Author Topic: My starter isn't very active.  (Read 2699 times)

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Offline grovemonkey

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My starter isn't very active.
« on: April 20, 2007, 03:29:55 AM »
I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the nature of my starter.  I am pretty sure that I have created a starter.  it has never had any hooch or anything foul.  It smells very sour and tastes similar.  The main issue is that when I first started it, it used to froth up and get bubbly.  Now it doesn't really rise up very much after the feedings.  I wonder if this is normal.  The starter's consistency is of a very thick pancake batter or a very thick maple  syurp.  Is this common?  The weather did cool down and I don't refrigerate it.  I just leave it out.  Any feedback or information would be appreciated.  I also noticed that when I make dough, it doesn't rise up very quickly or to the extent I get with ADY.  I figure this is normal, but wondering about other people's experiences.  I can leave dough out in plastic baggies at room temp for 36 hours no problem.

grove


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2007, 07:51:33 AM »
I don't refrigerate it.  I just leave it out.  Any feedback or information would be appreciated.  I also noticed that when I make dough, it doesn't rise up very quickly or to the extent I get with ADY.  I figure this is normal, but wondering about other people's experiences.  I can leave dough out in plastic baggies at room temp for 36 hours no problem.

Grove,

When you say you just leave it out, are you feeding it regularly? If not, maybe all of the food has been consumed and the organisms you have captured are dying of starvation and prolonged exposure to high levels of metabolic by-products. I place all of my cultures in the fridge shortly after feeding; they go dormant in the colder temp and are ready to spring back to life once I bring them back up to room temp. Some of my starters I use a few times per week, but others sit unused for months and require a number of feedings before they recover.

Doughs made from my starters don't rise as quickly as ones made form commercial yeast, but they certainly rise as high if not higher. It depends on quantity, temperature, and timing.

Bill/SFNM

« Last Edit: April 20, 2007, 07:53:36 AM by Bill/SFNM »

Offline grovemonkey

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2007, 07:42:59 PM »
Hi Bill,

Thanks for writing back.  I feed it daily.  about 1 or 2 tsp of flour with a little water.   My house is in the mid 60's to lower 70's nowadays.  I did make some bread with the yeast at a 20% starter addition that was sitting out for a few days.  Let me post up a few photos, the first are of a bread made from an extra dough ball using the starter.  the other photo is a cross section of a pizza made with the starter. the dough was left out at about 65F for around 36 hours then cooked.  I'll post some more detailed photos of the dough later, throughout the entire process.

Offline shango

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2007, 09:32:59 AM »
Looks like you could use a hotter oven.

how much starter are you using?
pizza, pizza, pizza

Offline grovemonkey

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2007, 11:40:15 AM »
My oven is a big weak point.  I'm thinking of buying a new on tomorrow.  I have a convection oven with a temp dial.  goes to 250C but it's old and a bit crusty so that might be a factor, I doubt it's even reaching those temps.. especially on the stone.  the newer convection ovens (the only real option here in Japan), now go up to 320C and I figure a new one will out perform my older on a number of levels.  Heating my stone seems to be a big problem.  the convection oven I have now doesn't do a good job.  I guess you have to work with what you got. :)

I was using around 20% starter.

grove

Offline chrisgraff

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2007, 09:47:44 PM »
I feed mine about 1 cup of flour every other day to keep it going (on the counter).  If I leave it for more than 72 hours, it gets cranky and refuses to work.  I've rescued it a couple of times now - 3/4 cup flour twice a day.  Takes four or five days to come back, maybe more.

I have also found that the less I pour out, the better action I get.  Supposedly, the balance of acidity is thrown off - inviting contaminants.  But I've never had a problem, knock on wood.

So feed more, more often, pour out less.  I bet in comes back in a week.

Offline grovemonkey

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2007, 01:08:28 AM »
Oh, thanks for the advice.  It's definitely not functioning right now.  I left it without food for 2 days when I went on a trip and ever since then it's been real cranky.  I'll try to revive it's activity and keep you posted.

Offline Kinsman

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2007, 12:38:40 PM »
Mine lives on the counter at "room temp".  I use it twice a week or so, and in any case I like to feed it every two or three days.  If it goes unused for a week or two, it will be sluggish.  I feed it once or twice a day and it always perks back up.

I have also got it going really well and then made a thick batter, and poured that onto some aluminum foil and dried the sample; then ground it up in the blender.  That way I have a backup if I ever need it....which I never have.




edited for lack of proofreading
Chris Rausch

Long Riders BBQ
Florence, Montana

Offline grovemonkey

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2007, 03:52:31 AM »
My starter is up and lively now.  For one, the outdoor temp is in the mid 70's so the house is a good temp right now.  I cut back the starter to about half it's size (made a lot of sourdough pancakes).  I have been adding more water and more flour then dumping half out in the morning, repeatedly.  It's real wild right now.  I'm going to try to make some more pies.  I do have a few questions though. 

It's obvious that when using your starter the flavor of the crust takes on some of the sourdough flavor, what's the best way to balance this out?  My wife finds the sourdough crust to be a bit too much, has anyone else had similar experiences?  (I had used around 15% starter to total flour weight ( i guess using less would be the obvious solution!) 

I also think now that I am more clued in with the g3, I can actually create even more spring because the heat involved.  Any thoughts, opinions or ideas?

grove.

Offline TONY

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2007, 04:40:13 PM »
I have found that the most critical element in keeping starters is temperature.  If you maintain a steady 80 - 90 degrees you can regulate and predict how your starter performs.  I keep mine in a 48
 quart cooler with a small 11 watt bulb inside.........(room temp is between 65 - 70 degrees)........you can go down to a 7 watt bulb in the summer when room temp is higher.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2007, 05:45:59 PM by TONY »


Offline grovemonkey

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Re: My starter isn't very active.
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2007, 07:41:35 AM »
Tony,

I would do something like that if the starter was really that important to me.  At this time, I just started it and don't really value it very much.  Maybe over time, I'll come to have a more specific interest in maintaining it at a steady temp.  For the time being, I just keep it out on the counter and use it to impress my neighbors when they stop by the house. :)  It does make good pancakes too.  :) 

I've got some starter dough made up tonight that I might give a chance and see what happens.

grove.