Eric, Thanks for taking the time to respond to all of my questions.
I have a great sourdough starter going but I’ve got a couple questions.
- Do I bake prior to feeding, or after?
- My bread doesn’t rise in my machine. I have followed the recipes to the T. I’m wondering about the thickness of my starter. What consistency should it be?
Thank you for your help
Hi Mark. Check out our tutorial on Managing Your Sourdough Starter. Let me know if that doesn’t help.
When I was a child, my mom kept a jar of sourdough in the refrigerator and made delicious cakes, breads, pancakes, etc. So, I was delighted when a friend gave me a sourdough start. I am researching how to manage/feed my sourdough starter. I vaguely recall that my mom added flour, sugar and water. I am wondering if you have heard of this combination. What would the sugar do to the starter?
Yes, some people add sugar. Some use milk instead of water. Flour and water is all that is necessary. Sugar mostly just speeds up the fermentation process.
My starter has lost its pungent odor. It’s doubling, tripling, and even quadrupled once. It seems that when i started to really get going on feedings twice a day, and dumping half or more of the starter and feeding, the sour has left my starter… it still bubbles and is very spongy. I started with your live starter puck and used it to start two containers because I forgot I ordered live starter not dried. They were doing excellent until yesterday morning. Please help!
Monday after work, I began a rye sourdough starter (2 days ago). 4 oz room temp water and 6 oz rye flour.
I put it in a quart mason jar with plastic wrap on top and put it in the oven, leaving the oven light on.
At the end of day 1, Tuesday, I took half and put it in another quart mason jar, adding 4 oz of water and 6 oz of caputo chef’s flour into each, stirring.
I put the second mason jar on top of my water heater in the mechanical room.
This morning, Wednesday, day 1.5, the starter in the oven had escaped over the edge of the jar and spilled onto the bottom of the oven. The starter on the water heater had bubbles, but was nowhere near flowing over the top. Maybe 1/4 - 1/3 way up jar.
After work today, Wednesday, day 2, I plan on stirring, dividing and feeding each again.
Which behavior is better for a sourdough starter? The fast growth, or the slower. Do I need to stir and feed more often?
I don’t know if one is better than the other. They’re just different. The warmer the starter, the faster the yeast grows and the more often you need to feed it to keep it happy. There are a number of ways of managing starter successfully. I don’t seek out a warm place to put it after feeding unless I’m in a hurry to use it. Normal room temp is usually fine.
It’s been a while since you posted this, what’s the story now? What have you done with it in the last few days?
I have continued to feed the starter each day at 6 pm 3/4 caputo chef’s flour and 4 oz water. No bubbles are forming and there is a yellowish liquid that forms on top about 1/4 deep. I pour this off when discarding half of mixture before feeding.
I uploaded another photo that is day 7 before feeding, but after removing 1/2 of mixture.
** Edited to add correct link to photo. Sorry!
I’m not finding a photo of your starter on this Facebook page, but what you describe doesn’t sound good. You had split your starter earlier. The one in the oven went ballistic, an indication of vigor, the other one languished. What happened to the vigorous one in the oven?
Have you read the info on this page? http://breadtopia.com/sourdough-starter-management/
I have been maintaining both starters. Moved them to on top of the water heater. Approx 65-70 degrees in that location. Both appear the same.
I don’t know what happened between overflowing the jar and looking pretty lifeless. For lack of any other ideas, I’d pour off the hootch (clear liquid), dispose of all but a few tablespoons of the starter and feed the remaining with enough flour to stiffen it up a bit and see if shows any signs of life after a few (to several) hours.
I’ve found that feeding starter with different flour has a pretty dramatic effect on the sourness. Some flour creates a relatively sweet smelling starter. In my experience, my white bread flour starter which I feed the Breadtopia organic white bread flour maintains a very sweet starter - hardly any sour smell to it at all.
On the other hand, when I take a tablespoon of that white flour starter and mix it with half a cup of whole rye flour and an equal by weight amount of water and then leave that on the counter overnight, I wake up the next morning to a very sour starter that is ready for baking action that day. I’ve also found that in general, feeding with whole grain flour of any kind tends to favor more sourness.
Finally, the longer the starter goes without feeding, the more sour it tends to get as the yeast and bacteria use up all the available sugar and then the sour acids they produce in their metabolism come to dominate over time.
I moved overflowing jar to water heater where it was not so warm with other jar.
Both are now in oven with light on but door now held open an inch by folded towel - 75 degrees. Both look better now after feeding.
I fear one location too cool and one too warm.
I’ll update tomorrow.
Thank you for your advice!
Thanks Paul, appreciate the help. My starters have gone from smelling like a very strong miracle whip odor at the beginning, to hardly any odor with twice feeding per day, to an intense sour I can’t describe after starving them a little bit with one feeding a day again. It’s still active, gets very spongy at full rise, still yielding over a tripled volume increase with a equal amount of starter to added flour and water. Going back to twice a day feedings and see what happens. The experiment continues lol
My sourdough starter has shifted from a healthy fermenting culture to one that seems to produce mostly acetone (paint thinner smell), and doesn’t bubble nearly as much. I decided to dump it and start a new batch. But is there any way to revive a starter that has “broken bad”?
I would try a series of feedings in relatively rapid succession, like daily or twice daily, starting with tossing all but a small amount of the starter and building it back up from there.
I’ll try that next time, thanks. In the meantime, reviving some of the Breadtopia dry starter.
Hello, most of the information I have read about feeding your started says to feed every 12-24 hours but my starter seems to triple by 3-4 hours. I don’t have the starter sitting on the counter but in a small proofer at 72 degrees. Why do you think it’s so active? It’s frustrating because it’s throwing off my schedule for baking. Any suggestions? I’m completely new to sourdough baking, I’m on my 5th loaf and although it’s been good so far, I feel I’m not getting the schedule down, hope that makes sense.
The temp may contribute to the fast growth. Maybe put it on your counter where it is probably cooler? Also, feed it more? If you have one cup of starter, how much flour are you feeding it? You could also use cooler water.
Here is a long picture and text guide to starter maintenance https://www.theperfectloaf.com/sourdough-starter-maintenance-routine/
My starter doesn’t actually behave the way that blog’s starter does, but I found it interesting anyway. I get float and big holes without much of a rise - I think because mine is pretty liquid. I also keep it in the fridge except for when I am about to bake. So it spends very little time at room temp. From when I take it out of the fridge to when I put it back, I’m looking at maybe 4-10 hrs.