But it's been a while since I started a starter, so my recollection of how much and how many days was fuzzy, so it made it hard for me to explain my procedure. And then I started questioning some of the conventional wisdom. I decided to do a little experiment.
And then one new starter morphed into three.
I'd read that chickpea flour gives your starter a big boost, so I thought that might be worth trying. And to see how it compared to the usual flour-water version, I figured I'd start one of those, too. And then I started questioning why you have to feed your starter before it's bubbling. I mean, it's not eating anything until it's bubbling, so why do you need to double it several times a day before it's active?
So I decided to add another element to my test. Feed one starter and just stir the other one. Stirring is good for the starter - adding oxygen makes the yeasts happy. So when I added more flour and water to one jar, I stirred the other. Vigorously. Just as vigorously as when I added the flour and water.
And while I was at it, I decided to make my flour/water starters extremely wet. Better to see the bubbling action.
Into one jar went 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of flour. Into the second jar went 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. The jar with the smaller quantity was fed an additional 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of flour later that day, and it was fed twice a day afterward.
On the second day, both jars began bubbling, and by the third day they had both worked themselves up to a froth.
A side view of the jars shows the flour settled a bit at the bottom of the jars, a middle layer of liquid, and a top layer of bubbly frothy foam.
Besides the volume in the jars, the only difference I can detect is that the foam on the top of the jar that I'm feeding has smaller bubbles. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with yeast growth or if it has something to do with the distance the bubbles have to travel from the floury layer on the bottom and through the liquid in the center.
|Smaller bubbles here.|
|Bigger bubbles here.|
|See the layers?|
Obviously, both methods have produced viable cultures. Now the question is which one will produce the best starter for the best bread.
On day 5, I changed my method. Since the unfed mixture seemed to be signaling its hunger, I will began feeding both of them at the same rate. Since they're both very wet, I decided to just add flour - no additional water - over the next few days. I'll report back on the results when it gets interesting.
Meanwhile, for the chickpea flour concoction, I started with 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of chickpea flour. On the second day, I added another 1/4 cup of each. At this point, the odor was starting to change. Not unpleasant, like a new rye sourdough, but it was different. Not as beany, maybe.
On the third day, I added 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and 1/4 water. It might have been bubbling a little, but that might have been bubbles caused by stirring. It wasn't massively active. On the fourth day, I added another 1/4 cup of flour, but no more water. By evening, there was definite evidence of bubbles rising. But the idea the chickpea flour was some sort of quick-start didn't seem to hold true.
On day 4, I added 1/4 cup of all purpose flour, but no more water. By the end of the day, it was definitely showing signs of bubble activity, but still not rip-roaring ready to go. I expected more from this, and considering the activity didn't start until the flour arrive, it makes me question the whole theory about chickpea flour being a magic ingredient.
Beginning day 5, I'll be feeding it regular flour, with only enough water (if needed) to keep it a stir-able consistency. I'll post back with the results later, as well.