The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough blues

danmerk's picture
danmerk

Sourdough blues

Hey gang. Used to post quite a bit here but took some time off because we moved to a new home. In Feb I had to depart with a very old starter that I wanted to leave it’s soul at my old Cleveland home and grow a new one at the new house we just built. I started the usual method described in Maggie Glazers book and failed 3 weeks in a row. I would see no activity, then by day 5 I would start to get mold.

Last week I gave up that method (which worked for me dozens of times over the last 10 years) and tried a new approach by a YouTube/Instagram chef named J.Weissman. I had activity by day 3 and I was really happy. I tried my first batch on Sunday using the left overs as a levain to test the culture. I continued 25g of remaining starter to continue feeding the starter because I know 6 days is still young.

The bread I made never rose but the starter was really active. I seem to having issues in my new home. I’ve always made great breads and really understand fermentation so I don’t know what it could be. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

 

Lastly, I am throwing away a few hundred grams of starter daily. How can I minimize this as I strengthen this starter without being so wasteful.

 

 

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Welcome back!

As you are probably aware, activity at the 3-day mark for a new starter is most likely leuconostoc bacteria, not yeast.  Your starter needs to have some additional time to develop a healthy yeast and lactobacillus population.

As to quantities, two things.  First, work with small quantities, like less than 100g of starter.  No need to maintain quarts of the stuff.  Second, only feed when there is activity.  If the starter peaks and begins to subside, discard and feed.  If it is quiet, wait for it to expand and peak.  (Note that I am assuming that you are maintaining the starter as either a soft dough or a very thick batter.  Watery starters aren't able to trap the gas bubbles and don't show much, if any, volume increase.)

Paul

danmerk's picture
danmerk

Paul: thanks for the info! I appreciate it. Today it seems to be working well and moving. About how long does it take to grow the real yeas?

 

filomat: thanks for the encouragement!

pmccool's picture
pmccool

In the case of an infant starter, warmth and whole grain flours are probably two of the biggest influences.  

If you keep your starter somewhere between 70F and 80F, it should be usable by Day 7 or 8.  Feeding it whole grain flours, rye especially, might shorten that by a day or two.  

As a starter matures, it generally has increasing leavening power.  So, a week-old starter usually doesn't have as much oomph as a month-old starter but it can still be used.  

Have fun!

Paul

danmerk's picture
danmerk

Thanks for the info. My protocol:

day 1-5: 75g starter, 50g rye, 50g AP; 150g water

day 5+ : 25g starter, 50g rye 50gAP 100g water

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

I'm not a starter sentimentalist.  A starter colony is constantly regenerating, so I don't see any starter as X years old.  Below is a link that really works and demystifies the process.  My mantra is that it's harder to fail than succeed with building a starter.  But it's easy to *appear* to have failed when you haven't.  Happy baking.

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

Raewyn Brown's picture
Raewyn Brown

I am inquiring if it is important to the cooking of sour dough to have a bowl over the dough for part of the cooking time , and also if you spray water is that instead of the bowl and is it spayed on oven walls , if l dont want to use my starter for at least 10 days how often should l feed it ? Thanks

Jay's picture
Jay

My bread actually improved by leaps and bounds when I went to just upending a stainless steel bowl over it for the first 25 minutes, rather than combining a steaming tray and sprayed water. Absolutely no comparison in the quality.