The Fresh Loaf

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Tips on building sourness back into my starter

benjamin163's picture

Tips on building sourness back into my starter

Hello, I've been using the same starter for a while now and it makes nice bread.

However, when I first activated it (I bought it online in powder form) the starter made wonderfully sour loaves but now I don't get any tang at all.

I feed the starter after every bake with the leftover activated starter. I understand that I should be also adding fresh flour which I have just started doing. But the loaves today were as benign as usual. Nice tasting and good crumb but no sourness to speak of.

Why has the sourness disappeared and can I get it back. If so, how?

Any help gratefully received.

Robertob's picture

Generally speaking the longer you let your starter build up the more sourness you can expect in your loaf.  You can also build sourness by retarding in the fridge after bulk fermentation is complete.  I also found that using a mix of Wholemeal / white flour to feed the levain tends to add a touch of sourness.


in short, there are many ways to manipulate the flavour profile,  experimenting is the key!  Enjoy.

benjamin163's picture

Thank you for the reply, rye certainly adds a little to the flavour. But I must say I am not tending to taste a discernible difference between bread I bake straight away and bread I retard overnight.

Maverick's picture

While there are some ways to manipulate your starter, I am of the opinion that it makes a lot less of a difference than what you do with your final dough that you make bread from. Retarding the dough, adding some rye, changing the amount of starter used, etc. All make a much bigger impact on the sourness.

Of course, this is not to say that all starters are the same. My guess is that the starter has adapted to your environment and the little beasties that were originally there have been out competed by the ones in the flour you use, etc.

benjamin163's picture

thanks for the reply,

When you say "changing the amount of starter you use" is it more or less starter that will create more sourness?

I'm presuming less because it takes longer to ferment but you may put me right.

greyspoke's picture

Yes, that matches my experience.  Also letting your final dough ferment as long as you dare (before the dough loses structure), and fermenting at higher temperature.

Kooky's picture

I have been letting it go a little longer without feeding in the fridge so it produces "hooch", the black alcoholic liquid, and just mixing that back into the starter instead of dumping it :3

benjamin163's picture

Thanks for the reply, I do exactly the same thing but it seems not to be having an effect now.