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Author Topic: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity  (Read 402 times)

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Offline Yael

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Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« on: February 11, 2020, 11:16:22 PM »
Hi guys,

So I made my own culture 3 or 4 weeks ago, and I was very proud with it; since then I made, in this order: bread, pizza, pretzel, naan, croissants, donuts. Whereas the 1st test (bread) was ready in 5H, these two last tests' fermentation didn't succeed very well.

I started the culture with 25g rye flour and 25g bottle water. Left it 24H @23~25°C. It was dry, and no fermentation sign. I thought it didn't work, but I kept it, left it one more day - still nothing, then fed it with 25g rye and 25g water, 24H more, and still nothing. I thought maybe it's too dry, I added a little bit of water. The day after, there were some tiny bubbles. Yeaaaah! It started to work!
I fed it with regular flour (I have around 15kg of a Russian flour that a friend gave me, not suitable for pizza) (very strange flour by the way, it's written 13% protein on the label, but behaves like a 8% one..). And it started to be quite active.

Another feeding the day after, and it rose, more than double, within 2H (put the container on the floor, I have a floor heating system, 28-29°C).

I made bread with 30% sourdough (from the total weight of dough, not from the flour), and it was ready within
5H, I have a very good result. I made 2 tests, one using sourdough before feeding, and one after feeding, both were successful.

Rather than keeping feeding everyday, I decided to put on the fridge. I guess I fed it every... 3 or 4 6 days. And during the latest tests (croissant, donuts), it seemed the dough didn't rose as before.
But it's only yesterday that I realized there was a problem: I fed it the morning (always half flour/half bottle water), and the afternoon there was only a few bubbles. Left it at RT overnight, and this morning it seemed to have more bubbles, so I decided to feed again right away, but when I put a spoon in it I could tell that the structure was not like before (less bubbles inside). I fed it, and put it on the floor, it's been 3H but nothing happened...

What did I do wrong?? Why isn't there more activity now?  :(

(first pic is SD I just took, the 2 other are how it looked like 2 weeks ago)
“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist” - Pablo Picasso

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2020, 11:43:15 PM »
Possibly the Rye flour you are using is bad or just not to the starters liking. I've often used different flours to get my pizza dough started first thing in the morning and sometimes it doesn't get very active. For example I tried using Sprouted Red Fife wheat several times. Very slow ferment which caused me to add commercial yeast boost to get it working.

Offline Yael

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2020, 12:50:12 AM »
Possibly the Rye flour you are using is bad or just not to the starters liking. I've often used different flours to get my pizza dough started first thing in the morning and sometimes it doesn't get very active. For example I tried using Sprouted Red Fife wheat several times. Very slow ferment which caused me to add commercial yeast boost to get it working.

In this case the rye flour was good as the fermentation started with it (even if it was slow). This flour was old, but it eventually worked.
I see two things that could be the cause of my problem:
- the flour I currently use is not good for sourdough feeding (why would that be? As far as I know it's not bleached)
- the cold period was too long (unfortunately I don't remember last time I fed it...4 or 5 days ago? 6?)

Could it be that the rye flour conversely was good, and the more I feed it the less there is rye flour left in it so the less activity there is?
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Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2020, 01:05:24 AM »
Split it into several jars and feed it different flours to see what works best.

Offline Yael

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2020, 02:14:35 AM »
Split it into several jars and feed it different flours to see what works best.

I might do this, it's a good idea!
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Offline Dangerous Salumi

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2020, 04:33:16 PM »
I keep my starter in the refrigerator and feed it once every week or so. After I take it out of the refrigerator I mix and dump a portion by weight and then I feed my starter.  I wait until it raises to the line I have on the jar then I mix it, dump and and replace with water and flour. I repeat this a few times. When it raises at the speed I know from experience is good I will use some, feed it and put it back into the refrigerator.

If its not raising for you now use what worked in the past. Once you feed it let it sit until it raises. Everytime you dump and feed you are dumping out the some of the colony and you'll need as much of it as you can keep at this time to replenish you mother supply.

Another way of looking at it is if you are dumping too early you may be throwing away more of the colony than has been reproduced thereby increasing the next rise time.

Have a Dangerous day!


“They say that competitive eating is the battleground upon which God and Lucifer wage war for mens souls my friends, and they are right.”  - George Shea, Chairman, Major League Eating

Offline amolapizza

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2020, 05:01:44 PM »
You could refresh it 1-3 times a day and see if it recovers.  I've read that it takes at least 5 weeks of daily refreshments until it really stabilizes.

I managed to kill mine after more than a 18 months of usage, even though I made frequent refreshments..  I really don't know what went wrong, but it stopped rising much and started smelling bad.

Luckily I got a new one, this time a Sicilian one having an unknown age, but many years old.  I'm still keeping it in solid form (50% hydration).  It's more elaborate to care for, but I have the impression that the solid starter kept at room temperature, sustains less frequent refreshments better than the liquid one I used to keep in the fridge..  It certainly smells different and makes a very nice bread.

Normally I refresh it the evening before I need it (a week later) at proportions of 100% starter, 200% flour, and 100% water.  The next morning at 100%, 100%, and 50%, when it peaks a few hours later I use it.
Jack,

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Offline Dangerous Salumi

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2020, 06:16:18 PM »


I've read that it takes at least 5 weeks of daily refreshments until it really stabilizes.



It's true. I have also read this and my experience was it took awhile (several weeks) when I was developing my starter a few years ago.
Have a Dangerous day!


“They say that competitive eating is the battleground upon which God and Lucifer wage war for mens souls my friends, and they are right.”  - George Shea, Chairman, Major League Eating

Offline Yael

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2020, 08:09:55 PM »
Ok, so after a couple of days in the fridge it'd need more refreshing the day you take it out? I thought one or 2 were enough... Well, I should do what it takes anyway  :angel:.

Yesterday I made 2 refreshes in total, and left it at RT overnight (around 23°C), and this morning it had activity, although it seemed it didn't raise a lot. There were a lot of bubbles, but foam-like texture instead of soft-dough texture I had before. I made bread dough, so we'll see how it turns out.
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Offline amolapizza

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2020, 07:09:00 AM »
Ok, so after a couple of days in the fridge it'd need more refreshing the day you take it out? I thought one or 2 were enough...

I'm not sure what it needs to be honest.  I settled down on doing 2 refreshments, first one with double the amount of flour on the evening before use, and then a normal in the morning.  I'm not sure I liked keeping it in the fridge either..  It appears to me that it changed aroma and became a lot more acetic when kept in the fridge, while keeping it at room temperature seemed to make it much more mellow smelling.

But in the end each to his own, I have no idea what the best way to keep and use it would be.. :)

If using a large amount of starter in the dough, it's probably important to have it recently refreshed as the gluten in the starter degrades with time.  Possibly also to refresh it with a stronger flour.
Jack,

Effeuno P134H (1700W upper element), EGO 500C Thermostat (upper), Biscotto Fornace Saputo, Sunmix Sun6, Caputo Pizzeria, Caputo Sacorosso, Mutti Pelati Bio.

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Offline HansB

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2020, 08:37:54 AM »
Yael, I think refrigerating your culture after 3-4 weeks may have been too soon. I think that if you feed it every 12 hours with a 50/50 mixture of white and whole wheat flour it will come back quickly. One gram of good wheat flour contains about 13,000 cells of wild yeast and 320 cells of lactic bacteria. If you want to jump start it again use some rye flour as it has even more wild yeast and bacteria than wheat flour does.

How long after feeding did you refrigerate it? I let mine sit about 3-4 hours after feeding before refrigerating so that it has good activity going in as it will go mostly dormant below 40°F. It does help after taking it out of the refrigerator to keep it near 80°F(27°C) to encourage fermentation.
Hans

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2020, 03:14:48 PM »
If using a large amount of starter in the dough, it's probably important to have it recently refreshed as the gluten in the starter degrades with time.  Possibly also to refresh it with a stronger flour.

Or over-knead it.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2020, 05:04:20 PM »
There is a corollary to Murphy's law that applies, in my experience, to starters:

Under the most rigorously controlled conditions, the starter will do as it damn well pleases.

I have deluded myself into thinking I knew what any of my starters would do when I tweaked a variable. The starters regularly laugh in my face. I don't mind since the result is always delicious and often a pleasant surprise.   

Offline Dangerous Salumi

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2020, 08:55:32 PM »
There is a corollary to Murphy's law that applies, in my experience, to starters:

Under the most rigorously controlled conditions, the starter will do as it damn well pleases.

I have deluded myself into thinking I knew what any of my starters would do when I tweaked a variable. The starters regularly laugh in my face. I don't mind since the result is always delicious and often a pleasant surprise.

This is the truth.
Have a Dangerous day!


“They say that competitive eating is the battleground upon which God and Lucifer wage war for mens souls my friends, and they are right.”  - George Shea, Chairman, Major League Eating

Offline Yael

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2020, 10:36:30 PM »
Haha Bill, it makes me feel better  ;D

Hans, I thought about it and yesterday's test confirmed it: I fed 50% white flour/50% rye (instead of 100% white flour), and the difference happened. Rye SD rose higher than the other ones.

This brings me to my next thought, as Jack mentions the gluten, this "orange" Russian flour I'm using, although it's written 13% protein on the label, behaves like a low gluten flour. When the SD was good, when dipping a spoon for stirring you could see some dough structure (like a very extensible wet dough); whereas now, it's more like foam, like there's no gluten anymore.
Well, the more you feed with new flour, the less the old one remains, right? BUT, at the beginning even after many refreshing SD still had dough texture. Rye is not a high-gluten flour either. So I guess the quality or the quantity of the protein is not the problem here. So it brings me to the next question (I think I already know the answer): could my culture become too acidic, or got enzyme(s) that destroy the gluten?

So I tried different flours.
On the left: the regular refresh (white flour)
On the middle: rye+white flour
On the right: another white flour

The rye one rose the most, although it still needed 9 hours to get there. This morning, the rye one collapsed the most.
BTW, this morning, the top of the SD were dry (IDK if it's relevant or not).

PS: I made bread in the morning with my "regular" SD, and it didn't seem to have fermentation activity (dough was flat), but I baked anyway. It rose a little bit in the oven, the overall result was surprisingly good (taste etc).
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Offline HansB

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2020, 10:58:46 PM »
Cooler temps will make it more acetic. Sometimes it's easier to start a new one:

Hans

Offline Yael

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2020, 08:57:09 PM »
Hans,

I didn't want to start a new one because eventually I would face the same problem. So from my 3 SD above, I kept the one on the right (with the "other white flour", let's call it green bag flour GBF), and mix the one on the left with the one on the middle (in which I added rye). I fed both of them with the green bag flour, and let it ferment overnight. This morning, there was trace on the container that both went quite high before going down a little, but at least, it was a little bit more than double (and it seems that GBF went even higher). Oh and for this refreshing, I also used boiled tap water (tap water isn't potable in China), because using bottle water starts to be expensive. I was afraid there would be a lot of bad residue in the water, but it work well. Maybe they helped lol!
Anyway, I refreshed again this morning (with GBF), it's been a little bit more than 2H and there's already activity, so that's great.

Also, after having seen the video above + other links ( reply 3 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=60724.msg607981#msg607981), I made pancake this morning, adding a little bit of sugar and orange blossom water, it was nice! I'm relieved to find some solutions so I don't have to throw half my SD away  :-*
“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist” - Pablo Picasso

Offline HansB

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2020, 10:56:51 PM »
Looks like you're on the right track!
Hans

Offline Yael

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2020, 03:48:58 AM »
Looks like you're on the right track!

Thanks ! It looks so! Both SD seemed to have a lot of activity, it tripled in 4-5H! From now on, I'm definitely gonna use this GBF.

I already baked bread (good taste), made 80% HR dough for pizza in teglia tomorrow (6% SD), and made a batch for 48H RTF pizza (2% SD), finger crossed!
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Offline Dangerous Salumi

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Re: Sourdough - problem(s) of activity
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2020, 06:37:59 AM »
Thanks ! It looks so! Both SD seemed to have a lot of activity, it tripled in 4-5H! From now on, I'm definitely gonna use this GBF.

I already baked bread (good taste), made 80% HR dough for pizza in teglia tomorrow (6% SD), and made a batch for 48H RTF pizza (2% SD), finger crossed!

Happy it worked out for you.
I make waffles with our starter and they are really good.
You can try some upper 50%’s and let it go for 3-4 days cold ferment before letting it raise at RT for New York Style pizza.
Have a Dangerous day!


“They say that competitive eating is the battleground upon which God and Lucifer wage war for mens souls my friends, and they are right.”  - George Shea, Chairman, Major League Eating

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