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Old 02-10-2013, 08:51 PM   #1
UltraMother
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Default sourdough noob

I might have been inspired by the latest episode of Top Chef

It's day one, and I have mixed together 2T flour and 2T orange juice, as recommended by this page (scroll down a bit). Pretty straightforward, but I don't quite get how often to feed after day four. I think you throw out half the starter but still feed once a day? But how long do you keep this up? Forever? I've been looking through sourdoughhome.com, but I can't figure out the timetable.
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Old 02-11-2013, 05:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: sourdough noob

I've never done it either, but here are some articles that I've flagged for myself to read when I'm ready to try it:

http://www.breadtopia.com/make-your-...dough-starter/
http://sourdough.com/blog/sourdom/be...tarter-scratch
http://yumarama.com/968/starter-from-scratch-intro/
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:01 AM   #3
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Default Re: sourdough noob

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraMother View Post
I might have been inspired by the latest episode of Top Chef

It's day one, and I have mixed together 2T flour and 2T orange juice, as recommended by this page (scroll down a bit). Pretty straightforward, but I don't quite get how often to feed after day four. I think you throw out half the starter but still feed once a day? But how long do you keep this up? Forever? I've been looking through sourdoughhome.com, but I can't figure out the timetable.
Yes, throw out half the starter at each feed after day four, but feed just as often. Bascially, you'll want to do this until the starter is established, usually about 7-10 days (it takes a bit longer in the winter; putting the culture in your oven with the light on can boost the temperature and the yeast/bateria activity). Basically, once the starter can double in volume 8-12 hours after a feed, it's ready to bake with.

What you do with it then is up to you.


You can:
  • Put it in the fridge at that point. Once in there, feed your starter about once a week, or 24 hours before you plan to use it. I like to give it at least two feedings in a 24 hour period, at room temperature, before I bake with it.
  • Leave it on your counter and feed it daily. This is good if you plan to bake almost every day (and you can use the starter you're "throwing out" in all sorts of baked goods like pancakes, muffins, etc., so you don't necessarily have to be using it for bread). If not, you're tossing a lot of starter in the trash.
  • Freeze it - it will stay good for about 6 months (or more!), and you'll need to defrost and feed vigorously before using.
I do all three of these things.

Everyone has a slightly different way of doing sourdough.

Now, you might want to consider feeding twice a day instead of only once. You can feed once a day, but it may take a little longer for the starter to establish, and it may be more, well, sour (easily remedied by feeding more, either in flour/water to starter ratio, or times per day). I've found that white flour can easily go 24 hours, but whole grains definately start getting that "hungry" alcohol smell sooner. Sourdough is all about observation. Watch and sniff, and you'll know if you need to feed again.
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:24 PM   #4
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Default Re: sourdough noob

I'm guessing I will use it about once a week, and less than that when it gets too hot to bake. What kind of "hungry smell" am I looking for? Can you describe it?

I also feel weird about purposely throwing batter out. How do you get over that?
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:44 PM   #5
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Default Re: sourdough noob

It is hard to throw out the starter, and for a while I tried not to, to keep splitting and culturing, and believe me, I was totally overrun in a few days and it took me *literally* two hours to feed it all. I read on sourdoughhome that if you don't toss the starter, in 10 days you'll have a swimming pool's worth. It's not too far from the truth. In the end, I just had to do it because I had waaaaaay too much starter.

Once it's established, if you're baking with it once a week, you won't really be discarding very much. What I do is, each week, I split the starter in half, feed the the refrigerator jar (again, if the starter is healthy, you only need one or two feeds before popping it back in to the cold; then you're only discarding at most once) until it doubles and put it back into the fridge. Then I feed the starter I removed and use that portion for baking.

The hungry smell is a very strong alcohol/acetone smell. You'll know it. It's easy to fix - just feed more often. Like I said, I do find that whole grains, especially freshly ground, need to be fed at least two and sometimes three times a day to keep the yeast/food/bacteria balanced.

The more sour the smell, the more lactobacilli bacteria there are in the starter. I don't really like that tang in my bread, so again, in my "baking" portion, all I do is feed more (usually a 3:1 or 4:1 flour/water to starter ratio) so the yeast overtake the bacteria and the taste mellows.
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: sourdough noob

I love sourdough bread, but I think a mellow starter would be more useful. So, extra flour at the feedings will keep the sourness down?
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: sourdough noob

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraMother View Post
I love sourdough bread, but I think a mellow starter would be more useful. So, extra flour at the feedings will keep the sourness down?
Yes. Either extra flour or more frequent feedings. Both work.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: sourdough noob

Can I just say I'm now totally inspired to start a sourdough starter? I found a great blog (Yumarama) with explicit instructions, she says to use pineapple juice, but if orange will work as well I'm going to get started as soon as I get some organic flour.
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Old 02-13-2013, 02:21 PM   #9
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Default Re: sourdough noob

I used fresh-squeezed orange juice, and ground up some spelt that I had on hand. It's been a little cold here, but I have some bubbles today and it still smells fine.
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Old 02-13-2013, 02:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: sourdough noob

I've purchased my starters from ebay. The wild-caught yeasts/bacteria available locally are very sour. . . too sour for my family to enjoy as sandwiches with sweeter toppings (pb, etc.).

I have a French and a New Zealand starter. Both are quite good, but the French is the most active. I use it with the Vintage Remedies methods outlined in the _VR Guide to Bread_.
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:38 PM   #11
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Default Re: sourdough noob

Anyone know if sugar will hurt the starter? My son was making banana bread and spilled some sugar on my ground spelt (don't ask).
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Old 02-17-2013, 04:35 PM   #12
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Default Re: sourdough noob

I wouldn't just add it to my starter, but an incidental amount like this shouldn't hurt it.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:16 PM   #13
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Default Re: sourdough noob

So, my starter seems to be bubbling well, but it develops that alcohol smell after about 6-7 hours. I should feed it that often? It seems like a lot.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:17 PM   #14
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Default Re: sourdough noob

I wouldn't want to feed mine that often. The expense alone would put me off.

I've found that my starter is the happiest and performs the best when I keep it in the fridge. I just take it out of the fridge, use what I need, replace the volume with flour/water, stir, and put it right back in the fridge.

If I'm not baking often, I will feed it about once a week. I use less flour this way, and it really does make a difference in my loaves.
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:10 PM   #15
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Default Re: sourdough noob

I'm following sourdough.com's rec that you establish it for a week at room temp before moving to the fridge stage. Is that not an absolute? I'm also wondering about the acetone smell. It's pretty persistent, but the texture is good.
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