The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

when can I start using my starter

  • Pin It
Alain's picture
Alain

when can I start using my starter

Hello, I just made a culture its been 2 weeks, it is pretty much active and sometimes overflows from the air tight jar. I fed it yesterday noon and am planning to use it tonight for my preferment is it too soon or safe to use?

PetraR's picture
PetraR

You should feed it about 12 hours before baking:)

Alain's picture
Alain

To check if its ready I read that we place a tsp in water and if it floats then it is good to go, but do I mix it before use? The air bubble will be knocked out and I don't think it would float

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Yes , that is the floating test, I used to do that when I worked with a 100% hydration dough and it is indeed a great way to see if the Starter is ready to leaven a bread.

Rule of thumb is to feed the dough 12 hours before using.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

that it overflows!

Once the starter is active and bubbly, about 12 hours after feeding, you're good to go.

Alain's picture
Alain

I'm still new to baking in general but with my success using instant yeast I got carried away and my first starter lived from my first attempt so I am not discarding from it I simply decide it to other jars and use different flour and add stuff like vinegar

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hope you are recording everything in a notebook.  Date, temps (flour, water, room) amounts (in grams)  of all experimental ingredients and the outcome.  

So, I understand it was started from instant yeast, correct?  How has it changed in the two weeks with one type of flour and regular feedings with no added yeast?

Which flour seems to be the winner?  Starter will easily quadruple so a starter, after being fed, should have about 4 to 5 times the volume to expand.  Then it won't go over.  Have you noticed patterns, such as rising and falling, aromas and thinning of the mixtures?  Double really doesn't interest me much, only part of the whole picture.  A thin mixture doesn't rise nearly as high as a thicker one.  Some flours don't contain gluten so they won't double no matter what.  All viable cultures will produce gas, change aroma and flavour and increase in population proportionately to how much they are being fed.

Try this... Take 10g of your active starter and combine it with 80g water and 100g flour, level it out in a tall narrow glass.  Mark the level.  how long does it take to peak? note the temperature of the starter and the room.  No need to watch it the first 4 hrs, it won't rise much, mark off the hours after that to monitor the rise.  Don't stir it or kill any bubbles.  Once peaked, the rising dome of starter will dimple and level off and then will slowly deflate and fall back.  That is a good time to put the starter into bread, From the peak onwards.  When the yeast concentration is high.  

Alain's picture
Alain

Two days ago, as part of the routine feeding, I fed my starter only rye and water, to my amazement it did not react and looked un-bubbly. Yesterday I fed it whole wheat and water (using 100% hydration) at 10:00 pm and today at 8:00 am it has doubled and bubbled!

So my questions to seal the deal:

1- when can I use it in my preferment, I usually make my preferment at 9:00 pm so that next morning I can start with the dough.

2- do I mix the starter before using it or scrap my needs from the top. When I mix my starter it gets deflated and no more bubbly.

3- put in the preferment for next day, mixed, autolyzed, kneeded, now I stretch and fold 2 times intervaled 50 min, then how much should it rest after shaping? Some say 3 hours others for next day!

PetraR's picture
PetraR

1.Fill a small bowl with water, carefully take a teaspoon of your Starter from the jar and gently drop it in the bowl with water, if it floats you are ready to go.

2. Just insert your spoon or cup in to the Starter and take what you need, it will deflate but that is ok since you are feeding it soon after you took what you need.

3. Make your dough with your Starter, flour , Water and Autolyze for 1 hour, do your way of kneading or Stretching and folding, cover with plastic wrap, put in the fridge over Night, pre shape, bench rest for 15 minutes, shape, proof * my Starter is 16 month old so it proofs quick * for 2-3 hours and bake.

It depends on the age of your Starter how long the proofing takes until it is ready to bake, your starter is still young so it might takes up to 5 hours.

Since you Start your Starter in the Morning , put it in the fridge for 12  hours and do the rest of it in the Evenings.

I always do this mixing Autolyzing in the evening at about 9pm so that I can take the dough out of the fridge the next morning at 9am and shape and proof so that we have fresh bread by lunchtime.