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100% hydration starter looks too thick

somethink.different's picture

100% hydration starter looks too thick

I'm getting a sourdough starter going the cheater's way- I used just a wee pinch of commercial yeast to get things jump-started. I'm awful, I know. Purists may feel free to sniff skeptically and feel superior... they are! I always kill my all natural starters.

The problem isn't to do with that, though. Most pictures I've seen online of people's 100% starters look runny, and they're often described as being "like a thick batter" in consistency. Mine is more like a slack dough. I know whole wheat absorbs more water than white flour, so I'm assuming that's what's causing the difference. What should I do- leave it thick? Add more water, which would give the right consistency but throw off the hydration? switch to white flour? Any advice is much appreciated!


tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

100% WW will be thicker than 100% white. You can search for more info on particulars of WW cultures.

I find that 100% hydration pre-ferments start as slack dough and then become more liquid or batterlike as they ripen, with over ripened starters becoming very runny.

Did you just make the poolish for the first time? If so, has is ripened and is it more batter like?

Darxus's picture

That thread does not appear to discuss the primary question of this post, regarding starter consistency.  Only the subject of creating a starter with instant yeast instead of culturing from wild yeast.  


You can keep your starter at any hydration you like.  I've been using 142% hydration, because I kind of accidentally / arbitrarily ended up there, and I'm happy with the consistency - mostly that it's far easier to measure the rise than 100% hydration.  With 100% whole wheat flour - which I also found annoyingly thick at 100% hydration.  Some people say lower hydration (50%) is better for producing sourness.  There seems to be a shortage of science in this area.  Another thing I read in the thread Doc.Dough mentioned, which I had been wondering, is that over-feeding your starter improves sourness, by avoiding killing off your lactic acid bacteria, although the mechanism is different than I had guessed.  

To answer the origional question - what should be done about starter consistency - do whatever makes you happy.  Keep it at 100% hydration and thick, or increase the hydration to a consistency that seems right to you, and either ignore the change that causes in the hydration of your total dough (as I do) or calculate the change in added dough / water to restore the recipe's hydration.  

I'm curious how you "always kill [your] all natural starters".  At least how you expect commercial yeast to be less likely to die.  Developement of a natural starter is kind of an inevitable process - mix flour and water, replace some of it as it gets consumed, and in the vicinity of room temperature you'll get yeast and the bacteria we want for sourdough, whether you want it or not.

somethink.different's picture

It was a little thinner when I fed it around 18 hours, but still hardly batter like. Maybe I should have let it go a bit longer? I also fed it this morning at a 1:1:1 ratio, but after doing a bit of reading. it seems many people use closer to 1:2:2. Should I maybe feed it a bit more?