The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hoochie starter

Marni's picture
Marni

Hoochie starter

I have a starter that is about 10 weeks old and seemingly healthy and active.  It grows very quickly, raises loaves well and smells great.  Now, here's my concern- when I feed it and refrigerate it, it rises, falls and gets a layer of hooch within 12 to 18 hours.   I'm not sure if that is normal, and if so, can I and should I leave it alone until its next use?  (usually a couple days)  I thought hooch meant it was hungry and should be fed, but also that chilling it should slow things down so it shouldn't need daily (or even twice daily) feedings.  I don't weigh the flour or water, I use volume measures, but tend to make the starter on the thicker side. It is sometimes pasty/gluey when I take it from the fridge. (but not always).

I've gone on and on here trying to explain.  I just wonder if this is normal.  Other than feeding it more than I planned I'm pleased with it and want to maintain it well. 

Thanks for any thoughts on this.

Marni

holds99's picture
holds99

Marni,

I have switched completely from a wet starter (a la Nancy Silverton) to a firm starter (a la Maggie Glezer) and the firm starter is working much better for me with less maintenance and waste.  If you haven't already do so, you might consider taking a look at Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking book, page 91, French-Style Sourdough Starter.  Actually, I converted my orignal Nancy Silverton starter from liquid to a firm starter and it works great.  Glezer has a recipe for building a starter from scratch and then maintaining it.  I did Glezer's starter from scratch in about 10 days and have been refreshing it weekly and it works great.  I keep both starters (Silverton's and Glezer's) seperately in the fridge (clearly marked and dated as to last refreshment) and plan on doing some baking comparisons in the future.  The thing I love about the firm starter is it is so easy to maintain and use.  I've also switched over to liquid levain as in Glezer's recipe for Thom Leonard's Country French Bread  (pg. 133) and it's easier and more predictable than what I was doing before.  She takes you through preparation of your starter for baking i.e. start refreshing 2 days in advance.  Take a look at her technique, it may be something you're interested in trying.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I agree with Howard. I prefer a firm starter. Liquid starters are more active, which is good, but can have problems if the environment changes. Somewhat the opposite of the conditions used originally in obtaining the starter. Preservation is favored by a firm starter.

Your starter is very active which is good. Top hooch is also a good thing. Just stir it back in. Firming the starter will slow it down. Lowering the surround temperature will also slow it.

Learning the wiles of sourdough is a fascinating story unto itself...,

Wild-Yeast

Marni's picture
Marni

Thanks for your thoughts.  Maybe I'll divide this starter and make a firm and a liquid one.  Most of the recipes I use now call for 100% hydration, so I haven't bothered trying the firm one yet.  (Although my rye starter is firm.)  I just thought it might be unusual for a chilled starter to rise so quickly, I guess it's just very active. 

Thanks again,

Marni