Sunday, January 22, 2017

sourdough starter

Day 0 ↑.

I expected to show day 1 another photo that shows no no change in the jar, and then another photo for day 2 showing no change in the jar, possibly a tiny bubble or two, scant indication that something is happening. And then for day three more bubbles creating a thin foam of bubbles.

But this all happened in 24 hours and it's the first time that's happened in Denver. It does happen in Maui even faster but by the the slurry exposed to the wind, not in a jar closed tightly. This time the organisms on the flour itself leapt to action in 1/3 the usual time.

Day 1 ↓.

It's already separated into layers. It needs to be stirred. Left alone the foam will collapse. 

I used the cheapest flour available at the regular grocery store. The store brand. The organisms on the flour come from the fields where the wheat grain was grown. It will not be from one single field, Not a single wheat farmer, rather, grains are combined from various sources at the mill to even out the protein level across production runs. The grain originated from several fields. Presumably Nebraska. This is most likely Nebraska sourdough starter and that's a very good place to be from. 

24 hours to produce bubbles is too long a time period. Tomorrow this starter begins its training to do this same thing in 8 hours. It is a process that can take several days; the starter is given fresh water and more flour. 8 hours later more water and more flour whether or not it has risen satisfactorily. This way the culture is trained to go faster. 

The increment can just as easily be 12 hours. 

It may peak before 12 hours but if left alone to languish the culture will respond to go more slowly. 

You can see how this can become unwieldy very quickly. To keep the culture manageable usually half is discarded. In order to keep up the training. The aim is to have the culture bubble full blast within the cycle. Seeing this respond so quickly I have a feeling that whole training period will be accelerated. 

Usually, the idea is to make a culture to last you thereafter, but I already have too many cultures to bother with more. Instead, this starter will be feed in increments, it's activity monitored and the whole thing stiffened with flour for dough. 

The dough will be refrigerated for a few days to ferment and develop acidic character. 

Then the dough will be brought out, shaped into a loaf, proofed, and baked. 

There will be no sourdough starter left to mess with. That will be the end of the project. 

How inefficient, a whole week just for a loaf of bread. 

If your starter doesn't react this quickly don't be discouraged. This is unusual. 


chickelit said...
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chickelit said...

Your lag phase is too long. You could trying gentle warming. The initial stuff happening in lag phase is all chemical in nature. "Heat worketh to speeden up"

ampersand said...

For 10 years I lived in a part of the country where you couldn't get decent bread. It was Wonder bread or nothing. I eventually started baking my own. Every Saturday 10 baguettes baked and frozen for use during the week. Sourdough for sure. I think flour and milk started it off. That sourdough batch,with weekly replenishments, lasted a long long time.

Chip Ahoy said...

100℉ is the ideal temperature for yeast. This is well below that. Signs are this batch is going to be on the fast side.

Sourdough International recommends creating a proof box with an incandescent light for 24 hours to activate their freeze-dried starters. He wants to assure 100% success rate for his customers, but honestly, all that is not necessary. I'm certain this is will be going full blazes quite soon.

Incidentally, Sourdough International is a very good outfit. Run by a guy named Ed Wood. He's a scientist! He's friendly too. I wrote back and forth with him a long time ago. Bought most of his sourdough cultures. Read his activation instructions each time. Read his book. Subscribed to his newsletter for a few years then dropped it. (he charges too much and that's outrageous. Information want to be FREE! )

You should buy some.

Check it out, Checkitouters.

Synova said...

My last attempt I put the flour and water out with cheese cloth over it and it rained and snowed and I brought it inside after two days and it thawed out and bubbled up! I was very excited. And I fed it, and it seemed to be growing. But it got a few bubbles right away and then didn't seem to get more. I could tell biological activity was happening but no bubbles that I saw. It would separate out like the picture but without bubbles. I added water and flour in the morning and at night. It smelled really sour. And it did bubble some, so I mixed it with water and flour and a little sugar and it got sort of foamy so I added more flour and made a loaf. It did not rise. I was disappointed.

Chip Ahoy said...


It must be bubbling at its highest activity before forming a loaf.

Sourdough aficionados keep theirs going full time. It sound like you were well on your way.

You can tell when your culture peaks by the ring it leaves on the jar or the bowl. After it peaks then the next hour it falls back. And that tells you its natural timing.

When you go from collecting phase to activation phase then chickelit idea of using heat to 100℉ is useful. For 24 hours. (I do all my bread at room temperature, and my room is rather warm)

This culture here is now being built up as sponge. I just now added about 1/4 cup water and 1/4 new flour. I'm expecting it to behave the same as it has. Next I'll add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. Then 1 cup each, the 2 cups water and enough flour to turn sponge into dough. By then it will have proved itself.

And then, after all that, turn it off by chilling it. Is that insane or what?

Three days later it will be revived with the warmth of room temperature and baked in a cloche, most likely.

You notice that sourdough dough feels completely different from commercial yeast dough. It's less forgiving. It's a weird dough to handle. That is the point where a bread machine would work.

My brother uses a bread machine. I don't understand that because the bread machine does the fun part. The whole point is playing with dough. Besides the point of it tasting good. Plus with a machine you get bread in the shape of a cube. Ed Wood of Sourdough International uses a bread machine.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

There was some movie about cavemen where someone was entrusted to carry around a thingie with smoldering embers in it. "Quest for Fire?"

Maybe that's the one with Cheech and Chong's illegitimate love child in it and she shows them how to start fire and to use a spear thrower, much to the chagrin of the bad guys who very much underestimate her effective range.

I think she lets some guy bang her but not doggie-style. She makes him sink it using the missionary position.

That's PROGRESS, BABY!!!!!!111!!!!!

ricpic said...

"The whole point is playing with dough,"

Hey Ma, Chip's playing with the dough again!

Sixty Grit said...

I should tell you the story about when I was kneading dough and a redhead was in the kitchen watching me, but that's a story for another time and place.

As for Tokyo Diner, I am starting to hate that show - no, not for the usual reasons, but because even after I have consumed calories sufficient unto the day, when I watch them cooking that wonderful food I get hungry. What's up with that? The food just looks so darned good! And the actors and actresses really seem to enjoy it. That's just not right!

I just watched the Sauteed Yams epi - those dadgummed yams are white! White I tells ya! WUWT.2? A bit of salt in the olive oil, drop in the yam slices, cook them, add some soy sauce and there you go.

Very funny bit at the end of that one, too.