The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why won't my sourdough starter rise?

Katbat's picture

Why won't my sourdough starter rise?

I started my sourdough a little over a week ago, and in the first few days, it doubled in size after each feeding, but I forgot to feed it on the morning of day 4 and fed it the usual amount like 4 hours late.

Now it won't rise and doesnt bubble like it used to. Is it something I did? Is it the weather changing and causing the house to drop a degree or two? Our house is kept at 69 degrees during the winter, and when I started my starter, it was unseasonably warm, like in the 60's -70's outside.

Now its cold out, in the 40's. I did a test bake with the discard portion from yesterday's feeding, and the flavor and crust were excellent, but it turned out very dense. 

Could it be the yeast not being present/active like they should? Or is there something I've been doing wrong? I feed it once a day, with a 1:1:1 ratio of starter, all purpose flour, and water. 

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I have an established starter and it's lazy when I start a build up for a loaf in my kitchen which is also kept around 68-69F. I've read that temperatures for optimal starter behavior lie somewhere in the 76-80F region so I suggest that you find a warmer area for building a new starter.

If you you have a working light in your oven, turn it on and place your covered starter in there. Be forewarned that it may still take a few days or more before the starter becomes an aggressive and frothy creation that will dominate your kitchen. Other warm spots in a house could be the backside of your fridge's top. A water heater's top might work but also might be too much. Adding some fresh milled rye or whole wheat flour in smallish portions, 10-15% of the refreshment flour, has worked for lots of folks who built their starters from scratch.

When everything fails or you feel like you're wasting your flour, time, and money, you can always order live starter cultures from the King Arthur Flour catalog or online from Breadtopia. It may sound like sacrilege but if you do your homework, you'll have your viable starter in adequate quantities to bake and store for beginning the next bake's starter in a matter of six days or so.

AGGut's picture

Did you use juice or water for the liquid?