Sourdough Starter Help
Posted: 30 May 2011 09:50 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve read through the other posts from people have trouble with their sourdough starters and while my situation does not appear to be unique I still don’t know what to do.  I started my starter two weeks ago exactly following my interpretation of Rose’s instructions in the bread bible.  I thought that everything was going ok until day 5 when my starter never rose.  I followed the instructions and kept doing the daily feedings (removing 120 grams of the starter and replacing it with 60 grams of flour and 60 grams of bottled water) and I also did not put the starter in the refrigerator.  It is now day 14 and while I have been doing the daily feedings for the last 10 days or so I have yet to get any rise out of the starter.  The top of the starter is always full of bubbles but I never got any rise out of it. 

Yesterday when I went to do my daily feeding I noticed that there was some mold on the very top of the lip on the mason jar I was using to hold the starter. Because of the mold I threw out the starter and am going to start over.  I also started to notice that right before I did my daily feedings that the starter had a smell that reminded me of acetone but once stirred it would smell more like bread.  Clearly something went horribly wrong here.  I’m going out today to get some more organic rye flour so I can start this again but I have a few questions that I’d like to try and get some answers on before I start my starter again. 

1. I used a 1qt mason jar to hold the starter.  I assume that once you start it is safe to use the same jar without needing to wash it?
2. I used Pillsbury bread flour for the starter.  This was not organic flour like the rye flour I used.  Do I need to use organic bread flour for the daily feedings or is conventional flour sufficient?
3. When I did not get any rise out of the starter on day 5 is just continuing with the daily feedings the right thing to do until the starter begins to rise?
4. I assume the starter should smell like bread and not like acetone?
5. Does anybody have any ideas on what I can do to get my new starter to rise?

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Posted: 30 May 2011 11:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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AllenSmall - 31 May 2011 12:50 AM

5. Does anybody have any ideas on what I can do to get my new starter to rise?

Throw some organic grapes into the mix.

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Posted: 31 May 2011 01:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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1. Wash
2. Yes
3. Yes
4. Yes
5. Charles knows best
Frustrating when the starter won’t start LOL

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Posted: 12 June 2011 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks for the help.  I am going to go out today and get the rest of the items that I need and try to start this again.  Hopefully I have better luck that I did last time.

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Posted: 14 June 2011 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The starter should not need anything beyond flour and water. I suspect your starter is fine. I do not know or use Rose’s recipe - I’ve had no problems with Maggie Glezer’s but now use Chad Robertson’s every few days. My experience is that a wet starter 100%  (60g of flour with 60g of water)  is just not going to rise too much. They still make fine bread.  My starter smells nice 6 to 8 hours after feeding (depending on the temp). If I wait overnight it becomes ripe. I usually feed in the morning once a day, after its a bit ripe and vinegary or alcohal smelling, and then if I am going to bake the next day I mix the levain at night.

I have never used distilled water, just use tap water. In the past I warmed the water but now I use it cold out of the tap.  I abuse my starter - leave it on the counter when I have to travel for several days. I don’t usually use organic flour for the white part of my feedings but usually do use organic whole wheat in the mix. I frankly do not think organic or not will affect the starter.

If you mix flour and water and let it sit, it will ferment. 

I suggest once you get to the consistent bubbles stage, feed a few days, then make a levain and bake the next day.

As for the mold. I would change the container everytime I feed. Measure the water into a new container, then take the amount of old starter you want and add to the water, dissolve it, then add the flour.

Well off to shape my loaves. Hope this helps.

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Posted: 14 June 2011 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Prettedda - 14 June 2011 04:46 PM

My experience is that a wet starter 100%  (60g of flour with 60g of water)  is just not going to rise too much.


Mine doubles or triples and I keep it at 100%.

It’s true that flour and water might do the job, but certain additions that contain lots of wild yeasts can expedite the process.

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