Pizza Making Forum

Pizza Making => Starters/Sponges => Topic started by: davidcwilliams on April 22, 2020, 03:54:14 AM

Title: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: davidcwilliams on April 22, 2020, 03:54:14 AM
How's that for clickbait? It actually isn't though. About 10 years ago, I discovered sourdough baking... drew several sourdough starters from different flours. Pizza and bread from sourdough made me so happy. I especially loved being able to show people how amazing real food could be.

About 8 years ago, I moved to a new city, where now, apparently everything I do is cursed.

I have tried to draw sourdough starters... I'm not kidding dozens of times over the last 8 years.

I have used several methods found online, and in YouTube videos.

I have used tap, filtered, distilled, and spring.

I have fed twice a day, once every 2 days, stirring and none.

I have used the pineapple juice method.

I finally gave up and ordered a starter from King Arthur. It eventually died or turned to acetone or alcohol, or that weird wet flour smell that is just nothing at all.

I've since ordered three additional 'beast' starters from ebay.

Got a nice sourdough smell on day four or five... now they're all down the drain.

I wish I was exaggerating when I say that this has actually caused mental anxiety and anguish. But to give you an idea of what this has been like for my family, my wife recently told me that she couldn't deal with anything else involving sourdough.

I don't blame her.

I'm currently trying this method.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhd1eeoM2Vg&t=286s

I'm using the exact same flour he is. King Arthur Organic Bread Flour, and Crystal Geyser Spring Water. I followed his instructions to a T.

I'm now on day five with no activity.

I'm not a superstitious person... but I'm pretty damn close to believing that I'm cursed.

I'm not sure what I expect anyone to be able to say to me, maybe I just needed to talk.

Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: HansB on April 22, 2020, 07:59:43 AM
Keep it simple, just do this:

 https://youtu.be/SuU0xmqEZyI
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: TXCraig1 on April 22, 2020, 10:43:59 AM
I know several folks who have been successful with this method: https://ruhlman.com/2009/07/21/simple-sourdough-starter/

Keep trying. Something will hit.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: Bill/SFNM on April 22, 2020, 11:53:37 AM
I'm not sure what I expect anyone to be able to say to me, maybe I just needed to talk.

You don't mention temperature, one of the most critical factors in establishing a viable starter.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: Pizza_Not_War on April 22, 2020, 12:03:56 PM
You don't say where you are at. Some municipal water supplies are filled with Chloramines and other assorted chemicals that are hard to play with. I highly recommend using filtered/bottle water. Along with other suggestions as already mentioned like temperature.

Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: RHawthorne on April 22, 2020, 03:02:32 PM
How's that for clickbait? It actually isn't though. About 10 years ago, I discovered sourdough baking... drew several sourdough starters from different flours. Pizza and bread from sourdough made me so happy. I especially loved being able to show people how amazing real food could be.

About 8 years ago, I moved to a new city, where now, apparently everything I do is cursed.


Have you lived in the same place since you moved? I would think it's got to be something different about the new place vs. the old place, and I mean specifically your dwelling.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: davidcwilliams on April 23, 2020, 01:34:36 AM
You don't say where you are at. Some municipal water supplies are filled with Chloramines and other assorted chemicals that are hard to play with. I highly recommend using filtered/bottle water. Along with other suggestions as already mentioned like temperature.

Mesquite, Nevada. But...

Quote
I'm using the exact same flour he is. King Arthur Organic Bread Flour, and Crystal Geyser Spring Water.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: davidcwilliams on April 23, 2020, 01:35:22 AM
Have you lived in the same place since you moved? I would think it's got to be something different about the new place vs. the old place, and I mean specifically your dwelling.

No, we've lived in 3 houses in the last 8 years in this city.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: davidcwilliams on April 23, 2020, 01:37:10 AM
You don't mention temperature, one of the most critical factors in establishing a viable starter.

I did try a temperature-controlled box that I set at 80≠≠≠≠į... no dice
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: davidcwilliams on April 23, 2020, 01:37:45 AM
I know several folks who have been successful with this method: https://ruhlman.com/2009/07/21/simple-sourdough-starter/

Keep trying. Something will hit.

I'll try it, thank you.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: davidcwilliams on April 23, 2020, 01:38:09 AM
Keep it simple, just do this:

 https://youtu.be/SuU0xmqEZyI

I'll try it, thank you.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: RHawthorne on April 23, 2020, 04:49:44 PM
No, we've lived in 3 houses in the last 8 years in this city.

Besides the climate change between cities (assuming there was one), is there anything radically different about the kitchens you've used in the new town vs. the one in the old town? If you're doing everything the same way, then it would seem that some environmental factor must be to blame.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: dirty ernie on May 04, 2020, 08:10:31 AM
Have you always used the same container for preparing and aging your starter...  If so, change that up.
Title: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: DoouBall on June 11, 2020, 01:10:54 AM
Or maybe just switch to making pizza with commercial yeast or commercial yeast starters such as poolish and biga, at least for now. Pizza made with those also tastes great! For example, Apizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon is one of the absolute best Iíve ever had and they use poolish made with instant yeast. Iíve also had some really crappy sourdough based pizza. There is no magic in using sourdough.

Why put yourself through this pain if itís not working out? Sourdough pizza has some benefits in flavor and health over commercial yeast, but it requires a lot more effort and letís be honest, at the end of the day, youíre still eating carbs and cheese. Also, there are lots of people who prefer the taste of regular pizza over sourdough. No shame in taking a break from sourdough if youíre tired of trying. You can always come back to it later.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: ThePenwithickPizzaiolo on June 11, 2020, 04:27:12 AM
Have you tried eliminating all sources of antibacterial or biocidal cleaning product from your workflow? Simple question I know but a countertop or jar / bowl cleaned with bleach spray or a starter accidentally contaminated with airborne particles from cleaning down with a typical Ďkills 99.9% of germsí cleaning spray or similar could potentially be responsible...
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: DoouBall on June 11, 2020, 06:05:09 PM
Check out what Brian Spangler says from 16:30s to 17:36s in this episode of Pizza Quest:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmewqkAtIOk

He is one of the best pizza makers in America and a guy who really understands not only pizza but also bread-making at a very high level.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: corkd on June 19, 2020, 04:07:35 PM
Happy to send you some of my rye starter. I havenít named it yet, but i should.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: amolapizza on June 19, 2020, 05:17:43 PM
I'd also be happy to send you some dried flakes of my starter, it's an old Sicilian starter.

Not sure that would solve the problem though..  :(
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: JoeK on July 02, 2020, 08:23:52 PM
Totally far fetched and ridiculous, but not impossible.  Have you run your address against the DEA's meth lab database?  Link below.  I actually read an article about a couple who bought a house and their infant ended up dying because even though the house was totally redone, there was residual chemicals leaching into the air. 
The meth lab idea is only half serious, but could you have other environmental factors affecting it? 

https://www.dea.gov/clan-lab

I actually do post natural disaster residential housing demolition and we have run into several active labs, and it got me thinking that what if the house was previously a lab, so now we check every house before we work on it.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: davidcwilliams on December 14, 2021, 02:12:38 AM
Totally far fetched and ridiculous, but not impossible.  Have you run your address against the DEA's meth lab database?  Link below.  I actually read an article about a couple who bought a house and their infant ended up dying because even though the house was totally redone, there was residual chemicals leaching into the air. 
The meth lab idea is only half serious, but could you have other environmental factors affecting it? 

https://www.dea.gov/clan-lab

I actually do post natural disaster residential housing demolition and we have run into several active labs, and it got me thinking that what if the house was previously a lab, so now we check every house before we work on it.

I'm sorry I haven't checked replies on this thread! This had me smiling. No we've lived in 3 different places in this town. All with the same results.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: davidcwilliams on December 14, 2021, 02:13:20 AM
I'd also be happy to send you some dried flakes of my starter, it's an old Sicilian starter.

Not sure that would solve the problem though..  :(

This is kind of you, but I have a friend who has sent me sourdough though the mail, it worked, then I 'lost' it one way or another.
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: davidcwilliams on December 14, 2021, 02:14:43 AM
Happy to send you some of my rye starter. I havenít named it yet, but i should.

If you are still willing, I'd love to try your rye flour! Can you pm me?
Title: Re: I can't begin to tell you how disheartened I've become.
Post by: Heikjo on December 14, 2021, 03:39:40 AM
Are there any sourdough bakeries in your area? Pizza, bread or whatever. If so, ask them for a piece and see how that works out. I think starting with a starter you know has been working well will be good. If that ends up the same way, something might be up. And make sure you feed it enough and regularly. Not that I expect that to be the problem since youíve had starters before. And they are pretty resilient when they are healthy.

If thereís something about the tap water, bottled water might work better.