I recently purchased the two Italian Cultures.
I have had my starter for about a week now. I activated it per the instructions from the booklet. Initially it started to smell really bad, there was a layer of "hooch" in the middle so I assumed it was contaminated. What I did was I mixed the hooch into the starter, threw about 75% of the culture away, and transfered the remaining culture to a new container.
Is this the wash process? The instructions were rather confusing about exactly what a wash is. It seemed like I was supposed to put water through the remaining 25% of the culture? Would it be possible for somebody to explain a more detailed process?
Anyways after doing that 3 times the starter is smelling really good, getting very bubbly and looking very well. It looks what I did worked but I was wondering if I could improve my technique.
The washing process is as follows:
-Mix the existing culture
-Dump out everything except a cup
-fill the jar with warm water & stir vigorously
-Dump everything except 1 cup
-Feed 1 cup flour & 3/4 water proof
This is the easy part, the more difficult part is the proofing. If you do what's recommended by Ed, (proofing @ 85 degrees for 6-12 hours) you run the risk of over-acidifying your culture & then you'll have to repeat the process all over again. IMO, you're better off proofing at room temperature (70-72degrees).
Hope this helps,