The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dried Out Starter

ChloeBakes's picture
ChloeBakes

Dried Out Starter

Hello!

I'm trying to restart a sourdough starter after a long hiatus. However, I keep finding that my starter dries out/gets very crusty within the first couple of days. I usually place the flour/water mix in a mason jar and leave uncovered on the counter to wait for some activity to happen. But it always dried out before any activity seems to happen and I don't give it another feeding. I leave it uncovered because isn't that how the natural bacteria is supposed to mix in? Should I cover it with a mason jar lid? 

I also live on the East Coast so it's mid-winter and the temps are rather low. I keep my apartment at roughly 65 degrees but it can dip lower than that. To keep the starter warm, I often place it on the heating vent. Does this seem to work? 

Any other suggestions to getting my little starter going strong so that I can start baking?

Cheers,

Chloe

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I don’t think leaving the starter uncovered is a good idea. If your starter is healthy the yeast and bacteria (a good thing) already reside in your starter. Actually the flour itself, especially whole grain contain the necessary yeast.

Try covering your starter and keeping it warm.

How much starter, water, and flour are you using to feed?

Dan

ChloeBakes's picture
ChloeBakes

Great, I will try to keep the lid on it. 

I typically start with 40 g (white/rye flour mix) and 40 g warm water. I wait a couple of days for activity. The first sign of activity (bubbles, slow rise and fall) I give it its first feeding. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

How much starter are you using for the 40g water + 40g flour?

 

ChloeBakes's picture
ChloeBakes

This is a totally new starter. So no starter being added. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

When you feed your starter are you throwing some of it out?

If your starter starts out 10g starter + 10g water + 10g flour it is a total of 30 grams. If you feed that starter the same 10g water and 10g flour it becomes 50g. Feed again, 70g. You can see where this is going.

So, when you feed you existing starter you could take out (for example) 15g starter and the mix in equal weights of water and flour. That starter would weigh 45 grams, but the next time you feed your starter it should still weigh 45 grams.

Dan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

PLease disregard.

Southbay's picture
Southbay

My starters are in mason jars, so I could screw the lids on. But because of my perhaps unwarranted fear of an exploding mason jar, I just cover the tops with foil. It greatly slows the drying/crust formation that you describe. For your starter to be fast and ready, you might want to feed it two times a day when actively using it for baking. That would also help with the drying. Don't let so much time go by between feedings. Even a well-established starter can get more acidic and slower than you want just by skipping a day or two of feeding.  

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Till there is activity. Don't start to do anything else till it wakes up. It's had a feed and now it just needs time and warmth. 

ChloeBakes's picture
ChloeBakes

So I just scraped the hard crust off my initial flour/water mixture. There was still some salvageable in the bottom. Thus, is it safe to say that I can give it a small feeding, cover with the lid, place in a warm spot, and wait for some activity? 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Feed, keep warm and don't do anything till it has bubbled up again then start again with your regular maintenance. 

This is what one can do if they forget to save any starter and only realise once they've used it all up in a bread. Has the jar been washed out yet? No!? Then add flour and water and wait. 

Keep us up to date and really hope it works. No reason why it shouldn't. 

bigcrusty's picture
bigcrusty

Dear Chloe Bakes,

 

I have 3 starters, White, Rye and Wheat.  I dechlorinate my water by leaving tap water open for 24 hours and then add raisins (plain supermarket variety.  Let the water stand a day or two it will develop yeast.  Like you I mix my starter food 1:1 flour and water usually 100 grams for the white and rye.  I remove the crust from my starter which I keep in my proofing frog for a week and then mix in my food.  The rye and white are left covered but not sealed for several hours at room temperature approx 70 F then sealed and put back in the brig until use or feeding.  The wheat is trikier and needs to return to a cool temperature quickly so it doesn't turn acidic.  My white starter will usually produce bubbles in 4 -6 hours at room temp.

Regards, and Happy baking,

 

Big Crusty