Author Topic: Is my starter ready? Worried that it might've happened too easily...  (Read 2040 times)

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Offline gobseulmuhri

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I have been making pizza with IDY with a good deal of success, but I haven't been able to help but feel that the flavor of IDY dough, while delicious, seems to have a single dimensionality to it.  After reading about many pizza makers (especially in this forum) who use a sourdough culture to ferment their dough, I decided to develop my own sourdough culture to find out what deeper levels of flavor I could attain from natural leavening.  

While buying an Ischia starter made a lot of sense for pizza, I wanted to first start with something that I could call my own.  Hence, I chose the Tartine method as my process of choice.  In addition to the Tartine book, I've read many articles and how-to's on the web and even this forum on the science and process behind the sourdough culture development.  

Today will mark the end of day 5 of my starter journey.  His name is Kimchee, because the glass jar I used to store the starter came from a jar of Kimchee I bought to eat with Korean/Japanese curry.  

I'm somewhat excited yet skeptical about the progress that Kimchee has made so far.  I've been keeping it in a relatively cool room (~65F), and I never bothered to take or manipulate the temperature of the water/flour when initially putting it together or subsequently feeding it.  At the end of day 2 (48hrs), the starter had a thin layer of water pooled up on the top which I stirred back and left for an additional 12 hrs.  The next day, the starter had a smell of dijon mustard - grainy, vinegary, tart, and somewhat sweet.  I discarded about 80% and fed it back the 100% hydration mixture of 50/50 white/WW flour and water.  After 24 hours, I saw lots of tiny bubbles in Kimchee and saw about a 30% increase in volume.  I fed it again, and in the next 12 hours, Kimchee had doubled, and 24 hrs after that, it had fallen back.  I fed it again, leaving 20% and feeding it with the standard food mixture.  That was about an hour ago.  

The smell I got from the starter just now was sweet, bready, and alcoholic.  It did not smell unpleasant at all.  When I tasted it, the flavor was very sour, very much like a very sour sourdough bread, and there were no rotten aspects in it.

Do you think my starter is close to being ready for use?  I feel like I have skipped the whole unpleasant, stinky feet smell aspect of the process, and it worries me a bit.  Do the indications I've been seeing suggest that the culture has stabilized and the the unwelcome bacteria no longer pose a threat?  

I would really appreciate your feedback on this! Thanks!

« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 10:31:01 PM by gobseulmuhri »


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Re: Is my starter ready? Worried that it might've happened too easily...
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 10:54:29 PM »
In short: yup you got yourself a starter! :)
It might need a few days more feeding before the yeast/LAB balance shifts to where you can effectively leaven pizza dough but it certainly sounds like you've got the basis for a successful sourdough starter.

Assuming it gets really nice and active, you might want to dry some to store for posterity:

Offline Tdavis

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Re: Is my starter ready? Worried that it might've happened too easily...
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 11:06:41 PM »
I agree with enter8. Why don't you try making the tartine country loaf or use that method to make something? You should be able to tell if your kimchee is ready, before you mix the dough after you create fresh starter, by using all the parameters it says in the tartine book. Keep taking care of your kimchees needs and she'll take care of your needs.

Offline gobseulmuhri

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Re: Is my starter ready? Worried that it might've happened too easily...
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2013, 12:21:14 AM »
Thanks for the suggestions.  I decided to go for it and made two loaves of the Tartine Country Bread using the procedure from the book.  My starter happened to be in great shape, and the final outcome was beyond my expectations.  The only drawback was that I miscalculated the hydration percentage and used 50g less water than I should have, resulting in 72.3% hydration vs. 77.3%.  Still, the bread came out beautifully, rising well with pronounced ears, and with a shattering, flavorful crust and an open, moist crumb.  The flavor was well balanced with a slight tang of acidity.  The second loaf had noticeably more sour flavor, though it still was not by any means overpowering.  Looks like my starter cultivation has been a great success!

I'm so excited to tinker around with what I can achieve with the starter.  From pizza dough to customized bread making processes to suit my schedule.  This is a lot of fun!
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 12:23:11 AM by gobseulmuhri »