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After 3 weeks, starter is bubbling with no rise

AUmom980307's picture

After 3 weeks, starter is bubbling with no rise

I know this is a common problem, but after three weeks of Google searching and trying things I have found with no success...I thought I give this one more shot....

First off, my starters are about 5 years old. They are all AP flour/water starters and I store them in the fridge when not using them. Usually when I remove them from the fridge, I leave them out for several hours to warm up, then feed them on a 1:1:1 ratio for 2-3 days and they are back to bubbling and rising nicely. I have not baked bread in a while, but have consistently taken out my starters to feed them every couple of months to keep them alive. I have had great results with them until now. When the pandemic started, I thought this would be a great time to renew my starters and bake some bread. I took them out of the fridge as usual, but after several days I noticed bubbles, but no rise.

Things I have tried with no success:

To try to increase yeast, I took 1T starter, mixed it into 1/4 cup water and added 1T AP flour and left them out for a day. I then added another tablespoon of AP flour the next day to thicken it a bit and left it out for another day. I then added another tablespoon of AP flour the third day to thicken again and added a bit more water to make a stiff batter and left it out for another day. After each day, there were bubbles, but no rise.

So this week, I discarded most of my starter, leaving only about 1/4 cup, I added 1/4 flour and 3 T water. It bubbled nicely, smelled great, but no rise. Have done this for several days...same results.

What else can I try? I have to admit that up until now I have been pretty casual with my feedings...not weighing anything and just going on the feel of it. I am now desperate and ready to be more scientific about it. Thanks for your help!

DanAyo's picture

Do you have a scale that weighs in grams?

I don’t have experience with cups and spoons.

I think your starter may have a large amount of degraded gluten, or the mixture is very wet. When the hydration is high and/or the gluten is degraded (soupy) it will not be able to contain the gas and consequently rise. If you have bubbles, you have fermentation. Your starter should be fine.

Once your starter gets healthy and active it is advisable to dehydrate some of your starter in case you need to restore it from back up in the future. It’s a good practice... 

AUmom980307's picture

I have a scale. So how would I decrease hydration? Thanks for the dehydration tip. I'll do that next time, but first I need to get it healthy again.