The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough starter not rising enough

Sandeepm's picture
Sandeepm

Sourdough starter not rising enough

I need some help with my starter. 

I started with 100% hydration by weight with stoneground organic whole wheat flour. I was taking my instruction from the Vanessa Kimbell Sourdough School book. 

It was rising double and had some bubbles, but was very wet. At this point it had been a couple weeks so I tried to make a levain which did not work. I switched to 50% rye and 50% whole wheat, filtered water, and a more evenly temperatured area. The consistency has gotten better but everything I’m reading says it should rise by double in about 4 hours. However, mine takes much longer to rise and sometimes doesn’t seem to rise much at all, but when you move it around there are lots of bubbles and gluten formed. 

What am am I doing wrong? It smells good, I tasted a bit and it tasted fine, I’m just scared to bake with it because it doesn’t seem to want to rise quickly. 

 

Thank you for any help!

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

When you say "very wet", to what are you comparing it? 100% hydration is 100% hydration.

To be able to help it would be good to know how often you refresh, and the mount of fresh flour and water to starter.

In many respects, time is less important than the condition of the dough (or starter). If the refreshed starter doubles in 6 or 8 hours, that's OK too.

Jeremy

Sandeepm's picture
Sandeepm

It was 100% hydration, very wet compared to pictures of people who are supposedly also doing 100% hydration mixes. Looks more like pancake batter. 

Originally I was doing 1:1:1 ratio as per the instruction in the Sourdough School book. I’ve since changed it to 1:2:2 and it seems to be a bit better in terms of texture, bubbles and rise. For the first 5 days or so I was feeding every 24hours, I then switched to 12 hours as it seemed to rise and fall within this time. 

 

Thank you. 

Sandeepm's picture
Sandeepm

Some info I was reading said it might have bubbles because of active bacteria but not necessarily active yeast. And I should try adding more water than flour to facilitate more yeast growth and because rye flour can take more water. I tried this with my feeding this morning and will try to upload a picture. So far it’s been a few hours and there are some small bubbles but no rise. 

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

I find it very hard to judge texture from photographs. If I look at my own 100%, especially once it has subsided, I would say it is definitely more liquid than dough, possibly you might call it pancake batter, for thick pancakes.

Anyway, I have nothing more to add, I'm afraid. I feed my starter with lowish protein flour on a 1:2:2 and mark progress by slipping a rubber band around the bottom of the jar at the level of the just-mixed starter. It usually doubles in 6 hours, when it is cold 8, and if I use it within 12 it performs.

That's not much help, I know. Sorry.

Sandeepm's picture
Sandeepm

No that is helpful, thank you!

at least I know I’m not alone with my rise not happening within 4 hours. It takes about 8-10 for me, but it passed the float test today so I think I’m on the right track. 

pintolaranja's picture
pintolaranja

If your kitchen is too cold it will take longer for the starter to rise anyways. I keep mine over the fridge on a higher shelf of the cupboard that runs over the fridge. Hot air goes up, so there is a higher chance of keeping it warm this way.

Sandeepm's picture
Sandeepm

I’ve been keeping it in a cupboard that’s temping around 25C. When it got a little colder here I put it in the oven with the light on, keeping it between 25C-27C

 

sourtrout's picture
sourtrout

I'm having the same trouble, habitually...

 

Did you say you're using WHOLE WHEAT flours? I'm noticing a pattern with mine: start with WHOLE WHEAT--it starts well and looks good. Everything is there.


Switch to BREAD or AP flour (high quality, far from expiration) and it rises less, and less, and less until one morning it has not risen at all. 

Maybe someone can clarify: how important is it that the starter doubles in 4 hours? Maybe if it doubles in 12, that's fine too? We could just make very slow fermented bread. 

pintolaranja's picture
pintolaranja

Hi,

 

In my short experience I don't think the starter raising in more than 4 hours (up to 8 - 12) is that important. It still works fine.

Whole wheat flour will make it raise more and faster, I believe due to having more protein and sugar. More sugar also makes it more sour.

Changing flours does affect its raising speed for a while but then it should go back to normal after a few feeds on a regular basis.

AP flour is not great for keeping a starter because it is very low on protein.

 

Have a look into this article, it answers a lot of questions you may have: https://www.theperfectloaf.com/frequently-asked-sourdough-starter-questions/

 

Sandeepm's picture
Sandeepm

Thank you!

I tried adding more water than flour and feeding it less often, to actually allow the yeast to do its thing and I think I’m on the right track, it’s just taking longer. It passed the float test today so hopefully I can bake in a few days. 

kwbaker's picture
kwbaker

If you have an Instant Pot, I've found the low yogurt setting is an excellent incubator for sourdough starters and levains. It gives you a controlled consistent temperature of around 30 degrees. I've been able to get really nice rises within a 3 hour window if I pop it in, even if just to give it everything kickstart on a cold morning.