barm refreshment?

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by cyberfish, May 15, 2006.

  1. cyberfish


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    At home cook
    I've seen different instructions for refreshing barm and was wondering if someone could clarify how to decide which is best.

    Peter Reinhart indicates that you double or quadruple the starter every 3 days or so, or every 1-2 days if you want a less sour flavor. Nancy Silverton suggests feeding 3 times a day, and it looks like this ends up being a 7-8 fold increase in weight per day.

    My understanding of this is that you should at least double your starter every 3 days, but can increase the volume/weight by much more and more frequently if the sour taste is not as critical. Within this variation, is there an "optimum" refreshment amount/frequency to keep the starter healthy?

    It seems I finally got some starter to work, and I don't want to kill it!:suprise:
  2. panini


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    We would dbl after 1 1/2 days and dbl at 3 days
    dah! quadruple.sorry. this was quantity though and time did not allow us to feed when our shift was not on.
    hopefully Kyle will pop on and give input.
  3. kylew


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    Home Chef
    If your starter is alive and well, it will be tought to kill. One of the most important considerations is finding a schedule that will work for you. Silverton's thrice daily feedings worked for her because she was running a bakery that had people in the kitchen 24/7. Unless you are going to be using you starter several times a week, there is no need to feed it everyday.

    I keep 2 ounces of storage starter in my fridge. I take it out the morning before I want to bake and let it sit at room temp for an hour or so. Then I add 2 ounces of bread flour and 2 ounces of water (Triple by weight). 10 hours later I add 3 ounces of bread flour and 3 ounces of water (Double by weight). I take 2 ounces of the newly refreshed starter and put it in the fridge.

    10 hours after second feeding the starter is ready to use. It should at least double in volume in that time period. The general rule is that you must at least double, by weight, each time you feed your starter. Id you start out with 2 ounces you need to end up with at least 4. You do not need to use 100% hydration, equal parts by weight flour and water, but you must at least double the weight.

    As to sour flavor, different people have different approaches but here's what works for me. If I want more sour I use a firmer starter and a cooler environment. If I want less sour I use a looser starter and a warmenr environment.