The Fresh Loaf

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So I made a new starter this week

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

So I made a new starter this week

I cannot bake everyday and have to save it for one (or possibly two) special bakes over the weekend but I can make a starter. As many of you know I do like to make starters for fun and to test myself how quickly it can be done. It also enables me to try different ideas/methods as we're all continually learning. So I put together this starter on Monday night and by Thursday night I "believe" it was a fully fledged starter. Fed it one more time to confirm and it performed nicely. If I was being generous with myself I'd say this was a 3 day starter but I suppose 9 hours into the 4th day is more accurate.

  • The flour I used was whole-wheat Red Fife kindly given to me by HansB on one of his trips to London.
  • I used a small jar within a large jar. Prevents any spillages and provides insulation.
  • Kept it 100% hydration and started off small.
  • Water was taken from the kettle which had been boiled and cooled.

1. Monday night : 25g water + 25g flour. Not much by happened by Tuesday morning but by Tuesday evening after work it had doubled. The smell was quite pleasant.

2. Tuesday night : to the 50g starter I added 25g water + 25g flour. By the morning it had more than tripled. Not such an unpleasant smell I would have expected but definitely some leuconostoc activity going on. Sort of a sweet sickly smell of overripe fruit. I left it till the evening for the next feed. Didn't wish to be feeding the bad bacteria and wanted them to be spent before I continued.

3. Wednesday night : Took off 50g starter and fed the remaining 50g with 25g water + 25g flour. This is a feed of 1:0.5:0.5. I purposefully did a poorer feeding than 1:1:1 as while I wanted to feed the yeasts and good bacteria I didn't wish to raise the PH level which is trying to drop in order to support the yeasts and bacteria within a starter. So I wanted a balance between providing food but not upsetting the PH level. By Thursday morning we had growth. Not much but something was happening even though I was fully expecting the "quiet period". The slightly off sweet smell of the night before had gone and it had a lovely aroma which was fresh and fruity. I left it till I came home from work to feed again.

4. Thursday night : It had continued to grow and had doubled. Smell was lovely. One of a young but viable starter. I think I can call it 3 days from start to finish but need to be sure and fed it again. Same as Wednesday night. Kept 50g and fed it 25g water + 25g flour. Friday morning it had doubled. No delayed quiet period. A very brief slightly off smell on day two but now it had a lovely smell. It's different to a long established starter, more fresh and floral. No trouble in rising. I won't bake with it just yet as it's not the weekend but I will continue to feed it and now the yeasts are live and kicking from here on in I'll switch to 1:1:1 to further strengthen it with stronger feeds.

Some thoughts are.... Perhaps I had a very good batch of flour. It was a good idea to use a small jar within a large jar and it provided good insulation. The feeding schedule was good. I was lucky!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with Einkorn flour made from whole grain that has been in the cupboard for at least a year expired April 2016.  Ground to flour in a blender.  Flour smells and tastes good,  Culture growth smells of filled baby diapers.  Gave it some fresh purchased Einkorn flour (for its daily spoon of flour) and a clean cage last night and it is smelling better today (Friday) pungent but more like the baby was drinking alcohol.  Enough said.  Hope in a day or two the aroma improves.  Refuse to taste it.  

Found dried Einkorn starter flakes in the cupboard yesterday.  Na ya...   :)

Glad your's is coming along better than mine. :)

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I've never tasted any of my starters. I'm too chicken. But even more so if it smells like that.

I've done a lot of starters but never one with Einkorn flour. I've made levains with Einkorn flour but never one from scratch. Perhaps i'll do that next.

Now Friday's description made me laugh. some very interesting ways of describing starter smells :)

Thank you Mini. Now to decide what to bake with it this weekend. If all goes well it gets amalgamated into my main starter to add diversity and health then onto my next project.

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

What? ! Never tasted one of your starters.. I taste mine every bake.. mind you, I'm not sitting down with a bowl in front of the television, but I'll taste a bit to see how sour it is or isn't, and what the character of the starter is on that day.... it gives me perspective and context for the final loaf..

Give it a go.. you might find it an addicting habit. especially if you're making all these different starters!

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Sitting down to a film with a bowl of starter :)

What would I do? Taste a bit and spit it out? How much and at what stage? 

Damn it, I'm back to being a rookie. 

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

Well you could always put on the game, grab a bowl and chase the starter down wit some beer?! :) 

I just taste about  the same size as a pea or bean just before adding it to the dough.. just a small amount.. and swallow it.. if it's particularly sour (mine isn't often) then I'll chase it down with water..

You might be many things.. but when it comes to bread.. you are definitely not a rookie!!  Have a great weekend!

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Just another aspect of sourdough baking I can take on board. Perhaps it'll also help me aim for a final loaf with better accuracy for taste. 

Thank you! 

You too. 

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

I don't taste my starter as a rule although I think I did once just a tiny amount on my tongue.... yet another thing to stop being scared about and just do it!

Leslie

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Perhaps because it's old flour it's going through an extended period of leuconostoc activity?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

feeding.  1/3 rise.    Aroma is changing to more nutty and seems to be getting better.  When it peaks, I'll thicken it up and mark it again.  (a cautious, yay!)

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Nice one! A cautious congrats. I love it when they wake up.

HansB's picture
HansB

I'm in the simple camp with you Abe. Many people try to complicate the process. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I also do this because I remember when I first started off and it can be daunting. My continued "experiments" is to see how simple I can make it and perhaps someone will see this and gain from it. I don't think it'll always go so smoothly every single time and of course there will be variables but the method is always the same. We're just there to feed it, the yeasts do the rest.

I'm really enjoying this flour. Thank you Hans.

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

But you boiled the water and you started off with good grain! Abe, the jar within the jar sounds brilliant.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Has become a habit of mine. That's the only water I feed my starter(s). And agreed! I'm sure I have been lucky to have very good grain and perhaps not everyone will experience the same ease. The jar within a jar was an after thought and I thought why not try it. I'm sure it did help with temperature and even thinking if it's really cool then you can fill the space with warm water. Further experiments will have to be done to test my theory.

Thank you Truth Serum.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a few days ago so I got my comfort food to go with my coffee.  Watching and waiting...  Too sweet!   

Starter is steadily rising and coming up to "double" in volume at 76°F (24.4°C)

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Aunt Lillian's Apple Cake and Coffee. You do it in style Mini.

Gosh, your starter has woken up with a vengeance.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)  It's 3pm here, awkward...  but it just keeps going...

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Pass it on :)

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Abe, you just made me think of something. I have a small Thermos jug that is about 1 cup (I think) - made for taking soup or such like to work. It's a wide mouth short-ish Thermos, much like a jar. I wonder if that would be good for keeping a new starter toasty? It is stainless steel so I don't think reactivity would be a problem, and the starter could be transferred to a glass container once mature.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Because of a volcanic episode I had when I made my last starter.  Was preparing it in the small jar when I saw the large jar close by and thought I'm not having that again. Then it dawned on me it might be good for insulation. 

Now this is why I post my experiences :) Hope you find it helpful. 

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

I have one in cupboard so I might just try a little experiment with it! never thought I could use it with sourdough :)

Great idea Abe..

Leslie

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

If a yoghurt maker keeps a good even optimal temperature for a starter then that could be a perfect little starter proofing box. It might even be worth investing in one. Be sure to post your results Leslie. 

Ideas give birth to more ideas. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I happen to have a yogourt maker in a cupboard too! What a great idea this thread has spawned. I love this site... :)

I suppose once a nice crop of bacteria is growing, one would have to then put the new culture in a cooler place to encourage yeast growth, right? So, maybe just the first two or three days in the warmer.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Sounds like you've got it covered. I'm glad this has turned out to be a very informative discussion. Here I was posting something hoping someone just starting off might learn not to worry and to take it in their stride and look where it's taken us. 

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

you pour hot water around the jar put the lid on and leave it.  I am not sure what temperature water to use. what do you think? it would cool slowly but you could top it up a couple of times a day.  I think I would use a glass jar rather than the plastic one .

I think I will experiment with some starter from the fridge and run one on the bench in parallel.

Leslie

 

 

 

 

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

That's it! Well I never. I've made a yoghurt maker :)

I believe the optimal temperature is 70-80F. So logic tells me to start off at 80F and replace when it reaches 70F. 

How long do you think it takes to cool? 

Although the L. Sanfranciswhatever grows best at 89.6F. Don't go over 90F. 

I'm assuming the water temperature needs to be a bit hotter to raise the temperature inside. So how about 90F and don't go below 70F. 

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

When I use it as a yoghurt maker, I mix the dried premix with tap water place in the insulated container on the rack and fill about halfway with boiling water, pop the lid on and leave 8-12 hours. I will use a smaller jar so suspect it may cool more quickly given the volume of air surrounding it.  

Anyway we will see how it goes, it will be interesting to see how quickly the starter responds. I will try water at 85-90 deg F and see what it is like after say 2 - 3 hours.  that should give starter time to respond a bit and water temperature to drop.  

Leslie

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Start a blog about it. You can see what happens when feeding a levain and also building a starter from scratch. See how you can manipulate time and taste. 

Enjoy! 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Switching out the jar was the best thing for my einkorn starter's  success.  I did hang onto the "dirty" first jar just to see if it would "come around" but it chased me out of the kitchen with its stink.  The clean jar starter is plugging along nicely with two daily feedings about 1:4:4  and last night I started a dough with most of it and fed the "mother."  Today it is just lovely!  The older one is still haunting the sink and drain pipes.  Kitchen aromas much better now and I have a pleasant starter with lots of yeast at 75°F (24°C).  

A word of caution:  Don't overheat your starter toward the end if you want more yeast, the bacteria will benefit more with the high heat.  Yoghurt temps favour bacteria over yeast.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

and you've over taken me proceeding onto the dough already. Let us know how it goes.  

So warmer at the beginning for bacteria growth and cooler towards the end for yeast growth. I suppose we can follow this rule for a levain build too. 

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

as I am not keen on sour bread. and so to balance it out and get the yeast rocking the temperature should be say 21 - 25°c?

Harleyellen05's picture
Harleyellen05

Since I need a new starter, I've been learning so much about the different stages of development based on the evolution of the organisms present.  In the past, what I thought was a good starter, more than likely didn't get beyond leuconostoc phase.  I'm using the pineapple juice method and giving things the time needed. I saw it mentioned that when adding water in feeding, I am raising the pH, which doesn't seem so desirable in this process. So I'm wondering when developing a new starter, it wouldn't be advisable to continue using pineapple juice for 5 or 6 days instead of 2 or 3?  Also, when the starter is fully established, would it be beneficial to add just a little pineapple juice, (0.5 to 1 oz) to the water, (5 to 5.5 oz) when feeding to use or to maintain/refresh once in awhile?

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

That while my most recent starter behaved very well not all starters will do so. Indeed not all my previous starters have behaved this well either. 

What you need for a starter is flour, water, warmth and time. Knowing when to feed is also crucial. 

While pineapple is fine to start off there is no need to carry it on after the first few days. Once a starter is established then water is fine. 

To make it easier I would mix together flour and water, keep warm and don't feed again till it's had that initial burst of activity and has begun to settle down. After which take off half and top back up. From here on in only feed if there is activity. If things are quiet all you do is stir and keep warm. If there is activity then feed by taking off half and replacing what you taken off. Keeping warm, timing your feeds well and not replacing with too much fresh water and flour will all help. 

Once your starter is stronger and we'll established then you can go onto bigger feeds to increase its strength and health. A little viable starter will have no problem with inoculating a big feed but in the early stages an immature starter will struggle. It's all about the timing. No need to be in a hurry to feed if your starter is not responding. Eventually you'll see it get stronger and quicker in which case you can pick up your feeds. 

If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. Remember, warmth and time! 

Harleyellen05's picture
Harleyellen05

Tonight was day 5, so I fed my newborn starter 3:1:1.  It seems pretty active and has a good aroma, (still trying to keep pH down).  Tomorrow I have to make dough for a pizza bread, so I plan to use some, save 4 ounces and feed 1:1:1. I'm trying to decide on feeding every 24hours or every 12.  For flour, I've gone to 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 rye.  Once I get to the 9-10 day mark, I plan to use 1/4 each rye and whole wheat and 1/2 unbleached white.  So if I'm doing 4oz, it will be 1 ounce each rye and whole wheat and 2 ounces unbleached white. Then based on all the info on TFL, I'll progress to 1:2:2.  

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Day 5 can still be quiet if there is a quiet stage. But yours seems to be getting stronger. Easy does it and increasing the feedings in rhythm of your starter is the way to go.

I've just done a bread with discard starter... http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/54060/using-starter

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

If you read Debra Wink's excellent article on how they arrived at the Pineapple Juice Solution (part 1 here; the link to part 2 is at the end of the part 1 post) you will see that the whole point of using pineapple juice is that it is acidic enough that you only have to use it on day 1. If you use something like orange juice you can go for three days, but it's not needed after that. The article is a fascinating read on its own and based on good science!

Harleyellen05's picture
Harleyellen05

Thanks, yes, Debra's articles part 1 and 2 are jam packed with information and probably bear reading more than once to fully digest it all. I ended up following her formula at the end of part two that recommended juice through day three.  Something seems to have worked right. I am on day 6 and my starter doubles in 3-4 hours. Now I'm thinking of feeding in the morning with unbleached white, mixing a single test loaf late in the day to retard overnight and bake first thing Friday morning.