Doubting a starter


 Hi to everybody i just found this community and i think it's amazing. I'm just growing my live starter since around 15 -20 days and i think it has been more like ups and downs. So i don't know if i can you that or not. 

My Starter is made from rye and obviously water: i had few days when it doubled its size, but after a bit went back to normal size leaving bubbles on the top. Other days it doesn't double, but grows just a bit and bubbles on the top. So i don't know if it's ready or not, if it has to be double to be used or not. The smell is nice vinegarish and apple.

I'm from Italy and now the temperature is around 26 27 degrees. 

that is my live ( i hope so ) yeast, and as you can see on the sides it' s not so bubbly but on the topo it's  kinda full.

I read to feed twice a day because of the fast drop down due to hot climate. Another question can i put other flour in it or i  have to carry on with rye flour ? thanks a lot  Stefano

322 users have voted.


ReyKey 2011 September 4

 After a while it was flat on the top and now i refreshed it with a mix of white flour and rye and water. after one hour it's still flat. let's hope. any advice ?

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 September 5

Hello ReyKey,

Your starter does appear as if it is doing something.  Just looking at your photos, it looks to me as if the hydration is fairly high.  There is nothing wrong with that although you will not get as much 'rise' because the gas bubbles can easily reach the surface and break letting the gas escape.

You don't say whether you are using scales to measure your ingredients but I have found that a hydration of 100% (equal mass of flour and water) is a good level to operate at.  As a guide if you don't have scales, the starter at this hydration will be a thick batter and will only just run off a spoon.

You can't go far wrong if you follow the instructions in SourDom's beginners Blogs on this site.

Depending on the activity of your starter and the temperature, it might take several hours for signs of rising to emerge after a feeding.

Let us know how you go and welcome to our world.


ReyKey 2011 September 5

 hi Farinam thanks a lot for the answer. Exactly, i was doubting my recipe at this point: i used 300 gr of rye flour and 500 ml water. So how can i recover and put on the right path my starter ?

This morning it was back to normal, now i hade to feed again, but i'd like to reach a 100% hydratation, so i probably discard half of it and put 150 flour and 150 water . Or Shall i start a new one with  Dom recipe? Just because it's muche less than mine and i wasted a lot of flour as can i recover mine and reduce the size feeding with less flour and water ? thanks again. going out to bye some flour :D

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 September 5

Hi ReyKey,

I would discard most of what you have and just keep a bit to act as a seed for your new build.  After a time of adding the required 50/50 mix of flour and water the hydration will sort itself out.  So basically, follow Dom's instructions and add a couple of tablespoons of your current brew and you will be off to a flying start as you already have some activity going.  Because of this you will probably be able to shorten the procedure and be able to bake bread in only a few days.

I would start with Dom's Pane Francesa recipe which I have found to be super reliable and make it several times to get your techniques going before thinking about modifying it in any way or branching out to other recipes.

If at first, you don't succeed - try, try again!

Keep on bakin'


ReyKey 2011 September 5

 Hello thanks again i have actually kept 100ml of my old starter and put together after serious maths problem, 27 ml water and 63 grams of flour ( at the moment i got just wholemeal durum wheat flour ) to have 100% hydratation.

After three hours it's got some bubble on every sides of few bubbles on the top. I'm gonna wait til this evenging and see also the size and the activity. after this i will probably stick on Dom recipe, keeping 1-2 tablespoons of what i have and adding the rest. what do you think ? thanks a lot Farinam e i'm gonna check the recipe for Pane Francesa ( French bread ? ) . 

p.s. out to get some rye wholemeal flour...

about the white flour...which one you suggest ? because here in Italy we have some different flours like wheat 0 or 00

and durum. thanks again Stefano

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 September 6

Hello again,

I am not really familiar with the differences but I have once used 00 for bread when I was away from my normal supply.  I would think durum would also be good, it is certainly recommended for pasta as I think it has  a higher protein content.

When I was in Italy and had a day with a baker there, he was using 'integrale' and 'semi-integrale' that he sourced locally but I am not sure whether they are available in the shops.



ReyKey 2011 September 7

 thanks Farinam...anyway at the end i used a flour 0 with the rye. The starter seems to react: big bubble on the top, it has grown in size ( but not double ) and then it went back to normal size keeping the bubbles. today i fed it again and it's on the growing step with big bubbles on the top, not to much network of bubbles on the sides.

I will probably carry like that. question: after a while is it gonna keep the double size or is it gonna reduce each time ? 

Anyway i think it's far from being like the last day of Dom recipe. let's see and hope :D

ReyKey 2011 September 8

 After 4 days of changing recipe and switching to Dom's, my starter is doubling in size ( more or less ) and keeping that size for 24th, but the activity not that much: i mean bubble are just on the top and i really don't see any network on the sides of the jar. Is that normal ? shall i carry on  with that? thanks

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 September 9

Hi ReyKey

If it is doubling in size, it must be due to retained gas.  If you scoop into it with a spoon you will be able to see the porosity.


ReyKey 2011 September 9

 thanks Farinam, i can see what you mean, so the starter is alright like that...i mean  it's positive the porosity or not ? :D thanks again ciao

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 September 9

The porosity is from the bubbles of gas that are trapped in the batter.  Just the same as the gas bubbles trapped in the dough that make it rise.

I think you are ready to go.

Let us know how it goes.


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