The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starting Ken Forkish levain. I could use discarded levain, right?

Robin Dobbie's picture
Robin Dobbie

Starting Ken Forkish levain. I could use discarded levain, right?

I don't see why I couldn't use the 750, 800, 850 grams or whatever's left to make a poolish or even put in the fridge for use when the rest of the levain's mature. He says in his youtube video about levain that you can store it in the fridge for a month. That might be just mature levain that keeps that well. There's always the freezer, and the project levain will theoretically be ready in five or six days, right?

 

I guess the possibly unanswerable question is day 3-5 when you remove 75, 80, 85%, how much commercial yeast to add as the days go by? I guess it would be a fun experiment. Can't turn out worse than some of my recent loaves!

Abe's picture
Abe

This is neither here nor there but the discard is not discarded "levain". From what I understand you are making a starter and this is the discard from a few days in. a levain is what you make from a viable starter and goes into the dough.

I hope you aren't too far in this starter recipe as you can do the same thing with much less flour. Keep the same ratio and reduce it to a tenth.

But should you wish to carry on using Forkish's amounts then be aware it might not take exactly the same time as in the recipe. One can't give an exact date your starter will mature. And I'd only begin to save the discard to use in other recipes when it starts smelling nice and all odd smells have gone. Then when adding it into a yeasted bread just add in the usual amount of yeast in proportion to total flour. The discard will give flavour but the rise will be from the yeast.

Robin Dobbie's picture
Robin Dobbie

I suppose I'm making a levain starter and it's not a levain until it's mature. I call it a levain in this state because I see other people do it. 

You're saying don't use it if it smells odd. I suppose this is dangerous territory for me since I don't have a reference for a normal-smelling levain starter. Alright I guess I'm making compost. 

But yeah I guess I'm going to do the book by the book for the first time. 

 

Abe's picture
Abe

But keep the same percentages? Ok, if you must! But you will be making a lot of the stuff. 

Starters go through different stages and often at the beginning the quick if the mark bacteria isn't the friendly kind. They soon die off and are replaced by bacteria and yeasts that are found in a starter. 

So in the first few days you might find your starter smells unpleasant. I would suggest you throw away the discard at this stage. You really don't wish to keep it. 

Once your starter begins to mature and these odors are replaced by more pleasant aromas then you can start to keep the discard to use in other recipes for flavour. 

By all means follow the recipe closely but remember that starters are living things and won't necessarily behave exactly as described in a recipe. 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

but Dabrownman is right, the amount of flour that he throws out when making his starter/Levain/Mother’s/culture/whatever is insane! It will work exactly the same using lesser amounts. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

totally and completely insane.  Cut them by a factor of 10 like Abe says and you will not be floating away on a raft of sourdough:-)  Forkish levain builds are wasteful and should be ignored totally!