Sourdough Starter Days 4, 5 and 6…

…or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Leaven.

Day 4 in the Natural Leaven house, and the raisins have been evicted.

Urgh. I feel slightly soiled by that. Don’t you? Apologies for that.

Couple of days to catch y’all up on. One of them quite eventful. Are you sitting comfortably?

Starter Day 4 - as I found it

On Day 4 Señor Starter was looking much the same: the early signs of fermentation (pin hole bubbles), and a sheen on the surface where liquids and solids had begun to separate. There was more pronounced discolouration where the raisins had began to break down. They’ve served their purpose, i.e. to boost yeast and “friendly” bacteria at the beginning of the process, and so the time has come to remove them. Sniff.

Removing 75%

From Day 4 onwards, one must remove 75% of the mixture, so as to make room for the addition of the extra flour and water, and leave room for the rise and fall of an increasingly active starter. One could continue to expand the starter, but it would require an exponentially increasing amount of flour, and there’s a limit to how much starter I’m going to need at any one time. So I spooned out roughly 75% (I’m not going to sweat the precision here; only time will tell if this lackadaisical attitude will come back to bite me), and disposed of it.

Starter: hydrated, strained, and replaced into its jar

I then added today’s quotient of water – 100g/ml (I’ve just realised that normally in units of measurement a “/” often means per, as in “grams per millilitre”. I don’t; I mean g or ml – with water they’re equivalent). But before I added today’s flour, I passed the mixture through a tea strainer in order to remove the raisins. This also removed some/most of  the rye flour that had swollen and would not pass through the fine gauge of the strainer. What was left was a thin, pale, quite pure-looking liquid, which I transferred back into my starter jar.

I then added the flour – 125g strong white. The rye from previous stages served to provide a boost of yeast, but as this will be a white leaven, its time is up. Thanks, but bye bye, rye!

Day 5 was much more straightforward. Remove 75%, refresh with 100g water and 125g strong white flour, stirring as I went. This will be the pattern now while the culture develops, and indeed afterwards, whenever the starter is refreshed.

By the time I’d finished on Day 5, the starter was behaving more like dough than a liquid mix, coming away from the sides of the jar as I incorporated the flour into the mix. This seems to tally with the pictures in The Handmade Loaf, so I’m feeling okay about how things are going.

I’ll update y’all again sporadically from now on; there’s only so many pictures of beige paste even the most hardy of baking-obsessed internet residents can take. But I’ll leave you with a couple more pictures from Day 6 (in addition to the one at the top of the post).

Starter Day 6 - as I found it

After refreshing - thick and pasty

Have you made your own sourdough starter? Did you use a different method? How did it work out? Let me know and share your knowledge!

Until next time, leaven lovers!

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