Starter behaviour


I've had my first starter going for six days now. Each time I feed it rises and falls by about 20-25% in the first two or so hours. Is this normal? The descriptions I've read talk of this happening much slower. I've used 50-50 rye and bere (ancient form of barley).

Does anyone have any ideas on this?


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farinam's picture
farinam 2012 August 20

Hello MkII,

The activity (time to peak) will depend on the beasties present, the amount of food that they are given and the temperature they are living at.

I wonder whether the fall back might be down to the low gluten content of your flours that doesn't give it the strength to support itself.  A bit like building the Golden Gate bridge with kitchen twine rather than steel.

It will also 'rise' higher, at least with majority wheat flour, in a narrower container.  When I prepare a levain for a loaf in a 500ml Pyrex jug, the sponge rises significantly more than it does in my stock bottle.  I put this down to the shorter span that has to be bridged by the bubble structure.

The viscosity (read hydration) of the slurry will also have an effect by allowing/preventing gas from escaping due to bubble breakage.  Gluten strength will also have an effect on bubble breakage.

That's my two cents worth.

Good luck with your projects.


MkII 2012 September 18

Thanks (belatedly) for the advice. My starter seems to be enjoying living in the fridge and is making some lovely light and soft bread. I've decided to switch to 100% rye for the starter as the bere seems to have a crushed stone in it and the grittiness doesn't feel good in the mouth.

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