The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter falling

Gabaghool's picture

Starter falling

Hi everyone:

this is my first post.   I want to say how much I admire all your skill and dedication to sourdough breads.  Most of the time I just shake my head and think about how little I know.  So here is my first problem.

ive made starter before, using rye flour and spring water.....and I’ve never had a problem.  This time I tried 4 different starters to check which works the best for me.  A rye, a pineapple, and two freeze dried starters.  After a week, they all are still alive, and most seem to be doubling, at least overnite... I can tell by the residue on the sides of the container. BUT THEY ALL FALL.  I recall that my previous starters rise and stay risen.   What am I doing wtong?   I know it’s probably something very simple...I just not that good at making starters, I guess.

im making an anniversary dinner next week, and I would LOVE to make a tartine type country bread for us....are these starters viable?

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

If they didn't fall. Falling after maturing seems to be the norm for a regular liquid sourdough.

Gpats's picture

Like Abe said, I think falling is normal, mine will always rise after a feed then fall, that's how I know to feed it again. From everything I've read I've never seen anything kind of starter rising and then staying there indefinitely. Sounds like a perfectly good started to me.

phaz's picture

Thin staters will fall more noticeably than thick starters.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

A pure rye starter can stand and not-fall-down and this may have something to do with the diameter of the glass in which it rises.  This stiff peak or false dome can make watching for a fall difficult.  A false dome happens when the starter has peaked and stays domed while the interior has overproofed, broken down and fallen inside where it can't be seen.

To really judge the first peak of the risen rye starter one has to poke gently or try to lift a small area of the dome and see if it is hollow or foamy underneath.  (Love that aroma boost, that's also worth keeping track of, more so than the rise.)  

Room humidity and hydration of the starter are also factors to consider as to why it stays domed, also temperature because rye dough is stiffer when compared to wheat dough as temperatures drop.  Which is so great when putting a rye starter in the fridge or when the seasons change.  As temps drop, the surface stiffens quickly and tiny tears form releasing any gas that is trapped.  It won't rise and overflow in the fridge like a wheat starter.  One has to put a lot of trust in the starter as it won't rise much when cold yet still be very active.  Take note of taste, aroma when room temp. and distribution and shape of bubbles in the starter when evaluating.

As the others have mentioned, it is very typical for a starter to fall.  ...but rye never claimed to act like wheat 

Poking the starter and docking a high rye loaf serve the same function, to judge the dough.  Take a look at this loaf posted recently, a high % rye that was very close to a false dome when placed into the oven.  The then subsequent rise formed a hollow while the crust still trapped gas inside so it didn't fall and then set from the bake.  From my experience this is a rare to catch.

Gabaghool's picture

Thanks everyone.....

im glad that my starters are ok.  The people on this site seem to know a lot about sourdough.  Been on a few days and am finding answers to questions I couldn’t find in books.  The whole sourdough process is new , so I have double and triple check everything.  Can’t wait till I learn the basics and start baking all kinds of different breads.  I’m taking a baking class in Maine end of November..... I hope to learn a pretty good amount since the class is a week long.


thanks so much again for taking the time to answer a really basic question.