The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Clarify confusion??

hs4816's picture
hs4816

Clarify confusion??

I've finally got some activity, I think I was overfeeding in a cold room. But now that it's going, I cant figure out when I'm supposed to feed. I've read so many posts and am confused. 1:1:1, 1:2:2. 12h. 24h. I really want to keep things simple for now. How will I know if every 24h is ok? Can I just stick with 24h and see how it goes?

Archizoom's picture
Archizoom

I keep my starter in the refrigerator with a tight lid on. The night before I make the dough, I scoop out 100g of starter to make my preferment and refresh the mother starter with 50g flour + 50g filtered water (100g total). Then I stick it back in the refrigerator

hs4816's picture
hs4816

How often? 

Archizoom's picture
Archizoom

At least once a week. If you go on holiday or you're gonna be away for longer than a week, feed your starter more flour and I think it should be okay :)

BreadLee's picture
BreadLee

I feed mine every week or two.  Sometimes I just pull it out of the fridge.  Pour any floating liquids out, stir it a bit,  and return to the fridge.  

If you feed it every day like a real bakery, it will be a solid starter and perform at its best.  But feeding every week or two has worked well for me.  

BreadLee's picture
BreadLee

And archizoo is right on there.  Scoop out the amount you need the night before.  Refresh your starter.  But i let my starter eat the fresh flour feed overnight.  Then return to the fridge the next morning.  I don't stick it right back in the fridge after feeding it. The yeast like feeding.  And this seems to work as my starter behaves like a beast.  

hs4816's picture
hs4816

Thanks everyone. But I think it needs "strengthening" for a day or 3 or 5 maybe. No? Its brand new. I'm on day 11, but it really took this long before it did a nice doubling. 

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

The problem is: every starter, every flour, every kitchen, every baker is different, that's why there are so many different ratios and feeding schedules out there.

Instead of following others, let your starter tell you when it's hungry. There are clear signs when that is the case:
It should have doubled in size (or triple or grow significantly otherwise, as I said, every starter is different), have domed and fallen a little. That's when your starter is mature and has the most activity. You probably need to experiment a little with ratios and feeding schedule.
The good thing is: starter fermentation is fairly slow (except if it's really warm and humid in your kitchen) and the window of feeding is therefore fairly big. And even if you forget to feed it for one day, it will be back to full strength in 1-2 feedings.

And yeah, usually it takes about 10-14 days until a starter has a good rhythm and grows and falls predictably. If it started doubling predictably now, feed it for a few days (maybe 3 or 4) more so it gets a good rhythm and then it's ready to use.

It's difficult to be precise since there are so many variables that affect the starter. So learning to read your starter is more useful :)

hs4816's picture
hs4816

Thanks!

But if I feed it at the "wrong" time, how will I hurt it? If the 24h mark is before or after the peak activity?

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

It just might take a little longer than usual until it's at peak activity again, but it won't be really "hurt". As long as there is any amount of lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast in your starter (which there always will be), it will continue to live and bubble. Just make sure it has peaked and after that you are good.

If you want to stick to a 24 h schedule, I would find out what ratio you need to feed your starter to meet that goal. Just remember it won't be always super consistent due to variables that are out of your power (weather and temperature changes mostly)...but usually those variables don't affect your schedule much (± 1-2 h maybe).

 

jey13's picture
jey13

Starters that are “regular” as yours now seems to be will rise and fall anywhere from 4 hours to 6 hours on average. How do you know it’s rise time? Feed it 1:1:1 ratio and check on it every hour—maybe take.a picture. When it starts to go down, that’s when you know the rise time. The pictures will show you it going up—and when it started going down, meaning the hour after it’s “peak.”

Not many starters are 24 hour starters. Most are between 4-6-8-12 hours on feeding schedules. 4 being those in a nice warm and humid kitchen, 6 about average, 8-12 in a cooler kitchen. 

Your mileage WILL vary. ;-D

After establishing how long it takes your starter to rise and fall at the smallest, most basic amount (1:1:1), you can adjust how much you feed it so that it is on your schedule. Each time you add more to the starter 1:2:2 or 1:4:4 it will slow down by at least an hour if not two. NOTE also that what you feed it can also slow it down or speed it up. Starters find Rye very easy to eat, and do so “quickly.” So, to slow it down, go for half-bread, half rye. Whole wheat and bread will slow it down even more—and you’ll have to add a little more water as wheat is notoriously thirsty.  So, if you want a starter that is on a 12 hour cycle—feed in the morning, feed at night—then you just measure up and/or go wheat/bread instead of wheat/rye. My starter @ 1:8:8 wheat/rye gets to it’s peak after 12 hours. So if I’m making bread, I feed it that at night (it’s my Levain) and in the morning it’s ready for bread making (all doubled up and at it’s peak). 

And if you’re a little late, that’s okay. As said, starters are slow. So your 12 hour starter will still be good to go at 14 hours if you’re running late.

Check out this video. It’ll make you feel a lot better about your starter:  Go to the 7:40 mark. 

https://youtu.be/gmsMxKIDJ2o

AnnaZ's picture
AnnaZ

This is all very confusing to me too.  I started a batch of starter 4 days ago.  It bubbled up really good on day 2.  Yesterday was day 3, so I took out about half and fed as per the directions.  Nothing much overnight and today....EXCEPT there is clear liquid on the top.  Do I leave it alone?  Stir it back in?  My kitchen is probably a little cool for optimum fermentation;  I can live with that as long as I know what to do.  

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

The clear liquid on top is called hooch and it just signals that the starter is really hungry. If you can pour it off, pour it off, if not, stir it back. In my experience it doesn't matter that much since the LAB (lactic acid bacteria) like it sour.
If you got hooch overnight, it probably means that your starter is so active it bubbles up and collapses within just a few hours. Maybe up the ratio a little to not starve it too much.

As long as it's not under about 15°C, your kitchen is fine. Something between 18-25°C is usually good. If it's comfortable for you, so it is for your starter.
(if it's cold, it doesn't kill the starter, but just slows it down a lot)

AnnaZ's picture
AnnaZ

The directions say that for day 4 I'm not to feed it till it doubles........I've got a piece of tape on the jar so I can tell.  Except for the "hooch" on top, the level is still the same.  I'll pour it out, give it a stir, and put the saran back on top and give it another 24 hours.   Thanks.

jey13's picture
jey13

Starters are idiosyncratic; each one turns out different depending on the temperature, the humidity, the flour, etc. And the directions are not there in your kitchen, seeing what’s happening to your starter, able to advise you to change “direction” given what’s happening rather than do what they originally said.

Hooch = Hungry. So, if hooch, feed. If separation, as suggested below...then don’t. Smell it and see. Anna Ng there has a good point on checking out that troubleshooting thread to find out what’s really going on.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

most likely water/ flour separation especially in a cool kitchen.  Let it stand unfed for two days.

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

Hi Anna, how does your starter smell? Is it sweet or yeasty or vinegary? Or does it smell a little bit off? And how does the hooch smells like? Is it sharp and alcoholic?

Since you are only on day 3/4 of starting your own starter, it is probably not yeast nor the good bacterias that is dominant in your mixture. And that is why people way you should leave it for at least 24hrs, usually 36-48 hours before the next feeding. 

Take a look at this post Troubleshooting-sourdough-starter-not-doubling, I explained a few possibilities of what a new starter goes through in the first week or so. An infant starter baby don't usually behave like a mature one. But once your starter becomes active, you should be able to tell if it's overfed or underfed by whether it has hooch on top. In my experience it's very rare to get hooch within 12hrs. My starter usually peak within 12hrs, and even if I left it unfed for a full 24hrs, there's still no hooch at all. It just smelt stronger and becomes a little more runny. And once I fed it it just bubbles up like crazy. So sometimes I feel like leaving it a bit hungry can be a good thing :)