It’s ALIVE!

Meet Gloop.  It's less grumpy at me now.
Meet Gloop. It’s less grumpy at me now.

It would appear that my gloom of yesterday on the subject of my first-ever dehydrated starter reactivation was more than a little premature, and that it does, indeed, take nearly a week (or more!) for a sourdough starter to reactivate.  Specifically, 6 days in my case – I have rehydrated the flakes of my Stockholm-brewed starter on September 1st, noticed tiny bubbles last night, and this morning I got the first real rise!  With which, I feel the need to say – welcome back, Gloop, and happy (approximately) 3rd birthday!

Things learned from this reactivation and panicked reading on the subject when I thought Gloop had perished – reactivation of sourdough starter from dry state can take up to and a bit over a week, since it can take that long for the microorganisms in it to break dormancy and emerge from their spores.  Adding a bit of pineapple juice to one or two feedings is a good idea, since the lowered pH helps with breaking dormancy of low-pH-adapted organisms (which cannot yet lower the pH for themselves as they do in active starter culture, since they are still dormant).  Panicking is not at all helpful, and only stresses me out.  Gloop doesn’t actually hate me, and just wanted a bit of extra time and care.

I also didn’t manage to catch it during the rise with a camera, because we were on our way out the door, but it had easily doubled its volume, which is the first indication of a healthy starter ready to leaven bread.  The above picture is this afternoon, a little more than a day since last feeding, still happily bubbly and smelling great.

With that (rise, and bread-making) in mind, I have bought a couple of nice 750ml Fido jars while out, to give Gloop a nice new stylish home after the nearly-year of neglect in the decidedly frumpy ziplock bag in the fridge.  The glass-lidded jars with removable gaskets make a pretty perfect home for a sourdough starter – they close well enough to prevent most bugs and dust from ending up in your starter, but, with the gasket removed, allow enough air flow to prevent either jar explosion or suffocating the starter (neither of which would be what I’d consider optimal results).  A couple of jars is what you want in order to either have a single jar for starter to grow, and a spare jar to move starter to after a feeding when you want to wash it, or if you want to switch part of the starter to a different diet such as rye or wholemeal wheat or spelt flour.  Not to mention, they look a whole lot better on the counter than the plastic bucket I was using to reactivate.  Ahm, yes, I am one of those kitchen-vain people.  Don’t stare at me like that.

I am not going to bake anything today or tomorrow, so I have again halved my starter and fed it with equal parts by weight water and flour (a mix of mostly white wheat flour and a bit of wholemeal rye), and put it in freshly washed and dried jar to rise.  Tomorrow I will probably not halve it, but feed with larger amounts it in preparation for baking next week.  Note that the starter in the jar below is not bubbly – it’s been freshly stirred up and fed, which collapsed all the bubbles.  It’ll wake up soon enough.

Not much one can do to make sourdough starter more photogenic, but a nice jar is one of those things.
Not much one can do to make sourdough starter more photogenic, but a nice jar is one of those things.

Now that Gloop is awake and I am not panicking about having killed it, there are some sourdough flatbreads and recipe for those in the works for next week.  I haven’t forgotten about the curing pork fat in my fridge, either – update on that Soon(tm)!

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5 thoughts on “It’s ALIVE!

    1. Lorraine, hi and thanks for stopping by!

      The sponge method is a good one if you want to have a better loaf of bread than direct addition of yeast would give you, but desire to stick to commercial baker’s yeast. This is because the organisms you are using are the same baker’s yeast as you normally would use in a ‘standard’ baking technique with yeast fermentation, and the resulting bread has a very different flavor profile from a bread made with sourdough starter. This is because a sourdough starter is a symbiotic colony of yeasts and usually more than one type of bacteria, and you cannot develop this type of culture in 2-3 days.

      Personally, I don’t consider keeping a starter around that much of a chore, since as soon as mine is active and fed, I can simply store it in the fridge for weeks at a time without doing a single thing with it, and when I need it, it may be ready immediately or require a single feeding before it is.

      Obviously, you should do what you prefer.

      1. Normally, no, not at all. I do have two recipes which specifically call for yeast in final stage of fermentation (the Finnish Rye and Focaccia), but the former is a traditional recipe as far as I can tell, and the latter could work without the added yeast, but it does allow it to rise faster.

        Most of the bread recipes which I have developed myself, such as Stockholm Sourdough, Pan Marino, Two-Fifths Rye and the No-Knead Sourdough are pure-starter recipes that do not call for commercial yeast at any stage of the process.

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