My 4th attempt in sour dough starter seems to be the best so far 🙂
The Monster started to smell sour this morning and has been rising incredibly, especially after the feed today. 4 hours after the feeding today, I had to transfer it to a new, bigger jar as it had risen up to the lid and was ready to escape! :).
I could not be more excited! I hope that is what it is and it is really a sourdough starter, but not some weird micro-organismal activity.
Here is the chronicle of Monster:
Procedure: Mix in a bowl 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup filtered water with the help of a fork. Transfer into a clean jar, cover top with a piece of fabric (clean and thin enough to allow air in/out), secure the fabric with the help of an elastic band around the lid, wrap the jar with a small towel (keep the lid part uncovered by the towel), place in a shelf away from the kitchen.
*There is no need to keep the starter away from the kitchen. I just have had pest problems lately, which prompted me to keep the starter away from their active areas.
**I started the starter in the evening around 6.30 pm. I tried to feed it everyday at around the same time.
***I decided to wrap the jar with a towel because I live in a relatively cold climate.
Observations: no apparent rise, a few tinny bubbles, smells like whole wheat – nothing exciting.
Procedure: Mix the starter with the help of a fork; take it out in a bowl and add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup of water. Mix all well with the help of a fork. Cover, wrap, and rest the jar/starter at its usual place.
*I made a mistake here. I was planning to add the same amount of flour and water as Day 1 but somehow got confused and ended up with smaller amounts added.
Observations: There was a slight rise, a few large bubbles, somewhat unevenly elated surface, and no distinct smell. There was liquid accumulated at the bottom of the jar.
*slight rise was promising 🙂
Procedure: Remove 1 cup starter. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and mix well with fork. Add the remaining starter and mix everything. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap, and rest as before.
Observations: There is ~0.5 cm rise in the starter – first measurable rise so far. There was no distinct smell and little, if ever, bubbles.
*I decided to take less starter out today, considering the fact that it was not flourishing. So I reduced it by 3/4 cup, rather than 1 cup.
**I forgot to take a photo before the feed today.
Procedure: Remove 3/4 cup starter out. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup water, and the remaining starter in a bowl. Mix well. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap and rest as before.
*from today on, the starter become a less runny/batter-like. I prefer this kind of starters – my feeling is that it helps the yeast flourish better.
**I removed a smaller amount of starter today, as the remaining amount did not look enough to me.
Observations: When I checked it in the morning (yes, I have a habit of checking the starter 6-7 times a day – it is very exciting! 🙂 ), it had risen 2.5 x of its original height 🙂 It also smelled sour for the first time and there were many small bubbles and a slightly uneven surface.
In the evening, it had collapsed a little bit ( I think that is because had exhausted itself – definitely it is the time to feed.)
Procedure: Take 1/2 cup of starter out. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of water, and the remaining starter in a bowl. Mix well. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap and rest as before.
*I removed less starter today compared to previous days. I kind of improvise. Many people use standard measures/amounts and follow them every day, but I like to adjust things as they develop.
**I noticed that the starter does not have a smooth texture; it must be the particles in whole wheat flour that give it rather a crumby look.
Additional observations the same day (day 5):
2 hours after the feed: The starter had doubled in size. The best activity so far. No distinct sour smell yet.
3 hours after the feed: The starter reached the lid! Now knowing what to do, I decided to try to mix it well with a fork and hope that it would not rise till morning. No distinct sour smell yet. Forking caused the starter to go back to its size right after the feed.
4 hours after the feed: I was being naive – even I mixed it and it went down to its original size, the Monster did rise and reach the lid again in an hour.
Time to change the jar. I mixed the starter well with a fork, and transferred all of it into a larger jar. Repeated the usual step; cover, wrap, and rest, as before.
5 hours after the feed and 1 hour after moved to a bigger jar: the Monster has doubled in size. Unfortunate that I could not take a picture (battery was charging). It is such a Monster!
6 hours after the feed and 2 hours after moved to a bigger jar: boy, the Monster is at work – it has risen so much 🙂
I cannot wait to see it tomorrow!
Day 6 (added after the post)
Observations at noon: At noon, the starter had collapsed. It smells slightly sour and seeing bubbles were very pleasing. I decided to feed it and use the left-over starter to prepare a levain for sourdough bread.
*This is the only day that I fed the starter twice – one at noon and one at evening (its regular feed time)
Procedure for first feed of the day: Mix well with a fork. I took out 2/3 cups of the starter to prepare the levain. To feed the remaining starter, in a bowl add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter, mix well with a fork, and transfer back to the jar. Cover, wrap, and rest at room temperature for an additional 6 hours.
Observations prior to the second feed of the day: Six hours after the new feed, the starter had doubled and had nice bubbles. The slight sour smell was there, too. The texture is pretty stiff (i.e. not runny at all, which I kind of like).
*At that point, I decided it was time that I put it in the fridge for future use.
Procedure: Take 1 cup of starter and add 2/3 cups whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water, mix well, and transfer into a new jar and cover with a piece of cloth. Let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour prior to placing into the fridge.
Observation -3 hours after the fridge: I was right naming this starter “Monster”. Can you believe that this starter is continuing to rise in the fridge???
I love my Monster 🙂
A couple of thoughts.
This was so far the most robust starter.
I am thinking a couple of things may have contributed to it:
- whole wheat flour (rather than all purpose flour I had used in the earlier starters)
- mixing the starter together with the fresh flour and water in a bowl (i.e. not in the jar). Not sure whether aeration (i.e. getting out of the jar) helps the starter/yeast somehow.
- I also used fork rather than the spoon to mix the flour/water/starter – fork may be doing a better job than the spoon. Maybe, again in terms of aeration.
- I am almost sure, even though I have no evidence for this, stiffer starters (not runny) rise faster.
- Pure luck? 🙂