Friday, April 25, 2014

Sourdough Starter: Day 5

I almost forgot to maintain my sourdough starter yesterday.  I was just finishing up in the kitchen and on my way to go get ready for bed when I saw the red rubber lid of its container peeking out from the top of the fridge. I really wanted to go to bed, but I felt guilty so I grabbed Sonny D's stepstool to get it. 

There was definitely no doubling action going on since it hadn't risen above the mark on the side but the top showed a bit of bubbling. There wasn't any smell other than flour and water.
Day 5 initial view, a little activity.
It seems to be doing fine enough, but I got worried things weren't going right for my wild yeast sourdough starter since I wasn't seeing much going on.  It seems like most people who are new to sourdough starters seem to over-react this way, some toss it out because they think it's dead or try to change the pH by adding other ingredients like pineapple juice or lemon juice.  I decided I wouldn't do anything rash, just be patient and proceed with the plan, hopefully it'll get active enough to be considered a true starter.

I decided to be more precise in my measurements rather than my previous casual "dump out some of the goop, ah, that looks about like half" approach. I was measuring the amounts of flour and water that went into it, but not how much I was getting rid of.  I got out a similar container, measured it in grams (easier to deal with since my scale combines pounds and ounces) and did the math and conversions to determine the weight of my stuff inside, how much to dump out, and how much flour and water to add.
Day 5 with a precise 1:1:1 ratio - much thicker.
In the background you can see my notepad and pencil
for figuring out the measurements.
Earlier in the day I was reading about maintaining a 1:1:1 weight ratio (one part existing starter, one part flour, and one part water), so that's what I was aiming for.  I got the measurements exactly (down to the gram, while dripping goop on the floor), so we'll see how it proceeds from here.  The end result is much thicker than the 'pancake batter' viscosity I was making before, but I'll follow the directions and keep going.

And I realized that the top of our refrigerator isn't really a warm location.  The yeast need a warm environment to encourage them to grow. Cool temperatures means they are less active, possibly too slow to really take hold at this point. I think I'm going to clear out space for it in an upper cabinet that gets warm from the attached under-cabinet lighting. 

It seems like most people who have sourdough starters give it a name.  I don't know if that's because it's a living entity that you take care of and maintain, like a pet.  Maybe it's easier to relate to if it has a name.  Or maybe it feels like one of the family since you spend a lot of time with it.  If mine makes it through to become a full-fledged starter that I can use to make bread, I'll give it a name and introduce it to everyone. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!