The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Unhealthy baby starter

hokietoner's picture

Unhealthy baby starter

I recently created a starter and it's not so healthy. It still has bubbles, but it makes hooch every day and doesn't really poof up in the container. I was feeding it daily accd. to the book I have. Here's how I started it:

  • Day 1 mix whole wheat flour, raisin water (to add S. Exiguus yeast cells), diastatic malt, honey
  • Day 2 double with bread flour, water, diastatic malt, honey
  • Day 3 double with bread flour, water, diastatic malt
  • Day 4 divide in half, then double with bread flour and water
  • Day 5 double with bread flour and water

This is from "Crust and Crumb". It says I shouldn't feed more than once daily or else it will get sluggish. I've read elsewhere on this forum you should feed at least 2x daily. The proportion of flour to water in this starter is 4:3 flour:water by volume, 3:4 flour:water by weight. For the past week I've been just discarding all but 1 cup of starter and doubling it with flour and water.

Some other points:

  • I'm using brita filtered water (i.e., no chlorine)
  • It's staying around 65-70 degrees (my book says that the S. Exiguus yeast thrives best at that temp)
  • Even after 2 days of no feeding there is still gluten in the starter so I know the yeast is not doing much.
  • I even tried using more raisin water to get more yeast during one feeding. No difference.

I've recorded pictures of the daily stages of the yeast and its current status in my picasa album:

Any help would be great.


Marni's picture

My guess would be two feedings a day would be right, but I don't know if it's too late.  Does it smell good? There are some people here who know a LOT about sourdough-I'm not one of them- I'm sure you'll get the right answer.  Have you searched this site for more info?  Good luck.


hokietoner's picture

It smells ok, not quite sweet and winey, but like something's slightly off. I'll try feeding twice a day, but I wish someone who knew more about starters would take a look at my pictures and give their opinion.

SourdoLady's picture

I have never had any experience with a starter containing raisin water, malt or honey so I don't know how that will affect the outcome. I do think that you are keeping it at too low a temperature to encourage good yeast growth. Maybe once it is established the lower temps would be okay. Try keeping it about 10 degrees warmer and see if that helps.