The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie Starter help..

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Newbie Starter help..

Hi to all, a new guy wanting to bake some bread! Who knew it was this complex?! Love a challenge and learning new skills and it sure seems like both.  Sorry for my first post to be about such a mundane subject as getting my starter going but...I assume you were all there at some point.  I have to pass first grade to get to the good stuff.  My question...where to go...

Began my starter with 120g water and 120g Bob's Red Mill WW pastry flour.  It took off like no one's business.  Tripled in size in 24 hours, lots of bubbles.  Day 2, 24 hours later, feeding was 1/2 cup starter, 1/2 water, and a switch to 120g of King Arthurs Unbleached All-Purpose. 24 hours later, the morning of Day 3, I got some bubbles and it had increased in size somewhat but not doubled and nowhere near the activity from the first day.  Day 3 feeding was the same as Day 2. This morning, morning of Day 4 there is nothing. No growth in volume and a 1/4" of hooch on top. Looked deader than a doornail.  So...I poured off the hooch, replaced it with the same amount of water, and fed again with the same ratios.  I am now approaching 12 hours after that feeding and see bubbling but no increase in volume. 

Question is do I move to feeding it twice a day now, feed it tonight to get more activity, or should I just be patient and wait until tomorrow morning, a full 24 hours to feed it again?  

Any comments appreciated!!    

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Having hooch on the top is strong evidence your process needs to be tweaked.

The hooch indicates the starter has been well past its maximum rise for quite some time.

When creating a starter from scratch, your goal should NOT be to get a 2x rise. Instead, the goal should be to feed it again at its peak rise. Early on, that might be after 6 hours or 24 hours or somewhere in between. And the peak might be 1.1x or 3x or anywhere in between. It is common for the peak to be higher the first couple days and then come down before going back up again.

Often, guides on the internet suggest 24 hours between feedings. This is common because 24 hour feedings are more conveinent. But, in my home, 9 months out of the year, my home is hotter than average (78-80dF). So, 24 hour rises is harder to achieve, 12 hours usually works better.

If you want to make 24 hour rises work, you have options:

  • Put the starter in a colder location
  • Lower the ratio of water to flour
  • Lower the ratio of old sourdough to new flour/water

My suggestion. Since you are trying to create a starter from scratch and you are early in the process, either, feed more often, or find a cooler place in your house to store the starter, or use cold water when feeding. AND, for 1 or 2 days check on the starter every 30 minutes and mark its level with a dry erase marker. That way you get to know your starter better.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks. I am in Florida in a 78 degree house. Took the temp of the starter and...78 degrees as well.  I have the starter in a clear glass container and do mark where it started out at feeding as well as the time. The first 2 days I could see the slide marks from when it peak and fell back. Thanks for the tidbit on trying to feed it right at its peak.  Didn't know that one.  RIght now it shows bubbling but no rise since 6:30am and I am an hour away from 12 hours.  Don't want to overfeed either.  Sounds like I should try a 12 hour feeding and see what I get in the morning?

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Bubbles are a great sign. I would definitely switch to 12 hour feedings based on your previous experiences.

The dough rises exponentially. You can go from a few bubbles to max rise in a couple hours, then collapse in 30 minutes and hooch 3 hours after that.

This early on in the process, I would still want my feedings to partially include a less processed and more nutrient dense flour. You might want to make your feeding 50:50 all purpose and whole wheat from a quality vendor like King Arthur or Bob's.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

OK, thanks. One last one for you, should I continue feeding 1/2 cup of my starter, 1/2 cup water and the 120g mix of AP and Wheat or should I not discard and feed the whole batch? 

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Getting the sourdough started from scratch is more flexible than most of the guides on the internet seem to imply. Once you fix the process to achieve feedings at a more optimal time, the rest of the stuff won't matter much.

I think early on, try to keep the percentage of old starter to new flour/water on the higher end. But, you have to balance that with ending up with too much starter.

Personally, a 2:4:4 ratio (by weight) would be enough for me at your current stage (old starter : new flour : water). Now that my starter is established, I use a ratio of 1:10:10, and it works great. Some ppl suggest 8:4:4 when getting started, but I think that is overkill, but IT IS slightly safer because it gives the fledgling microorganisms a better chance to outcompete other organisms. I'll say it again though, 8:4:4 is too much IMO. 4:4:4 is fine, but I would do 2:4:4.

Remember though, anytime you change your ratio, the peak rise time will change, so be prepared to watch the dough rise and learn from it.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Got it. Baker's math question.... you state it as "2:4:4" (starter/flour/water).  What is the difference between that and "1:2:2" It is a ratio of weight correct?  They would seem to be the same but there must be some reason! Just curious. 

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

2:4:4 is the same as 1:2:2. I like the former because it adds up to 10 and makes it easier to visualize in my head.

And, yes, I meant weight. Usually bakers mean weight. But cook books and internet articles like to use volumes because lots of homes don't have scales. You should always clarify if you are not sure.

phaz's picture
phaz

If you're not weighing stuff (don't worry, I never weight anything and have made probably 75 starters and who knows how many loaves of bread) you have to go by consistency, which will be essential without a scale). So far everything is normal, but you probably don't have a "starter" yet. Whatever you add to it, keep a wet dough like consistency - and get used to how it feels. 

So, do that for now and stir a couple 3 times a day. Only add food when there is activity (rising in particular). And the amount of activity will determine how much you fed it - lots of activity in a certain period of time will require more food for that same period. 

Right now the starter is very young and well be in a state of constant change so keep an eye on it. Adjust the food so you still get a little rise when it cones time to feed again. If you notice the consistency changing (in particular getting thin and soupy) there wasn't enough food to last from 1 feed to the next, so you'll have to increase the amount or decrease the time between feeding. 

And - it's not complicated. The videos and a lot of what you see here and in other places just make it so, especially in unfamiliar territory. The fundamentals of bread making can be counted on 1 hand. Start at the beginning and get a grasp on those basics - you'll see just how simple it really is ie;

The fungus and the bugs (yeast and lactic acid producing bacteria). They eat, food, and produce gases and acids.

Temperature - higher makes things go faster, colder the opposites

Gluten - ah gluten -  add water to flour and you get gluten, which holds shapes and gas

Hm, I didn't even use all the fingers on 1 hand. There is more but the above is more than enough to make bread. Remember, things are only as complicated as you make them - so don't make then complicated. 

Last thing (for now I'm sure) - develope that sense of feel - it'll serve you well. Enjoy!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

FirstBase, a friend of mine (he’s not registered on TFL) has a recommendation. He is very experienced with starters, so his opinion is valuable. He sent the following to me.

 

It's not hooch. His starter has been steadily slowing down to a stop and yet he thinks he has hooch. If the liquid is clear then it's separation. Hooch is from a hungry starter and it's murky. But if it isn't bubbling up anymore then how can it be hooch? I bet it's clear and separation. He needs to thicken it up then stop feeding and not increase the feeds like he's been advised. Just stir everyday till it wakes up.” I think this is sound advice.  Once it wakes up you can start feeding. The initial activity was in all probabilities due to leuconostoc bacteria (bad & unwanted). Your healthy starter will eradicate that.  If a starter is weak and struggling, introducing too much flour (in a starter that has not consumed the initial starch (sugar) will only serve to dilute the microbes present in the culture. A few closeup pictures (from side and top) may help us.

 

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Have been looking in from time to time and while a break was needed I just can't resist getting involved especially when I see a question like this. Do appreciate you passing on my message. You're a good friend! 

Hooch is a sign of a hungry starter. A starter will bubble up, peak, begin to recede and if not fed it'll exhaust the food supply and start to produce hooch. If your starter has gone quiet then why will it produce hooch? This seems like separation to me and the way to tell is if it's murky or clear. Murky is hooch and clear is separation. If indeed it's separation then carefully siphon off the excess liquid and feed extra flour to thicken it up and because it's gone quiet there's no need to keep up regular feeds until it wakes up. Instead just keep warm and stir every now and again. Once you see activity then start the feeds again. Modest at first and as it builds strength the feeds can be increased. It's ready when you get a strong and regular bubbling up after each feed.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Agreed. I got stuck in a certain line of thinking and hadn't considered that since he is only 3 days into the starter, it is most likely just separation.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

As a point of reference, the last 2 times I made a new starter, I had a decent rise by the end of day 3. But, both of those times were with home milled hard red wheat, which my guess is much more friendly to starting sourdough than store bought flours.

About 5 years ago, I struggled getting a good starter going at about day 5 because I was feeding too infrequently, and I had hooch on top. It was hooch because it had a pungent odor and was not clear.

Point being, it being as it is only day 3, it is probably just separation, but it COULD be hooch. A visual and olfactory inspection would be helpful.

AkitoTakagi's picture
AkitoTakagi

I was where you are right now, and I've been there for like 8 times in a row (learning the hard way and also seeking help from this forum and this blog). I'm still a newbie too but I think I'm gonna share my experience. I think it's separation and it's really fine. It's in one of their phases ready to transform. I think you should let it be, don't discard the liquid, it's going to be very sour and that's what you want it to be. PH should drop enough for yeast to take over. Stir it everyday, and feed it once a day with 2:1:1 (starter flour water), and don't overfeed. You want it to be tart and sour, and once you notice it's rising and coming back to life, that's when you know that yeast has taken over and voila, you have the starter alive. Once it's rising, feed normally, at peak. I hope this help.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

OK, so +-12 hours later after feeding w/2:4:4 (50% WW and 50% AP flours).  Good bubbles, small amount of rise and smells like what I think it should smell like.  The 12 hours and all of these posts brought me to a Ah Ha! Forget the videos of do this now and then 24 hours on the dot later, do that, rinse, repeat, etc.  It's a feel thing, let the starter tell me what it wants and when.  Right now I am checking it to see any indication of the activity I do have slowing down. When I see that happening I will feed again, Not sure if I should 2:4:4: including WW again or go to 1:1:1 with AP only?  

The "hooch" I had may or may not have been actually hooch. Just not knowledgeable enough to tell.  Starter smelled bad, the liquid was yellow-ish clear so it sounds like separation as you all describe it. I did pour it off and replaced with a little water so too late to stir it back in.  

Two pics showing starter this morning. Bottom line was after feeding at 7:00pm last night and upper line is from 5:30am this morning. To me they look a lot like every other picture of several day old starter I have seen. That's probably a good thing!

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

FirstBase, your are getting a lot if advice and I don’t want to confuse the issue.

Yes, watching your starter and maintaining it according to what you see is best. Many new bakers need a definitive set of instructions because they have no experience to go on.

Your top shot of the bubbling starter looks great! The reason you are not seeing more of a rise is probably due to the viscosity of the starter. That’s s why Abe mention “thickening”it up a bit. Especially at this stage whole wheat flour works great. It brings with it many more microbes to populate your starter than white flour.

In your situation, I might mix 10g starter : 7g water : 10g whole wheat. Something like that. If you wanted to keep more, multiply each by any number. Example - x2 = 20:14:20.

OH! Stirring your starter ever so often is good, but not necessary. Don’t worry about losing the bubbles or rise. It will spring back fast and rise even higher. AND warmth will accelerate things exponentially. Try to keep the temp at or under 80F.

Making a starter from scratch for the first time is generally a mysterious pain. But once you dial it in, it is pretty simple.

Keep the pictures coming...

firstbase's picture
firstbase

No, please, advise away! This seems to be one of those things where you listen to everyone, integrate it all, make your own decision and go with it and see what happens.  It's flour and water and some time is all and I learn more with each cup full. Or 1/2 cup full :).

So, any suggestions on the next feeding after I notice it fading a bit? Suggested ratios? All WW or a mix again?  Not sure if this is correct but I THINK that the flour used in making the starter has little or nothing to do with the bread baked later on i.e. using WW in your starter doesn't doom you to loaves of WW bread forever, right? Just getting the starter started. What you use in the bread recipe determines that?   

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Check my latest post out again. I added new info with ratios and wrote about whole wheat.

A starter can be converted from one flour to another in short order. Once it matures you can feed it whatever you want. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks for the hints!  I appreciate everyone's help.  I will let you know where I am. I know that is VERY exciting for the group. :)

 Another question, is there an optimum, preferred, amount of starter to work with at first after feeding? 240g? 100g? Small, medium, large? What size should I keep it to or does it matter?

phaz's picture
phaz

There is no optimum preferred amount to start with. Some start with a lot, some start with jar scrapings (me). Some discard some don't (me). Some pray to the flour gods - some mock those gods and rely on logic and common sense (me). I'll add - some watch videos and some laugh hard and loud at those same videos (me).

I just replied to a post by Abe regarding the principle behind food amounts and stirring. Check it out. It's one of those fundamentals you should get a handle on and will get ya by this stage of the process. Enjoy!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

OK, so 1 1/2 days later...took some advice from above and feed it Wednesday morning using a larger ratio of flour to water.  Made it like dough no batter. Despite thinking "Not right" I let it go.  12 hours later, still dough although somewhat looser.  A little bit of rise, 1/4", no bubbles on top but large bubbles showing underneath. Figure that was because it was far too thick.  Poor little bubbles couldn't break the surface. Fed it last night w/ 1:1:1 to thin it out a little but still fairly thick.  This morning, 1/4"+ rise, no bubbles on top but smaller bubbles underneath.  Fed it again 1:1:1.  Will see tonight.  Something is telling me (no clue what) that I am feeding too much.  I also feel that while I am sitting here waiting for it to do the right thing, it is sitting there waiting for me to do the same.   This stuff sort of talks to you. 

In the hours between feeding I have been searching sourdough starter, this forum for other bread topics, etc.  On the starter I have read everything from dump 1/2 of it at feeding to start with 1 oz. flour, 1/2 oz water, and feed from there not throwing away a thing. Some people put a little pineapple juice in the first feeding or two, one recipe called for a whole week of pineapple juice with no water.  I am sure that all of these worked for that person and I just have to find what works for me. 

On the subject of general bread info...OMG as they say.  You guys are friggin chemistry teachers using terms and talking about various "bugs" I've never heard of.  Most terms sounded like French to me but...most of them WERE French.  Yikes. What have I opened myself up to???    

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but you do have to understand what it's saying.  :)

Yes, I agree with over feeding.  So slow down and wait for it to catch up.  Simple. (Yes, yes, waiting is not simple)

Still have the dough ball around or did you chuck it?  It might be doubling and bubbling by now.  Thickening, turning it into dough, slows thing down but you can also give it a day or two to ferment longer.  It was just beginning to get large enough yeast numbers to see some rise.  12 hours is not a long time with a beginning sourdough starter.  Anyway where are we now?  Oh yes, you eyeballing each other.  Keep it up. How does it smell?

-----

I've been following your post.  When you said it took off the first 24 hours, I knew you'd be doing the waiting thing after it suddenly goes flat in a day or two, like dead. (This happens a lot.)   But it is not dead, it is going thru a chain of events, setting up for the yeast to take over when the time is right.  That initial burst of bacterial activity can set you back a few days but after the acid increases in the culture, the preferred bacteria will keep going.  Over feeding decreases the acid so it gets those initial bacteria going again. They can't help themselves, they're in the flour.  That's where the pineapple juice comes in but you are beyond that already so no need to add juice.  Save it for the next attempt sometime in the future.  

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks. I have been taking a crash course in the Startereese language. The problem is my teacher is sort of hard to understand. The glob or thick starter is down the drain.  Didn't know any better.  So I have a 1:1:1 going right now and will let it go for 24 hours and check tomorrow morning.  I do understand a little about the first-day activity and rise due to the mad battle between bugs and, from my reading, wasn't surprised when it slowed. I even have a slight understanding of the impact of acidity and why pineapple juice can help in the beginning. Makes sense.  I will say I was surprised at the one receipt which called for it instead of water for 6 days.  I just thought by day 5, today, it would be a little more active but nope.  Too much owner abuse. I think I should have stuck to 24-hour feedings.  I do see clearly that all my "input" just slows things down but... doesn't kill anything.  Again, it's sitting there waiting for me to do the right thing(s). Which I will ultimately.

Another thing I don't understand is the need to throw out half of the starter when feeding.  One recipe started with 1/2 oz flour and 1 oz flour.  Then it built each day with nothing thrown out.  That makes sense to me but it was one recipe of 100 I read about so there must be some good thinking that has the discard going on. 

Thanks again for all the comments. I know it is a newbie topic and rather mundane to you seasoned folks.  Did I REALLY  just call you "seasoned" folks? Geez...Sorry...

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

There's no real need to feed for the first 48 hours unless you experience that big burst of activity. 

Then from here on in you want a 1:1:1 feed at 24 hour intervals only if you see activity. Otherwise skip a feed or two until you see activity then pick it up again. 

Once your starter is strong and predictable then you can start to increase the feed amounts and frequency to match the starter. 

There it is in a nutshell. 

What else you'll need is warmth and patience. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks Abe.  Will do. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Question on my use of flour, I have been using Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat PASTRY Flour.  Is that, the use of pastry flour, having a negative impact on my starter?  I read that it is lower in protein and I believe, gluten.  Some things I read say that it may not be the best flour to use in a starter.    

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

The yeasts and bacteria only really need sugar to feed off. Wholegrain helps as the yeasts and bacteria come from the flour itself other then that any flour will do. Yes, it might not rise as much but make it lower hydration and it'll rise more. Rising is not the be all and end all, and by that I mean it'll rise less because of lower gluten but that doesn't mean it's not functioning, but it's a good visual. That might be why your starter was separating a lot. If you find that happens again make it thicker. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

OK, so two 24 hour feedings later, both 1:1:1, with a stir each day at 12 hours in.  Here is what I have. 1/4" rise, bubbles on top although they seem to be less in numbers over the last two days and same old same old 1/4" or so rise.  More bubbles showing on the side before stir than 12 hours after stir. No idea what it is telling me with that one. My impression is that it seems alive but stuck.  I have more wheat flour. I have more time. Keep on keeping on? It is time to give it a 24 hour feed in a few minutes.  I believe TexasBakerDad said to not be afraid to just let it go another day? Is there something I should do to bump start it a little? Today begins Day 7.  Pics are today at 9:20am or so, feeding was yesterday9:30am. 



Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

No harm in letting it go another day. And even in the next feed I'd just give it three or four teaspoons of flour just to thicken it up and give it a good stir. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

if you haven't fed it yet, do so but just add a spoonful of flour at a time until it is a little bit thicker, more like toothpaste.  Then cover with a deflated sandwich bag or latex glove fixed with a rubber band.  The thing with pastry flour is that those bubbles are rising and popping on the surface and not raising the starter much.  So then we look for other signs of activity.  With the bag or glove, you can also trap gas and it will inflate.  When that happens, you can discard and feed.  That and aroma and sour taste is what I use as a guide with non gluten flours.  You can also just make a little test mixing one tablespoon of your starter with All Purpose flour and a tiny bit of water to make a small dough ball, knead it a bit and see what it does and how long it takes for a bulk rise to double in volume.

Have you got a recipe handy when the glove inflates and the surface is bubbly?  

firstbase's picture
firstbase

I was thinking about my first bake being the Basic Sourdough Bread from the Breadmakers Apprentice book. Seems pretty simple. "Seems". If there are other suggestions I am open to them!  Right now I need starter first of course. I have been covering the jar with its lid.  Not airtight, just a loose lid.  Is that good enough to give me what you describe? At this point I don't have "toothpaste" but more of a thick pancake batter consistency.  It pours out of the jar but certainly not runny.  Are you saying to just add some flour, no water to it right now? To thicken it up?  Any reason to switch my flour back to King Arthur White Unbleached?  By the way, it stopped talking to me. It just sits there and laughs. 

phaz's picture
phaz

Read through this - notably the phaz posts

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/65382/what-going-my-starter

firstbase's picture
firstbase

There you go. that thread and this one are what I need. Knead? Sorry. I am aware that all of this is called learning and like I said, I have flour and time.  I'm going to wait a day or two before I go all wild and crazy with oats. Not even sure how much oats would go into it.  I assume a little, tablespoon or such.  Anyway, I added some flour this morning to thicken and it's now at toothpaste consistency. We shall see.  Thanks for everyone's help and the pointer to that thread.   

phaz's picture
phaz

If the main point you got from that was about oats - I would suggest reading again - this time skip the oatmeal part - although it could help, is not the lesson to be learned. Enjoy!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

No, not the main point at all. Actually, a very small but surprising one amongst 100 others that seem to apply to me. That's why it stuck in my mind is all.  First time I have read anything about oats.  I haven't finished reading that thread yet but will now. My wife seems to think that she and her list of things to do somehow outrank the starter.

I think I will name it Pedro after Pedro "Who's Your Daddy?" Martinez, retired pitcher with the Bostom Red Sox.  I WILL be this starters daddy in the end! :)

 

phaz's picture
phaz

The info relating to this thread is how to determine a proper feed routine. Critical to maintain a strong starter, and even to start a starter.

I just posted this in another thread " the level of activity dictates the level of food". No activity requires little to no food, lots of activity requires a lot. Common sense and one of those basic principles, of which a little understanding goes a long way. Fortunately there are few of them (basic principles) and they are remarkably simple - like the above. Enjoy!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

I don't know why that seems counterintuitive to me...no activity, let it sit there until there is?  OK, you know just a tad more than me! 

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

...3 or 4 days in does not mean nothing is happening. The mixture is becoming acidic and the little critters are sorting themselves out becoming symbiotic. And the reason why you don't wish to feed is how can it ferment and do all this if you're constantly throwing starter away and feeding it fresh flour? Every time you do this you raise the pH level of the starter and throwing the bugs away. If there is activity it means they're active enough to need extra food. If it's quiet it means they need time to do their thing. Very laymen's terms but that's my understanding of it all.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks Abe. I am learning from both layman and expert terms.  I'll let you know when to stop because I know it all.  I'm thinking that it's not going to be next week!

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

I'll always be learning. Sometimes it's good not to know it all down to what's going on under the microscope. Makes it more mysterious. As long as I can produce a tasty bread and wonder about the rest it'll be fascinating. I've made enough starters to know what I've told you in this comment section. That's about it. For millennia they've used sourdough to make bread and didn't know what yeasts or bacteria were. Just enjoy the process and learning along the way. After you've made this starter I bet you if you try again you'll do it much quicker. It's more about keeping it warm and timing the feedings well. If one does this 5-7 days is more then enough to get one going. Problem when making the first one is that you have nothing to guide you when it's more about following your instinct and reading the starter. That comes with time, trying to make your first one, making mistakes and learning from them. 

phaz's picture
phaz

To expand on Abe's post - the lull as I call it with a new starter isn't a lull. As mentioned, things are happening - shop is getting set up for the next inhabitants. 

And to turn counterintuitive to intuitive:

The addition if food at this time only serves to dilute that which we are trying to create (and discard tsk tsk tsk). It also breaks the rule, which is, activity determines food. Nothing but common sense. Enjoy!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Just posted this info on another post.  It deals with lack of activity.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/66402/how-build-levain#comment-473972

firstbase's picture
firstbase

OK, so going on 24 hours (about 3 hours short but I have this feeling that nothing's going to happen before noon) since adding a couple of tablespoons of flour to thicken it up.  No rise.  0.  A handful, less than 5, noticeable bubbles on top. Sides have a couple that I can see.  A magnifying glass (oh yes I did) show more very tiny ones but nothing to get excited about.  Taste? Eh..tastes like flour and water with some sourness to it. Not overly acidic tasting but maybe something there. Just sort of undefined.  The smell is...sourdough. Both smell and taste are certainly not rancid or bad in any way. 

Going to stop reading "other places" for now.  They say feed it, 1:1:1, 1:2:4, 2:8:8, every ratio you can figure out with a calculator. Add pineapple juice, put it all in a brown sack and shake it over my head 10 times, etc.  Going with you good folks which seems to be simple. No activity, no feed.  Thanks, Mini for chipping in and helping with your taste comments. I talked my wife into the taste test and her review matched mine.

It's my 5th child.  The other 4 taught me to make them sit there until they ate their peas.  They got nothing until they acted right.  Then they could have dessert and go out and play. 

I swear I could see the little yeastie boys smiling and waving at me when I used the magnifying glass.  I swear it.      

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Put your feet up and treat yourself to a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. Totally ignore your starter and enjoy the break while it lasts. 

Don't become slave to your starter. Whenever it perks up it perks up. Tonight before bed give it a good stir otherwise just keep warm. 

If you can stick it in the oven with just the light turned on. Or find a warm place. 75-78°F is just perfect. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks, it is sitting in the dark corner of the countertop at a constant 78 degrees, no drafts. I'm ignoring it. That will teach it a lesson. 

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Hit that quiet period as long as the rule of feed only when you see activity is applied it generally wakes up within a day or two. Should one at this critical time in the life of a maturing starter continue to discard and feed then you will find even when backtracking and stopping the feeds it'll take longer to mature. What was gained in those first few days has basically been thrown away with all the good stuff along with it. Only thing to do now is wait. 

What you can do is perhaps start another and now you've gained this extra information it might be interesting to see if this one will mature faster. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

I believe my mistake was following a "recipe" and moving to 12-hour discards and feedings too soon, Day 3.  Since that day it has been declining in activity more and more. Now I know why which is a good thing. 

I may try another but will have to hide it. If my wife sees I put another jar of starter out I will have plenty of time to ignore them because I will be packing up boxes and looking for a place to live.   BUT...I would like to see how starting with 1oz flour, 1 oz water and then feeding it with no discard would do. I don't know why but that seems to make sense to me. No waste, feed it when it needs it and build it up. 

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Then the first two or three feeds should be fine however it'll very quickly add up and soon you won't know what to do with it if you don't discard. Work it out if you start off with 1oz of each then stick to a 1:1:1 feeding schedule before long it'll be too much. Heres what I suggest...

First feed: 45g tap water (which has been boiled and cooled) + 45g whole grain flour. Do not feed again for 48 hours unless you see a burst of activity by the 24 hour mark. 

Then from here on in it's a 24 hour feeding schedule as follows but only if there is activity... 30g starter + 30g water (boiled and cooled) + 30g flour (can be bread or AP flour but including some wholegrain is good). If all goes quiet then skip feeds until it picks up.

That's it. Once you start to have a strong regular bubbling up then you begin to increase the feeds and frequency to match. 

P.s. hide the old one and keep the new one out. You're ignoring the old one anyway. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks, Abe. I do realize that at some point you have to discard.  Maybe I am reading too much into it but it seems you MIGHT be politely telling me that a new batch will probably be ready before the first batch recovers!?

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Which one will mature first if you start a new one but time the feedings well. Should the old one mature soon then nothing lost. Should the old one fail to mature then you've got a head start with the new one. Win win! 

Or, and here's another neat little trick which I've learned from mini who I believe heard this from someone else but it works as I've tried it. 

Make yourself a golf sized dough ball out of some wholegrain flour. About 60% hydration. Bury it in AP or bread flour inside a paper bag or container. Seal it and leave it somewhere warm for a week after which it will have grown in size and formed a hard outer shell. Cut open the dough ball and scoop out the inside. Feed it! It'll bubble up and will only need a couple of feeds to further strengthen it. A starter is born.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

More than one way to skin a cat even in this business huh? I have not come upon that one!  And a brown bag is easier to hide....hmmmm....that Mini is a tricky one...

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Mini is full of great ideas. 

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

That will teach it a lesson.

I had to chuckle. I said that to my new starter and let it go three days.

That was hard!

Here's the thing... you can't kill yeast. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. Ever.

It can only mold over... and the mold can kill YOU.

Sourdough can kill mold, though. Which is nice.

Sooo... that means that you don't want to screw around. You want that starter up and running. Like yesterday.

Here's something else: Starting a starter is easy. Every which way works. As long as you follow ONE way and don't screw around trying a bit of this and a bit of that.

Debra Wink's Pineapple Juice Solution seems to work each and every time without hooch or stink... which scares everyone. You're past that point. You are into the "baby it along" phase.

Read Ms. Winks' stuff for point of reference and... pray that Mini Oven takes pity on you and straightens you out.

Mini knows all the bits and pieces of advice you're getting. She has read message threads like this for quite some time.. She will keep you focused so you don't screw around trying this and that.

She'll hit you. Be nice to her! Listen to what she says... do what she says... and have a nice starter.

Don't think, bake!

Murph

phaz's picture
phaz

You missed the most important thing - forget the brown bag - you gotta use a dead chicken, and it has to be midnight of a full moon. Everybody knows that. No wonder you're having so much trouble. Enjoy!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Duh. Newbies, right?  OK.... 

  • Brown bag
  • Starter
  • Dead chicken
  • Midnight, full moon
  • 10 Times, over head

It's only 3/4 moon though, full isn't until the 30th so I might have to let it rise a little longer.  Nonetheless, got it! Be right back with some fresh bread.

 EDIT: Hold on, it just occurred to me, you said forget the bag, add dead chicken.  Starter..in a dead chicken? For a week?  Man...ok but that's gonna add some flavor and hiding it from the wife would seem to be out of the question. Phaz knows best I guess.

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

It works! Found the post. 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/32665/mini-ovens-no-muss-no-fuss-starter-8-days-laater

Just thought it'd be an interesting side experiment.

Yesterday I bought some organic wholegrain wheat flour and it's a variety called Maris Widgeon which I've wanted to try. It's a heritage English wheat and while it's high quality and known for great flavour it's not very strong. The flour I bought is a mix of Maris Widgeon for its unique flavour and some strong gluten flour. Bought 1kg so thought I'd make a starter with it from scratch and use the rest to make a loaf. 24 hours in and it's tripled. Almost time for it's first feed...

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Well now, there you go. Unbelievable.  I think you all are more whacked out than me and that takes some effort!  

Here is where I get confused though... Mini states

"Do be aware that if the feeding of the inside starter or shell did not raise the pH high enough to stimulate growth (minimal feeding) you may not see any change in the starters.   If you see no visible changes, do not discard but feed more water and flour."

So what am I missing? This seems to be an instruction to feed a starter that is showing no activity when I am told the opposite.  I know it is me misunderstanding her statement...but don't know why...??

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

I think Mini needs to answer that one. It's a different approach to the more traditional way to make a starter. 

When I tried it the starter did bubble up and had the qualities of a newly matured starter that just needed strengthening before using. You kinda skip the first 5-6 days but it still needs a bit of TLC. It moves albeit needs a push in the right direction. Anyway I'm sure your first starter will have matured by then. Whatever happens you've done all you can for your current starter for now, see Phaz's comment below, and perhaps shelve it 'literally' and concentrate on a new one with the knowledge you've gained from the last one. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'm enjoying the banter.  Yes, I also like trying new starter start-ups.  The trick is to stick to one recipe following it thru.  This ball one is from wagon trains and trail blazers that carry around a sack of flour. Make a few stiff balls and toss them back into the sack.

 Another one is just to put about an inch or two of flour in a jar, cover carefully with water, enough to have a good inch or two above the flour, cover loosely to keep out bugs and just ignore it.  Or watch it to make sure the flour stays submerged and remove any skum forming on top of the water after day two. Water should stay about an inch above the flour.  No stirring, No daily feeds.  Maybe open the cover to check on aromas but really, the bugs do all the work.  The dry flour below the wet flour line feeds the starter bugs when they need it.  The water is more of a barrier to prevent mold from getting to the wet flour.  The first time I did this starter, it was rye and sat in a bowl on top of an old tv.  (Good vibrations!)

 It is interesting to watch as layers form and changes can be seen in colour.  First the obvious is the water level sinks at first but stays separated on top of the flour as the flour hydrates and darkens below.  I recorded it and took photos.  Evidence is lurking in archives here, somewhere.  The top stays separated and clear until several days down the journey the tiny little gas bubbles start being active enough to make the water cloudy.  Then colour changes are more noticable and when visual bubbles can be seen rising from the flour/water line, you know these little bugs are after the flour waiting below them.  Then you get very tempted to push a few down into the flour with a stick or something.  And when bubbles increase in the next few hours, maybe stir them up.  Then pow, they take off and you use them in a levain so have your recipe handy. Depending on the amount of flour and water in the jar, you may have to add a tiny bit of one or the other to get a thick batter or soft paste.  

All starters should start above 75° F if you want the starter within a week or so. I suggest the first 24hrs in the high 80's° F just to push the bacteria along.  Then drop the temp just above 75°F to tickle the yeast cells and slow down the bacteria somewhat.  

And back to the question about dough balls in flour starter.... taken out of context...  with added comments in ( )...

"Do be aware that if the feeding of the inside starter (that goop in the middle) or shell (that hard outside) did not raise the pH high enough to stimulate growth (using a minimal feeding like a 1:1:1, the starter goop inside is most likely very sour and unbalanced, high in the good bacteria count but low in yeast)  you may not see any change in the newstarters with the first feeding.   If you see no visible changes, do not discard but feed more water and flour (to dilute the acid.")

The Q:    

"So what am I missing? This seems to be an instruction to feed a starter that is showing no activity when I am told the opposite.  I know it is me misunderstanding her statement...but don't know why...??  "

I hope my added comments help.  The best way to know where the starter actvity stands is to taste the starter before giving it more food.  If it tastes like wet flour, wait. If it is mildly sour, give it a little more time before feeding.  If very sour, feed.  

If you catch the ball starter when pressure builds up and it cracks and "gives birth" the starter might be right at the point where the yeast are mass producing and under stress.  That might be the optimum time to crack open the starter and feed the soft goop it fresh food.  ...before it tastes too sour.  

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks, Mini. At this point...I don't know what to say. My wife does want the starter to take off but the idea of a covered wagon in the garage, bags of flour stuffed with alien starter balls in the back, was not met with overwhelming support.  For now, I am in full support of Pedro The Starter. fully committed.  I stirred a couple of times yesterday. This morning a few bubbles.  Waiting.  Who's yo daddy, Pedro?

phaz's picture
phaz

Starter in the chicken - that's just plain silly - besides it'll fly out (one end or the other) when you're waving it around. 

But ya know - the best thing you can do now is leave it alone. Actually, should can this 1 and begin again - the right way. This one seems like it's had so much done to it who knows what state it's in. Sometimes ya just gotta pick up and head on to the next hole. Enjoy!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Simple.  You keep the head on the chicken, don't lop it off.  How are you going to swing it around without the head?Shove the starter up in there and then use a needle and thread to stitch up its....never mind.

No! Not throwing it away! I think I'm learning. Let's see what it does.  I haven't done THAT much to it.. overfeed some...made it too thin...thickened it up.  Remember, they are in there smiling and waving at me.  My understanding is that they are darn near impossible to kill so....time is my friend.  We shall see!  Plus, gulp, the sooner all is well with the starter I will have to, double gulp, make bread. Gawd.  I have barely even touched on reading about that yet. Bigas and poolish and barronies and balloonies and scalding...yikes. OK, I made "barronies and balloonies" up but you get the point. So many breads.  And so little starter.

phaz's picture
phaz

"Lions and tigers and bears - oh my"

It'll work, it's rare when it doesn't, but ya gotta give them the time to work it out amongst themselves. They've been doing it for millennia, no reason for them to not do it now. Enjoy!

Hmmm - you seem like an experimenter.

If ya got another jar, throw in a tablespoon of flour, maybe a drop orange juice or something like that, and enough water to form a wet dough (and remember that consistency - that feel). Leave it on the counter uncovered and stir with authority a couple times a day. See what happens. If ya see a big rise in a day or 2, repeat the above minus the juice. Then just stir until it starts rising again. Here's a big hint - if ya feel it losing that consistency, that feel, add flour to get it back and keep stirring. White flour will take a week or so, others less - hopefully. Enjoy again!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Geez....you guys....my wife is going to shoot me...:)  Not really, SHE is the one that started all of this. Ordered some start from KA and off she went knowing nothing but add flour/water every day.  It went somewhere then...stopped.  We are redoing our guesthouse so she wasn't driven to learn it so that's where I came in (anything to keep out of a renovation/construction site as much as possible).  The chicken idea and the alien ball in a bag ideas sounded really cool but maybe I will hit her with "Hey honey, Abe Phaz and Mini want you to try this....Phas says for you to..".  That just might work as she really is interested just not the right time to learn.  Two starters is better than one and I don't even have one yet. Faux starter is what I have. 

phaz's picture
phaz

Without learning the basics, you'll have to go by what others say. I've read and at least in some part followed both Abe and Mini for about 10 years or so and I won't say one is right and other is wrong, or that one is better than the other (fact is, they all work - if ya have the patience to let them.) Pick a method and stick with it. Give yourself 3 weeks (3 weeks cuz if you use something like bleached white it can take that long), and if nothing happens move on. Enjoy!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

So I test the ph in my pool every weekend. If it is so important with starters, knowing what it is and what it is telling you what to do...kind of.. isn't there some sort of test that could be used? Something a little more sophisticated than tasting?  The stuff is too murky to work in my pool test kit.  Oh no, I didn't.  Just thought about it for a second.  

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

You can try to dissolve (very thoroughly) 5 g starter in 50 g distilled water, if that helps your kit. That's what rus brot does to measure pH (and he says that's the standard way, actually). It'll dilute the acidity a little, but if you are consistent between your measurements, it'll always have the same effect and you can monitor how your starter is behaving.

phaz's picture
phaz

It's not. When properly maintained, it takes care of itself - but ya gotta have a starter first. Enjoy!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks Ilya, appreciate your comments too.  Phaz, don't be a kill-joy!! I think that a pic of me sitting by the pool with my test kit out on the table trying to measure the ph of my wohbegone starter would be clear evidence of my falling into the madness. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I also have a build site (but in the house) and pool testing equipment and lots of basic toys to play mad scientist.  Na ya, you can always have a glass of wine or something stronger to rinse with after spitting.  Just be gentleman like with the spitting part.  If you want to see a really fast starter start up, get yourself some fresh, raw sauerkraut and add some flour to some of the juice.  No canned or vacuum pack, please.  It takes off immediately.  Fun stuff.  You can feed it again to dilute the sourkraut flavour but that first loaf is great with pastrami.

Mini

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Oh just recently I was discussing with Abe, that using liquid from lactofermented vegetables must really help, and tada, of course you have tried that before!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

yourself and having fun too!  :)   

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Of course! I wonder if you compared different sources of LABs like that, whether they produce starters with different qualities? E.g. sauerkraut vs kimchi vs pickles etc? I'm sure LAB species must be different on different vegetables!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Huh? Sauerkraut enters stage left....???? I guess it's that acid thing?  The drama continues. Are you having the same issue I am?  Trying to figure out what is drywall dust and what is flour? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you bet!  And the other day added a little red brick dust and grey brick dust layer too.  And...leveling cement dust.  Everything is floating around here and I keep a heavy cloth over my flour bags and baking equip..  Some of it might add a little crunch.  We just ordered a container to throw it all into and baking is now on hold until this crazy dust assortment is out of the house.  How that building dust gets in every nook and cranny is beyond me.  Yesterday my hair was so dusty it stood on end.  Hubby thought I was messing in the electrical boxes. So shocking!  Got to get the washing machine hooked up again before the socks end up as tea bags for a new starter!    Just kidding....sort of.  Did you know spit is full of Lacto beasties?  !!!  (Don't ask, just don't ask.)    :)   

Coffee time here, with a little crunchy coffee cake.  Lol.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

I feel your pain Mini. My yeasties need to watch and learn from the drywall dust.  It goes where no man has gone before. No leveling cement dust at this point.  We THINK that we can grind 2 areas down level enough to put in new flooring. That should be a dust event as well.  MY wife is doing the drywall mud. A week ago it was "I'M doing the drywall" (she's an artist and thinks that somehow this fact translates to drywall). 3 days later it was "It's coming along...ok...just a lot fo work."  Yesterday it was "You are right, we should have just paid somebody to do this."  Such is life.  I gave her a hug and told her it was ok. "I should have paid someone to do my SD starter so don't feel bad." 

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

I think it's fun and very rewarding to make your own starter and I recommend persevering. However in the meantime if you know anyone who has a sourdough starter perhaps they can give you some. At least you can get baking while you wait and by the time yours matures you'll have some experience in using it behind you. If you don't know anyone who has a sourdough starter perhaps there's a bakery near you that sells sourdough bread and you can ask them for some of theirs. And failing that if you're able to buy some genuine kefir (kefir made from grains) you can make yourself a pre-ferment very similar to a sourdough starter and bake some nice breads. 

100% Whole Spelt Kefir Bread

My starter, above, has hit the lull period. 

  • Saturday Early Evening : 60g water + 60g flour. 24 hours later nice and bubbly. 
  • Sunday Early Evening : 40g starter + 40g water + 40g flour. 3-4 hours later very active and bubbly. Did not feed again till Monday morning when it had started to fall. It held its peak for hours. 
  • Monday Morning : 40g starter + 40g water + 40g flour... And we've hit the quiet period. Now I wait! 

Haven't had any off smells and it seems we've skipped any Leuconostoc activity. Or if there was it wasn't apparent. Starter at most had a slight musty smell after the initial bubbling up giving way to a pleasant mild yoghurt smell. Musty smell had disappeared on Sunday and had a nice aroma only reminiscent of a starter. I had at this point thought it'd just go from strength to strength but it's decided it needs some quiet time to sort itself out. They're having a conference. While a starter has a multitude of yeasts and bacteria they're battling out which one of each kind are going to be the dominant ones. I don't like to interfere. Let them sort it out on their own after which they'll inform me they're ready by bubbling up. A bit like choosing the next pope.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks, Abe. I have been trying to learn a little about the basics of baking bread. Trying to keep it simple.  I appreciate the recipe link.  "The Pope" would be a great name for a starter.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I had building trades classes in my senior year of high school.  I was the first and only girl at that time but I did my fair share and the class built a house, dry wall and all.  The newer dry wall plaster claims to be good without tape or netting over the seams.  I am also an artist.  It takes about three to four applications on seams, good tools and a good sealer when done.  Hubby likes to do moulding plaster work.  I hate working on ceilings.  I have a special pair of glasses to wear that has the bifocals upside down for that kind of work or for watching airplane flat screens.

Have you noticed dry wall dust is incredibly white?  Whiter than bleached wheat flour.  Container arrived 7am today for the building dust & brick pieces.  I think we can fill 3 square meters. Put quite a few buckets in it this morning. Waiting for the dust to settle.  A fine mist of water, can help keep the dust partially under control. What I'm needing is the stamina and arm and back strength I had when younger.  With this latest "lock down" we can't go running out to the hardware store for supplies.  Flour is easy to get but a bag of cement?  

My fermenting honey gingerbread dough is smelling great.  Can't wait to start baking them....soon.  :)

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Yes, I think drywall dust invented "White". It also invented the Art of Escape as well. You can duct tape all the clear sheeting or drop cloths you want around doors, closets, everything but...nope.  It decides it wants to be over there and over there it goes.  I have not heard about drywall mud that doesn't require tape of some sort. Now that we are 90% finished with this part of the job I will NOT mention to my wife "Hey, look what I found!". As GW Bush would say "Wouldn't be prudent."

Almost to the 48-hour point of ignoring my starter every hour or so :). Stirring 3 times a day.  It is sitting there.  Smells fine, looks fine. HAve a couple (as in 3 or 4) small bubbles on top. None looking from the side.  I got time.  No brains, but time.  

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Let us see this stubborn starter. Has it become very watery? 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Sure, here you go. I stirred an hour or so ago...you can see one bubble but that's it.  It is somewhat looser, about like pancake batter, a little thinner.  No separation, not watery, no hootch.  Hold on, pics not showing.

 

 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

And again....

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Looks like there's some issues going on with the site. If you think it's gone quite watery then no harm in feeding 2-3 teaspoons of wholegrain flour to thicken it up, give it a good stir and....... keep warm. 

Edit: I see it now. It does look a bit dead. What's the smell like? If you taste a little (spit it out) doesn't taste sour or just like wet flour? 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

78 degrees every minute of every day. I have a thermometer next to it while it is in the ICU unit. I thought "Feed when active, don't feed when not active"??

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

To thicken it up if it's breaking down and getting too watery. You don't wish for a big feed. It's difficult for me to judge. That'll be up to you. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Actually, I was thinking about thickening it up this morning as I noticed the thinning for the first time.  So I will do so. And for the others reading these, yep, I could start over and have a new one going quicker than (possibly) fixing this one.  I am dedicated to my children though. :)

firstbase's picture
firstbase

I posted two pics but only one showing.  It was an exciting action photo from the side. The group will just have to imagine it. :)  Another bubble appeared.  Also very exciting.  It tastes like acidic flour and water. A little sourdough-ish. 

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

It's doing 'something'! As far as thickening it up a little if it's gotten too watery that's your judgment call. It's not exactly going to be a big feed just a teaspoon or two. But you won't do any harm by continuing to do nothing.

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Are the real dominant species in this world. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

True. All I know is that I haven't been so vested in a living creature that does nothing but lay there bubbling every once in a while since my first son was born.  I guess, now that there were 3 other children after him, he was a starter of sorts.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  Sure wish I could be baking some bread but...Christmas.  The starter discussed ad nauseum above was sent to the Sink Cemetary.  Set those little guys, whatever they ended up being, free in the septic tank where I imagine life is good for them.  I thickened it as discussed and went an additional 3+ days and nothing so...bye-bye.

I have moved on to the PEter Reinhart pineapple juice recipe from TBBA.  Step 1, 56.5g juice, and 28.5g WW flour for 48 hours.  Now at 28 hours or so, stirring a couple of times. It looked a little ugly this morning, separated liquid on top with a thin film floating.  With twice as much juice as flour, I would think it normal and not much to judge it by at this early point in time. Slight sour smell to it.  You all enjoy the rest of your day and I will update as events occur!  Sorry, I don't think you can avoid it. :)  

phaz's picture
phaz

Mmmm, I'd check those directions. Those amounts seem more than a little off. Enjoy!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

I was surprised as well...will double check it. Actually looked them up to copy and paste in my response so...

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Here you go...from Reinharts "Artisan Bread Every Day", republished on Epicurious.com (below).  HOWEVER, I just checked my TBBA and....different.  IT says 120.5 flour/113 pineapple juice.  So question is throw it and start over or just up the flour 28 hours in?

 

Epicurious Reinhart Recipe link

 

INGREDIENTS
  1. Seed Culture, P hase 1 (Day 1)
    • 3 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) whole wheat flour, whole rye flour, or unbleached bread flour
    • 1/4 cup (2 oz / 56.5 g) unsweetened pineapple juice, filtered water, or spring water
  2. Seed Culture, P hase 2 (Day 3)
    • 3 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) whole wheat flour, whole rye flour, or unbleached bread flour
    • 2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) unsweetened pineapple juice, filtered water, or spring water
    • All of the Phase 1 seed culture (3 oz / 85 g)
Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or reduce the size and add just enough flour to make a thick batter.  Or don't bother, it gets thicker later and the skum on top is asier to pick off if you want to with more liquid around.  Keeps it from drying out.  Unsweatened juice, right?  

I think you're off to a good start.  Separation would be expected under the circumstances when the juice weight is more than the flour weight.  No biggie.  I think it actually helps it to be more liquid.  

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks. I have read that Reinhart improved his starter recipe over the years and “use the latest one” is a common suggestion. Seems that “epicuruous” one in the link may have been a typo? Not sure. Oh well, will add in 52g of flour when I get home tonight and go from there. Seems the opinion is no harm at this point. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Added some flour last night, seemed way too thick so added a teaspoon or so of juice to take it back to a batter consistency.  Have bubbles this morning/today, life is good.  Going back to the TBBA recipe but my volumes are off.  Taking the percentages to be added from that recipe and scaling it down to the amount I have. Probably over-thinking and worrying too much but that seems to make sense.  I believe it shouldn't be a problem bulking it up later on.  Just adding a LOT more flour and juice at this point would seem to not be a good thing. Giving it 24 hours since the flour add last night and will see what is going on.  Not sure if I should go to step two of the recipe tonight or wait another day.  Hopefully, I haven't tired everyone out with this adventure and my nonsense.     

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Nah.  Getting back to step two, my advice would be better to give it more time than to push too early.  And from your tone, You're getting the hang of this.  :)

If you can't decide what to do, you can always split the starter into two smaller starters.  Feed one as in step two but not the other and see if you can race them, see if the day delay to change steps makes a difference. You now have to keep track of two starters  so split your notebook page down the middle too.   If one goes ahead of the other you know what works best.  Good notes will help you recognize the stronger starter.  Note aromas, color changes, any textural changes, bubble sizes, any separation, temps, location, date, all the devilish details including time of day when fed.  Moon phase is on the wax. (Some think it helps.)  

Actually it gets easier with each starter you start as your experience and self confidence grows.  :)

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks, Mini.  I think I will let this one ride until tomorrow morning and see what's up with it.  That will be 48 hours since I started it up and 30 some hours since I add the additional flour.  If it looks ok (I have little idea what that is but...good bubbles, probably no rise, no separation/hooch) I will let it go to the full 48 hours since the add.  It will still be light in volume so I will feed it using the percentages in the recipe.  Meaning, add the same % of flour and juice to my weight as is shown in the recipe.  We shall see.  

firstbase's picture
firstbase

So here I am lost in space...again...recap (if anyone is still following me on this):

Wed - started up using the "bad" recipe, 28g WW flour, 52g pineapple juice.

Thurs - thickened up with 28g four (not 52g stated above) and 16g juice due to the flour making it too thick

Sat morning - some bubbles, added 36g WWF and 32g juice

Sunday morning, Day 4 - flat as a pancake (sorry), a few, very few minute bubbles

There has been no rise at all since the beginning. None.

I now have starter that is 93g WWF, 104g juice, total 197g.  Has thinned out now.  TBBA recipe says "Day 3" I should 1/2 the starter and add 72% of that in grams of flour and 64% in water but with no real activity to speak of....???  MAybe be patient, give it another day to show me something? 

I should have thrown this out and begun again with the touted TBBA recipe as soon as I realized I was following an unconventional or typo'd recipe from days of yore.

I've changed my motto from "Who's yo daddy?" to "SD Starter is my daddy".  

 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

So here I am lost in space...again...recap (if anyone is still following me on this):

Wed - started up using the "bad" recipe, 28g WW flour, 52g pineapple juice.

Thurs - thickened up with 28g four (not 52g stated above) and 16g juice due to the flour making it too thick

Sat morning - some good bubbling, added 36g WWF and 32g juice

Sunday morning, Day 4 - flat as a pancake (sorry), a few, very few minute bubbles

There has been no rise at all since the beginning. None. I have been stirring 3 times a day.

I now have starter that is 93g WWF, 104g juice, total 197g.  Has thinned out now.  TBBA recipe says "Day 3" I should 1/2 the starter and add 72% of that in grams of flour and 64% in water but with no real activity to speak of....???  MAybe be patient, give it another day to show me something? 

I should have thrown this out and begun again with the touted TBBA recipe as soon as I realized I was following an unconventional or typo'd recipe from days of yore.

I've changed my motto from "Who's yo daddy?" to "SD Starter is my daddy".  

 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

So here I am lost in space...again...recap (if anyone is still following me on this):

Wed - started up using the "bad" recipe, 28g WW flour, 52g pineapple juice.

Thurs - thickened up with 28g four (not 52g stated above) and 16g juice due to the flour making it too thick

Sat morning - some good bubbling, added 36g WWF and 32g juice

Sunday morning, Day 4 - flat as a pancake (sorry), a few, very few minute bubbles

There has been no rise at all since the beginning. None. I have been stirring 3 times a day.

I now have starter that is 93g WWF, 104g juice, total 197g.  Has thinned out now.  TBBA recipe says "Day 3" I should 1/2 the starter and add 72% of that in grams of flour and 64% in water but with no real activity to speak of....???  MAybe be patient, give it another day to show me something? 

I should have thrown this out and begun again with the touted TBBA recipe as soon as I realized I was following an unconventional or typo'd recipe from days of yore.

I've changed my motto from "Who's yo daddy?" to "SD Starter is my daddy".  

 

phaz's picture
phaz

Since following something from tbba (whatever that is) why don't you ask them for help. It's their "recipe" - wouldn't they be the ones to ask?

firstbase's picture
firstbase

"They" being....???  The Bread Bakers Apprentice, Reinhart's book.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is good news.  Go ahead and half it or save 100g (to make the math easier) and add 72g flour and 64g pineapple juice? 

 "I should have thrown this out and begun again with the touted TBBA recipe as soon as I realized I was following an unconventional or typo'd recipe from days of yore." 

 

It's not that far off.  Keep going.  :)  Your warm temps are helpful.  You are now starting the backsloshing part of making the starter.  Thinning is a good sign."  Patience.  If you feel like you want to do something then just give it a stir every now and then (2 - 4 times a day.)  You can also cut all the numbers in half if you want to conserve flour.  (50g starter, 36g flour, 32g = 16g juice,16g water.  

Because your initial mixture of flour and water reacted with lots of bubbles within 24 hours at the start of this post (way up at the top) I'd be inclined to keep using the pineapple juice in the liquids with eventually and gradually replacing some of the juice with water with each feed less juice and more water until the yeasts hop into action.  At which time the acid is no longer needed for feeds.  You don't happen to know the pH reading of your tap water?  

 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks Mini. I know this is (has?) grown old for you pros.  I believe our PH (public water) is 8.0 if not slightly higher. I tested with my good quality pool water test kit and it shows the same but not sure that pool test kits apply to drinking water.  Don't know why not though.  Only have about 1/4 cup of pineapple juice left. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to work harder to lower the pH in the culture.  Flour and water raise the pH and the bacteria has to lower it for the yeast to be stimulated into populating the culture.  Good to know.  That means keep adding a little pineapple juice to encourage the yeast and suppress invaders that live in the flour. 

High pH can slow down the process of starting a starter.  Are you glad? It's not you.  Daddy, it's the water!  

I'm sorry I didn't pick up right away in your second comment where you not only gave temps, but that you are in Florida!   Very common problem in Florida is the higher than average pH.  We could have avoided 100 comments!  Na ya,  but we are having a good time passing the time and getting distracted from other things.  :)

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Yep! Happy.  I sort of knew it was high PH to begin with when I used it on the first Sink Cemetary'd batch.  However, I didn't think it would be THAT high.  With this one, no water just juice...yet.  I mixed what you said but came up a tablespoon short on pineapple juice so supplemented with some water, yes tap, that has been sitting out for a week or so to get rid of any chlorine. So I went to the dark side just a little.  Next time bottled water.  Anyway, starter now looks like what I think it should look like and we shall see.  

Next dumb question, I am assuming that I can't add water to the pineapple left in the can and let it soak and come up with VOILA! more juice correct?  Trying to avoid yet another trip to the grocery store.  Can't find straight unsweetened pineapple juice. Just cans with rings and pieces.  Not a lot of juice in there!  Should have bought two.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  Really, thanks.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've used orange juice and pickle juice, vinegar, and lemon juice, apple juice.  Sure you can crush the pineapple and use it.  The trick now is to figure out what combination of water and a particular edible acid will get you normal pH water.  You can play with your pool pH tester. Good to get about 7.  Bottled water should include the pH reading.  Lemon juice, lets see... there are posts around here too to find.  Just off hand you could take 500g water and add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar and pH test it.  Then add more or less. You may even have acetic acid crystals for canning peaches or something around.

Then again...you can just wait for the starter bugs to lower the pH.   Zzzzzzzzz.

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Hy, I know, I have gallons of Muriatic Acid for the pool! That'll get it down to 7.  Yeah, probably not a great idea :) I do have pickle juice but not sure if it is unsweetened. However, in all my reading (which has been way too much and I should have posted and read this thread and just gone with you, Phaz, Abe, and the others) I haven't seen any suggestions to go beyond the second feeding with juice.  Every recipe seems to switch to water at that point. I do have bottled water and it appears that would be best going forward.  Do folks use juice all the way through the development stage?  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

It varies.  Most likely due to flour and water variations.  I once had to go 5 days with juice only for a rye flour starter. But when the yeast kick in and youre getting a sour tasting starter goop, you can back off the juice lowering the amount and adding more water.  Dont shock the starter with an abrupt feeding switch straight to water though, it might just pout.  Better to taper off gradually.  

You do want to encourage the bacteria that love to produce acids to be stimulated by the lack of acid.  When enough acid is in the starter constantly, they get lazy. So it is important that the pH levels go up and down, low before feeding and high right after feeding.  Then dropping during fermentation.  If you haven't read Wink's articles, do so.  #2 and #1. 

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks, I have read them multiple times.  Confused on your comment regarding PH needing to be "low before feeding and high after."  It would seem that the bacteria would cause it raise and then feeding using juice would cause it to go lower.  The opposite of what I want.  I will read Ms. Wink....again.    

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the low pH is acid the high pH skale more alkaline.  ...the more acid the lower the pH

before feeding a sourdough culture is often at its lowest pH reading and contains more acid 

after feeding, adding flour and water (or juice) will raise pH readings, it will be at its highest pH reading and closer to neutral (not high pH). Sorry.  

One thing to think about is the sourdough baking later on, the dough may benefit from a small increase in acid in every recipe.  Using a water that has been lightly "spiked" with lemon juice, vinegar or vitamin C may be a good idea.  

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Geez,,,got it. I had a brain...bubble... and was thinking backward.  This does explain my green pool though. :) 

So at this point I am waiting on good activity and then another feeding, 1:1:1, correct? At the top of the mark if I can catch it. No activity, let it go.  As Phaz told me, feed activity, don't feed hibernation.  What happened to Phaz anyway? I think he gave up on me and abandoned the good ship Starter.  Don't blame him!  

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Starter is coming along but a question.  I have been stirring it about 8 hours after feeding and I notice that it is, for lack of a better term, sort of rubbery.  Another 8 hours after stirring it has thinned greatly, like a thin batter.  Is this thickening and then thinning out telling me anything in particular? Is it just the beginning of rising which I kill with the stirring?  I haven't had any real rise, maybe 1/4" or so.  No rise after stirring. Thanks in advance.

phaz's picture
phaz

The "rubbery" is gluten formation. Nothing to worry about. Thinning is a concern and a sign food is running out. Another thing to not worry about - as long as it doesn't get to thin.

I've said before, may have been in this thread - get a wet dough like consistency and maintain. Enjoy!

firstbase's picture
firstbase

Thanks, Phaz. Does gluten form at any particular stage of starter development? Is it indicative of anything in particular?  Your comment makes me think that I should feed again when I see it begin to thin out? Appears that it is about the 12 hour point or so and maybe evidence I should go to twice daily feeding?

phaz's picture
phaz

The right feeding routine (amount and frequency) is the routine that leaves a little rise at the point where it gets food again. Whatever the frequency, and whatever the amount, that's my rule - but ya gotta mix things up often enough so whatever food is available is able to be utilized by the bugs.

Gluten will form easiest early in the routine (if ya stir enough) ie - right after feeding. Then consumption takes over and thinning is the result. Enjoy!