Refreshing a Firm Starter

Hello all!

I have recently received a liquid starter from someone, which I then converted into a firm starter via the technique described in Glazer's Artisan Baking.  Since then, I have been refreshing it every 8 hours or so, but have not seen any difference in how it behaves (i.e., it is not rising more quickly or growing any bigger).  I'm pretty confident that it's alive and active; it does rise each time and has a pleasant yeasty smell, but it hasn't ever managed to quadruple in size within 8 hours as Glazer suggests it should do if it is ready to bake with.  What confounds me is that it seems to be doing exactly the same thing every time I refresh.

Do I merely need to have more patience?  I have been doing this for 3-4 days now with no apparent change in the starter.  Is there something I could be doing wrong?  I am refreshing with weighed amounts using the formula provided by Glazer.  Any ideas are appreciated.

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Millciti's picture
Millciti 2009 January 8

Can you give a few more details?  What kind and or type of flour you are using?  How warm is it where you keep your starter?   Also since we may or may not have Maggie Glazer's info it may be good to post it here in more detail.  Also do you know how the starter that you received was cultured?  Was it from wheat or rye or a mixture?

My starters aren't as active now that it is cooler here in Ohio, so I let them go longer when I am refreshing them - up to 12 hours.  And since I started my white starter with a little rye it always seems to benefit from an occasional rye snack.  5-10% rye added occasionally to my starter during refreshment.  I use a lot of different flours and they all react differently so your flour could be the culprit too.

Hope this helps.



Soveh2 2009 January 8
Flour -- King Arthur unbleached bread flour.  I've been saving 10 grams of the starter and tossing the rest, then adding 25 grams of water and 45 of flour.  It's been cooler in the house lately (~68 degrees F), but I've tried to let the starter rest near the warm stove as possible.  I have no idea how the starter was cultured, unfortunately.  My husband brought it home from a coworker, and all I know about it is that it was more liquid to begin with and was being used by the coworker to make Amish friendship bread.

I had a thought after I went to bed last night though--are you supposed to refresh the starter on a timer, or wait until it reaches some milestone?  I had assumed it was a time thing.  Perhaps I've been thinking about it incorrectly.  Or maybe I should try a different flour as you suggest, Millciti.

Thank you for your help!
Millciti's picture
Millciti 2009 January 8

The first problem is probably your starter.  Traditionally Amish Friendship starter is started with milk, sugar and Flour...?  Most sourdough is started with just flour - ususally Rye and wheat and water.  Friendship starters generally don't have the lasting power of a regular sourdough starter - most usually die off after a bit.  But if you have been reading this site for a while you will find some interesting forums here about starters that weren't created the normal way. 

My thoughts are that the elements are there, and if you continue to feed it your starter will develop the right wild yeast/ lactic-acid bacteria culture to keep it alive.  You are probably about halfway there.  But you could also start your own new starter from the beginners blogs on starting sourdough cultures.  While you are waiting you can still keep working on your current starter and using it to make bread.  I started my own 2 different starters this summer and have been very happy with their staying power. 

And yes they will usually at least triple in 4-8 hours and depending on the hydration level they won't stay put at all sometimes.   I think most of us don't time our starters so much as just being aware of the hour you refreshed it - most starters will be good to go 8 to 12 hours after refreshing.



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