Starter Texture

 

I have a question about the consistency and texture of starters. I have a starter I cultured myself that is a 60% white / 40% rye. I also recently received some of Carl's 1847 Oregon Trail starter that is a 100% white starter. I keep both at 100% hydration at room temp with 12 hour feedings. My rye starter is like a thick pancake batter consistency - a little elastic but mostly batter-like.  On the other hand, the white starter is very elastic -it's still very wet but when I spoon some out, it sort of breaks away from the mass and holds together in little globules intead of flowing from my spoon. If  I slap my spoon against the mass of starter again, it pulls the little bits of starter off cleanly. Unappetizing as the comparison may be, the texture is very much like that play slime that kids like to play with. 
 
What kind of consistency is/are your starter(s)? Could the texture of my rye starter simply be due to the lack of gluten in the rye? I started wondering if it could have too much protease somehow or even one of those bacterias that feed on the protein in the flour. It doesn't turn completely liquid-y so I think it might not be that. 
 
I haven't tried baking with the white starter yet. My rye starter has produced excellent pan breads but the dough made from it seemed quite extensible when I tried making boules and batards. It didn't want to form a nice tight skin to hold it's shape. I used a small percentage of rye in the recipe and a high protein bread flour, but I may have let it go too long in the bulk ferment, so maybe that broke down the gluten. Any thoughts?
 
-Heather

4 comments

Hi Heather, your starters sound very similar to mine. I made my own with 70% white and 30% rye. It is currently 'sleeping' in the fridge and I've been using my white starter that I got from a sourdough class I attended. My white/rye starter is pretty much as you describe - a little elastic, but more like a batter. My white starter is completely different, very stretchy indeed. 

I actually prefer the smell of my white/rye starter, it has a lovely fruity apple type smell. The white starter doesn't smell as nice - it's not unpleasant but it's not as sweet smelling as the white/rye. My white out-performs my white/rye though - so I mostly use it for my day to day bread making. 

Maree

Hello Heather,

I would say for sure that one of the main differences in your cultures is down to the rye content of the one.  Effectively the gluten content of the blend has been reduced and the water absorbancy is different as well.  These differences manifest themsleves in doughs made with rye flour as well.  A dough with 20% rye flour with 80% wheat at the same hydration as an all wheat one is quite a different beast to work with.  Still makes nice bread though.

I keep my stock at 100% hydration with 5-10% rye and the rest wheat and it is a quite thick batter consistency.  It will pour slowly out of a ladle when i extract some for my loaf starter but it leaves a layer at least 5mm thick on the ladle that needs to be fingered off.  There is not a strong tendency to draw back on itself (elasticity).  When I build a white loaf starter from this base, there is a much more noticeable tendency to draw back after it 'breaks'  very much in line with your description.

Sounds like your starters are disgustingly normal.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Maree and Farinam! I was becoming rather concerned about that rye starter after I had something else to compare it to. Great to know there's nothing to worry about. I have 2 batches of dough in the fridge right now, finishing up a nice long retard so I can compare the 2 starters side by side. Can't wait to see how they stack up.

Happy baking!

-Heather

Experiementing is so much fun isn't it!! I am emerging from a loaf rut - where I just prepared the same dough, the same way, day in day out. Mix one day, retard overnight, bake the next. Same recipe, same routine, I was kind of scared to change the rhythm - it was just working out so well. 

I've broken free a little now though, and the other day made a few flatbreads, which my daughter LOVED. I've also fired up my sleeping rye/white starter. After a few more feeds I'll start using it and do some side by side comparisons too!

Maree :)