Beginner's Bake - STARTER MAKING and MAINTENANCE

Ask questions and make suggestions for [url=http://www.sourdough.com.au/beginners/#STARTER]STARTER MAKING and MAINTENANCE[/url]

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For another option on starter maintenance - this is my current schedule - in a Melbourne Autumn.

Location - sits in a corner of the kitchen. Not anywhere particularly warm. Used to put next to the water heater, but it doesn't seem to matter (at least at the moment). Kitchen temps ~8C-18C

If starter used recently (within last few days) - tip all remaining starter into compost. This will leave perhaps a tablespoon sticking to the sides of the jar - that is all you need!. Add in the required amount of flour and water (and a little bit extra) for the next days baking (most of my recipes require 200g starter, so I add perhaps 110g flour and 110g water), stir and leave for 24 hours.
[If starter not used within the last four days I would probably aim to refresh twice before baking]

I pour all of the starter into my baking bowl (until I have 200g). What remains in the jar will be the basis for the next refreshment. If I am baking again in the next day or two I will add enough flour/water to make the full amount of starter. If not I just add 50g flour 50g water, and leave for 24 hours, then put in the fridge.

I used to keep a 'stock' starter in the fridge, and then have a separate 'baking starter' when I wanted to work up to baking. But I think this way the starter that I am working from is at most 3 or 4 days away from being refreshed (assuming baking twice a week).
This process also tends to minimise waste (max 50-100g flour a week).

cheers
Dom


Personaly I prefer the open bowl method near a window on a warm day. The yeast part is taken care of by the flour, but in my opinion (regardless of what Chembake says) the Lactobacillus comes from the environment. If this is not the case then why are the different strains of Lactobacillus regional.
I know that various strains of Lactobacillus thrive on our skin, in our saliva and gut, and in a certain part of the female anatomy, but short of washing your face in starter or spitting in it, how do you expect it to get into the starter if it is not exposed to the air.

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I actually put my leaven in the fridge and give it a Mick(Bethesda Mick)(he's a saviour) refresh a week or so at a time, whenever I need it I just take my bit for a formula and feed once, , it's so active and just make the dough after about 8 hours of activation!
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Hi Jeremy

That is just the kind of simple method that we are looking for to maintain an already active starter. It appeals greatly and I can imagine that it would be one of 2 or 3 methods made available to beginners (we could rate them from easy to more complex and let beginners decide which one they want to try).

The higher temperature concept was just to attract and develop cultures in a fresh, previously inactive mix of flour and water. But this is still just a proposal. i do not have a lot of experience with starters. I am interested to know how other bakers started their cultures and what temperatures they worked with. The traditional French way is in a cup next to the combustion (always warm) oven, left overnight. That is how I originally was shown sourdough (by a French lady that lived opposite the yeast bakery I was working in). But traditional does not always mean it is the most effective or works in all circumstances. We will see! Graham

I actually put my leaven in the fridge and give it a Mick(Bethesda Mick)(he's a saviour) refresh a week or so at a time, whenever I need it I just take my bit for a formula and feed once, , it's so active and just make the dough after about 8 hours of activation!

Jeremy

My suggestion here is to create the starter under warm to very warm conditions. This is to avoid the 'cold starter syndrome' (takes days to move) and also to encourage lactic rather than acetic acid producing bacteria (more mellow and [i]generally[/i] more pleasing aroma).

Unfortunately my 'Baking, The Art and Science' reference is not available at present (it gives clear reference to acetic vs lactic temperatures). However I conducted a short test several days ago, averaging 25C. The results were excellent, achieving an active culture in organic wholewheat flour in 24 hours. Full maturity of this culture occured about 8 hours later.

The disadvantages of this 'Bikram' method are:

Starter activity can peak quickly and needs to be attended to (fed and, as determined, cooled) in a smaller window of time.

Accurate measuring of temperature could be an issue, however cultures will still thrive at 23c to 27C, so this is not such a big issue.

Graham