developing, maintaining & storing healthy starters
I've just resumed baking artisan breads at home, after a 10-year hiatus, and am already running into unexpected snags ... My levains are ripening, overfermenting (then collapsing) by about day 2 of the process of creating. After this happens, the culture shows little to no activity for the remainder of development. This happened with both a stiff levain as well as a liquid levain. The sourness is there, but the wild yeasts seem to have either gone to sleep or are very limited in my current kitchen environment. I'm not sure whether it's the temperature or something else. What are your thoughts on using a proofing box for cultivating the levains? I'm likely going to have to purchase one anyway for fermenting and leavening doughs, especially now with the cooler weather approaching.
I'm also reading that sourdough levains need to be stored at temperatures between 46.4 and 50 degrees F in order to preserve the wild yeasts and maintain a healthy culture between bread making ventures. Is this something new? I used to just store my starters in my refrigerator. Since those temps are too high for my regular refrigeration (set between 35 & 40 degrees F), what do you recommend? Once I have developed a hearty culture, I don't want to risk destroying with improper temps. Your thoughts?
Lastly, how often do you recommend feeding starter between break making ventures? I'm reading mixed opinions - many say to feed weekly (or more) ... Chad Robertson (of Tartine's in S.F.) says to refrigerate in airtight container, then pull out and feed at room temp (from a few days to a week), until ripe.
Thanks in advance for your feedback!