The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough ripening time

JMonkey's picture

Sourdough ripening time

Given my failure over the weekend, I'm trying to figure out how to ensure that I use my starter when it's as close as possible to maximum ripeness. I've got to time it pretty well, because it's a busy weekend. Saturday is just out, because it's my daughter's 3rd birthday party. Sunday will work, but that means the starter needs to be ready to go by either 2pm or 10am. Church comes right in the middle.

If it's ready at 10am, I can knead it up and let it rise from 10:30am until after we get back from church, which is usually about 1pm (we walk, and always hang around for a while after church to munch on goodies and socialize). If it's ready at 2pm, that gives me time to start the autolyse at 1ish and then knead everything up when the starter's ready.

I've been reading through Hammelman's book recently, and one thing that jumped out at me that hadn't previously is how HUGE the multiplcation factors are for his sourdoughs. For a white liquid starter (125%), he usually increases it by 8-9 times which should be ready in about 12 hours at 70 degrees F.

For the rye, which is at 87%, he usually increases it by ... get this ... 35-40 times (!!!). It's ready in 14-16 hours.

Here's my thinking. It usually takes my whole wheat sourdough about 4 hours to double in size, and the sourdough accounts for just under 1/3 of the flour. I'm guessing that the culture increases geometrically, doubling in size at the same rate of time, though I've read that the bacteria grow more slowly than the yeast. Here's my guestimate. For my stiff starter, I'm guessing that if I just double it in size, it'd be ready in 3-4 hours. Quadruple: 6-8. A factor of 8: 9-12. That sound right?

As for rye, sheesh, I dunno. Does rye starter mature more quickly than wheat? I mean, adding 40 times (?!) the flour and it's ready in 16 hours? But now that I think about it, let's assume that it takes 3 hours for the rye culture organisms to double. Factor of 8 would be 9 hours. 16 would be 12 hours. 32 would be 15 hours. Hmmmm. Maybe it's not so far off.