Sourdough starter question

Chris T

This is my first time attempting to make a starter and I will have many questions as the week goes on, but my first one is: can I store the discarded starter on, say, day 3 and beyond, or do I need to wait until it is mature on day 6/7? I am on day 3 today.

Thanks!

Chris

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bragu_DSM 5

patience is king ... it gets better yeasty beasties with age [full week].

I have an old pyrex measuring cup that I use for starter, and tape the instructions on the side on an index card.

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plllog

If you search the forum, you'll find a lot of starter info.

You can use your discard as wet flour right away. Baking will kill the microorganisms. Saving it before the yeast has had a chance to dominate means you're growing all kinds of microorganisms freely, but they grow slowly in the fridge. I'd use it up sooner than later, though.

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)

If you are an Amazon Prime member with a Kindle, you can download the book Tartine Bread for free. It's well worth it. Chad Robertson goes through the entire process of sourdough baking and it's a great resource for beginners. I am in my third year of sourdough baking (shout out to pillog who helped me get started with detailed instructions which you can find through Gardenweb search). Sourdough baking is one of those endeavors where you just keep on learning as you go.

To answer your question, I would wait until your starter can double in size before using it in a bake. Took about 7 days in my neck of the woods (starting with ground rye flour and switching to King Arthur white). You will know whether you can use it by trying the "float test". Drop a little blob of it in water and it floats it's ready to go.

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plllog

Just to clear things up: When you feed your starter, you have the discard which is the unfed portion you're disposing of. That can be used as wet flour always (though you need to use some instinct to figure out how wet it is besides just the water percentage as absorption makes it behave differently and some moisture can be lost in handling and evaporation). You can also feed your discard, after you put your continuing starter aside, and feed up the discard to bake with. That has to wait until you have a good colony of yeast. Before baking, especially when the starter is young, you can feed without discarding, but in proportion to the amount of starter dough you have, for a few rounds, closer together in time, to increase and strengthen the starter, then divide off your keeper, and use the rest as a preferment.

My assumption was that you meant keeping the discard that's unfed to use as I do, for quickbreads, pancakes, etc., rather than wasting the flour. Jerzeegirl is talking about when your main starter is ready to be your primary leavening (it can take more than a week, depending on your flour and how hardy the yeast is, but a week is about average).

Good luck!

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foodonastump

JZ - Thanks so much for recommending that book. I know there’s a wealth of information on this forum, but for someone who just wants some basic understanding and steps to get started, I’ve found the conversations a little intimidating.

I’ve just read through the basic country bread and can’t wait to get started. The book is an inviting read, straightforward, well illustrated, and seems to make baking great bread approachable.

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two25acres

Are there obvious reasons for using sour dough? I ask because I am having a challenge with breads and digestion. I do however like to have a good bread in the summer for blt's and in the winter for toast or fresh bread with soup. Just curious as I am considering giving it a try myself.

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WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

I just found this sourdough starter recipe on the Red Star Yeast site. I plan to try it within the next few weeks. I really like it because it is one you don't have to remove from and add to every day; you let it sit on the counter for 5 days, then it can be used or placed in the refrigerator for later use.

Sourdough Starter

https://redstaryeast.com/recipes/sourdough-starter/

2 cups water

3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 package (2 1/4 tsp, 1/4 oz, 7g) RED STAR Active Dry Yeast

1 Tbsp sugar

In a 4-quart nonmetallic container, dissolve yeast in warm water (110º to 115º F); let stand 5 minutes. Add flour and sugar. Stir by hand until blended. The mixture will be thick; any remaining lumps will dissolve during the fermentation process. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand in warm place for 5 days, stirring 2 to 3 times each day. The starter will rise and fall during the fermentation period; it becomes thinner as it stands. A temperature of 80º to 85º F is best for developing the sour flavor. When the starter is developed, it is bubbly and may have a yellow liquid layer on top; stir starter before using. The starter can be used for baking or placed in the refrigerator for later use.

To use the starter, measure out desired amounts as specified in the recipe. Let refrigerated starter come to room temperature before using; this will take about 4 hours.

After using a portion of the starter for a recipe, replenish remaining starter with 3 parts flour to 2 parts water (example: if you use 1 cup starter, add back 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup water) and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir until blended; some lumps may remain. Cover loosely and let stand in warm place for 10 to 12 hours or overnight. The starter will rise and become bubbly. Stir and store in refrigerator. If the starter is not used every week, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar to keep it active.

The recipe should make 3 to 4 (or even a bit more) cups of starter. Just follow the replenishing steps in the instructions after taking out some of the starter for your recipe. For example, if you use 2 cups of the starter, add back 2 cups of flour and 1 1/3 cups water, plus a tsp of sugar.

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plllog

WalnutCreek, that's a recipe for an ongoing preferment. It probably does assume the properties of sourdough, if you're looking to make sour bread. When we talk sourdough, however, we usually mean wild yeast. All wild yeast is the same yeast, once it's been caught and established, though people try to claim otherwise. IIRC, there are actually two stains of yeast that are used commercially, but most, at least, of the ADY is the same. ADY and wild yeast are different. Your ADY starter should work very well for baking. It's stong yeast, and if you keep it fed and happy, it'll work fine.

Two25acres, it's just a way of baking. Use more and you get a faster rise, sweeter bread, less and you get a slower, sour flavor. That's the sour part. The rest is using wild yeast, rather than buying packets or jars. Neither is better. It's just yeast. No health benefits one over the other. Small environmental preference for wild, once it's established and you're not doing a bunch of extra washing up on it. You eliminate the jars/packets, transportation, etc. it's just yeast, however.

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)

two acres: You might find this interesting regarding digestion

Your welcome, FOAS! I am excited about that recipe too!

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Chris T

Thanks so much everyone. I have been making bread for years but have never used a starter before. I ordered the Tartine Bread book which will arrive tomorrow. I love having books to write personal notes in- I am a bit of a cookbook junkie! I have read a lot of online about starters and know I have to discard daily, but I was hoping to keep that to use for something rather than tossing it away.

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plllog

Chris, I have a big jar of discard in the fridge. If you want to make very sour bread, you can use it as wet flour along with your fresh starter. I use it for waffles a lot, and have also used it for cakes and other baking.

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donna_in_sask

If you don't plan on making bread frequently, you might want to maintain a smaller starter. I just keep a couple Tbs of starter and add 25 g water and 25 g flour each day. Adding some rye flour makes for a nice starter and it stays fairly thick compared to straight white flour.

You can dry excess starter to save as a backup or to give to friends, just spread a very thin layer onto some parchment and let dry completely. Crumble up and keep in airtight jar. Revive it with some water/flour when needed.

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)

I like cookbooks too. I like to read them in bed before I go to sleep - lol. I seriously lost 30 pounds on the cookbook diet. I would read the recipes and imagine eating them but without actually eating them.....for some crazy reason, it worked.

Once you get the hang of sourdough, You will start questioning recipes and maybe inventing your own. There are two areas that I am working on now: bakers' percentages and different levels of hydration. As you go along you will see that your questions bring up additional questions. There are some really good web sites where you can ask those questions. (I don't know if I am allowed to mention them here, but a google search will uncover them.)


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bragu_DSM 5

jz: : am glad I am not the only one who goes to bed with recipes on the brain.

Am always looking for an easy tasty recipe for the junior-senior high school kids once a month. They tell me they would like me to cook for them every week, but unfortunately I can't afford them that often ...

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Chris T

We’ll, think I need to throw out my starter. I moved it to my oven with the light on and it has stopped growing. Maybe it was too warm? Has a few bubbles but that’s it. I am going to try to revive some of my discard to see if that works before I start over. It is all trial and error at this point!

I am looking forward to the time when I can make some bread so I have some questions re: hydration and methods!

When we renovated our kitchen in 2018 I had to plan for a location for my cookbooks. I ended up buying a separate cabinet for them and l love looking through them for inspiration. I also have a subscription to NYT cooking- that is a great resource for anyone looking for something new.

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)

How long has your starter been going? When I was starting mine, it first bubbled up like crazy and then after a few days it stopped. I just kept feeding it and it came back to life. I wouldn't give up yet if I were you.

I have the NY Times subscription too and I love it. I have gotten some of the best recipes from the Times.




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Chris T

I am on day 7, so I have not had it going for too long. Thanks- I will keep it and see if it revives. I also put some of the discarded in a separate jar and fed it to see what happens.

I love seeing what Sam Sifton has each week. I agree with you - some great recipes there.

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)

When I cultivated my starter, I kept the jar slightly open (actually covered loosely) on the counter to be able to trap wild yeasts in the air. I did not put it in a warm place. (Full disclosure - I am in Florida so finding a warm place is not really a problem :-)

Here is a link to pillog's very detailed instructions on how to make a starter:

Instructions

I followed them and was fairly successful in getting a decent starter going.

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plllog

Chris, if your kitchen isn't arctic, your starter should be fine on the counter while you're feeding it daily. If you have a heavy stone counter that never warms up to ambient, put the starter on a pot holder or something to insulate it from the cold mass. It doesn't need to be warmed. Even if most of the yeast died, there should be some left in there. The oven light shouldn't be hot enough to kill the yeast. Where there are bubbles, there's hope! My own guess is that the yeast gorged in the relative heat and settled in for a post-prandial nap. Let us know if it perks up on the next feeding.

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Chris T

It has! Lots of bubbles today. In fact, there are bubbles throughout it and not just on the top. Hoping that is good progress. It has grown, but not doubled. Yes, I have granite so it is sitting on a potholder. I live in central VA so it has not gotten cold here yet. Thanks!

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plllog

Yes! Bubbles throughout is excellent! Growth is life. Doubling will come.

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)

That's great Chris. Just for fun, when it get to its highest point, take a little dab of it and drop it in a glass of water. Your goal is to get that little blob to float. Sounds like a couple of more days.

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Chris T

I ran out of the flour I had been using and switched to a diff brand which seems to have slowed everything down. Not nearly as many bubbles. I am still giving it a go, it it is nowhere near ready. I may try to start over this weekend.

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plllog

Don't give up!! Yes, changing flours can shock your starter, especially when it's young. Like any little one, it'll get over its snit. Just keep feeding it. Carl's starter is over 100 years old. Yours is a baby! It's fine. Just keep feeding it.

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Chris T

You are so right! I let it be last night- did not feed it- and it was doubled this morning! So nice to see progress. Thanks!

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)

You just have to keep at it. Every time to add new flour it's practically like starting anew anyway and so perseverance is the best tactic. Sometimes starter just acts weird - it's a living thing and so you just have to indulge it!

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