One of the most common kitchen problems is dealing with a soggy, lifeless piece of bread. You just finished working day and night on a light, fluffy loaf that was practically begging to be enjoyed.
Then, out of nowhere, you come home to find it sitting in your fridge like an alien from another planet. Even thought it’s been two hours since you threw it in the oven, your loaves are still wet. This is known as ‘sourdough sticking’ and it happens when your sourdough starter sticks to the surface of your bread, making it impossible for the yeast inside to rise.
It is common for sourdough starters to get moldy over time and this can cause some of the bacteria present to produce lactic acid instead of enzymes needed by yeast to do its job.
This can end up with your starter smelling a little funky or something similar depending on how much your starter has gone downhill. Fortunately, there are ways around this annoying problem. Here we will look at what causes soggy bread and how you can prevent it from happening again if you catch sagging dough early enough.
What causes sourdough to stick to cloth?
There are a number of reasons why your sourdough starter may start to smell funky and cling to the sides of your bread. The most common ones are byproducts of the starter itself, such as airborne bacteria that have found their way into your bowl.
Some other reasons include: The type of flour you are using. Some flours contain proteins that can cause sourdough to stick excessively. The temperature at which you store your bread.
If the bread is too cold, the yeast will not have enough enzymes to rise and will settle at the bottom of the loaf, allowing the sourdough to stick to the cloth.
If the bread is too warm, the yeast will have a hard time starting the process and may even die off entirely.
Can’t tell your starter from your wild yeast
Sourdough bread is a type of bread that is fermented with wild yeast rather than commercial yeast that is added at the end of the process.This means that you do not create the same amount of lifts and bubbles when eating sourdough bread as you do with yeast bread.
One of the most common issues that the sourdough bread community faces is the inability to tell their starter from wild yeast. Wild yeast refers to the millions of yeast species that are present in our planet’s ecosystems. They are found in every nook and cranny of the food supply, meaning that wild yeast is present in everything from our clothes to our bread.
Most of us are used to the fact that sourdough bread is made with wild yeast and do not mind much. However, it is crucial to be able to distinguish the wild yeast from the sourdough starter.
If you are not able to tell them apart, the bread will taste sour but will not have the light and fluffy texture that comes with yeast bread. This means that you need to have a better understanding of what goes into making sourdough bread.
Storing and feeding your starter
It may surprise you to know that sourdough bread starter can last up to six months when it’s well-fed and stored in an airtight container. It’s also important to remember that you can feed your starter throughout the week and store it in the fridge.
With regular feeding and storing, your sourdough starter will continue to produce beneficial bacteria, yeast and enzymes that will allow the yeast to multiply and produce delicious bread for you.
If you have a sourdough starter that has been fed and well-stored for a few weeks, you should be able to smell it. If you can’t, then it’s possible that you have wild yeast growing in your starter. If you feed, smell and don’t see any signs of sourdough activity, you can assume that the starter is wild yeast.
How long do you need to store your starter?
Pre-fermented sourdough will last in your fridge for 1-3 months. Freshly fed sourdough has a shelf-life of 6-9 months. After that, it will start to become stale, losing its nutritional value and flavor.
Some of you may be wondering, “If sourdough starters can last up to 6 months, how come some of your sourdough loaves are only lasting a couple of days?” When it comes to sourdough loaves, timing is everything.
You must feed your starter, let it ferment for a few hours, and then use the dough to make a loaf. You can store the starter for an extended period of time, but the yeast will die off if it is not used within a week.
Keeping a healthy, fed and active sourdough culture
A sourdough starter will live on as long as it is fed well and has a healthy, active culture. The starter will die off as soon as it is not fed and does not have a good micro-environment for the yeast to grow in. The most common way people store their sourdough starter is in the fridge.
While this is fine for the starter, you can actually extend the life of your sourdough by leaving it at room temperature. There are two ways you can keep your starter at room temperature. First, you can leave it in a bowl on the counter with a wet towel underneath it. This will let the starter breath, which will help the yeast multiply quicker.
Avoiding soggy bread: the basics of preventing sourdough sticking
- Feed your starter before storing it. Feed it every day for a few hours. If you forget to feed it, you can feed it again the following day.
- Use your starter as soon as you can. Let the yeast work its magic as soon as you feed your starter.
- Make your bread using the starter as soon as you can. Do not store the bread, and do not let it sit in the fridge.
- Make sure that you use your starter the same day you make it. – Do not use more flour than what is needed to make the bread.
- Do not make the bread in advance. Keep it in the fridge or on the counter.
- You can freeze your bread, but only if it is not used the same day it is made.
- Do not make other types of bread with your starter.
- Do not make pizza with your starter. It may become too wet and soggy.
- If you notice that your bread is soggy, then you need to feed your starter. It may have gone bad from too much leavening.
Wrapping it up
It is recommended to store your starter in the fridge. If you store it in the freezer, then make sure that it is not frozen solid. If you want to keep your starter for a longer period of time, then make sure that it is fed often. You can feed your starter with a spoon or a whisk if you do not have a special starter feeder. You can use any type of flour for making bread with your starter. A lot of people use their starter as an ingredient in other recipes such as pancakes, muffins and cookies.