The Fresh Loaf

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My starter is having multiple cycles of rise and fall

franciscocarlini's picture
franciscocarlini

My starter is having multiple cycles of rise and fall

 

I'm feeding my 3 weeks old starter twice a day.  My kitchen is around 80ºF, and my mixture is 80g white organic flour, 20g rye flour, 16g mature starter, and 100g room temperature water. Six hours after feeding the starter is resting at its peak for just half an hour, then collapses and after 1 hour and a half starts rising again to its peak. Is this normal? I'm doing somenthing wrong? also what can i do to it takes longer (12 hours not 6 hours) to its peak? a small amount of inoculation or colder water?

Balim's picture
Balim

I'm new to sourdough (and baking bread in general), but in the short time I've been doing it, I've noticed the same behavior from my starter.  It rises to around 3x it's volume (judging by the sides of the jar) in around 4-6 hours, then collapses, then goes up again but not as high.  It seems to me that the bubbles from the first rise just get so big that they pop, deflating the starter, but the yeast is nowhere near done so just keeps going which results in the second rise.  I have been (maybe erroneously) determining peak activity, then, to be the peak of the second rise, not the first, which is around 10 hrs after feeding.  My loaves come out just perfect, with a nice open-ish crumb and lots of oven spring, so I am inclined to not change anything.  But am curious to hear what others have to say on this.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

But the first peak is what most recipes call for, just before or during.  

franciscocarlini's picture
franciscocarlini


Mine the secod rise goes higher, and it's resting at its peak for longer time. So, When should i feed it? after the first peak? I don't want to overfed it

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the starter will go thru food quickly.

"Six hours after feeding the starter is resting at its peak for just half an hour, then collapses and after 1 hour and a half starts rising again..."

To keep on a 12 hour feeding schedule, try reducing to a 10g inoculation instead of 16g. See if you can get the first peak around 8 hours, then "let it ride" for approximately 4 hours to feed at approx.12 hr intervals.  This gives the starter time to build up good bacteria pop. to defend itself for the next feeding.  

franciscocarlini's picture
franciscocarlini

I wil try what you've just told me.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Another factor to consider is how hard you stirred the starter when you mixed it up. If you just got it wet, then there is little gluten to start with, but if you put some energy into mixing, then you will have a stronger, more gas-tight structure that will rise higher before it falls back.

The best way I have found to measure starter maturity is to weigh it when you mix it and then check to see when it has lost ~2% of the weight of the flour that you added.  This is a solution that works only if you are making a fairly large batch of starter (a 1g resolution scale is not very good for testing to see when you have made a levain with 100g of added flour since you are looking for only 2g of weight loss but for 500g of levain you could expect a 4 or 5g weight loss) or if you have a high accuracy scale and have at least 4 or 5 (preferably 6) digits of resolution and accuracy. Waiting for it to peak the first time and begin to fall back is a good but not perfect proxy.  The weight loss is due to CO2 escaping from the mix, and you can run the kinetics to verify the 2% number as a reasonable target.  The longer you wait, the more weight it will lose, but once it gets much past the exponential growth phase you are losing ground.

treesparrow's picture
treesparrow

Doc, about the stirring and gluten structure in the starter, wouldn't that be different for e.g. white flour wheat starters and wholemeal rye starters?

treesparrow's picture
treesparrow

sorry, I just realised there's mainly white flour in that starter, I somehow skipped that and saw only the rye :-)

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

It is always different, but you can learn by trying and observing.  Perhaps a useful experiment is to mix one hard for a full minute and in another identical one, just add the flour to the diluted seed and tamp it down slowly to just get it wet (don't worry too much about lumps, surface tension will assure that all of the flour gets wet eventually).

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Falling in the middle may just be a sign that the air temperature dropped a few degrees. Especially from 80ºF. I do a starter demo in my classes where we compare starters grown at different temperatures, and the 80º one at peak will collapse spectacularly if I take it out of the proofer too soon before we can get to it, not because it's overripe, but because the gases contract and the yeast slow down. How stable is the temperature in your kitchen?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

That’s an interesting observation, Debra. I’ve seen the collapse many times as I removed the starter from the proofer. I always thought that the act of moving the starter caused the collapse.

BTW - I have maintained my starter at ~76F for a year now and (thanks to your help, and that of others) it is doing fantastic!

Danny

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Danny, if it collapses as you're jostling it, then clearly that is the cause. But this happens some minutes later just resting on the counter. 5-20 or so --- enough for the temperature to drop in the starter. In a room with fluctuating temperatures, the metabolic rate will reflect that, slowing as the temperature is declining. A slowing in the overall gas production will cause a starter to start receding, even if just a temporary lull.

Glad to hear your starter is still doing well :)

My best,
dw

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Francisco, I would use 100% flour and leave the rye out. Also, if possible, try to find a slightly cooler spot, even 77F would make a discernable difference. Cooler water would help. Another thing that will slow down your starter’s feed to recede cycle is to mix a drier starter. I personally use a 60% hydration. You could increase the starter to flour ratio, but 1 or more of the suggestion above should do the trick.

If you would post an image of the starter at first rise peak along with a mark showing the initial level, that would be informative.

FYI - using your mix requires 200 grams of flour per day. If you choose to continue room temp feeding, you can reduce the amount of starter you keep on hand. I feed twice daily at 12 hr intervals and keep my starter out of the refrigerator. I mix 3g starter + 11g water + 18g all purpose flour. Both your ratio and mine are 1 part starter to 6 parts flour. But your starter is 216g and mine is only 32g. 

I am not an authority on starters by any means. But I have struggled to learn as much as I could. See this post from last December. You and I asked the identical question. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/54588/how-can-i-increase-time-between-feeding-starter

I learn from many bakers on the forum, but 2 people stand out the most. Debra Wink and Abe. Search the site. Information abounds...

HTH

Dan