Author Topic: Starter Problems!!  (Read 3480 times)

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Offline rpmfla

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Re: Starter Problems!!
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2011, 09:42:09 AM »

and skips the false start that often gets people throwing out what they think is "dead starter".


Good day,

I have been trying to get a starter going, but every time the same process seems to happen. When I read your comment about false start, I thought perhaps this is my problem. I have tried the NY Bakers starter (which comes in crystalline form) twice and also started several of my own. Each time the "birth" goes well and I get the doubling after 2-3 days. The instructions with the NY Bakers starter says 3-4 days, but each time the starter had doubled in 1.5 to 2.5 days. Should I have not fed it when doubled, and does it require more time at "birth"? Was my initial doubling a false start? Each of my starers starts well and then turns to sludge after the first feeding, then separates into sludge and hooch and just sits there. Why does my first feeding seem to kill each one?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Rod


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Starter Problems!!
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2011, 09:56:19 AM »
What kind of water are you using? Do you know its pH?

Offline rpmfla

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Re: Starter Problems!!
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2011, 10:24:59 AM »
What kind of water are you using? Do you know its pH?

I get the 5 gallon bottles of Primo brand water from the grocery...don't know its pH.

Offline yumarama

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Re: Starter Problems!!
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2011, 03:25:12 AM »
The "false start" I mentioned is a process that a brand spanking new starter-to-be goes through when it's being built up from just flour and water. It's a phase where particular bacteria feed on your new flour soup very early on in the starter creation process.

Starters from flakes, on the other hand, are (or should be) fully developed starters, just dried up. It is a revived starter. They skip that whole week or two of battling cultures and let your mixture jump in further into the game. You should see regular yeast activity pretty much right away, no "false start" involved.

So what I'd want to know is what sort of feeding process are you following with your revived flake starter? How often and how much are you feeding, at what ratio? It's possible you may be feeding too little, too much water, not often enough. Or none of the above and it's something else. But we'd need to get more detailed info on your current process to see where and why things may be falling down.

Offline rpmfla

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Re: Starter Problems!!
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2011, 09:19:09 AM »
The "false start" I mentioned is a process that a brand spanking new starter-to-be goes through when it's being built up from just flour and water. It's a phase where particular bacteria feed on your new flour soup very early on in the starter creation process.

Starters from flakes, on the other hand, are (or should be) fully developed starters, just dried up. It is a revived starter. They skip that whole week or two of battling cultures and let your mixture jump in further into the game. You should see regular yeast activity pretty much right away, no "false start" involved.

So what I'd want to know is what sort of feeding process are you following with your revived flake starter? How often and how much are you feeding, at what ratio? It's possible you may be feeding too little, too much water, not often enough. Or none of the above and it's something else. But we'd need to get more detailed info on your current process to see where and why things may be falling down.

Thank you for the reply. Basically I just followed the instructions that came with the NY Bakers starter (see below). I used Primo bottled water added to the crystals to reconstitute, then added the same amount by weight of flour (I tried King Arthur Bread Flour the first batch and this batch I just used regular KAAP. Then I was supposed to wait until doubled, in 3-4 days. Well this is where I had the first issue...it doubled in a little less than two days. I wasn't sure if this was maybe the "false rise" you spoke of. Anyway, the first time around I fed it per instructions after it doubled (not waiting for 3-4 days). Then after that it just sat there looking like sludge. No bubbles or any obvious activity, and after a couple days it produced a lot of hooch. It seemed to me it was acting as if I hadn't fed it (or maybe I fed it too soon?).

The second batch I just started on 7/16 was doing the same exact thing after the first feeding, so after doing some more research I tried tossing half and adding 1:1:1 of the remaining starter/orange juice/KAAP. This was yesterday around 7PM. This morning it looked great! Nice, consistent bubbles all the way through, and had risen about 3/4 ". The one different element was adding orange juice instead of water.

How to Wake Up Your FREE NYB Starter

    Dissolve the contents of one packet in cup (2oz/57g) of warm (105F/40C) water;
    Mix well with cup (2oz/57g) of wheat or rye flour;
    Allow to stand at room temperature until mixture doubles in volume (this may take up to 3-4 days. There may be some dis- coloration or dark liquid on top of the culture; this is normal. Just pour or spoon it off.);
    Add another cup (4oz/115g) of water to sponge, mix well and then add another 1 cup (4.5oz/130g) of flour;
    Allow to stand in a warm place. The sponge should have more than doubled overnight, and will be very bubbly.
    Feed the sponge with another 1 cup (4oz/114g) of flour and cup (4oz/115g) of water and let stand until doubled, which should be within 8-10 hours at room temp;<
    Your sourdough culture is ready to use or store covered in the refrigerator.
    Feed every 4-7 days by discarding half the starter and repeating step 4, returning to refrigerator when the sponge has doubled in bulk.

« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 09:24:45 AM by rpmfla »

Offline yumarama

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Re: Starter Problems!!
« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2011, 11:56:01 AM »
You can follow the "How to" on reviving dried starter on my blog here, complete with photos. I'm not entirely clear on what happened with your starter revival, the steps indicated, although slightly different from what I do, should still get you a decent starter.

From what I can see, your starter kick started somewhat faster than the "up to 3-4 days" noted, which is great. Once you see the expected bubbling activity, you're good to go! Handle it like normal starter: if it's kept out on the counter (which you should for 2 or 3 days after reviving) feed it twice daily at about 12 hours, roughly: "in the morning" and "in the early evening" is accurate enough.

Why you're getting hootch: It's hungry. I'd first tackle that issue with feeding more, at a 1:2:2 ratio so it has more food to sustain it over the 12 hours. Start with a smaller amount of your active starter, say 20 grams, add 40g of water, stir, then 40g of flour, stir. You'll have the thick pancake batter consistency and a total of 100g of starter. This will then give you 80 g of starter to use each time you cut back down to 20 g on the next feed. You can quickly build that 80g up to most home-baking amounts in one or two feeds. Feeding it more and more often will resolve the hootch producing hunger issue.

Since attempt #2 is showing good activity, just take some of it now and follow the ratio feed above and see what happens. If you see your starter doubling (or better) and start receding within just a few hours, you may want to go with 8 hour feeds. You have a very healthy, active starter on your hands and it needs more food. Like a teenager. Once you've had a successful run of feeds and expansions for two or three days, then you can feed, wait a couple of hours until it has expanded a little - but not yet peaked -  and pop it in the fridge where you will now slow down the eating and expanding process. You can then feed the starter weekly or even two weeks.

Other ways to unknowingly stun a starter: using water with chlorine or chloramine; note there is a difference between these. One reason you may see instruction saying to use bottled water is that these are usually filtered and do not contain chemicals meant to kill off things like, say, yeast and bacteria, the very things you're trying to cultivate in the starter. You can normally use your local tap water if it's drinkable for people and does not contain chloramine. Check your local water supplier's website to see if this is what they use in the water's treatment.

If they use chlorine, it's a simple process of letting an open container of water stand out for a day or two for the chlorine to dissipate. If they use chloramine however, not so much; that stuff stays in the water and won't simply dissipate. In that case, bottled spring water or filtered water (like Disani which is simply filtered tap water) is the better choice.

Since you use bottled water, however, this last is unlikely to be your issue. I'm just adding this for others who may read this thread and not be aware this could be the cause of their problems.

As for the orange juice (or pineapple or lemon, etc.): this supplement is only really useful in the Starter From Scratch process. Again, in your specific situation, you're reviving an active starter so the juice isn't needed. The reason to use it in a From Scratch process is to lower the pH level in the flour soup to where hibernating yeasties like it and wake up; the bacteria that "pretend" they're expanding your starter dislike that pH level and therefore won't fire up. It's not really needed in reviving flakes. In effect, adding the juice is ONLY done to help the starter parent not feel like their starter has died on them because they mistake that bacteria's expansion (and quick demise) as "dead starter". It is not necessary in creating a starter mix at all. It simply skips that otherwise typical step and saves a day or three in the basic starter starting process.

At this point, then, you're ready to handle your new revived starter like a real starter. Just give it a couple more days of regular feeds to get it back to a strong healthy starter - drying and reviving will have taken some of it's 'Ooomph' out - then handle it like any good, active starter. You are now at about week 3 or more of someone else's "from scratch" process.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 11:59:42 AM by yumarama »

Offline rpmfla

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Re: Starter Problems!!
« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2011, 03:37:09 PM »
Thank you for your comprehensive assistance. So perhaps it was just coincidence that it looked great this morning after the orange juice experiment. My wife keeps teasing me because I haven't been able to get it going, so I challenged her to try! I'm not giving up and actually want to try from scratch using your (and some others I've seen) method.

Thanks again.

Offline rpmfla

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Re: Starter Problems!!
« Reply #27 on: July 27, 2011, 11:00:46 AM »
I now have more healthy starter than I need, so I'm giving it away to friends! After I tried orange juice instead of water everything seemed to just take off from there, but it may have been coincidence and more to do with timing than anything else. I had one starter that was just sludge with very smelly hooch on top, and I was about to throw it away. It is now doing great! I would just recommend patience and persistence to people who are having trouble getting their starter going. The orange juice may have helped by providing a better pH, but overall I think it just takes time.

I have two "bought" starters from NY bakers and one of my own that I started from scratch. All are very productive and I just made my first batch of pizza dough last night using some of my own starter. I am using the long, slow, refrigerator rise and will use it in 3 days. I am curious if I will notice any difference from the same recipe except starter replacing some of the IDY.

parallei

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Re: Starter Problems!!
« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2011, 10:11:22 PM »
I have used Denver tap water from the get go with my Ischia starter from sourdo.com.  Denver water is very tasty.  We use chloramines in an attempt to keep the DBP's down.  To date, no problems........


 

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