The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Refreshed starter

ruri anggiani's picture
ruri anggiani

Refreshed starter

Hi! I took out my 1 month old starter (havent got the time to try baking with it yet) out of the fridge a couple of days ago. Took a portion of it out and have been feeding it 1:1:1 to refresh for baking. It has been 2 days of feeding, with a 12 hour interval and i haven’t noticed any increase in height but it does form some bubbles. It also doesn't pass the float test as it immediately sinks to the bottom.
I also noticed that the smell has changed. The mother starter has a dirty sock, almost smells like vomit tbh. But this one has a tangy, very similar to yogurt kind of smell.

Herewith i have attached a photo of the refreshed starter. Does it seem to be okay to bake with? Or do i need to keep feeding it?

acdw's picture

Use the "float test" -- keep feeding and refreshing your starter til it floats in water.

I mean, I think you probably *could* bake with it now, but it might take a really long time to rise or not rise completely. But you can always try!

ruri anggiani's picture
ruri anggiani

is there any other way to make sure when to use it besides the float test? because i read that in a 100% hydration the float test is hard to be done..or is that a wrong reference? thanks for your input though!

acdw's picture

I think the other commenter's got this question pretty answered, but I just want to throw in that I had no idea about the 100% hydration no-float-test thing, so that's good to know. My 100% hydro starter *did* pass the float test, but now I'm starting to think my kitchen scale is bunk instead (that is, I don't have a 100% hydration). The starter *was* kind of ... solid, at least as far as my limited experience tells me.

pmccool's picture

it won't have as much volume increase as a lower hydration starter would have.  That's simply because the bubbles can more easily escape.  For the same reason, it might not be as successful in the float test because it is very easy to knock most of the gas out of the sample you wish to test.  Degassed starter = sinking starter, even though it may be quite active.

The photo shows a starter that has not yet reached its peak.  The surface is mostly smooth, without any of the wrinkles or dimples that start to show up just as the starter passes maximum expansion.  If the bubbles are from the yeast instead of from stirring, you could bake with it at this stage.  Or you could wait until just after it has peaked, when the yeasts are at their maximum population.

How about an experiment?  Take an offshoot of your levain and nurture that over the next week or two.  If it stays true, in terms of odor, flavor, and leavening power, you may wish to use that going forward as your mother starter and dump the stinky one.



ruri anggiani's picture
ruri anggiani

I will give it a couple more days of feeding to let it peak. However, is there any other way of finding out when it's ready besides the float test? This is my first attempt at making a starter and trying to bake with it so a positive result at any test will reassure me that it is the right time to be using the starter.

I'll try to do that experiment, but is a bad odor a bad sign of the starter? Will the stink wear off in the final product?

Thanks for your input

DanAyo's picture

If you want to jump start your starter, try putting it in a warm area. If you have a microwave, you could put the sealed starter container inside and leave the door open so the light would remain on. Maybe on top the hot water heater or the top of the refrigerator. You could go as warm as 84F or so. 80F would be a good temperature to speed the metabolism of your starter. A slight difference in temperature will make a noticeable difference in the activity of the starter.


Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

It wasn't just ready. After all you haven't even baked with it yet. What I'm seeing is a very young starter not quite ready to bake with yet. I'd say pick up from where you left off and treat it like a starter just coming to life after a bit of a hiatus often seen after the initial bubbling up. 12 hourly feeds at this stage is probably too much. I'd drop back to every 24 hours, keep warm and stir every so often. When you see more activity then switch to 12 hourly feeds. When it picks up even more then increase the feeding ratio. Once very active and bubbling up on cue then it's ready. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

taking a spoonful or two of the culture, double the weight with water and then work in enough flour to make it more like a soft dough and weigh again to determine the weight of the flour.  Pack into the bottom of a tall narrow glass and watch it rise over the 12 hour period marking off the hours.