Starter keeps going wrong....help!

Hi there, first timer to the forum.  I am originally from the UK and used to make my own sourdough.  I haven't made it in 6 months or so as we moved to the Middle East, but decided to grow my own starter a couple of weeks back but just CAN'T seem to get it right :(. My ''UK" starter was fine, smelt just how I wanted it to, but I my starter here just smells like malt vinegar, and is missing the sweeter note that my UK starter had.  I don't want to put something so acidic into my bread. I have followed all the usual steps.  I can only assume it's something to do with the ambient temperature in the kitchen, which averages between 25-28 Celsius, compared to 16-18 bsck in the UK.

I'd appreciate some advice on what to do in hotter climates - I am not sure if refrigerating the starter will help, or using cold water instead of lukewarm.  I'd have hoped to have turned out a batch or two of bread by now but I still don't have a starter I'm happy to use!  I have discarded 75% daily and even started over completely from scratch....very annoying :(. Thank you!

8 comments

Starters in warmer tempratures need to be fed more often than ones in cooler temps. The warmer they are the more active. 

The other option is to increase the ratio of food to starter when you feed. Give it more food to work on so it can go longer between feedings.

Thanks Shasta.  I'll try feeding morning and night to see if it helps!

Hello Easterchick,

I'm assuming that your starter is actually active, it's just that it is not the same as your old one and not quite to your liking.  If that is the case then perhaps you could try going the other way and start storing it in the fridge to slow things down and see if that makes a difference.  You would then probably feed every (say) three days and see if that chages the characteristics to your liking.

The other thing is, if it is active, have you tried making bread with it as it might be that the bread turns out just fine despite your impressions of what the starter is about.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

Farinam makes a great point. You can refrigerate your starter between feedings to slow down the process. Personally I would try getting it closer to what you are use to first. Placing an under fed starter into the fridge would be even harder on a starter. I feed mine twice a day and my home is always around 22-23 C.

I feed at a 1:1:1 ratio which in my case comes out to 75g Starter: 75g water: 75g flour. I feed every 12 hours. I feel fairly confident that feeding your starter more often or at a higher flour/water ratio to starter will help you out in the higher temps.

Once you have it stable where you want it, you can feed it and place it in the fridge about an hour feeding it. 

When I pull mine in the frige after a week, I go through at last two feedings before I use it to make sure it's back up to speed.

Best of luck!!

 

It's definitely slightly less vinegary than it was, for feeding it x2 daily.  The other thing I tried was after noticing how the starter 'liquefies' and becomes very runny when a feed is due.  This never used to happen - it was always a smooth batter.  So I also tried 75:25 instead of 50:50 flour to water and I think that might have helped too.  Makes it slightly thicker than it should be just after a feed, but nearer what I'd expect when a feed is due.  Going to try storing it in the fridge between feeds, although I'll miss  watching the rise and fall!

 

farina,my good point re just giving it a whirl.  Before i moved here i used my own recipe, and didn't worry too much.  But then someone bought me the Tartine book, and it says don't use a starter you're not happy with.  I'll see how it goes over the next few days :)

Sounds like you're moving in the right direction. Good luck!

 

Smells like rotten bananas mixed with nail polish remover now ;-). So I think so!

I never use warm water in the UK.

Refresh it when you want to use it.

Keep it in the fridge when not in use.

There's not much point feeding a starter you're not using in the next few days, keep it in the fridge.

You will get to know if you need to feed it twice before you use it, if its been in the fridge for a few weeks for example.

 

Cheers.