Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 5 & Day 6: A Sourdough Experiment

Day 5
I wasn't home for care for my starter today, so my hubby did it for me. (Sorry, no picture, but they pretty much looked the same.) My hubby sent me a picture so I could decide what to do. The starter rose a bit, but not too much. It was supposed to double in size. I decided to feed it again. This time we dumped half of the mixture. Then scraped them out into a bowl (2 separate because I have 2 starters) and fed it with 3/4 cup room temperature, filtered water, and 1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour. Washed the jars, then returned them into their home in the oven. (Did I mention that I decided to put them in the oven with the light on? It's been fairly cold-- below what we defined as room temp 76-80 degrees-- so I decided to place them in a little bit warmer spot.)

The consistency before feeding was very thick and hard to stir. I had read that it should be close to pancake batter texture, so that's why I decided on a little more water than the last time we fed it. My hubby said that he did notice a little bit of a sour smell developing.

Day 6
Today I noticed that the starter rose a bit. I've been reading other places that I should be using whole wheat flour until the starter is stable, and that it should be "fed" more often. So, today I am going to feed one and not the other. I didn't really want to split up what I'm doing to them, because it might get confusing picture wise. But, I will refer to one as the green (with the green tulle on top), and the other as the white (with the white paper towel). By keeping two, it will help me see what is helping the starter grow, and what's not.

Today, I did nothing to the green except give it a good stir. For the white, I added 2/3 cup room temp, filtered water, and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Then covered them and put them back on the counter. I always wash and dry the jar before putting the mixture back in...don't want to get mold! As I was pouring it in, I noticed a distinct sour smell! How exciting!

This time I got smarter and put it into a large measuring cup, and was able to pour it right back in without making a huge mess!

You can see that the white one is slightly darker because of the whole wheat flour.

I have a few ideas as to why my starter is moving somewhat slow.

First, I used bleached flour on the second day. The bleached flour has no micro-oganisms on it that can start the activity in the dough that's needed. (I can't get too much into this because that's the depth of my understanding about it.) The following was taken from here.

The flour feeds the starter, and also contains the micro-organisms that form the culture. Whole grains in general, and organic stone-ground grains in particular, have more wild yeast on them than highly processed white flours. So, pick up a sack of organic, stone-ground, whole wheat or rye flour. You might also ask your grocer which flour sells the best and check the expiration dates on the sacks of flour - you want to get the freshest sack of flour you can find at your grocery or health food store.
I am going to use whole wheat flour from now on, until the starter is healthy (meaning it double in size between each feeding).

When the starter is active and bubbling reliably I suggest you switch to unbleached all-purpose flour flour. This will probably be around your 4th to 6th feeding. White flour has fewer microorganisms on it, and switching to white flour will help encourage the organisms you want to grow without introducing more organisms you don't want to encourage. Overall, I find starters maintained on white flour get into less trouble than starters maintained on whole grain flours. 
Second, I wasn't feeding it often enough. I am going to try and feed it every 12 hours.

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