Author Topic: Is there something wrong with my starter?  (Read 2976 times)

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Offline jamieg

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Is there something wrong with my starter?
« on: September 23, 2013, 01:03:50 PM »
I bought the ischia starter a few months ago and I have finally found the time to activate it.

Every 12 hours I add 50gr of water and 50gr of flour.

So, I have been waiting for it to rise 2 inches / or double in size within 2 hours of feeding it.

It seemed to get off to a good start - that is - I think it was rising - just the way dough rises.

But now, after 6 days, it seems to just sit there like a bowl of soup.

You can see it here:


Is it too liquidy? Any ideas as to what has gone wrong?

Thanks :-)

jamie


Offline ccgus

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2013, 01:12:13 PM »
Did you go through the steps to kill off the bad bacteria by heating it up to 90 for a day or so?  And does your water have chlorine in it by any chance (which would be bad).

I've also only had luck using glass containers with my starter.  Metal and plastic seem to make it flip out for some reason.

Offline jamieg

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2013, 02:27:15 PM »
I think I failed on all of your 3 criteria.

- I did not heat it up to 90 degrees.
- I am using tap water which must have some chlorine in it.
- I am also using a plastic container.

So, am I doomed? Or can I just buy bottled water and switch containers?

I was hoping somebody was going to say - no problem - just make the mix less soupy.

The mix definately has quite a sour smell prior to feeding - so presumably something is going on.

Offline ringkingpin

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 08:56:40 AM »
I recently reactivated my dried ischia with tap water in a steel bowl. Add more flour and water and let it sit after stirring and later that day or the next look for any little pin hole bubbles on top. If you see the, it's starting to do its thing!
I keep man the consistency of pancake batter FYI.
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Offline JD

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 10:17:17 AM »
Heating it to 90* will not kill bacteria, it will promote more growth for both the bacteria & yeast.


If I were you I would put the container on top of your water heater, or other warm spot, and leave it alone for 2 days to see if anything happens. Give the yeast a chance to do something before you feed it again. You can thicken it up if you want with a little flour, but that won't help in any way other than visual cues of fermentation (rise & bubbles).

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2013, 10:31:11 AM »
When was the last time you fed it? It sounds like you just need to refeed it is all.

Offline JD

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2013, 10:46:14 AM »
When was the last time you fed it? It sounds like you just need to refeed it is all.


But now, after 6 days, it seems to just sit there like a bowl of soup.


I missed this line, you haven't fed it in 6 days?? Then for sure JT is correct.

Feed it and make it a little thicker if you want it to rise. That is a very thin mixture.

Offline jamieg

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2013, 11:18:38 PM »
I've been feeding it every 12 hours since I started... about 6 days ago.

Today, I thickened it up - by adding more flour than water - and an hour later I could see some small bubbles.

So, it seems to have some life.

But, it seems a long way off from gaining 2 inches within 2 hours of feeding / or doubling in size - which is what I have read over and over again - in terms of knowing when it's finally ready.

The temperature in Medellin, Colombia tends to stay in the 70s f - so I think that's almost perfect.

Thanks everybody.

Offline JD

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2013, 08:22:00 AM »

But, it seems a long way off from gaining 2 inches within 2 hours of feeding / or doubling in size - which is what I have read over and over again - in terms of knowing when it's finally ready.


My Ischia starter never doubled after 2 hours. It took closer to 4hrs at 74*

How exactly are you feeding your starter?


Offline chasenpse

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2013, 01:15:25 PM »
Glad to see a fellow Colombian on the forum :)

Are you discarding any excess starter before feeding it? I'd say try starting another culture from the one you have in a glass jar and feed it equal parts water/flour. Give it 12 hours and look for any activity, chances are if it's still active you've got a chance of reviving it.
If Tetris has taught me anything, its that errors pile up and accomplishments disappear.

Offline Pizzaddict

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2013, 08:55:21 PM »
I'm new at this starter stuff as well.  I just activated my Ischia starter last week.  Bubbled pretty good after 24 hours at 90F, then just kind of acted sluggish for the next week with feedings every 12-24 hours.  I used a 1 qt. mason jar and I fed by weight and used 75g flour, 75g tap water.  On the 8th or 9th day, it just took off.  I had split it into two jars and both jars did the doubling thing within 2-3 hours, then overflowed!  Now the starter is very active...don't give up!!!!

edit:  BTW, yours in much soupier than mine...perhaps now that you've thickened it try feeding 50/50 by weight.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 08:58:32 PM by Pizzaddict »

Offline DenaliPete

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2013, 05:43:06 AM »
Did you go through the steps to kill off the bad bacteria by heating it up to 90 for a day or so?  And does your water have chlorine in it by any chance (which would be bad).

I've also only had luck using glass containers with my starter.  Metal and plastic seem to make it flip out for some reason.

I've used both plastic and glass.  I have never experienced any ill using plastic.  My starter stays happy all the same as long as I feed it.

Offline jamieg

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2013, 06:17:31 PM »
Glad to see a fellow Colombian on the forum :)

hah... actually, I'm english, but I lived in Colombia for 6 years.

If you are ever in town, please do come and crituque the pizza.

:-)

Offline smignogna

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2013, 06:57:22 PM »
how does it smell?? sweet or vinegary? you can tell alot about your starter by the smell.

don't worry too much about if its too wet or too dry.....different hydration levels promote different flavors in your bread/pizza so its more about personal preference (and type of bread) then which one works best. I started using equal weight water and flour but now just eyeball it (each flour has different absorptance rates....WW you need more, 00 you need less).

I would use a warm spot in the house (if you don't have one put a lamp directly above it) and feed it twice a day using warm 80-85F water. If you use tap water leave it out overnight to kill off the chlorine (but honestly it doesn't make that much of a difference)....i try to use filtered water when possible but sometimes you forget and I haven't had much issues with straight tap water (flavors aside....)

Offline jamieg

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2013, 09:39:53 PM »
Thanks again everybody.

The starter now seems to be ok. The sour flavour builds up just prior to feeding.

This week we did our first ferment with the ischia starter - having spent the last 2 years using IDY.

Unfortunately, the results were not good.

The following happend:
- It took a little longer to ferment than I expected - so next time I will have to use slighty more, but that is fine.
- I detected a very slight improvement in taste (it was so slight it might even have been my imagination).
- There was 0 improvement in the crumb.
- The dough balls were of much lower quality when they were reballed having not been used in the first 24 hours - usuallly we find re-balled dough balls are actually better, i.e. more air, more strength, better taste

So, I will have another attempt - but this was a major disappointment given all the hype about using a fresh starter vs. IDY.

Offline JD

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2013, 10:02:20 PM »
 What was your exact process, and what pizza style are you attempting to make? 
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 11:08:20 PM by JD »

Offline jamieg

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2013, 01:46:06 PM »
Method
- mix ingredients by hand and then let rest for 20 mins
- gently mix in salt and 25gr water
- gently stretch and fold
- bulk ferment for 48 hours in fridge at 14C to 18C (57.2 F to 64.4 F)
- ball dough (balls should be ready after about 3 hours)

Recipe
1600 gr - water - 66.67%   
75 ml - IDY - 0.03%
50 gr - brown sugar - 2.08%   
2400 gr - flour - 100%   

(after a 20min rest)
80 gr - salt - 3.33%   
25 gr - water - 1.04%   

Cooking:
We maintain the floor temp around 350c.
The pizza cooks in about 130 seconds

We try to do Neapolitan Style - but cook for slightly longer for added crunch - so I guess it is a hybrid between N and NY. Actually, we use Biancos as a visual guide.

Here is one of our pizzas:


Offline pacdunes

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2013, 02:35:39 PM »
your pizza looks great.  Have you tried washing your starter?  When I first started using my ischia, I tested a wash (thinking nothing was happening) and it certainly sped up activity.  My current starter is easy to feed and is very active after about 3-4 hrs.  I have 2 mason jars each of ischia and camaldoli. 

Offline JD

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2013, 04:13:47 PM »

- ball dough (balls should be ready after about 3 hours)

Recipe
1600 gr - water - 66.67%   
75 ml - IDY - 0.03%
50 gr - brown sugar - 2.08%   
2400 gr - flour - 100%   



1) Where is the Ischia?
2) Balling a dough 3 hours before use may not be the best idea.
3) Brown sugar may be a little out of place too
« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 04:16:26 PM by JD »

Offline jamieg

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2013, 01:03:33 PM »
1) Where is the Ischia?
I removed the IDY and calculated 50gr of Ischia, but it was not enough. Last night we added 100gr, so we will see what happens.

2) Balling a dough 3 hours before use may not be the best idea.
This is still an area I do not understand. The only argument I have heard for having dough balls rise over a long period of time is - tenderness. However, in my experience, I get less oven spring from dough balls that are older than 6 hours.

3) Brown sugar may be a little out of place too
Based on info from this forum - I have heard both that adding a little sugar will help coloring - and that is will hinder it.


Offline jamieg

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2013, 01:05:23 PM »
your pizza looks great.  Have you tried washing your starter?  When I first started using my ischia, I tested a wash (thinking nothing was happening) and it certainly sped up activity.  My current starter is easy to feed and is very active after about 3-4 hrs.  I have 2 mason jars each of ischia and camaldoli.

That sounds like a good idea. I will let you know how it goes.

Offline chasenpse

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2013, 01:54:07 PM »
Don't mean to hijack the thread, but what exactly is washing a starter??
If Tetris has taught me anything, its that errors pile up and accomplishments disappear.

Offline JD

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2013, 02:01:08 PM »
1) Where is the Ischia?
I removed the IDY and calculated 50gr of Ischia, but it was not enough. Last night we added 100gr, so we will see what happens.

2) Balling a dough 3 hours before use may not be the best idea.
This is still an area I do not understand. The only argument I have heard for having dough balls rise over a long period of time is - tenderness. However, in my experience, I get less oven spring from dough balls that are older than 6 hours.

3) Brown sugar may be a little out of place too
Based on info from this forum - I have heard both that adding a little sugar will help coloring - and that is will hinder it.

1) 50gr is about 2% of your formula. If your fridge temperatures are correct it seems like you put together a good formula. Although 14C to 18C (57.2 F to 64.4 F) is a pretty wide temperature range and according to the Sourdough starter quantity predictive model, your fermentation time would be between 85 and 45 hours. Maybe you were under-fermented? How sure are you of your temperatures?

2) I'm assuming you are re-balling and allowing to rise at room temperature, not in the fridge right?

3) My sugar comment was really intended for true Neapolitan, but if you're doing a NY/Neo hybrid it's not really as relevant. Although I'm suspicious of mixing Ischia & sugar.

I think you are on the right track, your current pizza looks very nice. I just don't want you to give up on Ischia because of "lack of flavor", which to me is a red flag on your process. In my opinion I think you are just using an under-fermented dough (which I think you have the same hunch since you doubled the Ischia %). Once you get the right fermentation you should see an improvement in crumb & flavor.


Offline jamieg

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2013, 04:01:42 PM »
Thanks JD.

1) The fridge has a digital control. I am pretty sure it is accurate. Yes, the first batch was underfermented. In the 2nd batch we added 100gr starter - and after 50 hours - it has some way to go - so I will leave it for a third day.

2) When we ball the dough - the balls are kept at room temp - which obvioulsy varies alot - or if it looks like they will not sell - they are kept in the same fridge as the bulk dough. Any balls that do not sell - are always reballed 3 hours before opening the following day.

3) I dont know why you suggest mixing sugar and  Ischia is a problem

I'm not too concerned about lack of flavour or average crumb - though I find it quite surprising given all the hype - the real shock is that the dough became extremely weak on it's fourth day (2 days bulk - 2 days ball) - which has never happend with IDY.

:-)


Offline JD

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Re: Is there something wrong with my starter?
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2013, 05:53:02 PM »
Are you using a fully active starter before making your dough, and/or are you aware of this table?: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,22649.msg229864.html#msg229864

The re-ball topic is almost irrelevant if you are not using a properly fermented dough in the first place.

Mixing sugar is not a problem, but myself and another member made an Ischia dough with sugar and for both of us (we believe) it caused an unpleasant sourness in the final pizza. I never tested the theory, so it just remains a hunch. You'll also notice it's not common to do NY style using Ischia since it inhibits browning in lower temperature ovens. 


You're surprised about the lack of flavor/crumb, but I still think it's mostly due to an improper fermentation and not because of false hype. I'm curious to hear about your 100gr starter dough.   


 

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