Starter Questions


Once you've got the starter to the cappacino effect is it time to feed with more flour and water?
How to I attach pictures?

266 users have voted.


Barry 2007 March 25

Thanks for your replys much appreciated. Posting pictures is not that easy as I first need to open a gallery I think and then post using meta tags from there. I'll keep trying as I'm a photographer and love pictures to explain.
I've recently baked quite a nice tasting sour dough using the rye starter I created 2 weeks ago it did sit in the fridge for one of those weeks.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2007 March 17

Second question first. A:[url=]Check out Maedi's tute.[/url]

First question.
A: Why? Why do you want to feed the active starter? From your other post, I see you've already made bread with a starter. A good and lively one is best. And, that can be achieved with enough refreshments. Need more info, please.

Barry 2007 March 17

On my first attempt the starter was bubbeling after 24 hours and the resulting bread was only a little sour. After reading a bit most starters seem to ferment for 5 or more days which would give them more of a sour taste is that right?
My current starter has only been going for 2 days and active should I keep it active by adding more flour and water?

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2007 March 17

Oh...definitely yes. If yours is a starter from scratch, you should let it mature for more than a week, if not 2.

wadada's picture
wadada 2007 March 18

It's not very clear what you mean, could you explain your method? Are you trying to make a starter from scratch?
It sounds like you are mixing mixing flour and water, letting it sit for a long time and expecting to have a wild yeast starter.
I think once you get [u]The Bread Builders[u] or another good baking book you will have a better understanding of how it all works, but generally it takes at least a week of regular feedings to start a culture from scratch, and even then the bread it makes won't be as good as it will get with time.
Don't bother trying to make bread with a one or two-day-old culture, the yeast and bacteria haven't had a chance to balance and stabilize. (some of the more science-minded forum-folk could explain this better!!)
Sourness does not come from letting the starter sit longer, that just kills off the yeast. It might still raise dough, but it will be mostly bacteria doing the work.
Where are you? Do some reading, find a local bakery that makes naturally-fermented bread and ask to see their starter to get a sense of what a healthy chef looks and smells like. Pick their brain if you can, and maybe ask if you can have 1/4 cup to take home. Without knowing the charactaristics of a healthy starter, it will be hard to make one from scratch. It might be more satisfying and less frustrating if you start by finding a starter that's known to be healthy and get used to using it. Work on starting your own later, or while using another one. Putting time, effort and good ingredients into making dense bread that comes out marginally edible is pretty disheartening, especially if you aren't sure what you did wrong. Knowing your starter is healthy eliminates one big variable among countless others associated with naturally-fermented bread.
I'm not trying to discourage you from making your own starter, just trying to help you avoid some of the frustration of dealing with something that, while rather complex and marvelous, is pretty easily demystified with a little research.
Sorry about the rambling post...

Barry 2007 March 18

Thanks for that advice - I'm waiting on a few books but in the mean time I just had to experiment, great idea to go and visit my local baker whose sour dough initially got my hook on making my own sour dough.
(Sourness does not come from letting the starter sit longer, that just kills off the yeast)
By letting the starter sit and ferment while feeding - does that contribute to a more sour bread?
I'm now into day 5 of Dan lepard's starter method where I'm discarding 4/5 of the starter and refreshing with only rye flour and water 100ml and 80g every 24hours seems very active and smells great - he then recommends continuing for another week before using it to make bread.
I've also started another one using only white flour refreshing every 12hours it's now in day 3 and seems active when refreshed but smells a bit but OK.
I'm living in the Australian tropics which means the average inside temp is 28 degrees.

baxter SA 2007 March 24

It sounds to me that you have an excesive amount of yeast production which is what you need but you don't have enough ACID production. After feeding try putting it stright in the fridge for 6 hrs to slow the yeast activity down and then take it out. Let it work and drop back and then refeed. Repeat for a few days. Retarding the yeast a bit Should Help with acid build up and make your loaf more sour. Try this with a bit that your discarding from your one just to see if it works. I don't want you losing the lot.
It's all about control.


SourDom 2007 March 24

Welcome Barry and Baxter SA (I suspect that the latter is place rather than a name)

Barry, I suspect that you are finding that your starter is changing already from its initial behaviour. As others have pointed out it takes time to develop a stable balance of yeast and friendly bacteria.

You have a distinct advantage in the ambient temperature where you are baking. 28-30C is the temperature at which sourdough yeasts have peak activity, so you will find that your starter and your doughs rise much more quickly than those of us who bake in cooler climes would be used to.
On the down side it is somewhat easier for things to spoil, and you might find that a starter that was so active in the first day developed an unpleasant odour after a day or so more, due to the presence of unfriendlies.
As Baxter SA suggests, using the fridge to slow things down may help.
(If your starter is peaking too quickly you can also slow it down by adding a little salt)

It is possible to develop and bake with a starter that is only a couple of days old. Indeed I think that Paul Merry's (baker in the UK) usual practice with a rye starter is to do this, since a rye-based starter will develop naturally at an accelerated pace. He doesn't keep a special rye starter going, but generates a new one over a day or two when he wants to use one.

keep us posted on your progress, and I look forward to seeing some pictures!


(Baxter and Wadada - thanks for your input - it is great to have some professionals giving pointers, and adding in their hints from personal experience)

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