The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Introduction and sourdough starter question++

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

Introduction and sourdough starter question++

Hi I am new to the forum and new to sourdough and have another starter question. My starter(equal amounts by weight organic strong white flour and water= 500g total) is now at Day 7. Day 2, huge reaction which I think due to bacteria. Day 3, discarded half the starter and added 100mgs of both water and flour. at Day 4, I thought I lost it with no signs of action. I drained the liquid off the top and persevered with feeding, throwing 50% away and mixing in 100g strong white flour and 100g water daily. Day 5, a few small bubbles on top Day 6, slightly more and larger bubbles. I read on a blog that adding 1/4 tspn apple cider vinegar would acidify the mix and might increase the action. I did that this morning(Day 7) and have more bubbles on the surface. However, even though it is kept at 25c. the mix has never risen and fallen back. it is as if the bubbles come to the surface and disperse. Does this mean the mix is too wet and should I try to reduce the hydration? if so how please? BTW, it has lost that slight sick smell it had on Day2-4 and now smells pleasant. Not sure how to describe it.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

I don't know about adding vinegar.  But the quick action that dies off is consistent with a yeast that arises early on, is very active, and dies off.  This is what leads many people to think the experiment failed.  In fact, the other yeast and bacteria are populating, even though it's not so readily apparent.

I'm not sure what method you are following, but your starter looks quite liquid.  When it's that liquid, it can't climb much, or at least hold for long.

The Yumarama link below is what I followed and it's very informative.  The method is that in the first 2-3 days you feed and discard at 2-1-1, i.e., 2 parts starter to one part water and flour.  Next, when there is a sign of activity, you go to 1-1-1.  Once that is reliably rising and falling, you go to 1-2-2.  Once that is doubling every 3-4 hours, the starter is strong enough to use to build levain.  Pay attention to the temperature of the environment in which the starter is kept, since that makes a tremendous difference.  Same as to dough fermentation.  The lower the temperature, the longer it will take.  Mid-70s F is about right for getting a starter going.

http://yumarama.com/968/starter-from-scratch-intro/

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

I think I have the temperature right at about 75-77 degrees F. The method is for a batter type starter and it does seem to be too liquid to sustain the bible structure and rise. I might keep going with it and try your method on a new starter.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

My two cents, I don't think you'll benefit from waiting to increase the percentage of flour, and there's no real reason to start over (although I don't know what adding vinegar will have done).

The point of increasing the amount of flour per feeding is this:  you are building a colony supporting yeast and bacteria that will be used to consume larger amounts of flour in bread.  The goal is to concentrate that colony so that it has the strength in numbers to do so.  As the colony grows larger (that is, more concentrated), if you don't increase the food supply, it will be exhausted quickly, and you'll have a small window in which to add more food before the colony consumes itself and breaks down.  Feeding it a larger diet prepares it for what it will face in a levain and a final dough.

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

so I should go to 1,1,1 tomorrow?

 

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

I'd say yes.  Check out the Yumarama link I included.  It demystifies this process really well.

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

I had read about the pineapple juice starter and I've bookmarked it in case my original starter fails. I'm fairly hopeful it may take off. Thank you for your help. Really useful

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

We're anxiously awaiting photos of your breads.  It's nearly impossible to fail at growing a starter, although the first time you might think the opposite.  Yours already looks active, so you should be baking within a week.  I highly recommend Hamelman's Bread.  To me it is the best comprehensive book for beginning through advanced bakers.

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

Hi again,

I'll have a look on Amazon. I have already ordered Richard Bertinet's two books which will be arriving tomorrow and treated myself to a new mixing bowl, banneton and a few other sundries last night online. I'll put the book in my Amazon basket for next month.

I thickened the starter as suggested by Mini Oven and put it in a larger, new clean container. I'm going to test a small amount tomorrow morning and if it gives a good rise on the test I'll start to bake. beyond excited! I'll take a photo of the starter in the morning too.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in the morning, and it is peaking and starting to flatten out on the top, go ahead and bake with it, directly like you already made the levain.  Spoon thru the starter gently to observe inside bubbles, matrix and take in the aromas.  Eagerly wait for the morning pic.! 

I like to test starters on a 1,2,3 sourdough recipe.  Which means 1 part starter, 2 parts water, and 3 parts flour.   2% salt on the flour weight.  Simple and easy.  The starter is one-sixth of the total dough weight.  Hold back some of the water while mixing as the starter may still be pretty wet and flours can vary, AP will use less.  If you are accustomed to the dough feel of yeasted bread dough, the dough feel of a sourdough should start out a tiny bit firmer as the feel gets looser as fermenting progresses.  That's the reason for the folding, to tighten up the dough skin and matrix.  

Example:   One loaf:  150g starter, 300 g water and 450g flour, 8 to 10g salt.  ...Starts to puff up and rise at about the 3,4 hour mark after mixing depending on dough and room temp.  (One third risen is often a good time to fold, reshape, cover and retard if baking the next day.)

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

Good morning, I just peeked in the cupboard and the surface of the starter is covered in bubbles but no rise and fall signs. It also looks more liquid than last night after I added a couple of heaped tablespoons of flour and stirred it. It started to produce bubbles almost immediately. I’m tempted to just leave it and stir during the day as you suggested last evening. It shows no signs of separation or hooch. Alternatively I could take off a small amount to another jar and feed that was normal .
Lechem's picture
Lechem

Definitely life there. When the fresh flour becomes a smaller ratio to fermented starter with each feed the starter becomes more liquid. Less rise and smaller bubbles. Makes it more difficult to judge. So while this may be beneficial when first creating a starter eventually, when it's strong enough, the fresh flour to starter should become greater.

Why not take off a small amount and feed it 1:1:1 and see how it fares.

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

I have taken 100g of the original starter and added 100g rye flour and 100g water in another jar. then I reduced the remaining starter to 100g and added 100g organic white bread flour and 100g water. I'll post the results this evening.

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

I ordered it anyway. This thing is becoming an obsession!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

without any discards. Stirring several times during the day may help.  It sounds and looks like it is fine.  I would just add a heaping spoonful of flour or two to thicken it up so you can trap the bubbles Instead of watching them pop and make tiny little craters.  I think it is very close to taking off, so put a bowl under it to save on clean up. 

If it rises after you thicken it up, let it peak or reach up as high as it will go before discarding and feeding again.  Now that it smells nice, you can use the discards in muffins or other baked goods.  You can also reduce the amount of starter to just a few tablespoons to feed in smaller amounts.  500 g is a lot of starter unless you plan to bake 4 loaves right away.  Have you a recipe handy?

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

I was pleased to see the bubbles after feeding this morning but disappointed they did not sustain. I'll stir some flour in now. My instinct had been to stir it during the day to increase aeration but I held back. Why should I then not feed? does it need to go hungry to activate more?

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

please read again.   The good thing about a thin starter is that it tends to not rise over the edge of the jar.  If you have winter still and cold temps, the starter might do better as a wet one.  Try taking just a spoonful of the starter and make a tiny bit of dough adding a little flour and spoonful of water.  Watch it and see if it starts rising in a few hours.