Sad Starter

Mrs. Geddy Lee

Hello All.


I have a sad batch of starter- actually I have two. Both attempts were started with AP and pineapple. They've been fed nothing but AP and purified water (not tap). I feed twice daily, roughly 1/2 cup starter to 1C flour 2/3C water- and it has a happy spot on my kitchen counter, ambient temps 70F or so. (It's winter in New England, so chilly for yeasties' preference I know).


They bubble lazily, and if I start to raise the hydration they may even foam- but two things. One, they never ever have risen, and two if I keep the hydration high they begin to seperate inside about 18 hours.


I have no idea what I am doing wrong. One is kept in a sterilized acryllic canister, gasket removed so as not to be airtight, the other in a ceramic canister, same idea.


I am praying someone hsa a great method I can employ to see if I can bring either of these sad starters to their full potential.


Your friend in all things Yeastie.



64 users have voted.


rossnroller 2009 December 22

Hi Lea,

Although low winter temps make things a bit slow to begin with, I actually suspect that once you've got your starter going it ends up especially robust due to struggling through the establishment phase! Only the tough survive the winter chill. Zero science behind that, but I'm stickin' to it!

I had all sorts of trouble getting my first starter going (also in winter - inside temp range was about 14-18C). Graham, who runs this site, kindly and patiently coached me through until I got some serious yeast action. The success factor for me was using some whole-grain ORGANIC rye flour (30%) with my unbleached AP flour. Made an enormous difference, and my starters (yeah, I've got two now, of different hydrations) have never looked back.

I was using cheap fine-milled rye initially, and it turns out that was not helping my starter at all. As soon as I switched to organic whole-grain rye, the action started. The AP flour remained the same, as did my filtered water, so it had to be the organic rye that made the difference (he said, reverting to primitive science, using a data base of 1).

If you try organic rye in your mix and still don't get any joy, I can recommend the starter instructions on this site. Worked brilliantly for me at a time when I was despairing that I would never get a starter going.

Good luck and fingers crossed for ya!


Mrs. Geddy Lee 2009 December 23


They're almost 3 weeks old or so- and since my scale is on the fritz I will have to make a guess for you- but being as I consistently fluff my flour into the cup as opposed to "dip and sweep" I think that it's a pretty consistent cup flour to 2/3 Cup water and 1/2 Cup starter. Consistency is like a thick mud... I would gather uner 100%...


Ross- I did have organic rye in the cupboard, so this morning I switched over, and I'll see how it goes... I figure if and when the colony builds, then I can slowly switch back to AP... thank you for the good advice.


I'll come back to post in a few days. Thanks again guys!

Mrs. Geddy Lee 2009 December 31



You were indeed right. 30% rye added to the same old mix made everything come to life. Starter has been happily doubling (or better) in size every day, and has baked a loaf (or two (: ) of beautifully complex, mellow tasting bread with gorgeous crust, crumb and oven spring.





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