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Amount of starter when feeding

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

Amount of starter when feeding

Does the amount of starter matter when you feed if you're feeding with the same ratio? I'm feeding 1:1:1 with 38g of starter but the starter seems a lot more sluggish and is less bubbly than when I fed with 60g of starter. The 60g of starter would peak in around 4 hours but the 38g hasn't grown much even after 3 hours.

rondayvous's picture
rondayvous

larger mass will change temperature more slowly?

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

Recipes say that your starter should double between 5-6 (6-8?) hours. Is this a set time and if the starter doesn't double within that time is it not active enough? 

kartografer's picture
kartografer

Right, if you're starting with warm water and room temperature is cooler, the smaller starter might be coming down to room temperature much more quickly and slowing down fermentation.

Another possibility is that the smaller amount has a higher ratio of top surface area to volume, which means a higher proportion of the bubbles form at the top and pop. This would lead to less rise, but wouldn't mean less activity.

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

Is there a better way to test activity than looking at the rise? 

kartografer's picture
kartografer

Rise is still the best way. Feeding 38g starter at 1:1:1 means 114g total, that should be more than enough to see a noticeable rise. If you don't, check the temperature as another poster suggested. The surface area issue I mentioned might account for a slight difference at the margin but if you're seeing no rise at all, then something is wrong.

I often use a small jar, start with about 7g of starter, and feed at 1:2:2 for a total of 50g, and it doubles easily.

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

I'm seeing rise, after 5 hours it's raised about 1.5x. How do I know if it's at it's peak and is it ready to use?

Edit: I used some dehydrated starter I had from the later time I baked and it's day 4 of feeding it

kartografer's picture
kartografer

When it's still rising it should have a slight domed shape at the top. When that dome collapses and the top is flat, it has peaked. 

I would see if your starter gets to 2x by 6 hours. If not, it might need a boost. Try feeding 3x a day for 2 days. Morning: 1:2:2, afternoon (6 hours later) another 1:2:2, night (before bed) 1:5:5. 

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

Should I feed it 6 hours later regardless of if it's reached the peak or not?

kartografer's picture
kartografer

Yes, if it's risen appreciably and looks bubbly, I would just feed it on schedule. Feeding it a bit early doesn't hurt. What you're trying to do with the frequent feedings is get the yeast and bacteria continuously feeding and multiplying for a few days at warm room temperature without pausing or getting overly acidic. I think of this as a runway to pick up speed. You want to let it keep going without stopping momentum. 

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

I did what you told me and fed it after 6 hours, it's been nearly 2 hours since then and there's no signs of activity in my starter, there usually is some bubbles after 2 hours. Is this meant to happen? 

kartografer's picture
kartografer

Was there activity just before you fed it? If so, it's still fine, it just needs more time because you fed it earlier. Check it before you go to bed. If it's still showing no bubbles, skip the feeding, let it go overnight, and check again in the morning. 

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

The picture above shows what it looked like before I fed it. There's some very small bubbles but the smell is very subtle now, sort of just a wet flour smell.

kartografer's picture
kartografer

It's only been 2 hours. Give it 4 or 5 more. If it still isn't rising then wait overnight and go back to the schedule. Maybe go back to 1:1:1 feedings instead of 1:2:2 until you get it doubling in 4 hours.

 

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

Lots of bubbles now but they are mostly very small. The smell has come and it's risen about 1/3 of it's original volume. Going to give it 3 more hours, should I feed 1:5:5 and leave it overnight?

kartografer's picture
kartografer

Given that it seems a little slow still, maybe go with 1:3:3 overnight. 

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

By going with 1:3:3 overnight do you mean feed it again and then go overnight or stay with the current one overnight?

kartografer's picture
kartografer

You said it's showing activity now and you are going to check it again in 3 more hours. If by then it has risen to 1.5x or 2x it's original height, I would suggest a 1:3:3 feeding before going to bed. If it's at less than 1.5x, then perhaps just skip the feeding and check it in the morning. 

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

6 hours after a 1:2:2 feeding, I did 1:3:3 overnight. It's still only about 1.5x it's original height. Should I go with another 1:2:2 feeding and then do 1:3:3 overnight?

kartografer's picture
kartografer

That sounds reasonable.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

mentioned here?  https://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/71295/does-different-feeding-ratios-matter

Good you finally mentioned the starter was a dehydrated starter coming back to life.  Would have been nice to know at the beginning. Dried starters do get fed differently when trying to wake them up as opposed to an ongoing active starter.  Rehydrating a starter is very much like starting a new starter except the correct bacteria is there and the low pH. You just have to get the yeast awake.  The trick is not to dilute it too much with fresh flour, discards and feedings (which raise the pH) in the first two days after hydrating the dried starter.  Sounds like this has happened and slowed things down a bit but with a lot of patience the starter will come back. 

 What should have happened would have been to go with 1-1ratio (dried starter-water) and about an hour, after the dried starter has hydrated, add an equal weight of flour to match the dry starter weight. Add enough water to make a soft paste for the first 24 hours.  Then wait and feed after a rise. This next feed may take overnight or a day to rise.  Feed without discarding  (3-1-1) (starter-water-flour) and watch for rise, aroma and activity before removing a portion and stepping up the feeds in a new clean jargon.  Save the initial rehydrated starter in case you need to go back to it.   

Wait for the starter to tell you it needs to be fed.  Sounds like it is now just waking up if the aromas and bubbles are returning. You are getting good instructions above. :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

this might be why it is not rising very high. Try feeding with less water to thicken it up a bit, more like a soft dough than a batter. 

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

Ah, I always thought it was meant to have the consistency of a thick batter, I will feed it less water next feeding. 

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

My starter finally just about doubled in 6 and a half hours and the top is still domed so I assume it's still rising. Is it ready to use in bread now? 

The smell also change and got subtler. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In the top middle and start to flatten out.  Then put it into a recipe.  

Keep working on the starter too.

Jaden Jin's picture
Jaden Jin

I can’t bake for a few days so I’ll keep feeding, I’ve dropped the hydration to 80-85% and now it’s more of a soft doughy texture. It’s rising faster now and there are bigger pockets of air in it. The smell has changed though, it had a very slight vinegary smell on top of the regular smell.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and chill the thicker starter when it is about 50% risen.  Cover to prevent drying out. Then use or feed before putting the bread dough together. It should be good for the next few days depending on the starter behavior.