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Way back in 2013, I mentioned that I was thinking about getting a new pet, i.e. a sourdough starter. Some time ago (maybe 2015 or the beginning of 2016?), I actually did make a sourdough starter and I fed it regularly for a while but then got busy so I stuck the starter in the back of the fridge. Sourdough starters can hang out for a pretty long time in the fridge even without regular feeding.

I had been meaning to revive the starter, which I named Chuck in case you were wondering, and I finally started the process in late November (2016). And Chuck was doing well. With the discard between feedings, I made a whole bunch of sourdough English muffins. But then I got busy again. And I just let Chuck hang out for a bit, about three days, on the counter by himself without feeding. This…ended up being a problem.

Because I was in the process of reviving Chuck, the starter was not as robust as a more established starter. The yeast and bacteria that normally colonize a sourdough starter hadn’t really settled so there was room for other opportunistic microorganisms to nudge their way in. Like mold. Yup. Chuck started developing little colonies of mold on the surface after a couple of days of no feeding. The yeast and bacteria just didn’t have enough food to multiply all the invaders into submission. Sugh.

So, I ended up tossing Chuck and started Chuck 2.0. Chuck 2.0, which will probably eventually lose the 2.0 part of his name, is a different starter in that, it’s a stiff sourdough starter (50% hydration) as opposed to Chuck, which was a liquid starter (100% hydration). Why a stiff starter this time when I’ve always maintained liquid starters? Because after poking around in sourdough starter information, it seems that starters with a lower hydration ratio tend to produce a more acidic sourdough. I.e. it makes the sourdough more sour. I happen to really like sour sourdoughs, so I’ve decided to give this stiff sourdough starter a try. I’m also feeding Chuck 2.0 with whole wheat flour as opposed to my standard AP flour, which is also supposed to help raise the acidity of the starter. Hopefully, this will go well and I’ll have Chuck 2.0 for a long time and get lots of delicious baked goods.

Oh, I also briefly entertained the idea of maintaining both a stiff and liquid sourdough starter, but since it’s easy to convert one to the other, it probably isn’t worth my kitchen space for two sourdough starters. And I’ve just been converting the liquid/flour ratios in recipes for a 50% starter instead of a 100% anyway (and also adapting non-sourdough recipes for sourdough). Maintaining Chuck 2.0 at 50% makes it pretty easy to do the math.


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