Help!

Anonymous
I just started me starter yesterday with my yeast, warm water and flour, covered it with a cheese cloth and left it to sit out on the counter. It seemed to be going well, bubbling and such and then today when I went to stir it, it had stopped bubbling and kind of looked like it had separated??? Is that normal? What did I do wrong? Please help!
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farinam's picture
farinam 2017 April 24

Hello anonymous,

What you did wrong was that you did not read the Beginners Turorials on this site.  You can access them from the Home Page in the right hand column.

Other than that, you did not say how much flour and how much water you used.  It is possible that you just had too much water in the mix and the flour solids (or the remains of it) and the water separated into layers because the mixture was too dilute to keep the solids in suspension.

The reason that it stopped bubbling was that the food supply for the yeast (which wasn't necessary anyway) ran out and it went into hibernation to await the arrival of the next batch of food.  When the food ran out, the yeast stopped producing gas and any gas in the mix escaped - ergo no bubbles.  This consumption of the food supply could also have resulted in the virtual complete breakdown of the gluten in the flour which does contribute to keeping the solids in suspension in the slurry and that would lead to separation of the solids as well.

So, the solids separation, of itself, is nothing to worry about, you could just mix in some more flour (and water) and the yeast should spring back into action but be aware that the activity of the commercial yeast will decline so you will not necessarily see the same burst of growth that you saw the first time and wild yeasts and bacteria will eventually come to predominate (as you would want for a sourdough culture).  Also, to keep the volume that you are dealing with under control and to get rid of some of the waste products that the culture generates, you should discard a portion of each batch before feeding.  Half is usually recommended as this keeps the volume that you have constant.

So, please read the instructions and follow on with them for the next week or so and I am sure that you will end up with a very good sourdough and make some very nice bread.

Good luck with your projects.

Farinam

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