The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Starter Help!

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

Sourdough Starter Help!

My first time venturing into sourdough land and I have a starter that has been growing for 3 days.  Earlier today (3rd day), my starter grew a bit (50%) and started emitting questionable odors.  I understand that is normal.  But the recipe I'm going by instructed half to be discarded prior to adding the third day feed.  By the 4th or 5th day it's suppose to double.

Problem is, I forgot to discard the half before mixing in the third-day feed!  Is my starter ruined and I need to start over?  Is there a solution to this?  Thanks!

hreik's picture
hreik

Just act like tomorrow is day 3

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

You provide the food and the starter does the rest otherwise you're putting your feet up. 

Food, warmth and time. That's all you can give it. 

So when a recipe tells you what should be happening on a certain day it's misinformation. 

Do what Hester suggests and patience will be rewarded. 

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

In addition to forgetting to remove half of my starter on day 3, to my horror, I found out that my wine fridge (set to 20C) had malfunctioned over night and the temp was 35C in the morning!  After 2 errors, I decided to just toss it and start a new one...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a starter growing nicely.  

I suggest round two could start out warmer the first 24 hours about 32°C and then drop down to 25° for the following days.  

 

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

It's encouraging to know that the warm temps here in balmy Hong Kong won't kill the starter!  So round two, currently going into the third day, has been growing in about 27C.  After the third day feeding the plan is to put it in a 18C wine fridge (That's the highest temp it can be set at), but would that be too cold?  I read your suggestion of 25C, but the guidance I'm getting from another post is to keep it below 72-75F (22-24C), otherwise it would foster the growth of bad bacteria.  Any validity to that? 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Is common when making a starter in the first few days. It's often a stage it needs to go through before the good bacteria and yeasts can take hold. So even if it starts to smell you need to persevere and ride it out. As the starter begins to become acidic these bad bacteria will die off making way for the good bacteria. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

don't chill it yet.   The cold temps will slow down the whole process and it may take weeks to get a properly functioning sour dough culture.  

HKbreadwinner's picture
HKbreadwinner

Hi Mini,

What do you think is the max temperature I can grow it in?  Right now it's in an 18C fridge (64F), but if leave it in our living room, it's a good 28C (82.4F)!  Very extreme options I have here.  Or I can turn on the A/C, which will make this a very expensive starter!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

when you are home to observe the starter, feed it and leave it out. 

When not at home,Chill it.

  That should give you half days of growth.  You can then observe the starter while it is active at room temps.

28° will not be too hot and you can go clear up to normal human body surface temperature without any problems.  Heat speeds up everything including the ratio of bacteria over yeast, but once yeast is growing in the culture, larger feeds will help the yeast maintain a growing population.  

 The trick is knowing when the culture reaches a tipping point, when to add more flour, when there is enough yeast growing in the culture that adding more flour results in more yeast growth.  Do that by taking a small sample of the starter and add a higher flour ratio like one spoon starter, two spoons water and three or four spoons of flour.  Record what it does over the next 12 to 24 hours    Smell, taste, volume changes, color changes, temp and texture. Cover to prevent drying and keep out bugs.  Use a small tall glass to observe and not a wide flat dish for best observations.  When there is aburst of yeast activity, save the experiment and continue feeding to maintain it feeding at peak volume.  Let the culture increase in volume  to show "signs of life" before chilling.  

If you chill at peak, you can use the starter direct into a bread recipe in the next 24 hours a without building a levain.    That step has already been done.  Or you can chill the fed starter early on in the fermentation (before peaking) about a third of the way on, which will give the starter a longer fermenting stage in fridge, at least 4 days or weeks long depending on the food type, ratio, hydration and temp. 

Have you seen any activity yet?