I have started my 4th sour dough starter today, with 2/3 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. I mixed these with a fork in a bowl and then transferred the starter-to-be in a clean glass jar. I covered the lid with a clean and thin clothe, secured with with an elastic band, wrapped the jar with a little hand towel (only because here is colder than many other places), and put it on a shelf to rest.
I go check it time to time by lifting the clothe-lid – curiosity 🙂 I read somewhere else that it is okay as there would be some bacteria or wild yeast in my surroundings that this would help them to be captured in the flour+water mix, and thus, enhance the starter. True or not, I have no idea. My primary driver is the curiosity – is there a bubble? A rise? Some sort of smell? Something???? 🙂 🙂
Of course, it is not realistic to expect that such a young starter mix will do all of these, but, hey, I am excited 🙂
I will use whole wheat flour for this starter. My plan is to feed it everyday by first taking up around half of it and adding the same amount of flour and water as stated above, except the 2nd day when I plan to add these ingredients without taking out from the starter (to nourish it a little bit at the beginning – the wild yeast is not in great amount anyhow and cannot strive very fast). Use of fork, if you do not have a whisker, is a better idea than using a spoon to mix the flour and water together.
Anyways; this is my fourth starter attempt. Why?
I started my first one while I was on vacation – the first one, even though the weather was warmer, did not flourish well in 5 days. So I started a new one. Maybe I was impatient or it really did not work out, I do not know.
The second one was a thriver and I baked breads with it 🙂 it was a sour dough alright 🙂 Unfortunately we had to let it go right before I left home; my family does not bake breads frequently.
In both of these, I added 4-5 dry chickpeas in the mixture, slightly cracked. My sister heard that that would make a great sour dough starter. I think she was right mostly. I would recommend it to everyone. I also kept and tended to these two starters in the kitchen, which I am sure had both the wild yeast and the commercial yeast, as I was baking bread with dry yeast then, too. So, the commercial yeast would have also been captured in the starters. Would they make sour dough, too, I wonder though? if not, then I can safely conclude that they were wild yeast in my starter, as the bread I baked with was pretty sour 🙂
Then I arrived my home here and I started another one with only flour (all purpose, white flour) and water. Today was the 11th day. It was sour alright, but very very sour-smelling. The first week or so it just smelled like wheat, but nothing else. And the bubbles was not something I saw before – very lifeless looking, small bubbles. It did start to rise in the last few days, so it was telling me that the wild yeast (and bacteria) were there. But today, I decided it was time to let it go, too. I would not bake with this thin-looking starter. I need something stronger. So, here I am on Day 1 of my 4th starter 🙂
I cannot claim to be a successful sourdough maker, yet I have a couple of observations and “feelings” about the sourdough starters:
1. usually the starter rises like 1/2 of its initial height on the second day after feeding (not counting the flour and water mixed in). It makes me excited each time, as we expect a rise in sourdough starter. But it is not permanent and get lost later until it starts to rise again maybe on the 6th-10th day (which ever the first rise and large bubbles happen). I think these are the bacterial actions in the 2nd day, rather than the wild yeast activity. No need to get too excited.
2. hooch can appear on the second day on. I do not like it and prefer to throw away. Once it occurred in the middle of the starter, which I had to mix with the starter. Personal preference, that is all.
3. the denser starters seem to thrive better than batter-like starters. I do not know why, this is my feeling. If i do see that the starter is runny, I opt to add more flour than water to make it a denser one. you noticed above that I add less water than the flour (cup-wise) even though everybody is recommending a 1:1 ratio (by weight). Looks like 1 cup flour = 240 grams and 1 cup water = 236.5 grms (so almost the same weight). I found in my experience, such a ratio makes batter-like starters (which I do not like for some reason) and thus I cut the water a little bit. Again, a personal preference.
4. I must admit I did not measure my water and flour carefully in the previous trials and rather have had batter-like starters one day and denser ones next day, and so on. I know I must be more systematic and use a constant ratio all the time but this does not happen with me. Again, a personal preference.
5. As expected the starter gets more runny the next day; must be the action of the yeast and bacteria in the flour/water/starter. Just an observation. I guess it makes sense as even a dense dough after the first rise or the proof gets softer/more hydrated than the initial dough.
6. checking the starter for rising or bubbles is a very exciting activity. When I see them, I feel like I accomplished something and feeling pretty happy and excited about my life 🙂
Anyways, let’s see how this 4th sourdough starter adventure of mine will develop 🙂