrated noob's picture
Frustrated noob

Problem with feeding starter

Hello. 

I have made a starter finally and all was good. I placed it in the fridge for a week. A week later I took it to feed, fed it once after throwing half away and replaced with flour and water. After approximately 8 hours it doubled in size and true float test was also successful. Then I made a mistake. Some person on Internet had said that one should feed the starter 3 times with periods of 8 hours. My second and third times were a failure. These two times the starters does double but does not float on room temp water.

what can I do to revive it?

what am I doing/did wrong?

please help! This is very frustrating considering how long it took me to succeed in the first place.

thanks.

 

ghazi's picture
ghazi

I suspect its just been given too much food, so yeasts have died off. A good way to get back on track it to feed it equal weights starter:water:flour which is 1:1:1. You want it to taste twangy then you know it needs feeding. I like to stretch it a bit with feeding since the more twang in starter the more quickly it jumps up again.

People on here could give you better advice, though really if you just keep feeding it 1 x per day until doubles it should be well on its way to lifting bread for you again.

Ghazi

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi,

What does your starter smell like?

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hi, Frustrated noob, and welcome to TFL.

First off, we congratulate you for starting up your own sourdough starter; that is a not an easy commitment to undertake. 

As Ghazi rightly put it, you have to look for signs of ripeness and maturity in your starter (acidic vinegary aroma and  tangy sour flavor); doubling in size is just part of the tale, not all of it. The person who called for a feeding regimen every 8 hours may have an active starter that contains some wholegrains flours (they help speed up fermentation), or maintains his starter in a warm place (27-35 C). 

So, yes, leave it on the counter at room temperature and feed it once every 24 hours and it will bounce back.

Khalid

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Yes , you fed it to much.

Leave it at room temperature, feed it 1x a day until it is back to health.

If you keep  your Starter in the fridge you want to feed it 1x a Week or 1x every 2 Weeks.

Before you want to bake you pull your Starter out of the fridge and let it come to Room temperature, take half out and feed in a 1:1:1 ratio.

Best is to feed it about 2 times which means 1x feeding and a second feeding 12 hours later .

 

There are so many different ways people work with their Sourdough Starters and if you read on 20 different Sites on the Net you get 20 different answers and that is all confusing, you want to try it with your own starter and end up muddle it all up.

Soon you get to know your Sourdough Starter well enough to know what it needs and when:)

I bet most of us here muddled up there Starters at one point , I did most certainly.

Frustrated noob's picture
Frustrated noob

Thanks for all of your advices! 

I am using organic rye flour for my starter and mineral water. 

Befire I had been feeding it by removing half and giving 0.5 flour and 0.5 water, so if anything it was too little. :) 

I have just given it 1:1:1 and to be honest it looked very dry, so I gave it slightly more water so it was more like 1:1:1.25 :) So far, after 3 hours it had doubled. But for me it would really work if it passes the float test as it did before.

Right now it kind of smells alcoholly, but we shall see in 21 hours I guess.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

however it will force the starter to struggle to keep up with you.  A small amount of starter fed a lot of food will eventually ferment all of it, it just takes a little longer.  You can often feed a starter every 8 hrs to select those yeasts that reproduce faster.  But only do it for a few feeds.  Then a long feeding frenzy time is required to let the starter peak (notice, not just double.)   The starter will then be suddenly much faster and stronger in performance.  You are experiencing that right now with the 3 hrs double.  

From now on, giving the starter time to ferment the flour and show signs that it has used up the food and ready for more flour determines when and how much flour you feed any amount of starter.  

"So far, after 3 hours it had doubled. But for me it would really work if it passes the float test as it did before."  

It will 

"Right now it kind of smells alcoholly, but we shall see in 21 hours I guess."  


It should smell beery or of alcohol when it is fermenting successfully.  Good signs!  :)   Let the starter ferment a few more hours, hang on to it (don't dump it) and take some to float on some water.  I never use the test but perhaps it helps.  Don't wait 21 hrs to feed part of it.  If it is over-proofed, it may not float. You can let some of it stand to compare to but right now...

take some and feed it.  I would take 20g of it and feed 50g water and 50g rye flour (and 10g more water if needed.)  I think your starter is past the 1:1:1 stage of growth, and ready for bigger feedings unless you want to watch and feed it 3-4 times a day.  Mark and time how long it takes to rise to maximum expansion before it dimples and falls back on itself.  The starter will ferment slower if you have cooler night temperatures.

You may find that the starter peaks out with the above suggestion in 6 hrs.  wait until it falls (poke gently to make sure it has not already fallen inside under a crusted dome)  before reducing in size and feeding more water and flour.

Mini

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I never got a crusted  dome with my 100% hydration Starter, only now with my 50% hydration starter.

I always love reading your replies for * troubleshooting * , I learn so much from it.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

I am pretty much convinced that Mini is a Starter Whisperer.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

For beginners of the Sourdough Starter Journey she is a MUST ASK and READ Person.

In time one get's to know their own Starters but in the beginning... OMG I wish I had known this place and of course Mini Oven when I started.

 

PetraR's picture
PetraR

1:1:1 would give you a 100% hydration so it should not have been dry but more like a thicker Pancake batter.

I do prefer a 50% hydration Sourdough starter, it is like a dough , much easier to maintain and I think, for me, it makes the better bread.

The float test is fine, but you only need to do the float test when you want to bake and see if the Starter is ready for baking e.g the Starter is ready to leaven a bread.

If you only feed your starter you do not need to do the float test.

Feed it right and 1x a day and once it is very active you might want to feed it 2x a day.

You soon get to know your Starter and see what it needs.

If your starter is still very young, the fridge is not the right place for it, I would say after 3 month on the Counter and daily feeding you can start storing it in the fridge and feeding it 1x a week or 1x every 2 weeks.

Davo's picture
Davo

I have been baking sourdough for I think 6 years now and I have never done a float test.

For what it's worth, I reckon I could take airy starter and depending on how I handled it between the receptacle it sits in and the water, I am prety sure I could make it float or sink as I wanted. Really all you are looking for with a flaot test is airiness. Surely when you eyeball a starter that's two or three times as big as when you mixed it, and when you see that airy honeycomb pattern when you rake a spoon through it, why do you need to validate that it is/was airy by putting it in water?

Don't worry about the float test, is my advice.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

... is very good.

I only do that when I work with my 100% hydration starter when I want to bake, not when I feed it, there is no point.

When your bit of Sourdough Starter ,that you test with, floats it shows that your Starter is strong enough to leaven a bread.

When one is new to Sourdough baking this little test is great.

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

For someone who has not done any baking with sourdough, the float test a lot like the "poke test".  It gives someone a frame of reference about what is "airy enough" and what is "not airy enough", assuming they are gentle enough to cut out the starter so as not to deflate it when testing.  The poke test gives one a frame of reference about what is proofed enough and what is not proofed enough.

 

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Yes, well said and good explanation.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

...you're not giving the yeasts enough time to feed and multiply before taking out and feeding again. Personally I've never had any problem with feeding once a day till my starter is viable then once a week to bake with and keeping it the fridge in between. Try back tracking a bit and going back to feeding once a day and stirring a few times in-between each feed. Try treating your starter to a pineapple juice feed a couple of times. 50/50 flour in g to pineapple juice in mls i.e 100% hydration. I always keep my starter at 100% hydration and adjust recipe to bring final dough to whatever hydration is called for.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

You can often feed a starter every 8 hrs to select those yeasts that reproduce faster.

Can you cite any science to back this up?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Mini knows her stuff! She has earned her knowledge through experience. To me this statement is rather obvious. If you continually feed every 8hrs only those organisms that can perpetuate themselves in that timeframe will survive. If they are unable to reproduce in significant quantities they will die out giving opportunity to those that can. Feeding a starter is a selection process.

Time and temperature amongst others are the controls.

For instance l.sanfranciscensis is tolerant of but not unaffected by acid and so it likes regular feeding which keeps the acidity down allowing it to thrive.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Evolutionary fitness at work in your kitchen.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

You can often feed a starter every 8 hrs to select those yeasts that reproduce faster.

                                    * * *

If you continually feed every 8hrs only those organisms that can perpetuate themselves in that timeframe will survive. If they are unable to reproduce in significant quantities they will die out giving opportunity to those that can.

If you discard every 8 hours, you are getting rid of 1/2 the organisms whether or not they have reproduced in the 8 hours period of time. So you may in fact be selecting against faster breading organisms, no? In order to select for faster organisms you have to ensure that there is in fact enough time for the organisms to multiply and that they do so at a rate which is faster than the remaining organisms which, after all, have been around longer than 8 hours.  And all of this assumes that one organism's "decendants" will reproduce at the same rate or faster as its parent and not that it will vary from generation to generation.

Anyway, it makes my head hurt and is not so obvious to me yet.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

Unless there is scientific backing, I would regard that statement as the product of one's imagination.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

If there is logical reasoning to support it, I think that would be a good start.

And, of course, if people's experience suggests that they get a faster doubling starter by doing this, then that is all part of the scientific methodology.  I am willing to experiment to speed thing along without the need for peer reviewed science.

baybakin's picture
baybakin

when I'm planning on making a naturally levianed sweet bread, i've been known to take a stiff starter, keep it warm (80F or so), and feed it every 4 hours for 4-6 feeds.  By the 3rd feeding the starter actually begins to smell sweet.  it also doubles after as short as 2 hours after this treatment.  This seems to support the "selecting for quick rising yeasts" aspect, at least acendotaly.  This is similar to how "italian sweet starters" work.

I've also read about a sourdough bakery (I don't remember which one off the top of my head) where they do a "short feed."  The details of which are feeding their mother starter, then after only two hours, feed it again.  They explained this favored yeasts over bacteria due to lag times in yeast/bacteria life cycles, keeping the starter strong and the acidity down.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

try not to do as many do and that is to treat science like it is a religion. One Richard Dawkins is enough!

mixinator's picture
mixinator

If you discard every 8 hours, you are getting rid of 1/2 the organisms whether or not they have reproduced in the 8 hours period of time.

Therein lies the flaw in this line of reasoning. When you pour half your starter down the drain, there is no selection going on. You're indiscriminately discarding half the entire yeast population whether or not they are faster breeding, slower breeding, have reproduced, haven't reproduced, etc.

I'm not a microbiologist. What I don't know is whether there is an appreciable difference in reproduction rates among individual yeast cells living in the same environment, i.e. same temperature, hydration, pH, etc.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

You're focusing on the wrong thing. I hate waste as much as the next person and our economical hard times have influenced us to be very disapproving of waste but it is a side-line to what matters in terms of a baking process. In a professional environment there isn't really any discard because they bake daily. Discarding is something that has come about through being a home baker that cannot make and bake large volumes of dough. There is nothing wrong with feeding every 8 hours or every 4 like the process for panettone.

See the beauty of this panettone process by Alfonso Pepe in these videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuOEaVZmfws

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSi0AWBq4bo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa3OckrkX4I

Fermented flour has a number of organisms that out-populated that of raw flour. So when you feed / inoculate you are already giving advantage to those organisms that have been reproducing previously. How is it not obvious that the shorter the window the better the survival of those that reproduce quickest?

Yes there is an appreciable difference. Influence of temperature, pH are highly significant and well documented for the organisms of interest. Hydration is just a facilitator but it effects fermentation quotient and dough degradation.

suambumeri's picture
suambumeri

For me feeding a starter is not that much of a science as some people think it is. Once it's active it needs to be fed regularly. That's all there is. Also, in my experience, temperature has a lot to do with how much feeding the starter needs. In dry season here (temps between 27-35 deg C.) I do have to feed it 3-4 times a day if I leave it at room temp. I therefore keep it in the fridge most of the time.
Now in wet season (steady 24, 25 deg C) I leave it at room temp and feed it twice a day. 
I guess if your house is cooler once  a day would be sufficient.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I very much agree with you here:)

I do not think that 150 years ago people where to worried about how often they have to feed their Starter, they jut kept on going, no scales and not books to read about Sourdough Starters.

They where wet more when it was warm, less when it was cold... and used daily.

I must say that I got all confused by different tips on different Sites on the Net, at one point my poor Starter did not know if he was Liquid or Stiff or anything in between.

The poor Starter was for a while in the fridge, than had to live on the counter because A. said it is better in the fridge and B. said to keep it on the counter..

It is a wonder that the poor thing is still going strong * g *

I like it here, I ask when I need help and I get consistent good advice that is not confusing.

I like to read about the science behind the Starters, but I do not really worry to much about it.

My Starter is happy , he is alive and kicking and produces fine bread.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

there is a variety of yeast growing in it.  Slow ones to fast ones.  When the starter activates or better said when the yeasts show themselves, you can select many of the ones you prefer with the way you feed the starter.  Slipping in a few short feeding times and then reverting to the maintenance schedule, selects faster yeast.  Converse is also true, feeding the young starter every 24 hrs, with small feeds under ideal conditions can lead to very slow fermenting starters.  It just depends on what you like and how your flour holds out.  Obviously a slow fermenting starter for a flour that degrades quickly would not result in good bread.

When the starter is young, only a few weeks old, this is the easiest time to select the wild yeasts that fit your schedule.  Later, when the starter has been maintained in a certain way, it becomes somewhat "set" and is more difficult to change the culture without some kind of life threatening event.  Changes in older Starters have reasons for their change.  Something, be it starvation, cold, change in food, has upset the balance in the starter and forced it to change and adapt to a new situation.  That can be good or bad, taste buds and dough will tell you what you've selected.

suambumeri's picture
suambumeri

Now that is very interesting!
I have noticed that my starter behaves slightly differently now that it lives on the counter. I find it takes much longer to ferment. I always only put that down to 'cooler' temps although cool is relative...but maybe it is something else too.
It makes lovely bread so that is what counts for me :-)

I do seem to have flour that degrades quickly. So would you suggest feeding more than twice? 
Also, I am planning to dry my starter (done it before) as we travel. I want to take it along and make bread wherever I am. But I guess it would change its qualities then? Is that a good or bad thing?

mixinator's picture
mixinator

Mini Oven, can you cite an authoritative source that describes this technique of yeast selection?

Also, when you talk about fast- and slow-growing yeast, are you talking about individual cells of the same strain?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_25

think of the bird as shortening the fermentation time.  Yeasts that bud in an hour produce more offspring than those that take 3 hrs to bud.  They compete for the same food.  Different strains of yeast will produce at various speeds.  You can look that up just type in the yeast strain and reproduction rate.

Rocket science:  http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1752-0509-6-4.pdf

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Gotta love that "Signed fold change in gene expression at high flux rates".

Yeast propagation is of paramount importance to the pharmaceutical industry - genetically modified yeast strains produce many of the "cutting edge" pharmaceuticals currently in production.

So sourdough aficionados are yeast farmers that use selective gene modification to produce desired characteristics (at high flux rates I might add) for the purpose of producing desired traits in naturally levained bread...,

Wild-Yeast

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Excuse me, have to go adjust my culture flux.  Getting warmer around here.  :)  

- Mini

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

But how does the frequency of feeding "select" for fast or slow reproducing critters?

From, Dan Lepard's "The Handmade Loaf"

"Ideally, after the sixth day onward, each new addition (or "refreshment") should be four or five times the quantity that is in the jar.  Do this, and the yeasts in the leaven will multiply at an optimum rate in the reduced pH, will stay healthy, and will produce enough carbon dioxide to aerate your bread successfully."

I don't know whether there is science behind the statement or not, but "optimum rate" sounds better than "faster" or "slower", and it has nothing to do with the feeding schedule, according to Mr. Lepard.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

In any given culture, the yeast population may be just a few species but there will be significant differences among the individuals in each of those species.  For example, humans display a range of traits in the color of their eyes, skin, and hair (to name just a few) but they are all homo sapiens. 

So, your culture may hold some yeasts that can double their population in 3 hours, others that can double their populations in 6 hours, and still others that can double their populations in 12 hours, all under the same environmental conditions.  If there are the same number of each strain at a point in time, then 3 hours later you might expect to have twice as many of the fastest strain, 1.5 times as many of the medium speed strain, and maybe 1.25 times as many of the slowest strain.  If you repeatedly feed your starter at 3-hour intervals, the fast reproducers will very quickly increase to 90% or more of the population, edging out the medium and slow reproducers.  Those that reproduce the fastest are better able to exploit an environment that features new supplies of food every 3 hours.  Consequently, their population (as a percent of the whole) balloons while the others reduce.

In this situation, "selection" simply means that you manipulate the environment in a way that favors a particular strain of yeast more than other strains of yeast.

Hope that helps.

Paul

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Why does adding food every three hours have any impact on the equations here?

baybakin's picture
baybakin

And I'm not understanding where you're coming from on this.  Perhaps you can explain this and then we can reach a mutual understanding of how this works.

You said earlier: "If you discard every 8 hours, you are getting rid of 1/2 the organisms whether or not they have reproduced in the 8 hours period of time. So you may in fact be selecting against faster breading organisms, no?

this is the root of the misunderstanding I think.  Yeast multiply by budding. So when they reproduce the parent does not die, you end up with two (near perfect) clones of the "parent cell." You may be getting rid of half of the organisms as a whole culture, but if the quicker cells have already multiplied, there are twice as many of them.  the slower-reproducting cells would therefore be less prelevent in the culture, as they have not had time to multiply.  If this process is kept up, the quicker reproducing cells will dominated the culture, as the environment favors their reproductive cycle.

You also say: "And all of this assumes that one organism's "decendants" will reproduce at the same rate or faster as its parent and not that it will vary from generation to generation."

Yes, this is assumed, as yeast mostly reproduce asexually in our baking applications (more on that is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast#Reproduction), it is granted. Generally the only time the yeast will produce sexually is when the culture (therefore cells) are stressed or starved.  Stressed or starved cultures are generally avoided by bakers, so more reproduction is asexual.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

But how does the frequency of feeding "select" for fast or slow reproducing critters?

It doesn't because there is no selection going on. When half a batch of starter is discarded, half of the fast reproducers and half of the slow reproducers go down the drain with no selection. The linked-to primer on natural selection makes this clear and contradicts the point Mini Oven is trying to make.

Let's make this point in even simpler terms. I have a bucket containing 70 red marbles and 30 blue marbles. I mix them up really well, cover my eyes and pour out half. How many marbles of each color are left? Elementary statistics tells us there will be 35 red marbles and 15 blue marbles. The ratio of red to blue will be the same. In practice the numbers won't be exact but close. The marbles were discarded at random and no selection took place.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

It does! You're fixated on the whole discarding thing. As I said previously just because you're feeding every 8 hours doesn't necessarily mean there is a discard but ok let's say there is because it really doesn't matter and you're own analogy highlights the irrelevance of such.

Half of a ratio gives you the same ratio as you describe with your bucket of marbles. Now, and this is key, you need to factor in different reproduction rates and how that changes the ratio over time.

Let's say that the red marbles reproduce twice as fast as the blue. Red marbles double in half (.5) hr and blue marbles double in 1hr.

Let's say they start out with the same numbers:

hour by hour, line by line

1R:1B
4R:2B
16R:4B
64R:8B

discard half

32R:4B
128R:8B
512R:16B
2048R:32B

discard half

1024R:16B
4096R:32B

In fact the discarding actually helps to dwindle out the slower reproducing yeast but it would eventually anyway because cells die.

Does it make sense now?

I'm not the best at explaining things but hopefully you can see how regular feeding promotes the fitter and faster reproducing cells.

Michael

 

mixinator's picture
mixinator

mwilson, you are correct. Your example would be true even if the starter were not fed at all and none was discarded until the yeast ran out of nutrients, however, that is not what Mini Oven claimed:

you can select many of the ones you prefer with the way you feed the starter.  Slipping in a few short feeding times and then reverting to the maintenance schedule, selects faster yeast.

Faster-reproducing cells will always outpace the slower ones regardless of the feeding regimen. Extending your progression with no feedings or discards at all:

1R:1B
4R:2B
16R:4B
64R:8B
256R:16B
1024R:32B
etc.

All of this is predicated on the notion that individual yeast cells within a particular strain reproduce faster than others, i.e. that individual cells of C. humilis or S.cerevisiae reproduce at consistently different rates. This has not been established.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Are you saying all yeasts that can feed on grain flour reproduce at the same rate?  Namely 90 min to double their population at comfortable room temperatures?

Antilope's picture
Antilope

Here's something that maybe has not been considered about sourdough starter. Water hardness. The Eastern U.S. mostly has natrually soft water, the Western U.S. mostly has naturally hard water. But San Francisco has naturally soft water (surprisingly):
.
"Water Hardness and Calcium Concentration of Tap Water: Three Sites in San Francisco"
http://www.jennjblack.com/sfwater.html
.
"San Francisco obtains ~90% of its fresh water from the Hetch Hetchy watershed, with watersheds in Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo supplying the remaining amount (1). In the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission 2006 Water Quality Report, it specifies water hardness as [CaCO3], having values of between 6-146 ppm with an average of 66 ppm, and [Ca2+] having values between 3-28 ppm with an average of 15 ppm (1). The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Water Quality Association consider water hardness (in CaCO3 ppm) of < 75 ppm in the soft to lower moderately hard classification ranges, while water hardness > 75 ppm is in the upper moderately hard to very hard ranges (2). In general, Bay Area drinking water is very soft."
.
At least in making fermented pickles (pickles preserved in a brine that encourages lactic acid bacteria growth to create an acidic environment to preserve the pickles without adding vinegar), soft water is desired:
.
- California Agricultural Extension Service - Home and Farm Preparation of Pickles - Oct 1929
.
Link to online brochure
http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t28926f3f;view=1up;seq=1
.
page 10
.
"Water -- Soft water is best for pickling. Hard waters should not be used, especially for use in fermented pickles, as the presence of large quantities of calcium and other salts found in many natural waters may prevent the proper acid formation, thus interfering with normal curing. "
.
Page 4

"...Lactic Acid Fermentation -- Although the activity of most bacteria is curbed by even a moderate acidity, lactic acid bacteria are capable not only of growing in an acid medium but also producing lactic acid from sugars.

Many of the vegetables as they come from the field contain on their surface both lactic acid bacteria and organisms capable of causing spoiling.
.
It is customary to add brine or salt to vegetables to be preserved by lactic acid fermentation, in order to inhibit microorganisms capable of causing spoiling as well as to improve flavor of the vegetables. Lactic acid bacteria are tolerant of salt and grow readily in its presence. The brine also extracts the vegetables juices and thus aids the required lactic acid fermentation. The lactic acid and the salt preserve the product, provided air is excluded. In the presence of air, however, aerobic microorganisms ("pickle scum") develop, and destroy the acid so that putrefaction ensues. Exclusion of the air after lactic fermentation is complete, therefore, is an essential part of the process..."
.
.
We are not using a brine, but the naturally hard water seems to work against lactic acid creating an acidic environment, and we are trying to encourage the growth of lactic acid cultures in sourdough to create the sour taste. Maybe naturally hard tap water (or hard bottled water) is working against us? San Francisco has naturally soft water, but much of the western U.S. doesn't. Maybe one reason SF Sourdough is hard to grow elsewhere?

mixinator's picture
mixinator

Are you saying all yeasts that can feed on grain flour reproduce at the same rate?  Namely 90 min to double their population at comfortable room temperatures?

You should put this question to a microbiologist.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

happy that my Sourdough Starter is Sour enough, rises and falls as it should, is very active , likes to live in the fridge or on the counter.

Sometimes I feel that to much information makes me very insecure, than I want to change my Starter and muddle it all up though it is fine just as it is, leavens the bread as it should...:)

mixinator's picture
mixinator

Petra, it is certainly possible to overthink these things. 18th-century sourdough bakers didn't know about yeast reproduction rates, pH, etc. They didn't have microscopes to study yeast cells. I wonder if they even had thermometers in the bakeries.

Sourdough starter is the simplest thing in the world to make, yet here we are sweating and fretting over it.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I don't fret over my starter, because it does what it needs to do.  But, I was curious how feeding something more frequently would result in a natural selection process which resulted in something reproducing (or budding) more quickly.

I confess to thinking that "natural selection" works better when there is a hostile environment acting to select the fittest and "frequent feeding" of yeast did not seem to be the sort of thing that resulted in such an environment.

Made some awesome bread this weekend.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

For natural selection to occur, something would have to happen for a portion of the population to not survive. Agreed that mere feeding would not accomplish this.

At the individual cell level, I don't know if all yeast cells multiply at basically the same rate, or if some multiply more quickly than others, or if the speed varies between faster and slower. For the answer to that you'd have to ask a microbiologist.

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

that would depend on what you fed it with.  If you feed it with something other than its natural flour you could easily affect things.  Anything that altered the pH level for example.  I would think there is a whole world of possibilties in regards to this.   For most of us, we have no real idea what is in our starters.  We know that in theory there are yeasts and LABs in there but without scientific analysis we don't know exactly what is growing in there.  Actually we take it on faith that what we have is something that is edible and not harmful.   Each person's water could have any number of organisms and chemicals in it and we probably all have very different water sources.   Possibly one person's water promotes or inhibits the growth of certain yeasts and / or LABs compared to another water source.  All you can do is follow the theory, check actual results with expected results and hope that what you have is good.