The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

developing, maintaining & storing healthy starters

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

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!

Kathryn

drogon's picture
drogon

For every baker using a natural levian there are baker+1 ways to store and maintain it...

My way - I keep my jars in the fridge. I take them out and either use the starter directly from the jar into the flour/water mix to make the dough, or I use some plus more flour and water to make more starter for when I need to make more bread. When I take stuff from the jar, I top it up again and usually now leave it out for an hour or 2 then it goes back into the fridge until the next time. (I make bread 5 days a week right now).

Today I took the jars out of the fridge, used them to make 3.5Kg of wheat starter, 500g spelt starter and 600g rye starter. I've topped the jars up and right now they're not in the fridge but they'll go back into the fridge in an hour or so.

I don't feed the starters other than when I use them - however I've been using them continuously for the past 2 years and for about 3 before that once a week when they lived in the fridge until I needed to use it.

-Gordon

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Thanks, Gordon ... Wow, you are quite the baker! So you have three different starters going - one wheat, one spelt and one rye? And they keep fine at standard refrigerator temps (bet 35 & 40 degrees)?

I'm still at the development stages of creating sourdough starters and, unfortunately, gave up too soon after 7 days with a stiff rye levain. The bread that resulted tasted great, but hardly rose an ounce - so I discarded the levain (which I now realize I shouldn't have done)!

Kathryn

drogon's picture
drogon

Yes - I run what's called a "microbakery" here at home in the UK. I usually make about 20-30 loaves a day, 5 days a week - broke my own record this past Saturday though when I turned out 46... A mix of wheat, spelt and rye loaves for 2 local shops and a (new to me) local produce market (that's about 5 miles away and has been going monthly for over 3 years and this is the first I've heard about it!) Wish I'd taken more photos now, but it gets a bit hectic in the bakehouse trying to work to a timing deadline...

I think I need to do a blog on making a new starter from scratch at some point, since I've not done it for some time now.

Cheers,

-Gordon

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Hi Gordon,

Thanks for getting back to me ... your "microbakery" sounds great. I imagine it gets hectic with all the timing, especially. Hats off to you and your crew! If you have time to do a blog on making a new starter from scratch (for "Dummies"), that would be great! Sometimes it's hard to tell when to begin feeding (and for how long) before it's ripe enough for production (or to store in fridge for later use). Thanks for tips on refrigerator temps. My refrigerator temp is just below 40 degrees F. But I do use good organic flours (not all stone-ground, though), so guess I'll just have to hope that starter will spring back to life, as you suggest, when I bring to room temp to use in bread making.

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones . . .

Kathryn

drogon's picture
drogon

There is no crew, just me....

My wife does help for some things though - when I do outside catering events and so on, she's a great menu planner and organiser..

And yes, making a starter from scratch for a blog thing  is on my to-do list.

Cheers,

-Gordon

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Then cheers to your wife too! I recently saw a program on PBS featuring Orange Peel Bakery, located in Aquinnah Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. It was so impressive, I've decided to compile a list of bakeries to visit in my future travels ... and will add yours to my list if I am ever up your way.

I have a couple more questions, if you don't mind, and then I'll not pester you any more this week :-) 

One of my liquid starters is finally beginning to show lots of activity (after two weeks of feeding), so I plan to use tonight in making a liquid 'levain build' that will sit for 12-14 hours. The formula calls for just 1oz of levain to be added to flour/water mix and, once ready, I am to use all but 1oz of this levain build in final dough. So, is this the point in time I should be putting levain starter into fridge, or do I need to feed that 1oz until it ripens again ... and, if so, how much flour/water do I feed before storing in fridge for future use? 1oz seems like an awfully small amount to store for future use.

Thanks again, Kathryn

 

 

drogon's picture
drogon

This is where there are so many answers, it's hard to know exactly what to do. All I can do is answer based on my own experiences...

I store about 500g (18oz) of starter in a jar in the fridge.

When I make a "production starter" I use as much (or as little) of this as I need - so say I need 1Kg of starter, then I divide this by 5 then use one fifth starter, 2/5 flour and 2/5 water. So 200g starter + 400g flour + 400g water.

I'd then top-up the jar with 100g flour + 100g water.

I keep it this way for a few reasons - one: it works for me. two: it makes the calculation easy, three: because I saw someone else doing it that way.

The exception is my rye starter which I keep at 150% hydration. Calculations slightly harder, but.

I'm not making bread now until Monday night for Tuesday morning, (currently Saturday afternoon) so Monday afternoon (about 3pm) I'll take starter from the jar in the fridge (depending on orders I'll need about 1.5Kg of production starter), so that'll be 300g starter + 600g flour and 600g water. Top-up the jar with 150+150 flour/water and I'll likely leave it in the bakehouse for an hour or 2 just to let it all get up to room temp. to let the old starter start to work on the new flour then back into the fridge. At about 8-9pm in Monday I'll make up the dough using the new production starter- it will ferment overnight and starting from about 5:45am I'll scale/shape/prove/bake ... bread into the shops by 9am and me to the market by 9:30.

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Thanks, Gordon ... I like the simplicity of your starter, flour & water ratio. So it sounds like you use equal amounts of flour & water to add back to your starter (so that makes it 100% hydration, right?). I've read that you should never add flour/water in combined amount greater than quantity of starter you are feeding. Is that true? You have quite the routine with your bread production and I can see how critical timing is! Thank you for taking the time to share your expertise and experience with what works for you. I also had recently learned the formula for calculating starter hydration and understand the necessity to increase hydration when working with rye. So thanks for that tip, as well.

Last night my starter was nice and ripe (after 2 weeks) to do a levain build, which was ready after sitting covered for about 12 hours through the night (I dropped spoonful in water to test & it immediately floated to top). I was able to set aside almost 200 grams of that  levain to store in fridge for future use. So thanks for your tips in that department. After combining levain with remainder of flour, water & eventually salt, I let dough ferment for almost four hours and used the folding (rather than kneading) method every 30 minutes. Shaping into loaves was difficult, though, as the formula I'd used has final dough at 75% hydration. Maybe I should have fermented and folded for more than 4 hours. It's resting in towel & flour-lined bowls for the next few hours before I'll bake, so hope it continues to rise. I'm keeping my fingers crossed ...

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

" I've read that you should never add flour/water in combined amount greater than quantity of starter you are feeding. Is that true?"

No, not true.

OK, may be true if you are trying to start a starter from scratch.  Does not apply to established starters.

drogon's picture
drogon

forgot to add this to my earlier reply - yes - my fridge sits at about 6°C which is about 43 in old money.

But get the starter going at room temperature - the fridge is for long-term maintenance. Start with a good stoneground organic grain if at all possible and you'll have no problem with it springing into life.

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

Gordon

Does 'old money' mean Farenheit?

dobie

drogon's picture
drogon

yes - used as a generic term when referring to old/obsolete units of anything. The UK changed currencies on Feb 14th, 1971 from a system based on base 12 to a decimal system - so old money/new money...

In the UK we're mostly metric now - the exception being road distances and speeds.

-Gordon

 

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

And pub measures. There are also a lot of products being sold in 454g packs...

Britain is going metric inch by inch.

dobie's picture
dobie

Gordon and Jon

Thank you for that info.

A couple of surprises there. I thought the UK was metric for quite a while, not merely getting there 'inch by inch' (pretty funny btw).

I'm also surprised you guys use 'miles' and 'miles per hour' for distance and speed. Between the UK and US, is an inch an inch, thus a mile a mile, off hand knowledge (no google allowed)?

Jon, from all my retraining of my brain to metric, I actually realized pretty quickly that 454g was right about a pound (US), so proudly, I'm getting there (inch by inch).

Converting F to C tho is a bit more challenging, as my oven doesn't grade in Celcius. But I have a few thermometers that do (and I always keep one right by the computer). But the conversion has to be close to instantaneous for it to be painless, and I'm just not quite there yet.

Gordon, in the States, if a health inspector found your fridge at 43 'old money' he'd write you a citation right quickly. But that would be for meats and such and I suppose that yours are dedicated to dough and as such, could be set at whatever you pleased.

Anyway, thanks guys and Kathryn I hope I didn't stray too far off topic.

dobie

ps - Kathryn, I've stumbled into some very fine bakeries in the Boston area and if I can recall any names and addresses, I will get back to you.

drogon's picture
drogon

The upper limit in the UK is 8°C or 46.4°F. You are strongly recommended to keep it below 5 though (41).

It's all about risk management at the end of the day. My kitchen has been inspected by the local authority, so I can make food to sell - including cooked meat products (pies, pastys, etc.) I use the Safer Food, Better business system https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/caterers/sfbb/sfbbcaterers I'm also very fussy about where I buy my meat from and make sure it's properly wrapped and stored as appropriate.

On a bread-related note, my sourdough starters live in the fridge except when I use them. My 100% Rye sourdoughs rise overnight in the fridge (at the top which is at about 8°C) and I use it to chill pastry dough.

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

Gordon

Fussy is good. Me too.

I had no idea that you delved into the 'meat or savory side' in the business, but it makes sense that you would.

Technically here in the States, 41F is the upper limit, but it is always referred to as 40F, I guess to build in a little safe guard for the inspection. But 46F just might get you shut down here. I'm not suggesting it unsafe, just noting the differences between UK and US and I appreciate you sharing that. Yet another thing I did not know.

I've found those safe guards built in with 'when is it done?' temps as well (particulary with chicken and pork).

I will definitely give that link a good read.

Thanks

dobie

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

It's going to take a generation or two to make the switch completely. People who were brought up on imperial, avoirdupois and troy measures are being slow to adapt and even people born after 'D-Day', as the day we switched was called, are slowing the switch. Our son talks kilos, metres and litres but will say that something is 'about six inches' long.

We buy fuel in litres but consumption is always given in MPG, not litres/100km, as in the rest of Europe.

Shops have to list prices per gram or kilo but if you ask for half a pound of something you'll get it.

About the only metric measure that most older Brits have attuned to is temperature. We used to get forecasts announcing degrees F(C), then C(F) but now we only get degrees C, so most people have some idea of how hot it'll be if, say, 25°C is forecast.

Inches, yards and miles are the same both sides of the Atlantic. ISTR that there's something called an international mile but I've no idea, offhand, where it's used. Then there's the nautical mile, of course.

dobie's picture
dobie

Point by point, very interesting stuff Jon.

Metrics as a second language is not easy, however logical.

I know for me, that it is a matter of very early training getting in the way of adapting to the new.

I've been told that learning a new language is best begun before age five, and I don't doubt it. Supposedly related to brain development, hormones and the like. The difficulty I've had trying to learn French and Spanish, will attest to that.

Interesting that your son still refers to 'inches' yet is otherwise metric centric. Also, the MPGallon thing. Odd, isn't it?

And yes, let's not get into nautical miles or fathoms, leagues or any of the rest of it. At least not here in dough world.

Thank you Jon and Gordon both.

dobie

drogon's picture
drogon

There are some die-hards who keep insisting on imperial sizes - and what I find irritating is that some of these people now have children and they're insisting they keep in using imperial sizes too. (I'm 53 by the way and was brought up by my grandparents in a traditional engineering family - they used imperial, but taught me metric too)

Imperial isn't going away - there's too much history, so people need to be flexible e.g. 1435mm is the standard rail gauge in 60% of the world, which is really 4' 8½" and there are many examples of this... Another is buying wood - 6mm sheets is really 1/4" more or (slightly) less in this case...

(And there's me using this new fangled unicode there too - ½ none if this old fashioned ASCII 1/2 here)

Ounces and grams are relatively easy to approximate in your head - an ounce is about 30g although it's closer to 28 in reality, but for most small cake measures that works out OK. Temepratures are harder in your head, but for a long time (thanks to the weather men/women) 15 is 59 is a common min-point to remember - the other being freezing and blood heat.

And a meter measures 3 foot 3, it's longer than a yard you see .. (And many other sayings that were on the back of cerial packets when I was younger!) I know that a kilometer is 1000m because metric is easy, but never could remember how many yards in a mile. (1760, but I just looked it up)

Right - roasting some lamb now - that'll be 25 minutes at gas mark 8 then down to mark 3 for the remainder... Best go to the garden and get some rosemary ...

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

Indeed Gordon

The Imperial and Standard systems aren't going anywhere fast. You are lucky to have been trained at a young age.

Yes, I use 30g to an ounce of weight for estimates and 28.35 for actual conversions. I also think of 112.5g as about 4 oz, so 225g is 8 and 450g is about a pound. That has sunk in and worked well.

But temperature conversion between F and C are less familiar. I know 32F is 0C (water freezes) and 212F is 100C (water boils). I also know that 30C is about 86F, but beyond that I have to check the charts, a thermometer or do the math. But 15C being 59F will now be added in there.

And funny how a 2x4 piece of lumber is actually 1.5 by 3.5 inches. But let's not get into converting legnths and distances, I am even weaker at that.

I have no idea how to employe unicode, but it does read better, doesn't it?

Lamb and rosemary is always good. But of course I've gotta ask - What is 'gas mark 8, etc'?

It's all a matter of what you're exposed to and how frequently (for it to sink in) I think.

dobie

drogon's picture
drogon

:)

They were an invention by the "New World" cooker company in the 1930's-40's as a way to standardise recipe books for their new range of cookers. It's really called the Gas Regulo mark - ie. regulator. Typically ¼ (low) to 9 (very hot). Mark 8 is about 230°C. Lots of cookers here in the UK today are still calibrated in gas marks with recipes using them. My oven has a conversion chart inside the control door., but that dial is cool to mark 9. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_Mark for more.

I deliberately used it in my last post just to cause amusement/humour/confusion ;-)

A litre of water is a pint and three quarter. But only in the UK where a pint is 20 ounces... Joseph Whitworth would turn in his grave...

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

That certainly did the job Gordon.

What a whacky world.

Yes, and I recently learned 'a pound and a quarter is a pint of water' (UK). Your beers are bigger over there. That settles it, I'll be there shortly.

Thanks for the explaination.

dobie

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

A few more, relatively easy to recall, reference points for you:

50°F = 10°C

61°F = 16°C

82°F = 28°C

104°F = 40°C

and, of course, the most important of them all:

-40°F = -40°C

"2x4 piece of lumber is actually 1.5 by 3.5 inches"

Do I recall something about cut and finished dimensions? I think that lumber, in American English, refers to rough-hewn timber but is it 1½" x 3½" by the time you buy it?

dobie's picture
dobie

Thanks for those Jon

They do seem like they would be easy to remember. I will try to learn them.

Regarding lumber, I wouldn't be surprised if you're right about 2x4 starting out true to dimension and gets finished to the smaller.

I know you can get 'true' 2x4s, but you pay dearly for it. You can even get them planned for even more.

dobie

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

I know somehow this is all connected, but you guys are frying my brain with all this "straying off topic" ... still, I have to admit it's educational and amusing :-)

I'm just trying to maintain a vigorous starter (which I know you are all champs at doing) strong enough to become an heirloom someday ... a starter that will allow me to bake decent loaves of crusty, chewy homemade sourdough that I can indulge in today. Thanks a million for all your wonderful advice in this regard!

So here's my two-bit worth ... 

F = C x 1.8 + 32

C = F - 32 ÷ 1.8

Thanks, Dobie, for your offer to recall fine Boston bakeries. I'll let you know when I begin my cross-country excursion.

Happy Holiday baking, cooking, measuring & converting as you split 2x4s to stoke the ovens!

Kathryn

 

dobie's picture
dobie

Kathryn

Sorry if strayed too far. As the OP, it's your call and I will respect that.

Thank you for the F to C conversion math. Very useful.

dobie

ps - Just to clear my brain, 'Flour Bakery' in Boston is perhaps the best bakery I've ever been to (not that I've been to all that many). They have multiple locations in the area, but I've only been to the one near the Aquaruim. It is well worth the trip. Wide array of goods of excellent quality.

And if you ever get to Gloucester (about an hour north of Boston by road) there's a small unassuming little bakery called 'Virgilio's' that I always bolted to when the ship docked. Just good honest bread and such. Gloucester is home of the 'Crow's Nest' dive bar of 'The Perfect Storm' fame and is well worth a weekend's visit for many other reasons, IMO. And you'll go by Salem (witch trials) to get there, worth an hour or two.

I just checked and both of these are readily addressable thru google. Didn't realize you were coming cross country. Enjoy the trip.

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Hi Dobie ... No need for any apologies. I was just giving you grief. Conversations go like that all the time and I find it interesting how one thought leads to the next ... sooner or later, we all get an education. Please do not censor or curb anything you offer. I eventually get my questions answered. What does OP mean?

Thanks for all the tips on Boston bakeries & historical sites! Cross country trip is a long way off, but on my bucket list for sure.

Ciao & cheers, Kathryn

 

 

dobie's picture
dobie

Kathryn

OK, thank you. I too like how one thought leads to the next and tho eventually they can get far off the beaten track, they are connected. But everyone's different and I try to learn what each OP likes or not. I won't hold back on your threads.

OP means 'original poster'. Don't worry, I just learned that myself not long ago.

Enjoy your trip when you do get to go. It's always fun.

dobie

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

The very heart of the matter.

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

You are so right ... you guys (and gals) are all heart ... and, I owe a large part of my success to each one of you in returning to my sourdough passions after all these years! The time you all took to share your expertise in responding to my ongoing questions is priceless ... and so I send continued thanks.

BTW, I have a brother named John O'Brien - any relation?

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

Yes, he's your brother, but I'm not him and I don't have a brother called John, so maybe not, although we're all supposed to be descendants of Brian Boru, so probably, but at a great number of removes. I hope that clears that up.

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Yes, he's my brother ... was just teasing. You sort of resemble him, though ... Yes, I've heard O'Briens are descendants of King Brian. That always makes me feel royal ... the O'Brien dynasty has a nice ring to it, huh?

Thanks for clearing that up :-)

Off to baking I go . . .

Kathryn

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

I gathered. ;-)

The Ui Briain dynasty does have a nice ring to it. I don't know who our clan leader would be but, with the name O'Brien almost as common in Ireland as Smith or Jones are in England, there's plenty of choice.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Gordon I think part of it is just that the imperial system is part of folk's vernacular.  We switched to the metric system in the early 1970s but people still buy meat by the pound even if the clerk weighs a pound at 500 grams and a 1/4 lb at 150 grams.  I think language just seems harder to change than weight and measures.

Gerhard

AlanG's picture
AlanG

that there are many ways and I pretty much do what he does though I don't bake quite as often.  I maintain a 100% wheat starter (AP flour) in the fridge.  For two 500 g batards (my customary size these days), I use 38 g of starter to make 223g of 130% levain.  When the starter gets low, I add 60 g flour & 50 g water and let it sit for a couple of hours at room temperature before going into the fridge.  I've not had any issues with doing it this way and it stays nice and active.

Alan

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Thanks, Gordon, for your input and measurements!

Kathryn

Arjon's picture
Arjon

As Gordon said, there's no shortage of ways to maintain a starter. The key is to find one that's a good fit for the way you bake. 

Fwiw, I usually bake one loaf at a time so I basically keep a little more refrigerated 100% hydration starter than one loaf worth, putt most right into the dough, then replenish the remainder back to its original volume like Gordon does. But I bake less often than he, almost always twice a week but my bakes aren't always evenly spaced. When it has been more than 4-5 days, I tend to use my refrigerated starter as a mother by using some to build the levain that goes into the dough. 

 

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Thanks, Arjon, for your feedback ... Wow, you folks are all seasoned artisan break bakers! I have some work to do in creating my own.

Kathryn

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you've forgotten a lot about starting starters.  High initial rise and playing dead are very common traits.  If your room temp is up above 75°F then wait a day or two more for the yeasts to wake up.  Too many folks give up thinking the starter is dead and chuck them.  Give them a chance.  The first day rise (or second day) is usually bacterial action that changes as the acid level in the starter increases.  Then the yeast will show itself and increase.  You just have to be patient and wait for them.   What's your daily plan and temperature?  

Proofing box for culturing?  Depends.  If your kitchen is cool (under 75°F) then warm the starters up on the first day to speed those little bacteria with something over 80°F then turn down the heat to the upper 70's°F for the rest of the week. Give each starter a good 5 to 7 days to prove themselves and turn yeasty smelling.  Then give them another day before discarding and adding a good dose of flour and water. 

There are many ways to start starters but the main ingredient is patience and more patience.  Flour and water of course and if you want to speed past some of that bacterial foam, there are other options than water.  There is also Pineapple Juice part #1  and a few other links along the way.  Pick one starter method and stick with it and you will be rewarded.  Run into more snags, we're here to help.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Thanks, Mini Oven, for your feedback . . . and especially appreciate your main ingredient of patience! If my latest starter doesn't develop sufficiently, I'll try pinapple juice solution.

Yes, I confess, ten years of remiss! The only starters I've created from scratch made use of juice from fresh crushed grapes. I'd also had a starter I'd inherited and all I had to do was feed it a few days before baking. I didn't seem to have any problem with storing in my regular refrigerator (w/temps between 35 and 40).

Like I'd mentioned to Gordon, I'm still at the development stages of creating sourdough starters and, unfortunately, gave up too soon after 7 days with a stiff rye levain. The bread that resulted tasted great, but hardly rose an ounce - so I discarded the levain (which I now realize I shouldn't have done)!  My room temps border between 70 and 75 (which I guess is too low), unless I really jack up the heater, which can be unbearable when I am here all day. Maybe I should just invest in a small proofing box so I don't have to concern myself with fluctuating temps.

Kathryn

Sammie1's picture
Sammie1

The yeast isn't in the air, it's on the flour. The pineapple juice method is great and will get your starter up and going much faster by letting you pass an entire stage of waiting for the environment to become acidic enough to wake up the beasties you're wanting. Rye flour and whole wheat flour will have a greater number of yeast existing on them.

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Thanks, Sammie 1, for your input ... That makes sense that yeasts are on the flour, but how does 'terroir' then factor in with regard to varying characteristics & nuances in sourdoughs from region to region?

Kathryn

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

once it gets going, it does pretty well in low 70's°F temps.  You only have to baby it when it's a baby.  There are plenty of warm spots in a cold house.  Where are your heat sources and find a spot near them where the starter won't get too hot.  I have used my big baggy pockets more than I care to admit.  But I don't sleep with starters so they cool down at night.  No problem, just add another day to the waiting time for each cool night...

I also tend to like a wetter starter to start out instead of stiff, wet promotes fermentation.  Thicken it up later when there are plenty of yeast.  My starters reside inside a regular fridge.  Right now ... one rye and one einkorn.  And a few firm ones for traveling and for the future and I dried some of each for my archive and for the trip.  

Sorry you have to start up the rye again but this time will be easier.  I do like using the unsweetened pineapple juice with rye.   If you keep your amounts small, one glass bottle serving of the stuff will do the whole business.  Drink the rest of the 4 pack.  :)   A pint size deli container with lid is all that is needed.    Or two zipper bags if you use your pockets.  :)

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

I absolutely love your ingenuity ... and your sense of humor! Thanks for helping to make this not such a daunting process. One of my liquid starters is finally beginning to show lots of activity (after two weeks of feeding), so I plan to use tonight in making a liquid levain build that will sit for 12-14 hours. The formula calls for just 1oz of levain to be added to flour/water mix and, once ready, I am to use all but 1oz of this levain build in final dough. So, is this the point in time I should be putting levain starter into fridge, or do I need to feed that 1oz until it ripens again ... and, if so, how much flour/water do I feed before storing in fridge for future use?

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!

Thanks again, Kathryn

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and depending on the amount fed, i usually wait for signs of life or about a one-third rise to what would be the maximum height and then tuck into the fridge.  Then I use this jar for spoonfuls until it gets low.  Can get quite a few loaves out of 100g.  When low, restock letting it peak out and fall back (usually building for a loaf at the same time) to beef up the yeast numbers.  Feed what is left (after removing the recipe starter) and when 1/3 risen, back into the fridge.  The higher the % of mature starter in the mixture, the sooner it goes back into the fridge.  A  1 to 10 feeding (starter to flour) takes longer to get rising than a 1 to 2 feeding.  I tend to do a 1 to 4 feeding.  It depends on the temperature and amount of food when you put it into the fridge.  If you don't let the pH drop low enough, it can't defend itself from invasive moulds and bacteria. If the pH is low (as in a 1 to 1 feeding) no need to build up acids before chilling.  If the pH is raised with large portions of water and flour, then better to wait and let the starter ferment a bit before chilling.

 I have also on occasion, just doubled the volume of the ripe starter with water and then added enough flour to make a soft dough.  Then put it into the fridge.  That turns out to be about a 1:1:1 by weight feeding.  Good for several weeks easy.  When needed start the day before taking out a spoonful and let it warm up. Then build to the amount needed in one or two steps.  When ready use or chill  (use within a day.)  

I've found that as long as I let the starter peak out once in a while, the yeast numbers stay up there where they should be. 

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

So, when you say you've doubled the volume of ripe starter, making enough for several weeks worth of bread baking, does that mean you don't feed it anything as you remove "spoonfuls until it gets low?" I don't bake bread nearly as often as any of you all are doing, so my starter can actually sit for several weeks in the fridge. Some say I should be feeding it once, twice or even three times a week, regardless. I used to feed starters once a month, or less, and they seemed fine. The two starters I have now are quite vigorous, but I don't want to ruin them by not feeding them frequently enough. What do you advise?

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Hi Mini Oven!

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Thanks again for your experienced & sensible advice! After a couple of weeks of building different starters, they finally bubbled consistently & were pleasantly sour. My most recent loaves of bread were the best ever ... though am still working on perfecting every step. I now have 2 different starters in my fridge. Temp is below 40 degrees F, so hope the yeasts and low pH are buffering them both from destruction. Thanks for the suggestion of building starter, pulling from fridge one tablespoon at a time when I want to bake more bread. I thought I had to feed entire amount of starter in fridge weekly just to keep alive (whether using for baking, or not). I used to do that in the past & found it very time-consuming and a waste of flour.

Happy holidays!

Kathryn

BetsyMePoocho's picture
BetsyMePoocho

kathrynobrien,

As my 'subject' states… There are so very many ways to care & feed a wonderful starter.  But the method should be something that you and your life style can be comfortable with.  After all it becomes part of your family.

I have a starter that is a little over 12 years old and his name is 'Cornelius'.  He started with us in Torrance, California.  He expatriated with us to Baja California Sur for ten years. Then traveled by Toyota Tundra to our present home in Palm Bay, Florida. 

He is one happy boy.  Actually, I fed him this afternoon and will use his left overs tomorrow for sour dough Baguetts.

All this leads me to what I'd like to share with you….  A suggested means to care & feed your cultures.  It has served me well for years. 

Happy that you have resurrected your passion for breads…… Happy baking..!  Post photo's…..

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Thanks, Betsy, for your starter adventure story ... I agree it becomes part of the family and naming is a great idea! Thanks, also, for the King Arthur instructions. I will print out and compare notes. I am presently just baking bread for myself, so weeks go by before I even pull the starter from frig (I alternate between 2). Should I be feeding them in between baking bread since I don't use as often as most of you do? Once I'm satisfied with results, I hope to bake for friends and share starter with whomever is interested. Even though I enjoy some bakery bought artisan breads, there's nothing like homemade!

Happy Holidays . . . 

Kathryn

BetsyMePoocho's picture
BetsyMePoocho

Kathryn,

It is suggested that your hard earned starter be fed weekly when not used.  I have heard of and even my self allowed Cornelius to stay in the fridge for two weeks once or twice.  I always feel bad when I do.  The KA instructions spell out and simplify the process.

Thing to watch for is the color and smell of the 'hooch' that forms on top after a week.  If it is not pink or smells funny just stir it back in.  I have read that the old-timers during the California gold rush would drink it when they ran out of whiskey.  YA-HOOOOO!

Below is a photo of today's bake using Cornelius, which was under risen, boo-boo, I just track of lost time.  Also the photo shows his home.  Years ago I thought he need a better home than a old quart Ball jar. The other photo is today after feeding him yesterday.

 Have fun and keep us posted.  Happy Holidays back to Ya……..

 

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Ooops, somehow I missed this one ... Okay, I will begin feeding once a week. I keep about 600 grams of each starter in fridge. Following KA instructions, if I throw away a cup of the starter each week, there won't be much left to feed. Can I get away with throwing out 1/2 cup and then just feed 1/4 c water and 1/2 cup flour? I know I will eventually find what works for me ... but right now the varying options are confusing.

Thanks for pictures. Cornelius looks very happy!

 

dobie's picture
dobie

Kathryn

Don't let the varying options confuse you. They merely demostrate how flexible the whole thing is.

Your plan will work fine. And if feeding once a month worked for you in the past, I'm sure it'll work for you now (once it's matured).

I would suggest you get an inexpensive digital scale to use weights instead of measures, however it's not necessary.

dobie

kathrynobrien's picture
kathrynobrien

Hi again, 

Okay, am breathing a sigh of relief. I'm beginning to remember how each starter has it's own personality. So ... I've decided to follow in Mini Oven's footsteps and christen each with an appropriate name. It's an interesting relationship that is unfolding. 

I do have a digital scale and have been using that, so will continue with gram measurements at each feeding.

Thanks again, Kathryn

 

dobie's picture
dobie

Sounds good Kathryn.