Sourdough Starter Trouble

Discussion in 'Bread' started by Betsyloo87, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. Betsyloo87

    Betsyloo87 New Member

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    Hello! I am very new to bread baking and this is my first time posting in here. I decided to try my hand at sourdough, but I'm having trouble with the starter. I'm doing the basic recipe of equal parts flour and water (4 ounces by weight of each). I'm using red mill whole wheat flour and tap water.

    On my first attempt, I fed once per day and it had doubled on the third day. But after another day it stopped rising. The same thing happened with my second attempt, but this time it only doubled once and won't rise anymore. With this one, I was following instructions that said to feed it when it doubled. It didn't double yesterday, but I went ahead and fed it with King Arthur all purpose flour (as per the instructions). I've had some bubbling, but again no rising. I'm going to feed it again today with the all purpose, but im losing hope that this one will rise.

    Does anyone have tips or a recipe that works really well for them? I really want to make my own starter instead of getting one from someone else. Please help!
     
    Betsyloo87, Jul 18, 2017
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  2. Betsyloo87

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    It's the chlorine in the tap water. You have to use non-chlorinated water. Chlorine kills the yeast. Either boil water for 15 minutes, then let it sit for a couple of days, of buy bottled water.

    Also try not to mix your flours. Whole wheat or rye flour are good. Avoid bleached flours.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 18, 2017
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  3. Betsyloo87

    ninamari Well-Known Member

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    Just curious about the not mixing flours... would that be for the feedings after the first day? Does using different types of flour for feeding the starter slow and/or kill the yeast?

    I've tried to make the sourdough a few times in the last couple of years without success (my results were similar to Betsyloo87's results, it would grow in the first few days and then nothing, I was using bottled water and whole wheat flour). I'm planning on starting one this weekend, following a different recipe than what I used the first few times. With the recipe I want to try, it uses rye flour on the first day, but all subsequent feedings are with bread flour.
     
    ninamari, Jul 20, 2017
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  4. Betsyloo87

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Hey Ninamari, Yeast is a living organism, so it responds to its food supply like any other living organisms. Different flour brands and different types of flours have different ratios of protein to starch. They also vary in their nutrients. You want to give the yeast time to establish itself; make sure it's healthy before you switch flour. When it rises predictably over a couple of weeks then you're probably safe to convert to a different flour.

    Both rye flour and a whole wheat flour go rancid very quickly. If your flour is old, the starter won't take. So it's advisable to start with fresh bags of flour and store them in a cool dry place or the refrigerator.

    I make sure everything is sterile before I begin. So I boil my glass container and all utensils. Even with the care last fall I ended up with some funky mold in my starter:eek:

    The link below is to one of my favorite baking websites. They are amateur home bakers, but very knowledge. I've used a few of their methods/recipes and find everything has been successful. I used this starter last year. In another month or so when it cools off I will start a rye flour starter using their methods.

    BTW my profile photo of the croissants was made using their croissant recipe and instructions. If you ever decide to bake croissants I highly recommend their recipe. Laminated dough was one of those things i avoided for years because of the amount of labor. But last year I decided to go ahead and give it a try. The croissants in the photo was the second attempt, which is testimony to the quality of their instructions.

    http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/rye-sourdough-starter-in-easy-steps/
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jul 20, 2017
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  5. Betsyloo87

    ninamari Well-Known Member

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    @Norcalbaker59 thank you for the information!! Your insights are very helpful and informative. It never occurred to me to think of the starter as a living organism, which, you are absolutely right, it truly is.

    I'm definitely bookmarking that website. My husband loves croissants and is dying for me to try to make some. I'm still at the avoiding making laminated dough stage :oops: but it's one of those things I really want to try to make. Those croissants on your picture look absolutely AMAZING!!
     
    ninamari, Jul 21, 2017
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  6. Betsyloo87

    Theron Hall Active Member

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    I too am starting a sour dough starter. Much like your experience, on my third day my dough rose like crazy! But not since.
    I didn't start over. I just kept feeding it. It still rises just not like that one time.
    It separated a couple of times and had a very vinegar like odor to it.
    I've been using wheat and bread flour mixed 50/50 with tap water of equal parts. Please note my tall water is from a week and would not contain chlorine.
    From what I've read the process will have some ups and downs, just keep feeding it and in time it will grow stronger.
    I'm certainly not any expert, and I'd love to hear others' thoughts about this as well.
    Here are some photos of mine in its current status after a full week.
     

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    Theron Hall, Aug 4, 2017
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  7. Betsyloo87

    ninamari Well-Known Member

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    @Theron Hall your starter is looking good! Keep us posted on its progress and how you use it in baking :) I'd read about starting a sourdough starter and how it may appear to be very active on the 3rd or 4th day, and then go dormant. Apparently, this is caused by a strain of bacteria that is present in a lot of flours. Here's a link to the article if you're interested:

    http://peterreinhart.typepad.com/peter_reinhart/2006/07/sourdough_start.html

    I have yet to do a successful starter. I've tried a couple of times in the past with the same results described above. A lot of activity in the first few days, then nothing. This was before I had discovered the article above. Recently, I got The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart (from the link above) and I'm giving his sourdough starter a try. I only started it a couple of days ago so we'll see how it turns out ;)
     
    ninamari, Aug 4, 2017
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  8. Betsyloo87

    Theron Hall Active Member

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    Awesome! Thank you for the feedback.

    I'm glad to hear its looking good.
     
    Theron Hall, Aug 4, 2017
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