The Fresh Loaf

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[Solved] Feeding every 12hrs, 24hrs, or feeding after rise and fall?

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

[Solved] Feeding every 12hrs, 24hrs, or feeding after rise and fall?

Hello everyone, I'm new to the whole sourdough world, and it's been day 4 since I started my own starter. After all the bad smells and foaming (I think) my baby starter is on the right track. But I am a bit confused after reading many blogs about how to start and maintain a starter ---- some of them say you feed it every 12 hours, some say you feed it every 24 hours, and some say you feed it after it rises and falls. But my baby starter doesn't rises very well, and I've read that it's normal, just keep feeding it. So my question is, how should I feed it? 

---------------------A quick and easy answer update---------------------

In general, you would want to feed it at its peak maturity. At peak maturity, the starter should be at its highest volume since last feeding, which means 12-24 hours when maintaining already active starters.

However, for new starters, it depends. Once it is over the Leuconostoc stage (the stinking bubbly mixture you get around day 2-4), do not feed until your starter have showed maximum activity. If the starter do not change in volume, or only increase by less than 30%, don't panic, it's very normal. Give it up to 36hr to grow its own population (at 75-80F, you can even extend it to 48hr in winter if your room temp is lower). 

By the time of feeding, it should be frothy at the top. Discard all frothy liquid and the amount you do not want to keep, and feed the rest 1:1:1. Then wait another cycle.

Or if you are lucky, your starter is growing in volume! In this case you can follow the regular maintaining feeding schedule. Congrats on your own little starter! 

---------------------Here's how I started my starter in detail.-------------------------

Day 1 night: 25g whole wheat flour and 25g water boiled and cooled to room temp (tap water in China is not recommended for direct drinking, although I have drank plenty when I'm desperate for cold water and still alive lol).

No Activity for 24hrs. 

Day 2 night: without discarding, 25g whole wheat and 25g water in.

It started forming bubbles like crazy, tripled when I got up the next day. But the smell was bad. Very bad, it's like puke, but stinks even worse. So I looked up the internet and found out it might be Leuconostoc? I read it helps to use grape juice to get pass the stage. 

Day 3 morning (12hrs after it's been fed): discarded half, fed 50g whole wheat and 50g grape juice (1:1:1)

After I fed it grape juice it developed a very sweet smell, like sweet buns, so I figured it's yeast starting to thrive? Volume did not change. 

Night: 1:1:1

Day 4 morning: 1:1:1

I fed it every 12hrs (which I've read that is better for warmer climates, since the room temperature is at 79F with the AC on around the clock). [Me from the future: I was wrong]

I'm really happy that I've gone past the stinky phase, but my starter hasn't been very active since day 2. There're some bubbles at the surface when I fed it, but the volume doesn't change at all. Should I keep discarding half and feeding it every 12hrs? I'm afraid I am throwing away more active bacteria than I should and will end up with a dead starter. Can anyone help me with this? 

Happy baking!

---------------------------------Day 5 UPDATE---------------------------------

I feel like I can use this post as a diary for my starter, so I can keep track of how active it becomes everyday. Hopefully it will be helpful for future sourdough starter parents. 

I left my starter on the counter for 24 hrs. This morning I discarded until there's 60g left, and fed it with 55g of water and 57g of whole wheat. I used a scale but I overshoot a little bit and I'm like, nah, I'll just leave it like this.  ╮( ̄▽ ̄)╭

It smelt sour and there's a layer of hooch at the top. So I decided to feed it a little less and get it back to the 12hr schedule. 

This picture is taken in the afternoon, about 6hrs after it's been fed. It's growing slowly, almost doubled itself (the rubber band is placed right after I stir it down and fed it).

It still smells more sweet than sour, and there's some bubbles forming. Today the temperature is about 27C or 91F, humidity is 80%. The AC is turned on since afternoon. 

Day 5 it's growing!

---------------------------------Day 6 UPDATE---------------------------------

I fed it a bit late today, at around 1pm. Both of them smelt sweet and alcoholic before feeding. My feedings are: 

1. 30g WW starter, 30g WW flour, 30g water. (I'm running out of WW flour so I figured to keep less starter)

2. 60g starter, 60g bread flour, 60g water. 

 

4hrs after the feeding, the WW starter is about 1.5 of its original height, and I found out that I'm not getting my whole wheat flour delivered today, so I decided to feed it about 10g water and 10g flour, sealed it, and into the refrigerator it goes. 

The white starter hasn't gain much height, about 1cm and falling. I'm keeping my white starter at room temp and will feed it before bed without discarding so that I'll have enough tomorrow morning to make a sourdough waffle. 

Fingers crossed for my little yeasties. 

 

I took this picture in the middle of the night, about 4hrs after they've been fed. The one on the left is my whole wheat starter, and the one on the right is my experiment number 2, white bread flour starter.

Day 6 Starters

Just in case you are curious about the labels, the first one is Yeast for Bread (面包用酵母种), I wrote it this way so my mom doesn't throw it in the garbage.

And the second one is High Gluten (高筋), which refers to white bread flour in Chinese :)

It's only the first day of feeding white flour so I'm actually happy about the height it has gained. They still smell sweet rather than sour, but when I taste it, it's definitely tangy, so I think the whatever organisms living in it is doing what they're suppose to do! 

 I also did a float test on my WW starter and it float!!! Really can't describe my excitement at the time. But I think it still needs time to develop flavor, and I have a big test coming up this weekend so I'll probably bake next week. 

It's floating!

 ---------------------------------Day 14 UPDATE---------------------------------

Sorry this is a bit of jumping forward. My starter has been very active and I have made 3 loafs of sourdough sandwich bread and a few waffles and pancakes. 

This is my starter on day 7. As you can see, the starter has more than doubled in about 4 hrs after I fed it. And it has a pleasant, fermentative, sour smell so I think it is a success! 

Day 7 white starter

On the morning of Day 8, I made sourdough waffles with my starter. They were sure fluffy and airy, but there wasn't a sour taste at all (at least I can't taste it). So I thought it might not be ready yet? 

On day 9, I made brioche (a low butter and low sugar version, but still a sweet bread) with 3g of active yeast and 50g of sourdough bread. It turned out okay, but maybe I underbaked it or I didn't let it proof long enough, the crumb was a bit gummy and wet. But I love dense and wet bread and so does my grandparents. We finished it the same day I made it. So I have to bake on day 10. 

Day 10, my first sourdough-only leavened bread, I was told that it takes way longer to proof, so after a 2 hr room temp first proof, which the dough expand about a third, I left it in our sunroom (ambient temp 32C/89.6F) and went to the gym. When I came home 2.5hrs later, my sourdough is definitely overproof, with large pockets of air at the top, like little balloons. I went on to bake it nevertheless, and it came out with a strong starter smell and taste pretty sour. So don't leave your dough at a hot spot when you can't check back frequently! 

Day 12, my second sourdough sandwich bread. I proofed it in the sunroom again, but 1hr for 1st proof, and 1.5hr for 2nd proof. Yes that was my scoring attempt with a kitchen knife. Totally failed LOL. The bread tastes amazing tho. A little sour and a hint of sweet taste. My family loved it. 

Before I figure out a way to generate steam in our small, countertop oven, I will keep making sourdough sandwich bread for my family, due to health reasons (SD bread has a much lower GI, 56, compared to yeasted bread, 69-71). My grandparents love the bread so I'm happy about the results. 

3rd sourdough sandwich bread

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

I think the most common time to feed your starter is when it's at its peak maturity, meaning it should have domed and fallen a little. You can prolong this time by feeding it a higher ratio (e.g. 1:4:4) or accelerate it by putting it in a warmer place or feeding it a lower ratio.
Starters are usually very forgiving creatures, so if you feed it a few hours later, it should also be fine.

About the smell: since sourdough contains lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and acetic acid bacteria (AAB) (and many others, but those are the main two), it should smell sour, like a mild vinegar. Maybe with some fruity or nutty notes. Though it might be your tap water could produce some off flavors, maybe try spring water from the supermarket.

Also temperature can affect the smell, AAB are more active in higher temperatures than LAB, thus producing a sourer smell (and taste).

Just give it some time. Your starter is really young and takes usually about 10 days at least until it is ready to use. You also shouldn't really need grape juice, just flour and spring water is enough :)

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Thank you for your kind reply! Last night when I checked on it it still smelt sweet, no sourness whatsoever. And it did not rise or bubble vigorously. So I decided to leave it for 24 hrs this time.

This morning to my surprise it's getting frothy at the surface, and it smelt sour! There's a thin layer of liquid at the top (I can't see very clear because of the froth) and a little alcohol smell. Is that a sign the yeasties in my starter has eaten all the foods up and screaming for more? 

Really looking forward to bake my first sourdough bread! And now I have another small question, would I be able to bake white sourdough with my whole wheat starter? I wanna try this basic sourdough recipe, which calls for 80% white bread flour. Will I need to slowly transform my whole wheat starter to a white flour starter? 

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

Yeah, frothy and sour sounds really good and successful! The liquid on top is called hooch (believe) and it just means that it really wants more food :)

And no, you can just use your starter for baking any kinds of white bread. Its more important that you feed your starter with the same flour it's made of. If you want to change it in the future, do it gradually over a few days.

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Thanks for the answer! The problem is the bread flour I have right now doesn't say it's bleached or not. Most store bought flour doesn't label that. So I don't know if it will work in the starter or not. 

The next feeding I'll split it in two and feed the other half with the bread flour I have. If that doesn't work out in a few days I may need to purchase imported Bob's Red Mill unbleached flour to feed it (although I want to use local flour but I really want to bake soon!). 

jey13's picture
jey13

You don't have to switch your starter's food unless you want to. Your whole wheat starter will do fine in making sourdough that's white or part wheat or rye or whatever. 

Of course, if it's easier for you to use bread flour to feed, by all means do so. But be aware that whole grain flours (wheat/rye) usually create a more bubbly starter that foams up faster. This is why most of the bakers here go on about rye starters. They're a bit more reliable. 

Your idea to split the starter in two and see which does what (bread flour vs. wheat) is a very good idea, in fact, so you can see for yourself how they both rise and fall and such. 

 

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Thank you! I have managed to clean out a peanut butter jar and transferred and fed half the starter with white bread flour. It's showing some activities so I'm really happy about that! Tomorrow morning I'll know how my little yeasties like their food :)

jey13's picture
jey13

I'd like to recommend some modifications to the Perfect Loaf "beginners" recipe you want to try. Maurizio is an amazing baker and his recipe creates a delicious sourdough. But, IMHO, his "beginner's sourdough" is of higher hydration then it should be for a beginner. I'm not saying it doesn't work or can't work. I'm saying that I've seen at least 5 posts from beginners here (myself include) who had trouble with this recipe. The exact same problem in fact: the final dough comes out very sticky and like mud, flowing everywhere—which is all wrong.

Important note: Sticky dough is dough that's not right and/or not ready. The dough can be tacky and somewhat sticky, but it should never stick like wet glue to hands or bench scraper.

I actually wrote to Maurzio about this and he was super nice, telling me to cut the water by 10%. I did, and it helped. And then I did a few other things I'll tell you about which also helped. But first...Here's my modification of his recipe (this is for 1 loaf. I recommend you go for 1 loaf your first time out).

95g Levain 

310g Water 

375g Bread Flour 

55g Wheat Flour

25 Rye Flour

9g Salt 

 

Other modifications: Mix in the levain with the water rather than adding it in after autolyse. A lot of bakers here recommend that method as it's easier to spread the yeasties through the dough that way. You basically stir it into the water until it's dissolved, then add the flour. Autolyse, add in salt and only about a tablespoon (NOT 50g as in recipe) to help mix in the salt. Then follow the recipe as written—but add an extra fold or two. That should give you a chance for success with this recipe. 

 

Note I say a "chance" at success. Flat loaves happen a lot with sourdough and for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes your dough puffs up beautifully...sometimes not. Everyone will tell you "you have to do what works for you..." what they mean is, you *may* have to try, try again, and see what works given your starter, your oven, your schedule, etc. One baker will say "this works for me every time," and you'll try it and it won't...so..doesn't work for you. Try this and try that. Find what works. Here's hoping this works for you right out the gate. 

 

And check out this video: https://youtu.be/APEavQg8rMw

 

This gent's recipe/method has worked for a lot of bakers here—not for me as I can't get the slap and folds to turn my dough into what it ought to be—but even if you don't want to use his recipe or method, watching it gives you an idea of what the dough should feel like, look like, etc. Maurizo's website, alas, only has photos. 

 

Enjoy! 

 

jey13's picture
jey13

This reply didn't seem to show up or take when I originally posted, so forgive the repeat. 

I'd like to recommend some modifications to the Perfect Loaf "beginners" recipe you want to try. Maurizio is an amazing baker and his recipe creates a delicious sourdough. But, IMHO, his "beginner's sourdough" is of higher hydration then it should be for a beginner. I'm not saying it doesn't work or can't work. I'm saying that I've seen at least 5 posts from beginners here (myself include) who had trouble with this recipe. The exact same problem in fact: the final dough comes out very sticky and like mud, flowing everywhere—which is all wrong.

Important note: Sticky dough is dough that's not right and/or not ready. The dough can be tacky and somewhat sticky, but it should never stick like wet glue to hands or bench scraper.

I actually wrote to Maurzio about this and he was super nice, telling me to cut the water by 10%. I did, and it helped. And then I did a few other things I'll tell you about which also helped. But first...Here's my modification of his recipe (this is for 1 loaf. I recommend you go for 1 loaf your first time out).

95g Levain 

310g Water 

375g Bread Flour 

55g Wheat Flour

25 Rye Flour 

9g Salt 

 

Other modifications: Mix in the levain with the water rather than adding it in after autolyse. A lot of bakers here recommend that method as it's easier to spread the yeasties through the dough that way. You basically stir it into the water until it's dissolved, then add the flour. Autolyse, add in salt and only about a tablespoon (NOT 50g as in recipe) to help mix in the salt. Then follow the recipe as written—but add an extra fold or two. That should give you a chance for success with this recipe. 

Note I say a "chance" at success. Flat loaves happen a lot with sourdough and for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes your dough puffs up beautifully...sometimes not. Everyone will tell you "you have to do what works for you..." what they mean is, you *may* have to try, try again, and see what works given your starter, your oven, your schedule, etc. One baker will say "this works for me every time," and you'll try it and it won't...so..doesn't work for you. Try this and try that. Find what works. Here's hoping this works for you right out the gate. 

And check out this video: https://youtu.be/APEavQg8rMw

This gent's recipe/method has worked for a lot of bakers here—not for me as I can't get the slap and folds to turn my dough into what it ought to be—but even if you don't want to use his recipe or method, watching it gives you an idea of what the dough should feel like, look like, etc. Maurizo's website, alas, only has photos. 

Enjoy! 

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Thank your for all the help and tips! I watched the video and it's very helpful! And very interestingly the bowl he used for proofing, my grandma has exactly a same one in her cupboard!

I am away this weekend but will be back home and try my first bake next week. I haven't figure out how I will be generating steam inside my countertop oven. I will probably try the bread stone with a heavy pot upside down method. Hope that is gonna work for me!