My starter became sticky


 Hi, everyone.

 Now I'm challenging making sourdough starter with only barley flour and water. Yesterday I mixed 80g of barley flour and 80g of warm water together and left it in warm place. It became frothy a bit and sour smelling in a day, but I couldn't be sure that the starter fermented enough because I heard it takes several days for the starter to ferment enough. So I threw half of it away and replenished 40g of barley powder and warm water again. Then, it became sticky like dough already! I'm worried about my starter is fermenting well or not!!

 Actually I've made some starters with fruits or leaves of black tea and I can remember the sour smelling and states of my former starters, but I can't compare this sourdough starter with them; I added some sugar or honey for "boosting" everytime and starters I made before were liquid, not a sticky one like this time. This is the first time to make starter in a traditional way - only flour and water needed. 

 So, here are my questions.

 1. Can I make a sourdough bread with this 'sticky' starter? In other words, does my starter seem to be fermenting well even though it's sticky?

 2. Can I make a starter not with rye or wheat flour but barley flour? I know most of people make a starter with rye or wheat flour, but in South Korea I live rye flour is not common yet as much as barley flour, and I don't want to use pounded wheat flour for my health(Barley is efficacious in reducing your blood pressure, so if you have a health problem with hyperpiesia, eating barley would be helpful)

 Anyway, making starter is still difficult and always makes me feel nervous. Maybe that's because my family don't like to eat bread as much as rice and think baking bread is kind of waste of time, energy and money(I and my family are Koreans, so we are living on rice). Well, even for me, baking bread is much more like a chemical experiment and I really enjoy it! I always try to make a crusty bread with only a big kettle(I don't have any oven, toaster or microwave oven. My mom doesn't like these machines.) but produce just like a steam bread :P

p.s. Now my starter rose almost double and I can see many holes in it. Then does it ferment enough and can I keep it in my fridge?

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TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 November 14

To be frank with you, I was deliberating whether I should take a stab at answering your post, because there are so many unfamiliar elements. While waiting for others, I'll just voice out my thoughts, at least, to try to make things clearer.

1. Barley flour shouldn't be a problem, I think. Er...on another occasion, you used the term barley it the same? With overnight fermentation, you see bubbles and get some sour smells...that doesn't necessarily mean it's ready for baking. A viable starter for making bread takes not just a few days of feeding, but 7 -14 days.

2. Sticky question. Well, I would describe my starter as sticky and gluey. I'm not sure how you have an ungluey starter, unless it's very liquid.

3. Are you, in essence, steaming or baking bread? I can't tell. Do you put your bread inside the kettle? How? Or is it a pot? And, is this over boiling water or on a stove? It's hard to visualise.

I do hope you'll continue in your sourdough bread endeavour, despite the odds, ie. being surrounded by non-bread people. They say 'ganbatte' in japanese...what should I say in korean?


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 November 14
[quote=TeckPoh]2. Sticky question. Well, I would describe my starter as sticky and gluey. I'm not sure how you have an ungluey starter, unless it's very liquid.



Ahh...I think it must be barley flour, having less gluten, so it's less elastic or 'sticky'. Did you do anything else different than your earlier starter attempts?

nautes03 2008 November 14

 First of all, thanks for your kind advice!(Go-ma-woe-yo in Korean) And I'm really glad that you seem to be good at Japanese because I had lived in Kyoto, Japan for a year :D

 OK, I'll follow your advice. I'll feed and grow my starter more in room temperature.

 My kettle..well, sorry, I mixed up kettle and pot(my poor English..;() I usually put my dough in a small waterproof paper box, put the box in my pot and place the pot on the gas stove(Sometimes I pour a half cup of water in the pot for the crust of bread - maybe that's why I always get steamed breads) Next time, I'll use stainless steel ball instead of paper box and spray water over the pot. If I succeed in baking sourdough bread, I'll take a pic and upload it here :)

nautes03 2008 November 14

 Last time, I fermented fruits or leaves of black tea with water and sugar, strained water through a sieve, mixed the water and flour, and keep it in warm place overnight. Is that also a kind of sourdough? Hum...I'm not sure.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 November 14
Fruits and honey/sugar will no doubt add sugar and some other strains of bacteria, but, you don't need them to make your starter...just flour and water; there's already sugar in the flour to feed your little beasties. Sourdough or not, did you manage to bake bread with it, without adding any baker's yeast?

When you bake your bread, remember to take pix of the baking process too...I'm intrigued by your set-up. Your it the type you cook nabe in?

Kyoto is lovely...I visited last November. My eldest daughter, who's a manga/anime freak knows some Japanese, me just a sprinkling. We do enjoy having korean, as well as, Japanese meals, eating it almost every weekend or so.

Nice to have you here.
Millciti's picture
Millciti 2008 November 15
Hi Nautes03,

TP is right, is'nt she always!  Sourdough bread starter is so sticky you could probably make glue with it.  Your starter is mostly bacterial right now.  Once you pass the 1st bubbly phase you should expect the starter to look dead except for a bubble now and then.  It will take a few days (3-5) for the yeast to start to get stronger.  Usually as the material in your jar or bowl gets more acidic the nasty bacteria die off.

Keep feeding it and waiting then it should start to smell a little more like sourdough... Lactic bacteria are winning the bacterial fight, yeast is starting to find the right stuff to feed off of.  The odor will begin to sweeten and you will start to see more bubbles as days pass.   It will be ready to bake bread with when it doubles a few hours after you feed it.

You will see more activity if you keep feeding it equal weights of water and flour.  There is a lot of evidence that stirring it occasionally each day is very benificial, as it allows more contact with undigested flour.  If you don't have a scale to measure your feedings.  I would use 1 measure of water to 2 measures of flour.  That will give you a nice thick medium for your culture.

In case you haven't found it yet this is a good link to check out for starting a starter.  Dom is a very good instructor, it would have been easier to start making sourdough had I read this first!

Like TP said we love to see pictures it helps a lot!  As to your family, wait till your starter gets going and I will send you a recipe for sourdough egg noodles...;)  If the bread doesn't win them over there are other cool things to make with sourdough!

Best Regards,

nautes03 2008 November 18

 Now my starter is growing well(I can't check it directly but I trust vital power of my starter!) and I'm indebted to you guys :) I'll upload pics if I succeed to bake delicious, crusty bread!

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2008 November 18
Hi Nautes,

Glad to hear your starter is doing well.  I have been thinking about you, will you be able to get other kinds of Glutinous or Wheat type Flours besides the Barley?  I noticed that most of the noodles in Korea are made with wheat flour.  When I googled glutinous the definition of it was sticky/gummy...:?
So I guess by its very own definition your starter will be sticky..


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