The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter Refreshment Discovery

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ehanner's picture
ehanner

Starter Refreshment Discovery

Over the years I have been feeding my starters using the "doubling at least" method to insure that the organisms got plenty to eat. That meant I would save say 100 grams of starter to which I would add equal parts by weight of water and flour ending with 300 grams of refreshed starter. I would take from that starter for baking and dump all but 100 g when it was feeding time. I never let the base mother starter get lower than 50 grams out of fear of loosing it.

What I have recently discovered is that I get a much stronger level of activity if I dump almost all of my 100% hydration starter out and start with basically an empty glass save the remaining amount after emptying the glass. I then add a few tablespoons of tepid water and enough flour to make a batter and mix it up. You only need enough old starter to make a milky mix when you add the water. I have even taken it a step further and added a little water to the empty starter glass, stirred it around a bit to make it milky and then poured the water into a clean glass and added flour to make a batter. 12 hours later it's all happy and trying to grow out of the glass. I suspect I am multiplying the volume by at least 100 times or more. The beasties seem to love it.

So, for those of you who are worried that you need to maintain a certain amount of starter as a base lest you don't have enough to inoculate the next batch. Worry not. You just have to experiment one time to learn how virulent these organisms are.  

Eric 

TRK's picture
TRK

I've been using the same method, except that I actually measure out about 1/4 cup starter and add 6 grams of flour and water to it.  It works great.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

6 grams is not much, a heaping teaspoon, sounds like starving to me.

Mini O

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

I'm thinking perhaps it should have read 60g, as 1/4c of starter is almost 60g. Add 60g water  and 60g flour you have a 1:1:1 ratio.

Here I put my usual 30g old starter into a quarter cup measure to show the approximate amount. To this I add 60g water and flour, giving me 150g starter.

Quarter Cup with 30g of starter

Quarter Cup with 30g of starter

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Paul

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I use a retarded dough/starter build. It also begins with a small amount (~ 100 gm.) of starter cut from the last "starter" build. It is dissolved into tepid water and whisked till a lumpless soup results. Flour is then added, mixed with spatula till it can be turned out and kneaded. It is then returned to its container and let ferment for a day at 77 deg. F. It is then returned to the refrigerator to rest and develop for a day before being fed and kneaded a second time (nothing is discarded). It is then allowed to ferment at 77 deg. F for a day before being returned to the refrigerator. Bread can be built from this at any time for up to 3 days after...,

Wild-Yeast

Russ's picture
Russ

This sounds a lot like the method discussed in this thread. Mike Avery's post there suggested caution when going that route. I never tried it myself, I'm still using the method I described in my post in the thread and am still happy with my results.

Russ

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the other day, the glass fell from the cupboard smashing to the ground. Either too many bread ingredients in there, or an elf was also digging simultaneously. Well it happened as things do. The label said Sept '07 Austrian, so this was the starter that made a long trip back from China. :(

Tempted to ditch it but I carefully scooped up about 3 tablespoons with glass pieces and set aside as I cleaned up the mess. Then added water to the dried starter and let it sit to soften. After 4 hours of swirling ran it thru a fine sieve. There was lots of solid material (glass and old used up flour bits) but managed to extract some "milk." This cloudy milky water got mixed with whole wheat & rye and after 24 hours, I added more water and ap wheat. Nothing going on yet but it smells good.

Mini O

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Mini Oven,
Sorry to hear about your accident. I'll bet it will come back just fine. Maybe long term storage in a zip-lock in the freezer would be safer.

Eric 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Funny I was thinking about zip-locks while I was sweeping and vacuuming. I was also wondering how long the flour would keep in a dried starter before it went rancid.

Just after I typed the above, I added a teaspoon of honey. The starter has now doubled so it's still pretty much alive. I've been trying to figure out if this is the traveling Austrian starter or the one I picked up last summer from the bakery to compare with my experiments. As long as it works.... don't mess with something that ain't broke. I do like thinning & putting the starter thru a sieve to clean it up, doesn't hurt it one bit. I do it quite often now.

I've run into a snag on the dumpling recipe, has to do with the variety of potatoes.  The apricots are getting ripe!  Gotta hurry!

My brother lost his corn crop to floods. How you fairing, Eric?

Mini O

ehanner's picture
ehanner

It's really spotty in our area. Most farmers are going to lose some of the crops. The vegetable farm my daughter works at is at about 50% loss They just called to see if she will be able to work this year. Pretty much most of the corn in Iowa and Northern Illinois is drowned. I'm not optimistic about the summer fall season. Even after the rivers have started to crest this week in our area, there are many fields with standing water that will not drain. Wither way, it's to late now for corn this season.

It's raining now and I have a turkey in the roaster. Made the best Pita's ever last night. 1/4 WW flour and buckwheat honey. MMMM! Stuffed with grilled chicken breast marinaded in garlic/chili powder/ lemon juice and a chopped veggie salad (tomatoes/cucumbers/ peppers/celery/onions/cilantro/garlic with V-8, olive oil and lemon juice and chili powder and paprika) This is my favorite summer meal!! Like a thick gazpacho in a pita.

 Eric

Jolly's picture
Jolly

In refreshing my starter one day I decided to use 1 1/2 tsp of starter for I didn't want a real sour sourdough starter. I fed it 1/2 cup water and flour by weight. Then after the second feeding I notice a big difference in my starter. Normally I can place the starter in a 1 quart jar, until it doubles in volume. I had to remove the starter from the jar and place in a larger container just to contain it. So I developed a very vigorous starter by using only 1 1/2 tsp sourdough starter. It gave my breads a good hearty rise and a beautiful crumb. I've been refreshing all my starters in this manner for over a year now. Its works beautifully for me.

Jolly

siuflower's picture
siuflower

Eric, I tried your suggestion and I did an experience with two side-by-side samples comparison. One with half-ounce seed starter and the other I removed almost all the starter. I added the water and flour into the almost empty container and did my regular feeding with the other starter. I left both samples in room temperature for 12 hours. The one with half-ounce starter, I can see a lot of grow going on with air bubbles, the one with minimum starter I also see grow and air bubbles. I continue my feeding with almost all the starter remove for the next five feedings. I saved all the starters into a container put it in the refrigerator. I saved six feeding starters and the total is 1 pound 4.1 ounce of starter dough. I used the starter dough to make seeded crackers and they come out wonderful and I can taste the tang in the crackers. My Multigrain pan bread from Michel Suas’s book is cooling on the rack. I will post the pictures later because I’m not that good with computer and I have troubles posting more than one picture, I don't know how to make it work for me.

 

siuflower

ehanner's picture
ehanner

It sounds like a successful experiment. The batch with a smaller inoculation will grow more slowly at first but it will grow. I'm looking forward to seeing your work.

Eric