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Oct 29, 2013 03:17 PM

Sourdough starter lacking, advice?

I just made a loaf of sourdough and its not sour at all, not like it has been in the past, my sourdough starter seems to be lacking, it has lost its strong odor, anyone know what I can do to get it back?
I feed it at least once a week, keep it airtight in the fridge.

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  1. Did you use it straight from the fridge? Mine needs a good three or four feeds over two days, on the counter, when I pull him from the abyss and use him, before he wakes up and starts behaving like his old self.

    If you're feeding it and then popping it right back in the fridge, you're not really giving it enough time to 'age'. What happens if you just leave yours on the counter for a few days, feeding as it needs it? That would be the first thing I tried.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tacosandbeer

      Thank you I will try that. When I feed my starter I pull him out take out about a half cup then add more flour and water then right back in the fridge. Right now I just fed and then put it on the counter.
      And when I am about to use I feed then set it on the counter about 30 min before I start my dough, I will try your method, let him age a bit! thank you for the advice!!! :)

      1. re: snowelephant

        Yeah, you're just diluting the goodness with fresh flour and water. Leave him out for a few days, he'll perk back up.

        Another thought: if you aren't actually using your starter, just feeding it regularly, try making it a bit less hydrated and leaving it alone. I keep mine at about 66% hydration and he lives very happily in a glass jar with a wire clip-top (minus the rubber gasket) for weeks and weeks without feeding. Like I said, he needs a few days to get going when I want to bake, but I have a 4 yr old and a 6 mo old, so Henry (that's my starter) gets neglected more than I care to admit!

    2. Another thing you could try is to do a very slow, multiple rise of the dough. I found my homemade sourdough to be really tangy and tasty if I let it rise for about 6 hours, then knead it and stash it in the fridge overnight. Next day, let it warm up again, knead it and let it rise one final time before baking it. So good!

      But this won't work if you don't follow tacosandbeer's suggestion and wake up your starter more, so hopefully that is already getting things going for you! I also find that it takes at least 2 "refreshes" at room temp to get it back up to full strength after being semi-hibernated in the fridge.

      1. Just last week I bought some fresh king arthur starter. It's just a small amount and you must immediately start feeding it. It has been sluggish and not very sour.

        Yesterday I was researching how to perk it up and read that if you add a bit of rye flour it would do the trick. I did and it is noticeably more active and sour.

        1. Refresh the starter a couple of times before baking with it if you haven't just used it. You want it "young and vigorous" as the French experts say. I don't go much for a strong sour flavor in bread. I like a balanced flavor--like the balance of a good Chardonnay wine. However, if you want to spike the acid, the best bet is to do your bulk fermentation at room temperature. (Theoretically 81 F. is idea for equal growth of the yeast and bacteria.) Then do the final proofing of the loaves in a somewhat warmer environment. Keep in mind, however, that gluten is weakened by acid, so pushing for too much tang may adversely affect the crumb.