Due to my latest sourdough experiment, I have been reading a bit about maintaining a sourdough starter.
In my original sources it said to keep the starter in the refrigiator and feed it every 3-4 days.
On a work trip to San Fransico my husband recently picked up the book Tartine Bread, which is an amazing book, though I have yet to try any of the recipes in it. I hope to review it a bit later, but he does spend some time discussing his experimentations (over years!) with sourdough starters.
There was a couple of things that stood out to me when reading about his sourdough.
The first thing was having a predictable feeding schedule, and feeding more often. His recommendation was every day, at the same time, with the same amount of flour water. This would lead to predictable yeast activity.
The second thing was discarding 80% of the starter every time it was fed, too keep it young and fresh, this should lead to a less sour sourdough.
Thirdly, he would keep it at 65-75 F. Two types of acids are formed in a sourdough, and the more sour one thrives better a lower temperatures.
I decided I would try modify my own sourdough caretaking based on this, but tweak it so it fit my baking. I don’t plan on baking sourdough that often, and I plan on use it for different things and in varying amounts (for the basic Tartine bread, only one table spoon is used to create a leaven before making the dough, then you use the leftover leaven as your new starter). It needed to work for my Danish Rye bread too, and I didn’t mind it would be a bit more sour maybe.
I will try to a) discard about half of it when feeding. b) Feed it every second day instead of less often, and with different time intervals in between. I can probably not achieve feeding on the same time every day, but I can try. c) Feed it a predictable amount of food, 50g bread flour, 50g rye and 100ml of water. I chose to use whole grain rye, as it fit the types of bread I would like to make, and I think it would give it a unique flavor.
I don’t have anywhere it would always be between 65 and 75 degrees. In the winter our house is usually colder at night, and in the summer hotter in the day. I will keep leaving it out after feeding it, and then store it in the fridge.
After only 2 times doing this, I noticed a lot more yeast activity in the starter. I fed it in the afternoon, and forgot to put it in the fridge by bedtime, and I think that might actually work well me – feed in the evening, leave out overnight.
I also discovered that having a lot more yeast activity does lead to a lot more gas being created – the lid of my patent jar came off with a loud pop! when I opened it. I will probably just cover it with some plastic wrap going forward, even though those jars are pretty solid!
We will see how this will work for the sourdough breads I would like to make. I definitely want to try the Tartine bread too, as well as some other things from his book.