The Fresh Loaf

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My first starter

hazimtug's picture

My first starter

Hi there,

I am very excited to be building my first sourdough starter, or the seed culture, here in Cyprus. I am following Reinhart's Crust & Crumb recipe, where you start off with whole wheat, water, malt, honey & organic raisin juice, and keep feeding for another 4 days using the 4/3 white flour ratio & doubling the volume. It was all good until I started getting confused about the size of the bubbles and the rising of the starter I should be seeing. I also did some fun science reading, gaining some insight about the microorganism life that goes on in this process (i.e., starting out with some bacteria that produce gas and eventually lower the pH to promote the conditions for the growth yeast... and that pineapple juice may be a good way to initially lower the pH to bypass the unwanted initial invaders... and that feeding with whole grain flours may help more than the white flour).

 So, here are my specific questions:

  • Tiny bubbles are not what yeast produce, correct? When yeast takes over, I should be seeing bigger bubbles that are more held together within the sturcture of the starter that has some gluten in it.
  • What are the exact visual signs for the growing yeast? Recently, what I have observed after the 6th day feeding is some frothing at the surface, very liquidy mixture (no gluten?), and kind of a thick mud-like layer at the bottom of the container... Not a pleasent smell either.
  • And, when do I know that I should start storing my starter in the fridge? i.e., do I leave the mixture at room temperature while building/feeding it no matter how long it takes until the yeast starts growing?
  • While building, is it OK to throw away half of the mixture before feeding more flour/water? Because at this rate, if it takes me 7-8 days, then I am in big trouble in terms of finding space to house the mixture...

I know I am kind of rambling, but some structured tips would help me a lot!

 Thank you!