The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hooch and nothing happening

meforgetful's picture
meforgetful

Hooch and nothing happening

Hi! I'm so glad I found this site! Been reading, watching, and doing some more reading about creating a starter but I can't seem to successfully get mine going ☹️ or maybe i'm just impatient and expect mine to turn out like all of the videos out there! ☹️

I'm on Day 4 of my starter/s and I noticed a hooch always present after a couple of hours after feeding.  I currently have 3 starters:

Starter 1 - 50g AP flour / 50g bottled water / covered loosely with lid / left at room temp / feeding schedule: 1:1(AP flour):1, every 24hrs

Starter 2 - 50g Rye flour / 50g bottled water / covered loosely with clingwrap / left at room temp / feeding schedule: 1:1(50 rye/50 AP flour):1, every 24hrs 

Starter 3 - 50g Rye flour / 50g bottled water / covered loosely with lid / left at room temp /  feeding schedule: 1:1(AP flour):1, every 24hrs

 

Day 1 - all 3 were active and double in sized with lots of small bubbles.

Day 2 - activity lessened, still had small bubbles

Day 3 - none of them grew and definitely less bubbles.  Hooch formed in all 3 a couple hours after being fed. I stirred all of them and let them be.

Day 4 - still with hooch and slight bubbles on top but no other movement. I've noticed they're more runny than when they 1st started. They all have a tangy smell but nothing unpleasant. 

Here's a photo of Starter 2 (left) and Starter 3 (right).  Didn't take a photo of Starter 1 because it was just fed so there was no hooch or bubbles yet.

 

Now on to my question/s... should I just keep feeding them every 24 hours with the same ratio? Why has there been no movement since yesterday?

The same thing happened with my first starter a couple of weeks ago.  I got worried I killed it so I threw it away. I'm trying not to panic and worry this time around, which is why I'm so glad I found this site to ask for help. Any advice/tip would be greatly appreciated.

TIA xx

 

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

So far, it sounds like you are doing just right.  Something I discovered when I started trying to get my first starter going, was that it does not work like all of those videos claim.  Lol

 

For an in-depth explanation of what is going on inside a starter during the beginning of the process, I highly recommend Debra Wink’s articles on The Pineapple Juice Solution:

 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10856/pineapple-juice-solution-part-1

 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2

 

What are your kitchen temperatures like?  If your kitchen runs warm, you may need to alter your feeding schedule a bit.  Some of the more experienced members here can probably give you more insight on your hooch issue, but my suggestion would be to simply give everything a stir around the 12 hour mark.  

meforgetful's picture
meforgetful

I live in the UAE, so it's peak summer right now.  Temperature in my kitchen is warm. I've put them in one of my kitchen cupboards so hopefully they're liking the temperature.  I've added a 2nd feed now and I stirred sometime in between, fingers crossed they're hooch-free tomorrow! Thank you for the reply.

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

Hope my advice helped.  Adding a feeding and a stir in between should help.  People tend to get too caught up in setting schedules and watching the clock, but once your starter reaches the point where yeast develop, the yeast take over, And they like to set their own schedule.  The problem is that yeasts don’t know how to read clocks!  

Once you fall into the rhythm of feeding the starter when it tells you it’s hungry, you can start altering the ratio at which you are feeding them, in order to encourage them to a schedule that more closely fits your needs.  It was after I switched from 1:1:1 to 1:2:2 that my starter thickened up and started to act more like a starter.

 

The hooch Is a harmless by-product of the yeasts in action, and appears when the yeasts have depleted their food source*.  Some people pour it off, some people stir it in.  It’s all good.

 

Yeasts are immobile.  They consume the sugars available to them in their immediate area.  Giving the starter a stir redistributes both the yeasts and the remaining starches/sugars, and can generate a second (and sometimes even a third) rise in between feedings.