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Audrey's First Child Grows up. Somewhat.

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Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Audrey's First Child Grows up. Somewhat.

Well, I thought I could sail on through to the actual bread making but it seems not without a slight hitch that needs some sage minds to help out.

Meet Clem.

Clem is Audrey's first child. He was made of the following:

30g Audrey stiff starter (rye)
100g spring water
100g UAP flour

Clem grew up in a warm, cozy 81F environment and is now 18 hrs old. Soon he'll be expected to get a job raising bread. But he seems decidedly reluctant. At 18 hrs, he's barely managed to increase from his original 200ml to 250 ml when we are expecting him to reach 400 within 12 to 24 hrs. Clem is quite bubbly on the surface while rather mild natured but clearly lacks ambition to reach higher goals.

Clem at 18

What shall we do about Clem? I'd really like him to move out soon.

Comments

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I hate to sound like a broken record, but a starter at room temperature and 100% hydration needs to be fed twice a day.

 

If you need more starter than you have, add about 120 grams each of water and flour.

 

If you don't need that much, discard 1/2 and then add 60 grams or so each of water and flour.  Stir.  Wait to see how it rises.  You should be ok in a feeding or two.

 

Also, the time to use a starter is somewhere between the time it reaches its peak and just after it starts to decline.  After that, things get dicey.

 

Mike

 

proth5's picture
proth5

Mike,

Not to hijack this, but..

What is motivating you to sound like a broken record about twice a day feedings?

I ask because I've been taking care of a 100% hydration starter for years.  I find it to be a reliable starter and I like the flavor I have been getting from it.  It lives, four days a week, in a 45 degree F refrigerator (a special refrigerator just for it) and is not fed.  The rest of the time is is at cool room temperature (or in summer in a cooler at about 65F) and I feed it - once a day. 

According to your record, it should be doing poorly.  It is not.

For a brief period (about a month) a year or so ago I did the twice a day feedings - I cannot honestly say that I saw any improvement, so I went back to the once a day. 

Not challenging your expertise, as I know it is extensive.  Just wondering aloud on the possible factors feeding your adamance and the difference in my experience.

Thanks.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Proth5, your starter is much older than Audrey. She's just getting her balance. Mike's advice sounds good. Higher temperatures do speed up the fermenting process.

One thing keeps ringing in my ears and that is 81°F. Something about being warm all the time is making both Audrey and Clem hungry. They could be eating up the food and being lazy. We might have to give them a cooler environment to promote the right balance of beasties.

 

So I recommend that the next time you give Clem some food, park him into the refrigerator overnight or even a whole day if that is better for you, give him a chance to rise slow and cool. He might not rise at all but wait until he warms up, time him when he comes out and lets see if he can "get it up."

So that we don't end up with mammoth portions of starter (I'm hoping also that while you're sleeping he's stuffing his little beastie mouths full) we should reduce him to 100g before feeding again should it be necessary. Please note that I had expected Clem to rise higher than he did. He might just surprise us today and then you can get on with baking, don't forget to save 30g if he's doing well.

Meanwhile (back in the lab) ... Questions:

1) How long did it take him to peak?

2) When did he start to sink in the measuring cup?

3) Where is Audrey? What's she up to?

4) What is your room temperature?

5) Did you find a recipe yet?

Mini O

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Mini O wrote:

Meanwhile (back in the lab) ... Questions:

1) How long did it take him to peak?

2) When did he start to sink in the measuring cup?

3) Where is Audrey? What's she up to?

4) What is your room temperature?

5) Did you find a recipe yet?

 

1) Peaked? That 1/4 rise was all he did when we were at the 18hr mark. I think he got to that at about 12 hrs.

2) He hadn't receded (that I could tell) when I fed him again.

3) Audrey's in the fridge, sleeping.

4) 72F

5) Hadn't decided on one yet, think I'd want a really basic one so we don't throw too many variables into the mix.

Clem was doubled when I fed him at 18hrs so he got up to 400ml in the jar. However, he's not budged at all since his last feeding and that's now 12 hrs. Not one bit, at all.

I had doubled him in the hope that he'd activate nicely and I'd have a fair amount to put into a dough. Now I have a fair amount to go to recycling instead (I've already got a sizable collection of batter from all the previous attempts that will make yummy pancakes).

To your point about"too warm": If it causes too much feeding, doesn't that in turn translate into plentiful gas production? Isn't the rising action in effect "yeast burps"? (I'll avoid the other obvious analogy.)

So I'll reduce Clem - and keep him small until he shows real activity - and he can go into the fridge if you think this will help him chill out, do a little thinking and hopefully grow up.

BTW: I am now getting well into the second half of the 10k bag of flour I bought at the beginning of this little endeavour. All we've seen so far (besides lots of starter) is one batch of pancakes.

BTW#2: I want to note that while I was mixing up the new Clem, I had a taste of it (in it's 400ml version) and it was decidedly nice flavoured. A good tang, though in this batter form stronger than I'd want in a slice of bread. But flavour wise, I think he's there. It's really just the raising that's not up to snuff. Well, non-existant at the moment is more like it. So we'll see what we get. He's now been reduced to a 30:60:60 mix and is at about 100ml in the measuring jar and is chilling with mom.

 

Question: Since he's being cooled this time around, what should his feeding schedule be?  

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Paul

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

From what's left of the 400ml of starter, add another 200ml of water with 2 teaspoons of yeast, 2 teaspoons of your favorite sweetner, 2 teaspoons of salt, and flour to make a dough, about 250g flour, 50g of rye is also not bad and stir untill everything is moist. Work in a little more flour if you need to after a 30 minute rest. Knead for about 10 minutes and let it proof. The yeast will take over the rise and have it up in 2 to 3 hours. You can leave it out on the counter top and do some folding every half hour until you are ready to shape it. Cover with a large bowl to prevent any drying while working and proofing. Plop onto parchment and wait for a final proof (1 to 1 1/2 hours room temp). Slash deeply and bake in your preferred method. 400°F for about 35 minutes or until done. It would be a shame to waste a good poolish.

I'm still thinking about what's going on....

Chilled with Mom.... to answer the chilled feeding Q: First let Glen peak, I mean after he is chilled and you have time to watch him (the first 6 hours will not show much) stir him a bit & let him just rise and rise until he starts to fall down in the beaker. This will check his holding power. I'm hoping we get more lacto beasties and they can all hold hands and rise higher together. Once he starts to fall let him sit an hour and then build him for a recipe.

Mini O

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Up to now, I've been making a point of keeping the leftovers for a bit while moving to the next step just so I can "go back a step" if I needed to. EXCEPT this time, it went right into the recycle bin along with the onions and coffee grounds. Urghh!

I just checked Clem and he's not doing too much yet at the 7 hrs mark. So I'm stirring and letting him rest. 

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Paul

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You've got me wondering about my Mr. Austria. So I took a dab of him 30g and added 60g water and 60g AP and also put into a beaker. Your's went through a sex change so I guess I'll follow suit and name this "test" Amy

 location

Amy 1:2:2: 09:30 hours....

strange places do exist....

 Rye starter, wheat fed

Amy after 11 hours: Rye starter, wheat fed ...150ml to 300ml...doubled!

Looks like Mr. Austria can still pump his weight.

After I downloaded this picture, my Airport connection hardware collapsed. My son got me back on line before I got LOST. Amy actually peaked after 10.5 hours.  If you look carefully, the rising dome is flattening out and starting to fall.  Amy got put into the fridge overnight and in the morning (had dropped to 220ml) made into dough. I combined and let sit 30 minutes: 400g water, 500g assorted flours (including 50g rye), and 2 tsp brown sugar. Then Amy threw herself into it (more like a swan dive) along with 1.5 tsp salt.    I kneaded and set aside to proof.

Mini O

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

I'm curious what feeding ratio you use.

Thanks, Bill

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and after mixing put into the fridge for a while.

It could be it's too thin and the bubbles are popping and not pushing up the beaker.  Next time we feed him, lets make him thicker, like very heavy pancake dough.   Bubbles are always a good sign.

Mini O

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

 Oh, trust me it's not a problem of too thin. Thick, this boy is. Quite dense in fact. You could stand a spoon up in it easily.

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Paul

proth5's picture
proth5

Bill,

Here's where I reveal the "close is good enough" side of myself.

I keep "about" 8- 12 oz of starter in a plastic tub and remove "about" 4 oz of it to be replaced with 2 oz water and 2 oz flour. 

If I've left the starter in the fridge too long - I might remove "a little" more and feed it 3 oz each of water and flour. 

How unlike me!  But the routine has worked for a number of years and has the advantage of being relatively easy to do or to explain when I need to leave the starter with a sitter. 

The percent of starter in my levain build has been varying according to time of year from 12 - 25% of the total weight of the build (at 100% hydration).  As I get more rigorous at controlling the temperature at which the build matures, I will probably draw down closer to 12% than 25%.

Pat

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

I don't know if this is true, but I wonder if there isn't a whole category of "high acid" starters.

If you read about the behavior of cultures composed of Lactobacillus sf and C. Milleri  (the lactobacillus bacteria and yeast strains found in many sourdough cultures studied and written about in a number scientific papers - Ganzle the author of some of the ones that were to me most informative), you would quickly come to the conclusion that your method should not work. The acid is never sufficiently relieved at such a low feeding ratio. In fact, cultures maintained with low feeding ratios have been found to have much lower quantities of Lactobacillus compared to yeast, relative to those maintained with higher feeding ratios. The reason is simple: L. sf bacteria do not grow below a pH of about 3.8 and stop producing acid and start to die below about 3.6 pH. So, clearly if you maintain a culture with little or no acid relief, which is what happens with feeding ratios below about a doubling of the culture at each feeding, then the yeast can survive, but their partners in crime, the L. sf bacteria, will begin to drop out of the culture.

So, why does your method work?

Ganzle also says there are cultures continuously maintained at low pH, and they have different more acid tolerant Lactobacillus strains in them. In particular, he mentions L. pontis as a strain that is found in continously fed cultures in industrial "culturing machines". He suggests that cultures that are routinely maintained at low feeding ratios will eventually become populated by acid tolerant Lactobacillus bacteria, such as L. pontis.

I've noticed any number of participants on TFL who protest that their cultures work well over long periods of time maintained with very low feeding ratios. I remember Brotkunst, who I haven't seen posting in a while, described feeding his culture at a very low ratio and high hydration and keeping it continuously in the refrigerator, which shouldn't be a good culturing strategy if you think you are culturing L. sf.  Yet, he was doing this over a long time, and he was obviously making very nice bread with his culture and was satisfied with the flavor of his bread.

So, if you divide the sourdough culture world into to groups, one composed of those who have cultures similar to L. sf and C. Milleri, and others with cultures that have a more acid tolerant strain, like L. pontis along with whatever yeasts might naturally live alongside L. pontis in more acid conditions, you can begin to understand the sometimes conflicting accounts of how to maintain a culture.

If you're culturing a L. sf or similar bacteria, then you need to feed at ratios that at least triple the culture, if you are going to raise the pH enough at each feeding to allow the L. sf to regenerate themselves sufficiently to have a stable culture.  However, if you are culturing L. pontis, then you would maintain the low pH, and therefore feed at very low feeding ratios, to avoid an invasion of other less acid tolerant strains.

As far as feeding frequency for either of these methods, I believe it is a function of the feeding ratio and the temperature, and is variable over a wide range depending on those factors. If you do what I do, which is a relatively high ratio of 10:1 new culture to old, e.g. I feed 20 grams water and 25 grams flour to 5 grams of starter,  then at a warm temperature around 80F it works well to feed about every 12 hours. However, at cool temperatures around 65F, every 12 hours would be too frequent. The culture needs longer than 12 hours at 65F to completely populate the 10 fold increase in fresh flour introduced during the feeding. On the other hand, if you feed 1:1:1 by weight of (starter:water:flour), tripling your culture each time, then feeding a minimum of every 12 hours makes sense, especially if the temperatures are warm. In fact, if feeding at a ratio of 1:1:1 at 80F, by the time 12 hours has elapsed, the culture would be past the point when it might have optimally been refed.

Your strategy is very interesting, using a 45F temperature for storage, which may be just enough to have some very slow growth, and then doing occasional warmer refreshments at very low feeding ratios. I would assume you must have the more acid tolerant strain of Lactobacillus bacteria in that culture.

So, what would happen if I started managing my culture as you do and you started managing your culture as I do? I would imagine the cultures might both go through a period of instability as different strains of Lactobacillus become established. In my case, the L. sf-like bacteria that probably lives in my culture would be under tremendous stress from the continuously low pH if I started maintaining mine as you do. However, hopefully at some point a more acid tolerant Lactobacillus would establish itself, and I'd be OK from there on out.

In your case, I don't know if the L. pontis-like bacteria would still thrive if maintained at a higher pH using a higher feeding ratio, as I do. Maybe the less acid tolerant strains like L. sf have an advantage over L. pontis at higher pH, higher feeding ratios, since L. sf is what is commonly found in cultures maintained using feeding ratios of more than triple. If so, I would imagine after a time, if you used my feeding routine, the L. pontis-like bacteria would drop out, and L. sf-like bacteria would establish themselves. I wonder if the culture would go through a period of difficulty during the transition from more acid tolerant bacteria to less acid tolerant bacteria.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

Bill,

In "true confessions" mode - I will say that I started my culture from one of those "San Francisco Sourdough" dried cultures lo those years ago.  Just followed the package directions and it worked.   It is a shamefull beginning, I am told, but the starter has grown into one that I really treasure.

What you say really makes some sense about transitioning from the L. sf, though.  My bread definitely does not taste like a San Francisco sourdough.  This is fine with me, as I don't like a sour bread.  I actually use my starter to make enriched breads where an excessive sour flavor would be undesireable.  There is a definite taste difference between my levain breads and my breads made with commercial yeasts, but few have described it as "sour." 

But then I think, if I have an acid tolerant strain - wouldn't that make my starter be more sour?  Am I just growing wild yeast and ? (Again, fine with me.)

I did go through a bad baking phase with it, but I attribute that mostly to using too much starter in my build and not letting it mature. 

Because I must do a levain build late evening on a Thursday and get my baking done by Friday evening,  I have found that storage at 40F made my levain a little too sluggish when I pulled it out to use it.  I guess I should mention that I feed the starter perhaps an hour before I store it.  It comes out of the warm fridge without any "hooch" - generally in good shape after 4 days.  Ideally I would keep it at room temperature and feed it daily, but that is not possible.  When I did have the opportunity to do this for a month or so, it seemed to flourish (on once a day feedings) in terms of its rising qualities but it never really was sour.

I know I have a ph test kit hanging about the house - but it is designed for water testing.  I'll have to see if I can use that to understand the actual acidity of my starter.

So now I'm thinking that I should extract a bit of my starter and feed it up at a higher feeding ratio to see what it would do.  It will need to live at cool temperatures, though - at least until it is Summer in the Rockies. 

Oh my.  Another set of experiments...

I'll keep you posted.

Pat

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

I don't know what the flavor effects are of having more acid tolerant bacteria in the starter. I think Ganzle commented in one of those articles that both L. sf and L. pontis populated cultures resulted in "good flavor". I'm also not saying it's better or worse in any way. You sound apologetic, but if it works, it works. Nothing wrong with it at all from my point of view. Also, starting cultures from scratch is interesting but probably overrated. It's a time-honored tradition to obtain a culture from someone who has a good one.

I was just proposing a possible explanation for why you hear two seemingly conflicting things:

1) Never feed less than triple.

2) Just replace what you take out, typically a number around 1/2 or less of the culture.

I suspect the people who have L. sf-like bacteria in their culture are doing all kinds of versions of (1), and they will be feeding typically at least 1:1:1, sometimes 1:2:2, or if they are doing firm starters and feeding less often like me, then it's something 1:3:5 (Glezer style firm starter) or 1:4:5 (my current method, similar to Glezer, but to me basically a little easier because you can just stir it, no kneading required).

The people who have L. pontis-like bacteria would be doing (2), according to my theory.

As long as you get a stable, good tasting, active enough culture, it's hard to say there's anything wrong with either approach, including any variations.

Maybe what I've suggested is way off the mark, but at least it's an explanation for the existence of many low ratio and high ratio approaches that all work, are stable over long periods, and widely used.

Bill

proth5's picture
proth5

Bill,

Not really apologetic - and I'm not sure knowing what I know now I'd do anything different - I don't really have the consecutive days at home to devote to babying a "from scratch" starter. What works - works.

But I am interested in measuring ph and maybe seeing what happens if I try to convert my starter into one with a different character.  I will at least do some test builds over time (oh goody another three month epic!) and see if I can observe any tribulations while going from one feeding regime to another.

I'll maintain my routine on my main starter because, well, my bread eaters like what it produces.

I see elswhere that you are about to head out hiking on the Inca Trail.  I did it the easy way, but Machu Pichu is a splendid thing (this is where living at a mile high really helps...)

Happy Trails!

Pat

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pat,

If you google it, probably have, there's that faq about how to measure pH of sourdough culture or bread dough.

The short of it is you can probably use your water testing pH meter, as that's what I do. Basically mix a sample (15 grams suggested in the faq) with 100 ml distilled water and stir vigorously (e.g. shake in a tightly lidded plastic container as suggested in the faq). Then, just measure the pH. The dilution gives you a slurry that won't goop up your pH probe. You can wash it off easily that way. It doesn't change the pH much to dilute the 15g sample with 100ml of distilled water.

Sorry to have gone way off-topic.

Pat, I'll visit you on your blog if you post something new or visit me on mine when I start posting about pH and TTA sometime around the end of the month and we can continue this discussion.

I do hope to have quite an adventure camping along the Inca trail and visiting Lake Titicaca - traveling and camping with family and kids, so big adventure for all. Let's hope for no bugs and no altitude problems.

Bill

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

In her note on mixing this from the stiff starter, she mentioned that it should double in 12 to 24 hrs. I assumed by "24 hrs" she had meant it would do so on that feed. So another feed it is.

And please don't hesitate to whack me upside the head when I'm obviously not "getting" it. Now that you mention it, it should have clicked in when Mini mentioned 24 hrs that it still needs regular feeds, starting it from a chunk of stiff starter doesn't change that.

I think it's probably safe to think (I hope) that point has now been driven home. Finally. 

So now Clem's been fed (after holding out for 7 hrs too many) and we'll check on him in the morning.

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Paul

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I thought Clem would do it.  See comment above.

And please, please stop threating yourself with physical "whacks."  Too many kids and adults are abused that way.  If you're not "getting" it, it will come with time and patience.  It is a continual learning process.   

Mini O 

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

While Clem has been getting all the attention here, I did a little experimentation on the side and made up a ball of stiff starter but using UAP flour instead of the rye Audrey was made with. Basically following the Glezer instructions from Zulablue, although I didn't have to start from the wet batter stage -  I swiped a bit off Audrey instead. This little bro shall be named "Theo".

Observation #1: AP is wayyyy softer than rye (Duh, no kidding) so the "stiff ball that eventually flattens" aspect kinda doesn't apply here, the ball is so soft it flattens almost right away anyways. He's just resting, room temp, in a plastic tub with the lid on (the Glezer instructions say to "seal it up") so we'll see how that works out.

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Paul

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think room temp is just fine. 

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

 Not a whole lot, except being flat but the Blessing of Bread book says it won't do much the first couple of times so I'm not worried. I can't really tell if he's grown or not, I should have put him in a small jar instead of a bowl so it would be easier to see any rise. I'm going to feed him as it's 8hrs now and switch him over to a jar.

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Paul