Do I need to feed my starter twice daily?

 Hi everyone, 

I am brand-new to this sourdough business and am in the process of getting my starter going. It has been 8 days now and there doesn't seem to be much activity. There are a few small bubbles on the surface and when I stir it I can see small bubbles being stretched beneath the surface. It has always smelled yeasty until today when it smelt vaguely of acetone. Should I be feeding it twice daily? Am I just being impatient? It's cold here in England so could that be the reason for the slow start? 

10 comments

Just some questions first.

 

How often are you refreshing it now?

What are you refreshing it with?

What kind of container are you keeping it in?

What starter recipe did you use?

 

Good luck!

    Alison

 Hi Alison,

I'm still feeding my starter once a day. I have two batches and I decided to use a bit of buckwheat flour in one of them today (because that's all I had)  and that seems to have helped a little. The other one, having got a bit bubblier after feeding with white flour this morning has gone flat again this evening. I know I should probably leave well alone but I think I'm a little obsessed now, so I threw most of that starter away (well, turned it into pancakes) and added wholewheat flour instead. 

They are in a glass measuring jug and a tall jar which I keep clingfilmed.

My starter was just plain flour and water.

Cheers,

ilovebread

Someone wrote on here that Rye Flour is like candy to yeast.  I had this complete "WHAT?!  AND NO ONE TOLD ME!" moment.  :-) 

I've been feeding my starter 70g white flour and 30g rye - My starter looks much more active and stronger when I do this than when/if I just use white.  All my failed starters were only white flour.  Maybe that will help?

 

By the way - when I smell my starter it's like "Whew!!"  Pretty strong smelling, but the bread it makes is great.

[quote=ilovebread]

 Hi Alison,

I'm still feeding my starter once a day. I have two batches and I decided to use a bit of buckwheat flour in one of them today (because that's all I had)  and that seems to have helped a little. The other one, having got a bit bubblier after feeding with white flour this morning has gone flat again this evening. I know I should probably leave well alone but I think I'm a little obsessed now, so I threw most of that starter away (well, turned it into pancakes) and added wholewheat flour instead. 

They are in a glass measuring jug and a tall jar which I keep clingfilmed.

My starter was just plain flour and water.

Cheers,

ilovebread

[/quote]

 

Your starter needs air. You should cover it with a damp towel for now, just to keep it from getting contaminated. Once it is active and ready to put to the fridge, you can top it wilth a lid with a small hole in it.

 

What is your flour to water ratio? You should be measuring by weight not by volume. The standard starter recipe for 100% hydration is 1 part starter 2 parts flour 2 parts water by weight ie, 100g starter, 200g flour, 200g water. When the starter starts doubling in volume in its container is when it is ready to refridgerate.

Hope this helps.

 Ok, I think I have lift-off today. Yay!! The different flour seems to have worked - loads more bubbles. Thanks for the tips everyone. No doubt there will be more questions later.

 Just for the record a starter doesn't need air.  The yeast and bacteria are able to ferment without it.  Most likely the oxygen is consume at the beginning of the fermentation and then the fermentation continues as a anaerobic fermentation.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Yes, I was thinking the same, LeadDog. I keep my starters in the fridge between activations, and I store them in glass peanut butter jars with plastic screw-top lids that keep the air right out. My starters spring straight back to life with one feed - and in the case of one of them, after as long as 3 weeks neglect/hibernation in the fridge. I haven't pushed it longer than this, but I suspect they could go a few more weeks without problems, or even without developing hooch.

Anyway, good to have the word on the subject from someone who understands the science.

 

All the best for the Easter break to everyone here
Ross

Quick question!

 

I'm going to try my first loaf tomorrow.  Do I feed as usual - discard half, then feed - twice today?

Okay, 2 questions! Sorry!

 

2nd question: Do I feed it again right before mixing my dough tomorrow morning or just stir and measure and start mixing?

 

I had some bookmarks on this and, of course, now that I'm on the spot, I can't find the one I want!  I know - not very organized!

 

Thanks for you help though! 

TriciaR,

If I understand your questions correctly:

  1. Feed according to your usual cycle - just make sure you have enough starter for your dough.
  2. You DON'T feed the starter just before using it in a dough. The best time to use it is when its ripeness is right at its peak - soon after this, it will start to deflate a bit, as it has exhausted its fuel. At this point, you can still use it to make bread, but the rising power may be compromised a little. The longer you wait after it has peaked, the less potent its leavening power will be. (How would you like to be put to heavy labour when you're starving?)   :)

 

Cheers
Ross

Thank you Ross! 

 

I'll come back at the end of the day tomorrow and let everyone know how it turned out!  Hopefully, we'll see a successful loaf!

 

Tricia