The Fresh Loaf

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Building a sourdough starter and adjusting ratios

rickb's picture
rickb

Building a sourdough starter and adjusting ratios

Hello bakers,

I'm currently on Day 10 of establishing my first sourdough starter. Currently I am using a 1:1:1 ratio of starter:flour (50/50 wholewheat/plain):water and the starter is rising about 80-85% in about 3.5-4 hours consistently. I am doing this feed twice a day at 9am and 9pm. According to a few of the online methods I have seen I should start increasing the ratio at some point to start slowing down the rise so that I can feed at the peak on both occasions. I was thinking of increasing the ratio from 1:1:1 by 0.5 increments (1:1.5:1.5, 1:2:2. 1:2.5:2.5, etc) until I can achieve a rise of 2-3x that peaks in 12 hours. Does that sound like the right thing to do? Any advice appreciated! 

Also, the smell of the starter is still kind of funky and I can't say I can really notice any of the 'sweet' flavours that I've seen described online. For now it's still looks and smells a bit like baby sick... normal?

Thanks again

Rick

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

please.  Like curdled sour milk?  And what temps are your starter?

rickb's picture
rickb

Hmmm... that was the closest I came to any kind of descriptive words for the smell/texture... actually I found that description used by some others when I was googling around for words to describe the smell/texture of sourdough starter :-) ... I'll just add that it doesn't really smell rotten or repulsive... just not particularly appetising...

So I keep the starter on the kitchen counter, which at the moment in the UK is about 20-23c. It was quite warm last week in the first 4-6 days of the starter's life when it was around 26-29c in the same spot...

albacore's picture
albacore

I believe the baby sick smell is associated with Leucononstoc mesenteroides bacteria. The pineapple juice method of starter creation is supposed to reduce its occurrence by lowering the pH somewhat.

Hopefully the smell will go away anyway after multiple feedings.

Interestingly, I had a batch of UK grown rye grain last year and every time I used it to build a levain, even at only 10% with white flour, I got the baby sick smell. It even carried through to the final bread. I had to bin it in the end.

Lance

rickb's picture
rickb

Thanks, that is interesting. Yes, I do hope the smell does get better... I don't believe the starter has gone bad as I don't see any mold, or strange colours anywhere... 

I wonder if it is something about UK flours which make them more exposed to this type of issue...

Lottiecapon's picture
Lottiecapon

When starters are first made they smell quite bad from day 1 to about day 3/4. Mine used to smell like gone off Parmesan. After a few days of feeding, the sweet/sour smell will come through 

G Pizza's picture
G Pizza

I was also curious about the feed ratios from the original post above. I have an established starter and I'm still figuring out how to adjust the feedings to meet a schedule. I work during the day and the starter will double before I get home. I usually feed it 1:2:2. If I want to extend the time for peak, do I give it more food, or give it more starter?

Thanks

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

if you want to extend the time for peak, give it more food.  try a 1:5:5 or 2:5:5 ratio.  

rickb's picture
rickb

From everything I am reading here and elsewhere, you will need to slowly start increasing the ratio to start slowing down the rise to meet your own daily schedule. It sounds like you want to follow a similar schedule to myself which is feed at breakfast time before work and then once in the evening. This would be approximately every 12 hours. See the article here: https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2020/05/sourdough-starter.html#peak

In that article they say you should find the peak and then feed at the peak. So far I have increased the ratio from 1:1:1 which was causing a peak of +80% volume in 3-4 hours to a 1:2:2 which is now causing a 100% rise in about 4.5-5.5 hours. I think I will do a couple of days of this and then increase again to 1:3:3 and further until I can hit the 12 hour cycle I need...

G Pizza's picture
G Pizza

Thanks for the link, I read it this morning while sipping on my coffee at work. Good one. It seemed to cover a little of everything regarding starter maintenance, etc.

I'm going to take mine out of the fridge and try again at feeding it to suit my schedule and leaving it out at Ambient Temp.   

 

 

rickb's picture
rickb

Let us know how that goes!