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Question about starters?

9206 Views 36 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  isa
I'm attempting my first starter and decided to use Peter Reinhart's mild Levain starter. All is going well and I'll be ready to bake by the weekend. This question is to Kyle and others:

I'm confused by the amount of time you should let a starter ripen. Reinhart and Leader mention in their book about 4-5 days whereas Glezer's and Cookwise say 7-14 days. The longer the ripening time the more acidic? And how much should you feed a starter once it's ripe and want to keep it in the fridge(if you're baking bread once a week)? Do you feed it before keeping it or vice versa?

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Reinhart mentions somewhere that his starter is ready to use in as little as 5 days, but gets better after two weeks. I've woken up a starter after 5 months in the reefer. I typically keep a big bucket of it, but haven't actually made anything from it in a while. All that will change when the **** weather breaks here in N.E. and I can use the brick oven.
I haven't used it since NYears day because we've had so much snow. We had a pizza party and I made 17 pizzas. It still needs to have an enclosure built around it. Right now it's got the metal studs and concrete board holding in the insulation showing. The snow is slowly melting though, we can finally see the ground in places, but we're expecting more today. This has been incredible compared to last winter.
Yes you can add a little instant yeast. In France I think yeast can be added at the rate of one-tenth of one percent and the bread can still be called levain. Did you perhaps mis-scale the salt? That could stop a dough, and if your starter was active....but maybe a little cool. You could bulk ferment at 85 degrees.
Personally I think 72 degrees is too cool. Read Ed Wood's stuff on sourdough. He grows his culture at 80 something degrees and I think it's mentioned in Daniel Wing and Alan Scott that these kinds of cultures grow fastest up into the mid 90's.
You can use the refreshed starter as is. Reinhart mentions that and I think some of Silverton's bread that I've made does it that way. That's too bad that you found that discrepancy re: the lactic and acetic acid and the stiffness of a starter. I'll bet Wing and Scott have something to say about it. I'll look. Speaking of Scott, I fired my brick oven yesterday for the first time since Jan 1. Roasted some chickens, some potatoes and two gorgeous loafs of that cook's illustrated Italian bread. They came out absolutely perfect.
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