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Old 02-24-2014, 07:59 PM   #1
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Question black whey? closed lid? temperature?

My house is on the cooler side. My starter was not showing any activity or doubling up until the first 38 hours, when the temperature reached up to 75 degree. I immediately fed it once it was doubled. Then, the temperature reached up to 80 degree for 3-4 hours. However, the higher temperature did not help the starter activity. As a matter of fact, once I fed it, it did not seem to be active much. Then, the temperature has dropped down to 67-68. I could see that the whey was starting to be separated from the rest while only one or two small particle swimming from the thick batter to the whey very now and then.

Because the first doubling happened after 38 hours, so I kept about the same feeding time every 38 hours. Today, I noticed that the whey became dark, almost like dirty filthy water. I have fed three times now on the 5th day. Right before I fed the 3rd time, I took out some starter and added milk to it and the same amount of flour for tomorrow's biscuit. I closed the lid for this biscuit-to-be sponge. The temperature again rose up to 80 degree, and I saw the sponge in the jar with the lid was bubbling, not doubling. Whereas the starter which was just fed did not do anything....

Three questions here:
1. when the whey becomes black, is it still good?
2. Once I see the activity going on at the beginning of the process, should I still loosely cover the top or I can actually close the lid? Because now it seems to me that once I trap the wild yeast in the starter, then it should keep making activity on its own without being vented. I heard a couple of times that some people forgot to refrigerate their orange juice and left it in room temperature for some time, the orange juice became wine with the lid tightly closed...
3. What are the reasons that for the first 38 hours the starter did double and have some activity, but not afterwards, while the temperature did reach to 80 degree from time to time?

Thanks

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Old 02-24-2014, 08:52 PM   #2
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Are you talking about sourdough?
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:32 PM   #3
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Yes indeed sourdough. I apologize for not being specific.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:11 PM   #4
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I kept feeding it anyway, and it's actually active now. No more black whey, odd! It getting some bubbles.

one more question: is it only doubling in volume at the beginning, yet later it would bubble and only expand a little and become watery?
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:48 PM   #5
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I have used and kept sourdough in the past. Mine just behaved as expected, so I can't really answer your questions. Hopefully someone with more experience with sourdough will chime in.
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:11 PM   #6
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Thanks Taxlady. By experiencing variants actually has made me learn a lot! All the black whey or non-activity-like-activity just means that I need to give the starter more time, longer time, warmer temperature, and to keep feeding it. Now my starter seems to be on the right track and smells so fruitfully yeasty.

I was able to make bread with the one-week old starter successfully, while saving a small part of the starter and keeping feeding it still. This one week and a few day starter just gets better and more consistent. When the starter was about one week old, it has already pulled everything together like it should have, without separating the whey from the rest starter. Now, I have a consistent gluey stretchy starter that's happy.
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:28 PM   #7
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The only time I ever noticed black whey was when Shrek took the crock out of the fridge (it was in his way) and I found it weeks later. Killed that batch for dang sure, I threw the crock and starter away as I could not handle the smell it had and could not clean it up.
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