Newbie Question.. Help!
SIGH! I have this sourdough starter named Krusty and he's not doing that great. Three weeks ago I started him from rye and water. After 6 days he started bubbling and smelling like yeast. I have him on counter in my kitchen which is between 68 and 72 degrees. The first week I was feeding him 1:1:1, however he was smelling like fingernail polish remover after 12 hours so I started after that feeding him 1:2:2. My concern is that the starter has only doubled once, the rest of the time it just goes maybe 1/2 inch above the line. I feed A/P unbleached flour and filtered water. I have a scale and weigh 50g starter and add 100g AP flour and 100g water every 12 hours. It smells yeasty, it bubbles, it acts like starter but I just can't seem to get that vigorous quality that it needs for bread. Is there something else I need to be doing? I would sing to him and read passages from "Lady Chatterley's Lover" if I thought it would help anything. Advice anyone? Should I just keep feeding and wait longer? Innoculate with rye flour?
"The essence of baking is patience. The essence of sourdough baking is patience squared." (Mike Avery, internet sourdough discussion group, 24 Sep 2007) I suspect that you are feeding too often. Cut back to once per day, and go back to the 1:1:1 feed ratio. It will take time about a month for the starter to really mature. However, by now, you should be able to make acceptable bread. If you feed again 1:1:1 ratio and wait 24 hours then add an equal weight of water and flour, it should have doubled within 6 hours. This being so, you are ready to go.
PS: You say you are using AP flour. The flour is unbleached and unbrominated, isn't it? Your water is chlorine free, isn't it?
...I ran into a similar problem at almost the same stage with a new starter recently. Almost gave it up for dead, but then (with much help from wise folks in convo threads here at TFL) decided I might have been over-feeding a relatively young starter at 1:2:2. I actually switched all the way back to 2:1:1 with 2x/day feeds and after a few days it had swung back into gear, upon which I moved to 1:1:1 and slowly up from there.
Though my other starters (rye, whole wheat) were doing relatively okay, btw, I also switched to bottled water over my filtered tap water. My locality has just upped the amount of chlorine in our water temporarily (a springtime thing, apparently) and I'm not sure the filter was getting it all.
Thanks Ya'all for the great advice. I will cut back to 1:1:1 and watch it carefully. I have a large teapot of filtered water I keep just for the starter. Yes, the flour is unbleached, not sure about unbromated. .. I'll check. I have been tempted to order starter from Carl's friends, but I'm a stubborn baker and I love doing things the hard way. I'll keep you posted.
free of drafts. Once your starter is going well, it can handle below 72°F but in the beginning, get those yeast number up at least for the first few hours after a feeding.
I fed it this morning 1:1:1 (it had doubled overnight). I put it in the oven with the light on.
Okay, so this morning at 9am I fed it 1:1:1 and by 2pm it had more than doubled. It tasted really sour so I went ahead and fed it again 1:1:1. It smelled like it was on the verge of the fingernail polish remover odor. Tomorrow I'm going to make some bread and see what happens... Wish me luck!!!!
I made the bread today and it turned out pretty good. Good flavor, good texture. A little denser than I prefer, but I'll keep practicing and trying out different recipes. I'm not sure how to attach the picture though. Thanks everyone for the help!
Just a few degrees... It will help a lot.
My starter seems to be getting more healthy with every feeding. After feeding 1:1:1 with 50g I put it in the oven with the light on. Yesterday it had tripled after 8 hours and tasted sour so I fed it again, this time 1:1.5:1.5 before bedtime and in the morning it had tripled again. In the meantime I made a loaf yesterday and the recipe said to let the shaped loaf rise for 3-4 hours until triple, however I checked it after 2 hours and it seemed like it had tripled and the finger indent filled in slowly. Well, I decided to give it 30 more minutes.... big mistake! The sides split and the loaf flattened. I went ahead and baked it and it tasted nice, however it was flat and dense. Don't get me wrong, my family gobbled it up, but I still am working on a better loaf.
Is it okay to put it in the fridge yet?
By my calculations your starter should be about a month old by now and it should be able to develop in the refrigerator. Refresh it with flour and water at the ration of 1:1:1, and then refrigerate it. When you want to make bread, remove it from the refrigerator on the morning before. Feed the starter in the same ratio, and let it stand for 12 hours at room temperature, then feed it again at the same ratio and let it stand overnight. It should be raring to go in the morning.
If you are not baking often, refresh your statrter every two or three weeks then replace it in the refrigerator.
Be careful about putting the starter in the oven with "just the oven light on." In my oven that would kill the lactobacteria as well as the wild yeast. The optimum temperature for the lactobacteria is about 92°F (33°C) and for the wild yeast about 80°F (27°C). At 104°F (40°C) the lactobacteria ( Lb. sf ) are about dead and at only 93°F (34°C) so are the wild yeast (C.milleri).
I'll need to find a different spot in the house for Krusty. I'm afraid if I don't leave the oven light on I'll forget it is there and accidentally preheat the oven and kill the starter. Thank you everyone for the wonderful advice. I love this site!