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starter not bubbly and doubling

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jimmykx250's picture

starter not bubbly and doubling

I have a starter over a year old. Purchased from KAF. It never seemed to be as active as it should have been from the get go. I keep it in the fridge and feed it once a week or so. I usually pull it from the fridge let it sit overnight to warm up then feed it 1,2.2,2 (starter,flour,water)ratio discarding some first to keep the over all size around fifty grams. It smeels great and does develop a greenish hooch on top in-between feedings. I do get bubbles just not very active and never seems to double in size.  Should i think about starting over? I would love to save it even if it does take a little effort. Any guidence would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jimmykx250 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Don't let it warm up, sitting in the room overnight until you feed it. (That's like putting a hungry starter on a tread mill and demanding it run untill morning.) Take a cold tablespoonful and then feed it, the spoonful, right from the fridge.  Discard the rest.  Let your starter work at room temp and see what happens.

Feed it more flour. starter:flour:water 1 : 4 : 3

(although I prefer to state it starter:water:flour the way I mix it up)

Mini O

fancypantalons's picture

Meh, I let my starter warm up out of the fridge for 8 hours or so before feeding and it works just fine.  I agree, it's probably a bit stressful, but I doubt it really hurts.

The real problem, I suspect, is that a single feeding after refrigeration simply isn't enough.  I usually do 3 or 4 before I put my starter back in the fridge again (or baking with it).

For the record, this is a 100% hydration starter that I keep refrigerated between uses, and it's very happy (it's usually in the fridge for 5-7 days at a time).  It never develops hooch on top, and actually bubbles up and inflates a bit in the fridge between feedings.

jimmykx250's picture

Your suggestion did it! IT is thicker than  my old starter but it definately livened up after the first feeding. I have fed it twice now and am going to try the 40 percent rye by hamelman this weekend! Thanks for your help!!!! Jim

KosherBaker's picture

Hi Jimmy.

This is definitely one of those FAQ questions. :) Your feeding regimen appears to produce a 100% hydration starter. A starter that liquid, will not have enough "legs" (or gluten) developed to stand up and double in size. If you want to see your starter double you'll need to make it dryer. Maybe around 65% - 70% hydration.

On the other hand, not seeing a starter double is not an indication that it is bad. Plenty of people use a high hydration starter. One thing to note about high hydration starters is that they are hungrier than the dryer starters and need to be fed more often. Maybe once every 3 to 5 days when stored in the fridge. The fact that your starter is showing you hooch is an indications that it is starving. A dryer starter can be fed once every 5 to 7 days if refrigerated.

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Davo's picture

Maybe you are doing this already, but give the starter 2 or 3 feeds over a day or two at room temp, before making it into levain/dough, sometimes it can take a while to get "momentum", especially if it's exhausted when it's dragged out.