The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough early hooch (day 3 new starter)

SLanney's picture
SLanney

Sourdough early hooch (day 3 new starter)

Just a quick question with respect to caring for my first young starter (named him Timmy :) ). I currently have one going with 50/50 AP whole wheat at 100% hydration. So my starter began seemingly normal, with strong activity on the night of day 2 (tons of bubbling with the smell of slight acidity). I assume this is due to bacterial, rather than yeast activity. Anyway, this morning (Day 3, 9:00am) I noticed that the starter was floating on a bit of liquid with few bubbling. Didn't think much so I stirred and fed as usual (1:1:1) and left for work. I recently checked it (9:00pm) and noticed a slight layer of opaque liquid on top (hooch?). I stirred it a bit and some bubbles appeared but very little.

I know this lull is typical and usually people ignore it (skip feedings) and let acid build up until ready to feed. I would do this, except hooch to me seems like it's hungry. Should I feed it in response to hooch tonight or wait it out (feed tomorrow, or skip it due to lull)? Also I'd describe the smell as not overwhelmingly pungent or acidic but slightly tangy, like warm buttermilk.

Cheers! Looking forward to that sourdough :)!

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Separation?  You mention 'floating on liquid'. Might be overly hydrated for the flour. Why not just thicken it up with some whole Rye flour and then see how it reacts. You're on the right track on how to get through this lull. After this small 'feed' carry on with the waiting game. 

SLanney's picture
SLanney

Just checked and its like a light brown opaque liquid forming on top, just a thin layer with no signs of activity. Yes, the starter is pretty wet (more than I was expecting for 50% WW), might be that my apartment is rather humid. 

I don't have rye on me yet as I wanted to keep the starter familiar in terms of grains (I've only baked 4 or 5 breads ever). Think one feeding of 100% whole wheat to stiffen the consistency would work, I'll hold off feeding afterward until its ready. 

Thanks for the advice!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Hooch is usually a dark greyish brown, and definitely smells 'hungry'! Probably just give it a good stir and continue following whatever method you are using.

SLanney's picture
SLanney

Thought I'd give a quick update on the starter progress. So I fed it 2 days ago with 100% hydrated WW flour. Yesterday the starter looked the same as usual (small amt. liquid on top) except that it smells fruity and sweet rather than tangy. I skipped the feeding yesterday and I haven't fed today, with occasional stirring in between. This morning the consistency was still battery/soupy and smell is still pretty fruity. A few bubbles only arise after stirring a bit but not sure if this is due to introducing air via stirring. I plan to hold off feeding it again and hope the pH drops enough that activity restarts. 

When should I consider adding acid/vinegar to help promote yeast growth? Should I wait indefinitely till activity restarts or should I try giving a feeding and see its response? Trying to gain an understanding of how to treat a starter and its level of flexibility is pretty interesting...

Lechem's picture
Lechem

And make sure you're keeping it warm enough. Who's going to give in first, you or your starter? 

Give it another day or two. In the meantime buy some pure pineapple juice which I think you'll be drinking, not your starter. But good to have in just in case. 

If in a day or two there is nothing and it's really liquidised then without discarding anything add in a tsp or two of some wholegrain to thicken it up. 

How warm is it?

SLanney's picture
SLanney

Starter is at a warm 26C (78.8F)

Hahaha I like that mentality, it's a challenge then :). 

Also, thanks for keeping in touch, I've read a lot about growing a new starter prior to this and the whole process still seems so novel to me. Appreciate the help!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Make a starter :)

Especially if it's a stubborn one.

But it's such a big satisfaction when it works you'll forgive the agro. 

Best of luck.

Keep it warm.