The Fresh Loaf

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Question about my starter...

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Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Question about my starter...

I finally went and made another starter after my first 2 (!) died on me.  This third one seems to be doing quite well in its old glass Eden salt container.  I did have a surprise this morning, however.

I decided to try leaving it for a couple days without feeding.  I stirred twice a day.  When I woke up this morning, which would've been the third day, it had orange flecks.  Liquidy.  Kinda smelled bad, but not horrible.  Kinda sour, but not beery.  I don't really understand how to explain the smell.   Anyway, I fed it 12 hours ago and, when I looked at it again, it had almost tripled but still retained the not so beery smell.  I fed it again just now and plan to feed in 12 hours again to see if I can get things set to right.

Is the orange I was seeing just hooch and should I keep going, or should I pitch it and try again?

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Right now I'm keeping 1 tablespoon of the starter, then feeding with 40 grams of water and 50 grams of flour per weight.  I put this at a very managable 80% hydration.

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

First:

Stephanie wrote:
I decided to try leaving it for a couple days without feeding.

Might I ask why?

Although your feeding ratio is 1:2.6:3.3 starter/water/flour and is therefore a little bulkier in food (the 3.3 ratio) than the typical 1:2:2 of a 100% hyd. starter, that may not be enough food to last a starter for a few days.

Second: How old is this new starter? If it's within it's first three or four days, the action you're seeing could very well be Alien Bacteria, the stuff you don't want, setting up shop in your starter batch. In a starter that's got everything going well, even at an early stage, your good critters will eventually take over and suffocate these bad critters; the "hootch", at least when it's in small enough quantity to not separate into a layer, is a byproduct of the yeast and bacteria and it's how this pair manages to get along so well. They coexist and produce a slightly acidic environment that's great for them but horrible for other critters who eventually just give up. If you're seeing a layer of hootch, though, this is a definite indication your beasties are dying to eat. Literally.

But if you go and starve your new and rather low-population yeast/bacteria dudes, they likely won't be able to build up enough strength to fight off the bad guys. They may well get taken over and not be able to set up house in your flour/water mix.

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Paul

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

It had been 48 hours since I made the starter when I fed it yesterday. I think I almost killed it again. *headdesk*

I'll let you know. Tuesday will be the 5th whole (24 hour period) day in the process. I'll bake a small loaf that day to see how I did.

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

 A five-day old starter is probably not ready to go yet, especially if it was unfed for two of those five days. Instead of using that flour making a loaf that quite likely will not work save it and feed your starter with it instead. And that first big rise was likely not your yeastie beasties in action anyway. 

DON'T RUSH. Give it time, don't skip feedings, keep at it even if it's looking like it's flat and doing nothing for a period. Sourdough is not fast.

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Paul

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Feeding twice per 24 hour period seems to be doing the trick. Maybe my yeast really likes food?

I'm going to try baking with it Tuesday, I think, and feed it every 12 hours until then.  I had no orangey stuff this morning when I looked at it, which was after 2 feedings.  Fed it again and it appears to be pretty happy.

I'm expecting a few bumps in the road since this is the first time I've had one work for me. ;)

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

 do you mean it's doubling (or better) in volume between every feeding?

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Paul

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Most of the time or better.  I think that it was kinda starving, but when I started feeding it every 12 hours it bounced back.  I'm getting no more orange liquid, and it tripled this morning.