Bringing to life and maintaining a sourdough starter is no easy task...so read below to check if you are following these 3 tips.
1) You are what you eat - this applies to any living organism, not just us. And if you don't already know, a sourdough starter is a living organism too. It's a simbiotic relationship of yeasts and bacteria... and let me tell you... they like GOOD food too :)
You might be wondering now... what do I mean with good food?
Flour that is not BLEACHED or BROMATED. So check your labels, read the flour that you are buying. One flour brand you can find at most stores is King Arthur, but any flour that is not bleached or bromated is fine. If you can get fresh flours, that is even better! (check out www.castlevalleymill in Doylestown, PA or if you want to mill your grains check out https://pleasanthillgrain.com/food/grains-legumes-seeds)
2) Temperature - they thrive in nice warm weather!
The ideal temperature to keep your sourdough starter is around 75°F-80°F. With these temperature in 24 hours it can rise, and get to its peak. If the place where you keep the starter is colder, it will just take longer for the starter to rise. On the other hand if its too warm, it will rise too fast.
One good way to control the temperature, is to play with the water temperature that you put in. So if it's too warm, try adding colder water, and the other way around if it's too cold.
The idea to have the starter in its ideal temperature is to have a good balance of complex flavors (acidity and sourness) which you will start recognizing once you start baking and learning more about your starter.
3) Time - nothing good happens fast
Sourdough takes time... developing complex flavors, and fermenting the flour, takes time too. Therefore, we need to wait, look and learn how our starter works to start getting good results.
A good tip so know if you starter is rising, is to use a sharpie, to mark where your starter starts right after you feed it. This way, you can easily recognize if its rising. If in 24 hours you don't see it doubling in size... check the above 2 tips! the starter might be too cold, or you are not feeding it the right food.
If on the other hand, its rising too fast and going crazy, try adding colder water next time. Or letting it rise in a colder spot.
If you are struggling with your starter, try getting a digital food thermometer, to measure its temperature, and that could start taking you to the right direction...
Hope you are growing healthy starter's :)