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I've made a weird starter

Abe's picture

I've made a weird starter

These past few months have been really hectic. Amongst other things i've had to move twice. During those moves i lost my 10 year old starter. Now i am finally settled i'm trying to make a new starter. However it's behaving very weirdly.

When making this new starter it did everything as expected. First bubbling was relatively quick, had a couple of days of quiet then woke up. 

Trouble is it's quite slow. For a long time it does little, then it bubbles up very well and seems normal. However, when used in the dough by the time it wakes up and shows good activity it's basically broken the dough down and over fermented. Curiously the dough smells sweet but the bread tastes very sour. 

Have I just captured weird LAB?  

clazar123's picture

It lied on the application. Just didn't have the right qualifications.

I grew a starter once that I called my "Wild CHild". I grew it/tended to it at work and my office was in a basement. I often wondered what we were exposed to there. This seemingly cooperative starter would rise a dough really well about halfway and then fizzle out. The final aspect of the bulk ferment took forever, if it achieved it at all. Often, it just ate the dough up. Made great pancakes and biscuits,though. It was like a fast acting starter but didn't have much staying power. My Wild CHild was used up and a new starter made, which I'm still using years later. I never used it to innoculate the new starter. Didn't have the right qualifications. So sorry for your difficulties. Are there any Fresh Loafers nearby to share? If not, start over,Abe.

Abe's picture

Different place new micro-organisms. Never had this is issue in my old place. Used to make starters quite easily and they behaved well. First time i've come across this new starter behaviour. Sits there doing nothing and then when it finally bubbles up, even though it looks healthy and normal, it's destroyed the dough. 

I'm going to take your advice. Start afresh. Could spend time trying to save this one or make a new one in the same amount of time or quicker. Just wonder what i can do to avoid the same issue. 

Thank you Clazar. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Very sour eh? sounds like you have to set the timing and the best time is when it is young.  I would do both, start a new one and at the same time

watch this one giving it mild temps and a dough like consistency with a 1.3.5  s.w.f  ratio.  then chill it for a day once it rises. then take it out and refresh it dough like. See if you can get it onto a 12 hour schedule and repeat until it shortens the rise to peak. 


Abe's picture

It's been sitting in the fridge for a few days. The last build was quite a low hydration and it dried out. Found a little bit of "fresh" starter and gave it a very big feed. It's slow but rising. 

I'll take your advice and try to encourage the yeasts by setting a time at 12 hourly intervals. I'll see if I can salvage this starter and if not will start a new one. 

Abe's picture

Update: Put the starter in the fridge and had a break from it for a few days. Then I took it out of the fridge and fed it... quiet period number 2! After a day or two it woke up again. Gave it a few more feeds and it got a lot stronger. Knew it had done the trick because it started to form bubbles within a normal time period. Now it's much quicker and very active. Been very busy so didn't have time to bake. Last night I tried another loaf and it came out lovely. 100% wholegrain spelt. 

Conclusion... mistook the first awakening and jumped the gun. Thought it was ready when in reality it was more of a LAB 'starter' and didn't have enough yeast. The additional rest time in the  seemed to do it good. And it did me some good too. 

syros's picture

Hi Abe - moving twice is quite a feat and losing your starter. I admire your persistence. I would have thrown in the towel and started over. The thought of having to create a new starter would give me the chills. It took me so long to get my first one going!

Actually, I was creating a levain for a bake two days ago, and took out a starter that I had loosely covered a forgot about.  I realized it had formed a thick skin but underneath was still soft. So I scooped out what I could  and started feeding it. A few hours later it looked pretty much like it wasn’t going to do anything. Fortunately, I had another starter going. But looking at this one, I made a decision to give it more flour because it was looking very loose. Somehow, it perked up and looks great. I wanted to toss it but then the stubborn part of me didn’t want to give up. So gratifying when we can resurrect a starter! 

Abe's picture

It's been a very hectic few months. In the moves I not only lost my starter but because I was moving twice I didn't wish to take anything unless it was absolutely necessary and had a big clear out. Starting afresh! 

Didn't have scales or even a bowl to make this bread in. From making the starter to the bread was all done by feel. Had to buy a large tupperware container to ferment the dough in. 

Yes, it is satisfying to save a starter. Makes the resulting bread taste even better. 

How's you're Khorasan baking coming along? 

Benito's picture

Congratulations on your move Abe, I hope you are happy in your new place.  I'm glad you got your new starter sorted, it is frustrating when it isn't doing what you expect.


Abe's picture

Settling in. Even more so now my starter has matured. A good sign! 

Now i've done one successful bake i'll need to plan something special next time.