The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

2 week old starter smells right, but no rise!

FuriousYellow's picture
FuriousYellow

2 week old starter smells right, but no rise!

Hello all, a few years back I had a pretty successful white 100% hydration starter, which I unfortunately lost in a move between cities. I have been baking yeasted bread on a fairly regular basis since then, but recently I decided I wanted to get back on the sourdough path. So I started a new starter using white unbleached, and after a week it started smelling better, but did not get much rise. Now another week later, I am still not getting any rise, but the starter consistency looks perfect, and it smells great, almost exactly what I remember with my old one. I am guessing I am getting the proper bacteria growing in it, but lacking the yeast. I have some whole rye flour on hand, and I am wondering if adding a bit of that in my next feed would maybe help inoculate it with some yeast. Would this be a good idea, or would adding in different flours confuse or possibly kill the culture? Or should I just keep feeding it like normal and hope something happens? TIA!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

The life of your starter till now? Did it ever rise but then go quiet? Have you been feeding it everyday even during this quiet period? If so, what are your feeds like? How much fresh flour to starter ratio? Are you keeping your starter warm?

FuriousYellow's picture
FuriousYellow

Sorry, I should have went into more detail. The first four days it experienced the usual bad bacteria stage where it rose and fell rapidly and had a foul smell. After that, the nasty smell went away and was replaced with a more pleasant fermentation smell, improving every day since. It's hard to describe, almost fresh and sweet yet tangy? It has been fed every day of it's life. Week one was fed at 1-1-1, week 2 I tried decreasing the amount of starter to see if it would make a difference, about 1.5-2-2 ratio. The last day or two i went back to 1-1-1. Thanks for the response!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Once your starter went quiet after the initial bubbling up. If overfed before the starter has a chance to become acidic and good bacteria/yeasts taken hold then it can slow things down. Try skipping a feed or two (or even three) and see if it picks up. Instead keep it warm and stir. Once it begins to show signs of life then begin feeds again. See what happens.

FuriousYellow's picture
FuriousYellow

Thanks for the advice. I'll give that a shot!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

brewing at?  Makes a big difference if the starter is below 75°F.  Get it up to temp while you wait.  Taste the starter and tell us if it makes you pucker or is sour. (spit it out afterwards)  

FuriousYellow's picture
FuriousYellow

I just checked with an IR thermometer and the starter itself is sitting at 73.2F currently. There is some mild variation in kitchen temp throughout the day, but nothing extreme. Haha I don't know if I am comfortable tasting it until it's more established, I'm afraid it might turn me off of sourdough if it isn't what I expect! Thanks for your response!

phaz's picture
phaz

R u discarding when feeding? I'd so, don't for a few feedings, and try decreasing hydration. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

better to get the yeast numbers boosted with warmer temps (75°F or slightly above) until it is rising predictably and well.  Once yeast is well established, it will manage to rise with the cooler temps albeit slowly.   First get the yeasty beasty party going!  

I should tell you I've started up a dried clump of starter I've had in my fridge since 2014.  Thought I'd give it some water and after it hydrates a little flour (einkorn.)  I think it is a rye starter.  Anyway, it has a high amount of bacteria in the dried part (close to the right pH) and I'm waiting for the yeast to wake up.  24 hrs have gone by and the water has turned brownish.  Waiting and waiting.... it's a patience game.   But mine is 26°C  (a good 78°F)  sitting next to the chimney in the kitchen.  So...  I'll race ya!  :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

how ya doing?  I might stir in a tablespoon of plain white wheat flour (no discard) before I go to bed.  Thicken it up a little.

EDIT:  Tasted it and not very sour.  Tastes too much like wet flour.  Will wait until tomorrow to add flour, no flour tonight, too early.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

to get it to rise properly.  Keep the temo at 78-80 F will help greatly as well.  Mini is a starter guru for sure and Abe is getting there quickly.

FuriousYellow's picture
FuriousYellow

Thanks for all the responses! So far there has been no rise, but a lot more small bubbles. I was going to add in a bit of flour to decrease the hydration and see how that goes but noticed a little bit of color just on the edge of the cup. It is kind of a pinkish-orange color. The smell of the starter hasn't really changed, just not as potent as before. I snapped a couple pics for you all to see. Should I just scrape that off and add the flour, or am I hitting a dead end with this? BTW its been about 4 days since it was fed last.

Lechem's picture
Lechem

If it was another colour I'd say take off some healthy looking starter and feed that. But pink/orange!? 

Most sensible advice is to start again and use the pineapple juice method this time. 

Thank you for the praise Dabrownman but your advice or Mini's is needed here to confirm if this starter can be saved.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

unless it was 100% rye which lightens a little and takes on a light pinkish tan hue.  Wheat and pink doesn't sound good.

Does it still look pinkish in a clear glass container, one that is not green glass?  Green can cast complementary colours in the light.  Orange would be the complementary colour.