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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Breads & Baking / Sourdough Starter question
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    Sourdough Starter question

    Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:33 pm
    Forum Host
    During the last several feedings, I've noticed my starter doesn't seem to be bubbling as much as it used to. It still has the sourdough smell, but just doesn't seem to be as active when I feed it.

    Is there anything I can do to perk it up?
    Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:54 pm
    Forum Host
    Are you throwing out least half of it - the yeasties need quite a bit of food, and especially if it's not as active as it was, throw out at least half, even more, and then add an equal or greater amount of flour and water.

    Also, sometimes you need give it a jump start by acidifying its environment - stir in a little pineapple or orange juice - don't worry, you won't taste it in your bread, but it will help the conditions for optimum growth.
    Donna M.
    Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:54 pm
    Forum Host
    How old is the starter? If it has been around awhile you won't need any juice. It is probably already too acidic. The juice is good for brand new starters to get the pH level down. Once the starter is active it should produce plenty of its own acids and that is probably what your problem is. The yeast can't grow well if the mixture becomes too acidic. Smell it--does it "bite" your nostrils when you take a deep whiff? A healthy starter shouldn't, and needs to be fed if it does. Try taking a tablespoon of the old starter (don't throw out the original yet) and feed it a couple of ounces of flour/water. When that looks active, feed it a couple more ounces. Don't wait until it recedes to do the second feeding. You want to do it while the starter is nice and bubbly. After the second such feeding, start doing a discard before each feeding again. If I haven't used my starter in awhile I always throw out all but a spoonful and build from there. Over time the acids just get so strong that they start to attack the gluten and it can't rise well.
    Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:55 pm
    Forum Host
    The starter isn't that old, maybe 3-4 months I think. This is the starter that is fed with potato flakes, sugar and water. So, would these suggestions still work with it?

    Oh and I haven't made bread with it in a while because I haven't had time, but I do throw away a good bit of it after I feed it.
    Donna M.
    Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:37 pm
    Forum Host
    Your starter wouldn't be considered a 'new' starter at this age. Yes, these tips would work with any starter. Basically a starter needs food--whatever that food choice is doesn't matter a lot as long as it has carbs. One question, though, was your starter made with commercial yeast? That can make a big difference in its behaviour. Sometimes the commercial yeast will die off when the pH drops and if a wild yeast strain does not take over at that point then the starter will gradually die. Commercial yeast cannot live in a very low pH environment.
    Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:12 pm Groupie
    Dreamgoddess wrote:
    During the last several feedings, I've noticed my starter doesn't seem to be bubbling as much as it used to. It still has the sourdough smell, but just doesn't seem to be as active when I feed it.

    Is there anything I can do to perk it up?
    I don't know what your water source is, but this time of year my local water utility adds more chlorine than normal, to kill the naturally occurring high levels of algae in our water source, Lake Erie. I have had problems with "Summer tap water," negatively affecting my rise times, so I tried using water from our Britta filter jug kept in the fridge, and rise times returned to normal. Perhaps using filtered or purified water may change your results.

    FWIW, my starter was created 6-20-08, and I have never added anything to it other than flour & water. This is a new one for me.
    Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:16 pm
    Forum Host
    Donna, I didn't use commercial yeast to make it. I actually found a guy on youtube that made sourdough starter and followed his directions.

    This is how I made it. I mixed water, sugar and potato flakes in a jar. Each day, I removed half of it and then replaced it with more water, sugar and potato flakes. I stirred it several times each the day and left it sitting, covered, on top of my refrigerator. By about day 10, I had a bubbling, churning starter.

    I made bread with it that day and refrigerated the remainder. I've been feeding it about every 5 days after that.

    I didn't realize the water I use might be affecting it!
    Donna M.
    Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:08 am
    Forum Host
    Good point about the water, JoeV! I once sent some dried starter to someone in Canada and she tried and tried with no luck to get it going. After a lengthy process of elimination, we discovered that it was her water. Her treatment plant used chloramines and it doesn't dissipate like chlorine does upon sitting. She switched to bottled water and the battle was won!
    Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:50 pm
    Forum Host
    I use only bottled water or boiled and cooled water for my starters - chlorine definitely affects them. Very good reminder!
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