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Sourdough Starter - Hows, Whys, Whats


nanetteb
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Stupid question of the month. 

How do I tell when it's right?  I have no idea if it's wonderful or garbage.

Thanks. :blink:

Well if you feed it and it gets nice and frothy then it will at least leaven. If it seems active then just bake a loaf or two - that will give you some idea of how it will work out.

Don't forget that most wild yeast/sourdough cultures need more time to rise than commercial yeast . . . plenty of HOWTOS upthread.

Heck you are probably discarding enough starter when you feed to make bread already :)

Enjoy!

Edited by 6ppc (log)

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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Stupid question of the month. 

How do I tell when it's right?  I have no idea if it's wonderful or garbage.

Thanks. :blink:

Well if you feed it and it gets nice and frothy then it will at least leaven. If it seems active then just bake a loaf or two - that will give you some idea of how it will work out.

I don't gots frothy..I gots disinterested with a few bubbles here and there.

Kinda like a bad wedding night where the bride realizes she goofed bigtime.

Is this stuff supposed to grow, or just sit there? Should I switch to 24 hour feedings?

Now I'm ticked and determined to make it work. It smells like it should though.

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I don't gots frothy..I gots disinterested with a few bubbles here and there.

Kinda like a bad wedding night where the bride realizes she goofed bigtime.

Is this stuff supposed to grow, or just sit there?  Should I switch to 24 hour feedings?

Now I'm ticked and determined to make it work.  It smells like it should though.

How hydrated is your starter? Mine is somewhere between a poolish and a sponge.

If it gets bubbles and smells right no harm in trying it out - it is not like you are risking a substantial amount of time or money if the bread does not come out.

--edit great simile BTW.

Edited by 6ppc (log)

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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Wet and pourable. I pour out one cup of "whatever this is" and feed with half cup of bread flour and half cup of water. Should I go to 24 hour feedings?

Teeney bubbles, but not growing in any way ,shape ,or form.

I'm glad you like my simile. A week from now with this sludge I'll have some you will NOT believe.

I'm a hardhead determined little sucker. :angry:

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Wet and pourable.  I pour out one cup of "whatever this is" and feed with half cup of bread flour and half cup of water. Should I go to 24 hour feedings?

Teeney bubbles, but not growing in any way ,shape ,or form.

I'm glad you like my simile. A week from now  with this sludge I'll have some you will  NOT believe.

I'm a hardhead determined little sucker. :angry:

try taking a cup of starter (next time you feed) add a couple cups flour, water as needed to make a fairly wet dough (salt as appropriate), knead - retard in fridge overnight bake after allowing to rise @ ambient for 6-8 hours. I think you might be pleased w/ the result. This would make 1 boule 2 baguette more or less.

--assumes ambient 65Fish... if warmer/cooler then adjust proofing time accordingly. You *don't* want to over proof.

Edited by 6ppc (log)

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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Ok, I'll give it a try, probably not till the weekend. I'll let you know what happens.

What the hell, if I make them long and slim, the Little League neighborhood kids can use them if they're not edible.

Oh yeah, should I change to 24 hour feedings or keep it at 12?

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Oh yeah, should I change to 24 hour feedings or keep it at 12?

For me once a starter makes good bread I keep in the fridge, use as needed, refresh/feed on each use leave on the counter and back to the reefer just before it peaks, rinse and repeat.

I probably do 2 batches of dough week, gotta make some more tomorrow since tonight's foccacia used the last from the fridge.

In other words... I don't know. There are probably more opinions on the care and feeding of starters than actual starter cultures in existence. In my case it was about reading up on a zillion different methods and coming up with something that works for me. The Bread Baker's Apprentice referenced upthread was most helpful as well.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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For me, the most useful text on feeding and keeping a sourdough culture is Ed Wood's Classic Sourdoughs.

I've got a lot of bread books, including Reinhart and Silverton, etc., but for me, Wood's text offers the most extensive and comprehensive explanation for how to handle sourdough cultures. With the exception maybe of Silverton, the others offer sort of cursory help, and I kept finding myself frustrated and despairing after trying to figure everything out and experimenting with their suggestions.

By the time I got to Wood, I'd played around with the stuff quite a lot, and so that surely helped, but his book was like finally finding the key.

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--Note I PM'd this to hummingbirdkiss but decided to post it anyway hoping it might be of help to others; if it is too redundant then (a helpful mod) can delete.

I am going to try this starting tonight. Made a starter this week. Looks lively. Smells a little more vinegary that I thought it would, but we shall see.

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--Note I PM'd this to hummingbirdkiss but decided to post it anyway hoping it might be of help to others; if it is too redundant then (a helpful mod) can delete.

I am going to try this starting tonight. Made a starter this week. Looks lively. Smells a little more vinegary that I thought it would, but we shall see.

Looking forward to how it works out for you...

On that note must make another gallon ziploc of dough; we are almost out.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have absolutely no experience with sourdough starters so this question may seem very simple to someone who knows better. I just acquired a starter for a local bakery and I followed their instructions of taking it out of the fridge, reserving about 1/4 cup, adding 1/2 cup lukewarm water and 2/3 cup bread flour and leaving it out for 48 hours. You repeat this and then immediately put it in the fridge.

I tried making another jar of starter (to keep in another kitchen), but I guess my room today was a bit more warm that usual and when I came back from class I noticed the starter mix was bubbling much more than usual. Actually, it had grown to the top of the jar it was in (3/4 liter French jar). It deflated to the normal amount when I mixed it a bit with a spoon. So I am wondering if these 7 or 8 hours in a warmer than room temperature environment would in any way hurt the starter, or alter its nature?

I am also wondering if I could just take some starter from the fridge and start anew? I just fed the other one a few days ago and the instructions are that I can keep it in the fridge for one month without feeding. I am wondering if it is too soon to re-feed?

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I have absolutely no experience with sourdough starters so this question may seem very simple to someone who knows better. I just acquired a starter for a local bakery and I followed their instructions of taking it out of the fridge, reserving about 1/4 cup, adding 1/2 cup lukewarm water and 2/3 cup bread flour and leaving it out for 48 hours. You repeat this and then immediately put it in the fridge.

I tried making another jar of starter (to keep in another kitchen), but I guess my room today was a bit more warm that usual and when I came back from class I noticed the starter mix was bubbling much more than usual. Actually, it had grown to the top of the jar it was in (3/4 liter French jar). It deflated to the normal amount when I mixed it a bit with a spoon. So I am wondering if these 7 or 8 hours in a warmer than room temperature environment would in any way hurt the starter, or alter its nature?

I am also wondering if I could just take some starter from the fridge and start anew? I just fed the other one a few days ago and the instructions are that I can keep it in the fridge for one month without feeding. I am wondering if it is too soon to re-feed?

The values you indicate for feeding seem a little peculiar to me, but I suppose it might work.

No, it's not too soon to feed again. I refresh (feed) mine at least once a day, sometimes twice, but I suspect I use mine more often than you do.

My best advice to you at this point is that you start by reading through this entire thread and decide which advice you think might work best, and then experiment, because a number of us have already outlined our own theories here on precisely your question.

And again, I'd advise getting a good book to help (such as Woods, noted above).

[edited for scewey spelling....]

Edited by devlin (log)
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I just have a comment to Kitchenqueen's starter that wasn't frothy. I would be very reluctant to bake with a non-frothy starter. If I am not wrong, the froth is the work of the yeast, and one of my "health" signs.

If my starter only has some small and large bubbles, but no froth I usually add a tablespoon of instant yeast , and bake it as a "mixed race bread". It Rises like a charm and still has that sour taste.

It's important to minimize ones losses and frustratons :-)

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The values you indicate for feeding seem a little peculiar to me, but I suppose it might work.

No, it's not too soon to feed again. I refresh (feed) mine at least once a day, sometimes twice, but I suspect I use mine more often than you do.

My best advice to you at this point is that you start by reading through this entire thread and decide which advice you think might work best, and then experiment, because a number of us have already outlined our own theories here on precisely your question.

And again, I'd advise getting a good book to help (such as Woods, noted above).

[edited for scewey spelling....]

The values I gave are the ones based on the book of the store I got the starter from (The Cheeseboard Collective Works) and thus I wanted to stick to the recommended protocol. However silly it sounds, my only concern is keeping their 30 year old Bay Area starter alive, the specific technique for doing so really matters not.

I have another semi-Sourdough related question. Is it okay to let the bread rise in the same KitchenAid metal bowl you kneaded the dough in? I have heard that metal is not the best place to do such rising, however, some recipes make no mention of changing bowls.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...
A while back I thought I read somewhere that you can make a starter from juniper berries.  Now that I'm ready to get going, I've searched and searched but haven't found any reference to this method/recipe.  Has anyone heard of this?

Well, if you skim back 6 pages to the start of this thread you may find that you have already found that which you are searching for... :laugh:

"Alternatively, marry a good man or woman, have plenty of children, and train them to do it while you drink a glass of wine and grow a moustache." -Moby Pomerance

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Thanks - I did find it a couple of weeks ago, and have my juniper starter going. There's quite a story behind it (think bears, lightening storms, and Native American spirits - but that'll come later). I'll be posting once I get closer to actually using it.

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gfron is it the starter bubbling? I am excited to hear you try this ..I just used half water and half flour then dropped the white coated berries in ..I did it with the junipers I found in AZ in the high regions and I am sure NM junipers are similar ...

I missed this and am excited to hear how it comes out as we do not have the similar powdery white coated (yeast coated) berries here

I have to feed my starters today ..I gave up on my bread being "Artisan" looking and my holes never were acheived like I wanted them to be ..but thanks to the help on this thread you guys got me from average bread to fantastic bread and I am happy ..so what if it is not exactly what I started wanting ..it sure is more than I thought I could ever produce

so thank you all very much ..I love my Pacific NW sourdough bread ..and so does everyone who tries it!!!!

you never loose if you try that is for sure!!!

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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It started bubbling after two days (that was 12 days ago), and after six days I pulled the berries out since it seemed to be going well. I also started feeding it. After I pulled the berries I thought I had killed it since the bubbling stopped, so I ignored it for a few days feeding it only once more and its bubbling again just not as much. So now I'm just being patient...feeding it and loving on it. I'll post a full report when that first loaf is made. Thanks for tips!

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I decided it was time to post about the juniper berry sourdough. I'm doing this before I was ready because I think it needs some help. Once I make my first loaf, I'll start a new topic for the countless juniper berry fans out there - and then I'll tell the full dramatic story that got me to this day :rolleyes:

Here's what I started with (getting to these is the story for later)

gallery_41282_4708_132445.jpg

I followed hummingbirdkiss' directions on making the starter. Then using The Bread Bible as my guide, here's the slurry after 1 day...

gallery_41282_4708_312125.jpg

And 2 days later it seemed like things were going well...

gallery_41282_4708_114573.jpg

I didn't feed it for the first 4 days - just let it bubble. It had a good sour smell going, but a bit different from traditional starters I have made. I poured off the alcohol and started on the Bread Bible proportions. We're now two and a half weeks later. Its barely bubbling - I can't tell if its the yeast or bubbles caused by my gentle stirring. The smell is much softer than before - barely sour. This whole time I've had it covered with saran wrap with holes cut in the top. I could post a pic, but it just looks like pancake batter at this point. Suggestions?

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Do I keep feeding it or just let it go wild?  And I assume I keep pouring off the alcohol as it develops.

how does it smell it looks done to me! I would just take some out and try to use it! then feed it and store it for a while ...

it looks perfectly good to me!

but I am still a nube!

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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What happened to my starter?

I had a great starter going, had it in the fridge for awhile, brought it out, fed it for a week or two (daily), and then one day fed it with whole wheat flour. (I was out of AP) Since then (probably a week or two?), I've fed it with AP. It's not as active as it was - bubbles come, smells okay, but it's not frothy, nor does it have bubbles actively rising to the surface & breaking. I do have bubbles - but they're not "bubbling", if that makes any sense. It smells okay, but just doesn't get "puffy". What gives? I did dump out a good bit of it, and did replenish with plenty of AP flour.....what happened?

Thanks!

~Lisa

www.TheCakeAndTheCaterer.com

Bloomington, IN

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Do I keep feeding it or just let it go wild?  And I assume I keep pouring off the alcohol as it develops.

Just leave it in a warm place. There is plenty of food there until its active

The liquid layer is just the flour particles settling out, Stir it back together if it bothers you

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