Hello, and welcome to being a Chunglet parent! This is a quick-start guide to help your new yeasty child settle in quickly and painlessly.
- Your Chunglet arrived in a securely wrapped plastic container. Think of this container like a car seat – it’s designed only for short term transportation. You’ll need to make sure you have a suitable longer-term place for your Chunglet to live, eat, and grow. We recommend a wide-mouthed, screw-topped jar, like this Kilner wide-mouthed 0.5L preserve jar. The container should be at least three times as large as the Chunglet. Plastic containers will also work, but you want to avoid anything air-tight. A few holes poked in a plastic lid should suffice.
- Your Chunglet deserves a name, and to have its birthday noted for future reference. It may also deserve a wardrobe, but that’s up to you. If it does, I deserve photos.
- Your Chunglet will be hungry when it arrives at its new home! Within a few days, you should feed them as follows:
- Transfer them to a clean bowl. You can discard or reuse their ‘car seat’, or save it to share some of your Chunglet with another in the future.
- Add 100ml of room-temperature water. Filtered is nice but not essential. Don’t use water hotter than 35 Celsius / 100 Fahrenheit; it might kill off the yeast.
- Then add 100g of flour. Any type of flour is fine, and the variety of flour you use will impact its growth speed. Whole grain flours like rye will take longer but produce more complex flavours. Chungus is fed unbleached organic all purpose flour, for comparison.
- The exact measurements aren’t critical, what’s important is the ratio of water to flour. You want it to be even.
- Once thoroughly combined (a whisk is a great way to do this) pour all the starter into their new home. You might want to mark where on the container the just-fed starter reaches. A rubber band or a piece of opaque tape works well. This will help you measure their rise.
- If you aren’t able to feed your Chunglet right away, store them in the refrigerator. They may separate a bit, creating a floating pool of liquid atop a denser mix. It may smell intensely of yeast. This is fine, and common. Just give them a good stir before you transfer them and give them their first feeding. There’s no need to pour off the liquid if you don’t want to, but you can if you’d prefer to.
- Your Chunglet will take roughly three or four days to consume its first feeding and double in size. It will leave a ‘high water mark’ on its jar, and then start to shrink back to approximately the same size as it started when fed. This is normal. If you marked the jar, you can compare its rise height to it base height more easily.
- Approximately one week from its feeding, your Chunglet will have completed a full growth / reduction cycle, and be ready for another feeding. If you store your Chunglet in the refrigerator, you can feed it as little as once every week to 10 days. This is a good cycle for if you only want to use the discard for baking about that often, and minimizes waste. If you’d like to bake more often, you can store it on a countertop or other cool dry out of the way place, and the cycle will complete in a shorter period of time.
- Once your Chunglet has had its first feeding and a cycle has passed, congratulations – you’re ready to bake! Here’s what you’ll want to do next:
- Empty all the mature starter into a bowl and weigh it. You’ll need to reserve at least 30g of this starter to feed, return to its jar, and regrow.
- I also recommend you completely empty the jar and give it a good wash in hot water. I don’t use soap, just a clean bottle brush for any of the starter that may have dried up the sides.
- The remaining mature starter can be used in whatever recipe you have in mind. This is the bread recipe I prefer, but there are endless possibilities: waffles, pancakes, focaccia, etc.
- If you find you don’t have enough mature starter after a feeding cycle, you can ‘bulk’ your Chunglet by increasing the amount of flour and water at its weekly feeding. I prefer to do this over two feedings, as the first batch of mature starter after a bulk may have a less intense flavor (so feeding 1, increase volume but don’t bake with it; feeding 2, use this mature discard).
Please let us know how your Chunglet settles in, and the many wonderful and tasty items they create!