Can a sour dough starter be too active? My starter almost tripled in 4 hours. Should I keep feeding it and when do you know that it is ready?.
Different starters can behave very differently depending on what's growing and the temperature. I'd say it's probably not TOO active.
However, some times sour dough starters can grow really fast in the first one or two days, at this point it is NOT ready. There needs to be a few days for different types of bacteria growing and dying out before you get the right types and balance of bacteria and yeast. Do the following checks before you use starter.
- Has it been at least a week
- does it smell good (should be a light refreshing yeast smell, not a bad smell, if it smell like socks or something, throw it all out and try again)
- does it double consistently after feeding
If all checks out, it's probably ready, if not just keep feeding every day and keep at room temperature
Richard, starters can vary for many reasons from type and age of the yeast, I prefer old fashioned "cake" yeast (which is getting harder to find) or "brewer's" yeast (which has become easier to find with all the interest in "home", "craft" & "artisans" brewing. The water you use can also affect the rate of growth of the yeast, hard or soft water, municipal (chlorine & flouride) can affect as well as altitude. So basically unless there is an "off smell or color" you will probably be OK. Don't put your jar lid on too tight, the yeast is "alive" and growing which means it is giving of carbon dioxide and can build up pressure if the lid is too tight. Your bread dough probably will not double near as fast and your starter will settle down with age, you might want to use a larger jar or container until you learn what to expect. Good luck and watch out if your neighbors smell that delicious San Francisco aroma of baking Sourdough bread, they may be knocking at your door!