[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.
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?
---------------------------------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 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.
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.
---------------------------------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!
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.