Saturday, March 8, 2008

Follow the Sourdough - Day 2: Feeding the Starter

Today's installment is very simple. We are going to "feed" the starter. This involves removing, and discarding, half the mixture; then adding 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water. This step is going to be done every 24 hours, until the started is ready.

I will show you my starter when it's ready, but since this can happen anytime between 2 and 7 days, you need to know what to look for. Sometime between now and never, your mixture will start developing lots of little bubbles, and start giving off a somewhat pleasant sour or beer-ish smell. The starter may also develop a thin bubbly froth on the surface that will return even after you stir it in. The photo here is my starter on day 3. It's getting close, but I'm going to feed it again, and decide tomorrow if it is ready.

The timing of this whole process depends on the batch of flour you're using, the temperature (75 degrees is ideal, but most of us are cooler than that), and the amount of wild yeast present (they really mean it here in San Francisco, when they say, "there must be something in the air."). So, keep repeating the steps you see in today's video until you think your starter is ready. I will post updates on my starter as things develop. Stay tuned!

Note: if your starter gets a strong, spoiled odor, toss it out and start over. You may have something else growing besides wild yeast. If nothing happens after a week, then you should also start over with another type of flour. Many people add some wheat or rye to the first starter since it has more yeast in it. But, I just didn't want you to buy a whole bag of flour for nothing, and we are going to use the unbleached bread flour to make the final loaves.


27 comments:

Anonymous said...

this is fun! I don't even care if it works.

Chef John said...

lol there is some luck involved, but it usually works

Anonymous said...

man, this is better than any tv-series :o)))
can't wait until tomorrow!

Chef John said...

you watch a lot of reality tv, dont you? ;)

Jason said...

Instead of tossing half of it, could you just divide it in half and do the same thing to both halves, and begin making exponentially large amounts of sourdough?

Chef John said...

sure, but eventually you would have to move out.

Anonymous said...

I don't come from a place where people eat bread as a staple, and wow at the making of a sourdough bread, it really is complicated!

Chef John said...

It may seem complicated, but all we are doing is mixing flour and water.

Anonymous said...

Please do a post on lasagna! :)

Connie said...

This morning it was all bubbly like yours and is starting to develop a smell like a wine smell or smelly socks, I am not sure.

Chef John said...

yes, that's perfect. i would feed it and it probably will be done tomorrow

Henry said...

um hey, im just trying out this recipie, and i have a question... is it common to have clumps of sticky, stretchy, yellowish goo sticking to the whisk, when your mixing?

Chef John said...

yellow? not usually yellow. the other things can happen. Does it smell like sourdough, or rancid?

deepthi said...

Hi! Thanks for the recipe!!! one question though... is there any particular reason why you throw half of the starter away?

cheers

Chef John said...

youre growing the yeast, so you need fresh flour and water to replace half

Swanky Mommy said...

Is it a bad sign if there's not always the thin watery layer on top of the starter? I woke up for day three and there were some bubbles, but no water--it's a little thicker.

Chef John said...

no, they are all different, the bubbles are the important part. Keep feeding.

Calandrino said...

after the second day of feeding, my starter turned into a gelatinous blob that smelled like corn ... i'm not in SF so probably not the right kind of bacteria/yeast here, but maybe this is just a hostile environment?

Calandrino said...

I'm not sure if I should keep going or abandon my starter. As Henry experienced, I've got these clumps of sticky, stretchy goo (not yellow). You said that could happen. When it does, toss? Keep feeding? Make sponge? Skip sponge and make bread? Also the flour I'm using is Gold Medal "Better for Bread" unbleached, unbromated, enriched flour. Anything wrong that?

Tarko1989 said...

if it doesn't seem like there's enough yeast in the air in my house, can I add some dry active yeast to the starter?

Chef John said...

Yes! add a small pinch

{ uMy } said...

i've started mine.it's the 2nd day and its all bubbly at top, watery in the middle and a bit gooey at the bottom.when i mixed to feed it, somehow it didn't thicken as your though it just run through.is that a bad thing?should i start a new one?it smell pretty sour as rancid food usually did.

Anonymous said...

My kitchen smells like death and dog poo. Should I toss and start over?

Nao said...

My sourdough truly smells rancid, do I have to start over ;__;? Even though I consider the sourdough starter my child (I named it Louis as a chef says it's bad luck not to name your sourdough), I can't stand the smell coming from it.

Chef John said...

Should smell fermented not rancid! I'd throw away.

Gerry said...

I can't seem to find the video for day #3....am I missing something?

Chef John said...

Nothing happens on day 3! :)