Slowing down my starter peak time
I am a sourdough rookie. Yeah, I know. A bit late to the party, but it's been a long winter here in Idaho and I'm retired.
We keep our home fairly cool, so my starter has been stored in the oven with the light on. This is about 80 degrees. My starter is a 25% whole wheat/75% bread flour mix. My 1-3-3 feeding is peaking in 5 hours at 200+% increase. So hard to feed at night and hope to have it still at peak in the morning. Running a couple tests now. Increased one test jar to a 1-4-4 ratio and the other is still at the 1-3-3. Just going to leave these at room temp (about 71*) and see what the time frame is.
I fed my starter last night. Got up at 4:30am to check it and it had already peaked and started to fall as I suspected it would. Discarded some and did a feeding so I could make my first loaf this morning. It was right on schedule. Started autolyse on my flour at 8:30am and added my starter at 9:30am right at peak.
In some respects, I don't mind the quick peak when I want to bake. But for maintaince, I would like to slow it down.
Any comments or suggestions appreciated.
at night? And...During the day?
The easiest way to slow it down is not to keep it warm in the oven. Curious to see when it peaks at room temp.
Our home is about 71-72* all day long. That is how my wife likes it and I know better that to challenge that :-)
So at 71-72*, the 1-3-3 took about 8 hours to peak. The 1-4-4 took about 9 hours to peak. Will continue to play with it. I imagine I will be getting familiar with maintaining it in the referigerator as I won't be baking but once a week or so. Will be a fun journey.
The second easiest way to slow it down is to adjust the ratio. If you fed it 1:4:4 it would take longer to peak. In the winter, I use a 1:2:2 feed at around 11 pm to bake in the morning. I keep my house at about 18°C (~64°F).
to slow it down is to reduce the water in the feeding ratio. Think of the flour as food and the water as transportation for the food. Reducing the water reduces the speed of feeding. Try a maintenance feed feels more like a dough. Or even a little stiffer than a dough. Time it.
Thanks for the comments. The 1-4-4 ration is working pretty well now. Using water about 67-68 degrees is slowing it down a bit and lowered the room temp to 70 (don't tell my wife). Was still at peak at 12 hours with 200% increase. Still domed and not dropping.
I can get by feeding the night before now or if for some reason, I need it quicker, I can get it at peak in 5-6 hours in the oven with the light on. About 78-80*
Next is to experiment on keeping in the fridge and seeing how long it takes till it is ready to bake. I hear it can sometimes take a couple of feedings at room temp to get it back on track. It will give me something to play with. I'm retired and full time caregiver to my wife, so I have lots of time.
good fridge storage is to feed it, wait at room temp until it shows signs of life and is starting to rise, then pop it into the fridge. Everyone has their favorite wait time before chilling because starters and their feeds vary. And this will change with temp /seasonal changes too. But you seem to be on track. When it is chilled aromas are weaker. Err on chilling it too soon as you can take it out to warm up and finish fermenting at a faster rate before refreshing it. I would guess that if it takes 12 hours to peek from feeding, wait about 4 -5 hours before chilling. Then it is good for at least a week if not two in a 4°C fridge.
Then in about a week when you want to bake, you have several choices. 1) spoon some out to build a starter for a recipe and if the fridge starter still looks pretty good, park it back into the fridge for the next bake. Or 2) use it directly into a recipe saving a little to feed and chill after it shows signs of life. 3) if it is a small starter, feed it for recipe plus a little more and then feed and store the extra after it shows signs of life. Those are the basics.