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It's finally summer and the daily temperature here is between 75-85 - which I figure is finally good for making my first starter. My concern, though, is that the overnight temperature drops to the 50s. Can I still make a starter on my counter?

My kitchen tends to stay pretty cool until later in the afternoon/evening, if that is useful to know.

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    Think about who was/is referred to as A Sourdough, prospectors, miners and settlers primarily in the NW of US, Canada and up into Alaska. Desert, cool coastal, and flat out cold areas and they often carries sourdough with them greatly contributing to the nickname. To me, dry is more of your enemy than the cool temps. Cool may take you longer to get going, but will give you more or what many of us consider the classic flavor once you get it going. Your starter should populate with local strains which are adapted to survive in you local conditions. – dlb May 30 '17 at 18:03
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Well every yeast strain is a bit different but normally the range is fairly forgiving. Speaking from homebrew side; killing yeast from cold is almost impossible.

Homebrew side; they make electric thermostat controlled blankets to control temperatures; if you are going repeat this a couple times might be worth investment. In beer world; changing the yeast reproduction rates and brew temp can have significant effect on flavour; not sure this applies to sourdough starters at all.

Temperatures:

above 108F - yeast start to die

140F - all yeast dies

below 32F - yeast can die

40F-65F - most yeast strands will be sleeping / dormant

78F - usually optimized production

Now I see optimized production of CO2 change from 10-15 degrees depending yeast strain; some being as high as 100; others being low as 70; but gives a good idea.

  • pH and nitrogen availability also makes a huge difference – user110084 May 30 '17 at 22:32
  • agreed; water is everything in home-brew; not sure how much correlates to sourdough. – zerobane Jun 14 '17 at 22:41
  • speaking from personal experience, the temperature definitely has an effect on flavor. I've grown my starter in various temperatures and humidity levels and I can tell you that the flavor and consistency will vary. – BlackThorn Jul 14 '17 at 19:35
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Yes you can. It may take little longer between feedings but the low temp will not hurt it, just slow it down a little. Maybe feed it every 36 hours for the first two or three times until it is active enough to physically judge its progress. Sourdough starters are kept at cooler temperatures to retard and control their growth. You can even freeze them and they will be fine.

Make sure it has doubled before you feed it and never feed it more than half of its weight.

I.E. if it is 1000 grams then feed it no more then 500 grams total of flour and water in whatever ratio you are feeding.

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I have made several sourdough starters. In short- dont be concerned about the cold- it wont hurt the yeast a bit. Just make sure you keep up with feeding the starter. And DO NOT use a new starter for the first 2 wks. Else you will risk getting sick from it, and it takes about that long to stabilize and get strong enough to use.

Have Fun!

PS: As a side note, after you have established your starter past the two week mark, if you dont bake every day, you can place your starter in the refrigerator for ~1wk at a time, and just feed it once a week.

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