Author Topic: Starter goes from active to dormant  (Read 2811 times)

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Starter goes from active to dormant
« on: May 10, 2007, 04:55:08 PM »
I recently decided to make my own sourdough starter.  I'm on my second starter right now (the first one had the same activity as this one, except I ended up dumping it because of a seriously off smell. It was cheesey, and not at all yeasty or sour, or like anything I've read.  From everything I've read it smelled exactly like what it shouldn't have smelled like).  Kept it simple with equal parts bottled water and bread flour.  Left it out overnight, uncovered, and by the next evening I saw my first signs of activity (much like the first one) with a decent amount of bubbles forming on the surface.  I stirred in the slight skin that it had developed and covered it with plastic wrap.  By that evening I decided it was time to feed it (another shot of equal parts water and flour, 2/3rds of a cup of each) and within an hour it had nearly doubled in size and was very bubbly.  The smell it had taken was almost like a cake batter with a hint of honey.  Still a bit off, but nothing unpleasant that takes over the entire kitchen, drawing the attention of everyone in the house, when I take off the plastic wrap.  So after the first feeding it sat out again overnight, this time wrapped, and in the morning (approx. 12hrs later) it had settled back down and was very bubbly and frothy.  I poured out half of the starter, fed it another shot of water and flour, and wrapped it back up.  About an hour later I was spotting bubbles on the surface, about the same amount there was when I had initially decided to feed it.  This is where I'm at now.  It's been about 7 hours since my second feeding, and there are more bubbles but nothing like that first feeding.  It hasn't risen and I'm wondering if I've done something wrong or if it's normal for the first feeding to cause such a great reaction and then maybe it settles down with the following feedings?  Is this normal and should I continue with my plan of feeding every 12 hours?

edit: picture taken immediately after this post was made.

Thanks a lot for any help in advance!  This site has been a great help and everyone's results have a been a real inspiration to take my own stab at sourdough!

« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 05:09:11 PM by botch »

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Starter goes from active to dormant
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2007, 05:39:18 PM »
I'd say to keep feeding, be patient, and see where this ends up. There are all kinds of different micro-organisms in your environment with a range of behaviors. Some operate best in very narrow temperature/pH ranges. While populations are small and conditions unstable (e.g., temperature and pH) undesirable critters can swoop in and dominate. You'll need to let the situation stabilize before you know whether you have viable populations of yeasts and bacteria suitable for baking. It could help if you could maintain the temperature around 80F. It might take a week or more of regular feedings before you can declare victory.

Please report back.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 05:51:51 PM by Bill/SFNM »


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Re: Starter goes from active to dormant
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2007, 03:36:08 PM »
Left it in a warmer spot overnight and a woke up to find what I'm assuming was a layer of hooch on top.  Fed him a few hours ago and it seems to be slowing down even more.  Not sure what's going on!

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Starter goes from active to dormant
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2007, 04:04:27 AM »
acidity level is too high?????


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Re: Starter goes from active to dormant
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2007, 10:46:32 AM »
This picture shows the results I get from every feeding.  Good sign?  It doesn't rise up at all, that's the thing I'm worried about.

Offline David

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Re: Starter goes from active to dormant
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2007, 09:29:39 AM »
Water quality can have negative implications,but i see you are using bottled water?I would always try washing mine before giving up on it.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2007, 09:39:48 AM by David »
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Offline scpizza

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Re: Starter goes from active to dormant
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2007, 11:47:23 AM »
I'd say to keep feeding, be patient, and see where this ends up.

Bill is exactly right.  It's a comedy of fits and starts in the beginning of starter activation.  The rush of activity followed by a long quiescence, including good smells followed by bad, is entirely normal.  Assume all is well, try to keep warm at 90F, and keep washing and feeding every 12-24 hours regardless of observed activity or smells.  If after 7 days of this you have a persistent problem, then I would start to have concern.  My last activation took 5 days before the yeast showed the consistent growth characteristics and smells of activated yeast.