Author Topic: Starter Evaporation  (Read 1933 times)

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Offline DanCole42

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Starter Evaporation
« on: October 09, 2008, 02:05:53 PM »
I'm just starting to delve into the whole prefermentaion thing, and I'm very interested in creating my own starter from the yeast wafting around my house. One thing that's been bugging me is this:

What I've been reading suggests that, to feed your starter, you basically take away a certain percentage of it, then replace what you took with a certain percentage of water and flour. Let's say, for example, 50/50.

However, how does this work given that some of the water that goes into your starter will evaporate between feedings (where obviously the flour won't)?

So let's say you start out with 100g flour and 100g water. Between feedings, evaporation has lowered the amount to 100g flour and 50g water (a bit extreme, but just for example).

So you take out half, leaving you with 50g flour and 25g water. You then add in your 50/50 mixture and end up with 100g flour and 75g water.

On the next feeding, another 50% of the water is gone, leaving you with 18.75g of water when you discard and 68.75g when you refill.

Won't the start eventually dry out?

When doing the final recipe, how do you figure out how much water is in your sponge for the purposes of figuring out how much flour to use?

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Offline anton-luigi

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Re: Starter Evaporation
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2008, 02:25:44 PM »
Im rather new to this myself,  but I think that while percentages are crucial with respect to the individual ingredients, water, flour, making the dough,    I think that the starter itself is going to be somewhat variable in its makeup.  In the end,  you basically get to know what,  say,  50/50 looks and feels like,  and make any necessary adjustments to keep it in that range.   If it seems too thick I add a little bit of extra water, or vice versa myself.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2008, 02:27:16 PM by anton-luigi »

Offline bakerboy

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Re: Starter Evaporation
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2008, 05:24:01 PM »
dan, ithink your overthinking this a little.  I keep my starter lidded.  I feed my starter, coincidentally, 50/50.  evaporation is nominal at best. i get some condensation on the lid.  I simply took a pound of dark rye flour and a pound and a half of warm water and gave it a good mix.  after about 5 hours i noticed some bubbling.  i continued to feed it and its what i use everyday for the focaccia at the bakery.  i used more water initially to help give the natural yeast a better chance, you may need to add more.  After it gets going its all up to your preferences what you want to do as far as feeding percentages.  i like 50/50, but i know others who prefer a very pourable starter, a "liquid levain" if you will.
As far as incorporating the starter into a recipe,  i use 50/50 flour/water and i wanted to incorporate 10 lbs. of starter into a recipe, i simply subtracted 5 lbs. of water and 5 lbs. of flour from my recipe because thats basically what your adding to the recipe.  that gets you close quick.  I prefer my focaccia on the wet side so i simply needed to adjust the water a bit.
good luck

Offline vitus

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Re: Starter Evaporation
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2008, 03:49:24 AM »
I also have a lid on my starter, and to my experience evaporation is negligible.
My starter is a 50/50 poolish, and I agree 100% with bakerboy: I also add a tiny bit of extra flour or water if I think that the poolish to runny or thick. Those tiny amounts of extra flour or water of course changes the ratio (to perhaps 49/51 instead of 50/50) but I don't think that it affects the final pizza more than for example the varying amounts of bench flour (which I assume most people use by "feel" too).

Offline Frankie G

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Re: Starter Evaporation
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2008, 10:54:43 AM »
Starters are tricky at first... but it may not be your fault!

I first tried Peter Reinart's recipe twice with no success... then a year later I got the itch and found that Mr. Reinart refined his recipe to use pineapple juice instead of water because of an organism in the flour that prevented the starter to.....   start.

I now have 3 starters that I maintain and do them successfully.

There is no loss if any in evaporation because I seal with a plastic bag placed over the mason jar with a Mason-jar-band holding it in place.

The gas will make a bubble out of the bag when it is strong... but I just release the pressure and tighten the band again.

As far as maintaining... I measure out 1 Cup of starter, add 1 cup of high-gluten flour and 2/3 C of spring water....   simple and works GREAT!

I you need a starter, there are plenty on the internet and even some in the pizzamaking ad section.

please email with any questions....

Frankie G