Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you may want to try creating your own sourdough starter from scratch. Baking bread from scratch is satisfying in its own right, but when you’ve also had a hand in the creation of one of the most fundamental components, the leavening agent itself, you’ll feel an even greater satisfaction and connectedness to the process.

Are there kids in your house? This little science project is ideally suited to sharing with any children you can convince to join in. Culture their budding scientific minds while creating your own bread culture.

This video outlines one simple method that worked for me the first time I tried it. In the video, I give credit for this technique to Peter Reinhart. It has since come to my attention that Debra Wink, a chemist and accomplished baker, is the mastermind and author of this Pineapple Juice Technique. A lot of research and testing went into developing and refining the technique. The choice of pineapple juice over other juices is from much trial and error. Debra was kind enough to email her essay on the Pineapple Juice Technique. Click here for a printable copy of it.

As I mention in the video, the wild yeast spores and lactic-acid bacteria that give your starter its leaving properties are all around you. You are simply creating the conditions ideally suited for them to thrive and multiply. I used whole wheat flour in this recipe because fresh whole wheat flour may harbor greater numbers of yeast spores than ordinary all-purpose flour and so increase your likelihood for success. It worked for me, so you might try the same. If, at any time, you wish to transition your whole wheat sourdough starter to a regular white flour starter, it’s super easy to do so.

I’ve listed the ingredients and approximate steps here to save you the note taking.

  • Step 1. Mix 3 ½ tbs. whole wheat flour with ¼ cup unsweetened pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for 48 hours at room temperature. Stir vigorously 2-3x/day. (“Unsweetened” in this case simply means no extra sugar added).
  • Step 2. Add to the above 2 tbs. whole wheat flour and 2 tbs. pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for a day or two. Stir vigorously 2-3x/day. You should see some activity of fermentation within 48 hours. If you don’t, you may want to toss this and start over (or go buy some!)
  • Step 3. Add to the above 5 ¼ tbs. whole wheat flour and 3 tbs. purified water. Cover and set aside for 24 hours.
  • Step 4. Add ½ cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 to 1/3 cup purified water. You should have a very healthy sourdough starter by now.

Notes: I do wonder if the fact that I bake all the time with a sourdough starter (and so theoretically have wild yeast floating around our house by the gazillions and covering everything we own) would increase the likelihood that I would have success creating my own sourdough culture from scratch. So I anxiously await feedback from anyone who attempts this process at home. (You’ll see a nifty little form below for comments and feedback. If you’re shy; you can use the Contact link at the top of the page. While I may report your (mis)adventures, I’ll keep your identity anonymous ;).

{ 2017 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob January 10, 2013 at 6:44 am

Can I use this starter in my bread machine I make alot of pizza dough for the kids Bob

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Christine Hunt January 11, 2013 at 11:39 am

Hi Bob, I don’t have a bread machine so I’ve never tried this. If memory serves there have been some discussions in the comment section about this and the answer was “yes”. Obviously you wouldn’t bake the dough in a machine as you can’t get the temp you would in the oven but if you are looking for a way to mix it without the elbow work your bread machine should do the job. You might check through the comments just to be sure.

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Tom January 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Bob,
I have been making pizza crusts daily for over three weeks now. I make two at a time using Eric’s recipe from his video on this site (sourdough pizza crust). I gave lots of them away as gifts this year and have frozen a few. The frozen ones are just as good as the fresh made ones. I take it out of the freezer in the morning before leaving for work and make pizza that night.

I don’t have a bread machine but I don’t see why you couldn’t make the dough with one removing before the bake cycle. I enjoy the feel of the dough and the “work out” helps with stress! See the video to see what I mean.

Tomtato puree makes wonderful sauce. I add Penzey’s pizza spices, salt and olive oil to the puree and cook for about 30 minutes or so. I’ve made over a case of pint jars at one time as the “Pizza Kit” was quite the rage for holiday gifts this year.
Tom

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Denise January 10, 2013 at 12:49 am

Hello, you have a great website. I was watching the video you have on creating a sourdough starter that you said you got from Peter Reinhart. I got one of his books for Christmas called Artisan breads everyday fast and easy recipes for world class breads. I made the starter he had in the book and its like a dough, really this. This starter that you made is a lot thinner. Is it from another one of his books? Thanks a bunch
Denise

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Breadtopia January 10, 2013 at 5:09 am

Thanks, Denise.

It was so long ago, I can’t remember. I can barely remember what happened yesterday ;-).

But there couldn’t be much difference anyway. Add some flour to stiffen yours up and you’d have the same thing.

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Denise January 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Thanks for responding. And I can barely remember what I did yesterday to, lol. My starter that I’m using is thick like dough. He has you knead it. I tried it with your no knead sourdough recipe and the dough was really wet. I’m going to try less water and less proofing time like you suggested. I just thought since my starter was so thick, I was just confused I did something wrong. Btw, I’m a new bread maker. :)

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Anne January 6, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Thank you so much for posting this recipe. When I told my daughter that I had to feed my starter, she said it sounded as though it were a pet. I have named it “Bubbles.” I started it more than a month ago and it is doing wonderfully well!

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Charles Dye January 3, 2013 at 6:52 pm

My wifes mother had a sourdough starter for over 50years and lost it a couple years ago. we wanted some of our own but never got it from her. We have a few friends we could get some from but I decided to make a new batch from scratch that could be in the family for a long time. this process seemed easy and straight forward, so I tried it. It worked GREAT! now I have a starter that will grow with our family. Thanks for the instructions, and the video was a great help also.
Thanks so much,
Western slope of Colorado

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Breadtopia January 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm

That’s great to hear.

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Judy January 3, 2013 at 9:13 am

I finally made your sourdough pancake recipe, and we loved it! We have a tradition of having pancakes while watching the Rose Parade.

I’ve had the recipe in my files for a number of years, and finally used it. THANKS1

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Breadtopia January 3, 2013 at 10:40 am

That’s my kind of tradition.

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susan December 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

Eric,
Thanks so much for your starter and instructions. I live in Boulder, CO a mile high and dry air, so wasn’t sure I could make a wild yeast starter. Now between days 4-5 and it looks just like yours…bubbly, elastic yeast. Can hardly wait to start baking!
Yum!
Susan

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Dan December 30, 2012 at 11:14 am

60 hours in and we have irrefutable signs of life! Following directions exactly, but for the fact that I used white, unbleached, bread flour.

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Christopher Walker December 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

Fantastic recipe for starter. I used the pineapple juice I had on hand and a mix of in bleached white flour and King Arthur. I live in a 1930 home and have been waiting to take advantage of the yeasts that remain floating in the air here. A very aggressive starter!! Added a teaspoon of dried malt to the mix. Looking forward to first loaf with this starter. Thank you!

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Linda December 12, 2012 at 11:36 am

I came across your site via a google search as I was looking for a sourdough wheat starter. I made the starter exactly as you said and it turned out perfect. I am making (as I type) my first loaf of sourdough whole wheat bread. It took me a while to find a recipe I liked, but I did and am hoping it turns out well.

I have two questions: First, can you or someone tell me the proportions of water and flour to feed my starter? Is it 1 cup flour to 1/2 cup water? And can I do less, like 2/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup water? My recipe calls for 2/3 cup starter.
Secondly, does anyone have a good recipe for honey whole wheat sourdough bread, and if so, would you share?
Thank you all!
~Linda~

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Reese Bolinger December 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Hey, Everyone:

I decided to try making the pineapple juice starter following the recipe here since I like whole grain baking but didn’t have a starter grown on whole wheat flour.

I followed the instructions exactly and it behaved just how you described, Eric. I got some light frothiness at the end of Day 3 and extremely robust growth on Day 4 and beyond.

My starter DOES have one technical problem, however. That is that it is TOO active and goes dormant rather quickly. It triples in volume about 2 to 3 hours after feeding and is starting to fall by 6 to 8 hours after feeding. It smells as it should: like bread with an acidic tang and a hint of alcohol after it’s started to fall.

I’ve made 2 loaves of spelt/kamut sourdough using it so far. The first one with the long overnight proof didn’t rise much at all on the second rise. The second loaf which I let rise only 6 hours for the first rise came out OK, though with not as irregular of hole size as I like. It was delicious, regardless.

So I’m curious how other people’s starters behave in terms of burst time and how large of a peak leavening time window your starters seem to have. I’m considering making the starter again with a different whole wheat flour source. I made this one with organic whole wheat bread flour from the bins at a local health food store.

Thanks in advance!

Reese

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SixBalloons December 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Hi Reese, is it possible your house is warm and the yeasties eat everything up too quickly and lose their oomph? I have been having success putting my starter in the fridge, even right after a feed. I also proof the sourdough mix in th fridge for two to four days, it gives me good oven spring, which is all i really care about.

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Reese December 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Thanks for the reply, SixBalloons. No, the room temperature doesn’t seem to be a likely problem since it runs an even 70 degrees in my kitchen. There are millions of species of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that can make sourdough and different combinations will behave differently. Sourdoughs International talks about having the same problem that I’m having with their Russian starter (it bursts very quickly but only has a few hours window of optimal activity) while their New Zealand starter has a really long window of functional activity. I’m making some starter using King Arthur flours whole wheat flour as we speak to see how it differs in behavior from the other one.

On an unrelated note: An interesting factoid about sourdough is that you can control how sour it by adjusting your proofing temperature. The lactic acid bacteria prefer a warmer temperature (around 90 degrees) while the wild yeast prefer cooler temperatures, So if any of you are looking for a really sour bread, try letting your bread rise for a few hours at a warm temperature then switch it to a cooler temperature for the rest of the rise.

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SONIA MISTLEDINE December 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm

is that a metal spoon and whisk? all the other sites says not to use

metal. i’ve tried a lot of recipes, which i have fail in all of them.

ill try this one too. im bound and determined im going to do this.

ive spent a small fortune on sugar, flour and yeast. i live in Dothan,

Alabama i dont know if that has anything to do with it or not.

im bad to air out my apt. i open windows and the doors and let the

fresh air in. should i not do this? waiting for answers. thank you

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SixBalloons December 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm

No problems using metal utensils in my starter adventures.

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Tom December 10, 2012 at 11:17 am

Hi Sonia,
I made a few batches of yeast rolls over Thanksgiving to add wild yeast to the air in my kitchen. I also made a couple of batches of No Knead bread.

After that I made the starter and put it in my oven with the lights on for heat. Worked just fine. I’ve been making pizza crust to feed the starter and get it good a “sour” before I make bread with it. Just thought it would be best to test drive it for a few weeks before actually making bread. It’s very active.

I take it out the night before I’m going to feed it to come up to room temperature and then feed it first thing in the morning. After that I make the crusts, and usually we’re eating around 6 or 7pm while the b-ball game is on Saturdays.

Go Tarheels!
Tom
Hurdle Mills, NC

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Linda T December 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I wanted to try the pineapple starter recipe because the starters u have tried did not work. The consistency was wrong and the taste and smell did not seem right. I followed the directions on your website and am proud to say that the starter looks, smells and tastes wonderful!! Thank you for the recipe and information that helped make this starter a success in my kitchen. Linda

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Robin November 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I just completed day 5 of the instructions, and have what seems like a healthy starter! Thank you so much for your instructions.

I actually modified it a bit, because I didn’t have pineapple juice, or purified water on hand. I have well water, which is very good quality, so I decided to go ahead and use it, and I substituted lemon juice, using a bit less than the recipe calls for (I figured it would be higher in ascorbic acid than the pineapple juice). At first it did not seem to be working, so I made the effort to get some pineapple juice, which I used for the 2nd feeding.

All seems to have worked out anyway, now looking forward to doing some baking!

Take care,
Robin
Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC

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Tammy S. Weibel November 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I have successfully made a wheat sourdough starter from the above instructions and I have also successfully converted a bit of the wheat into a healthy white starter.

I am traveling and just attempted a starter with all purpose white flour and pineapple juice for a friend. With my hectic schedule I got mixed up and fed the poor thing wrong amounts (too much too fast and such). It is now day 5 and it is a bubbling beauty. I really believe the pineapple juice and using only purified water (no well or tap) is the key to this simple starter process.

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Tom November 28, 2012 at 9:21 am

Finishing my starter tonight. All has gone well so far. I used white breadflour instead of whole wheat.

Question! After step 4 do I leave it out overnight or two days and then refigerate?

Also, I would like to bake with it this weekend. Say pancakes or pizza dough. Do I need to feed and let sit out over night prior to baking or use what is now the starter and then feed after baking?

Never worked with a starter before so I’m hoping for a little hand holding here.
Tom
Hurdle Mills, NC

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Tammy S. Weibel November 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Tom,

When I use my starter I take it out and feed it the night before. I feed it approximately as much as I will need to use.

This has worked well for me.

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mark November 28, 2012 at 6:03 am

day 2 an hour after feeding i am seeing small bubbles, wonder if thats just the air i wisked in coming out?

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Breadtopia November 28, 2012 at 6:25 am

Time will tell.

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mark November 29, 2012 at 4:29 am

day 3 , i have bubbles and an odor going on,and its not me lol, debating if i should move on to the next step or wait till tomorrow morning?

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mark December 2, 2012 at 4:45 am

took a while longer then i thought, but i have starter, thanks !

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MARK December 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Day 9 , starter is doubling in size in 5-6 hours, i think ill be baking sourdough bread this weekend!

Thanks eric!

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MARK December 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm

gonna try using my home made starter for the first time with some no knead sourdough bread tonight, wish me luck!

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MARK December 8, 2012 at 8:55 am

best loaf i have ever made to date !

Kim November 25, 2012 at 8:53 am

I have had success using Hodgson Mill Organic Soy Flour with the recipe/ procedure you described. . .

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Andi November 15, 2012 at 2:45 am

Worked like a charm! I used regular organic stone ground whole wheat flour and by the 48-hr time, lil bubbles were starting to form! yay! Thanks so much for such a detailed and descriptive starter. I hope more have succes as I have…..now, to make some bread this weekend!

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Andi December 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Update: just made another starter using these methods but using gluten free all purpose flour. Now my lil one can enjoy some yummy gluten-free sourdough bread with us!

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Kathy December 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

Andi: I tried to make a gluten-free stater using Red Mill’s all purpose flour, which is garbanzo beans. Nothing! Flat! Did you make your own gluten-free flour from rice flour/potato starch, etc. then use that? I was also thinking of using some of my regular starter, which is awesome, but feeding it with gluten-free flour a few times and see if that does the trick. Let me know what you’ve done and how your starter has turned out, okay? Thanks!!

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Andi December 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Hi Kathy, I too, am using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. It’s a mix of garbanzo beans, potato starch, tapioca, sorghum, & fava bean flours. First time, you gotta watch it cuz it did mold, it seems like it cultured a day sooner than the whole wheat. So I dumped that batch, started over, kept an eye on it and proceeded through the steps as indicated but if it was ready, added in extra flour/juice/water at that time. I hope this helps! I hope to eventually grind up our own gluten free flours, I think it would be even better!

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Kathy December 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Andi: My son, who has the gluten issues is also allergic to legumes. He has an immediate reaction when eating the Red Mill all-purpose with the garbanzo beans. Today I discovered King Arthur gluten-free, all purpose flour (not baking mix). It contains rice flour/potato starch, etc., the recipe I’ve always seen when referring to gluten-free flour. I still need to buy xanthum gum, it is not in the mix. When I do, I’ll give that a try and let you know how it goes! Thanks for your help!

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Andi December 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Good luck! Yes, please let us know how it works out :)

venne November 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Thanks for sharing this, iam wondering if this is exactly wut we need to make russian black sour bread….anyone good recipes for making sour russian black bread in america? never see any similar black bread here as same sour as i tried in russian-_-

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Nichole November 1, 2012 at 11:17 am

I tried this method using 2 types of flour (separately as a scientific experiment). I was curious if the flavor would be different in the bread given different yeasts in different flours. So I used a local farmers market ground wheat and an organic whole wheat flour. Sad to say the organic whole wheat flour flopped, but my farmers market one has been perfect. It has super doubling powers and Im so excited! The other flour not sure why but never did anything and now it smells bad so I threw it out. The other smells like alcohol and has a sour smell. Yay! So excited to bake bread :) Glad I started 2 starters to begin with though.

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Darcy (vivien) October 24, 2012 at 10:44 am

Hi All at Breadtopia,
I found your week site last week and have been growing my own sourdough starter. Yeasty (sorry had to give it a name) started really well and I now have finished the starter process……I am wheat, gluten and dairy intolerant so I used a bread gluten free flour mix to make the starter. It isn’t as elastic as yours but that is because there isn’t any gluten. It is very bubbly and you can see that it has increased in size by as much as x3 (glass container).
I’m making my gluten-free sourdough bread as we speak and I will attach a photo in due time.

However, I’ve looked at your website and I can’t find how to feed Yeasty? Do I feed every day, every other day, where do I store it fridge or room temperature? I don’t want to kill it so please advise…i’m going to put it in the fridge for now (how it doesn’t die)!!
Any help would be much appreciated!!

Darcy’s Delicious Treats

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Christine Hunt October 24, 2012 at 11:47 am

Hello Darcy,
The frig works well if you aren’t baking daily. I keep mined refrigerated until I’m ready to bake, remove, feed, wait a few hours and do my baking.
I have wondered if I can use the cold starter for a sponge or just add it to my recipe and feed it that way…anybody tried it?
If you decide to leave it out you should feed daily or at the very least every other day. Keep in mind if you aren’t baking your starter will continue to “grow” with each feeding. Eventually you will need to discard it or do some serious baking!
I recommend the No Knead recipe on this site to all! I tried it for the first time yesterday. Amazing! Thanks to Breadtopia for that!
Christine

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Kathy October 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

Darcy!
I will be anxious to hear of your results, please. My son is gluten intolerant and has been dying for me to find a sourdough recipe that’s gluten-free. Did you use the Florapan starter or just try the regular starter recipe and subsitute gluten-free flour?

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Darcy (vivien) October 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Thanks for the comments Christine and Kathy!

Kathy,
I used Doves (UK) Bread mix of gluten free flours (rice flour, potato flour and tapioca flour with xanthum gum (hope that didn’t interfere with any thing!)) and fresh pineapple that I prepared and cut into slices, keeping all the juices off the plate (I sterlized it first…down-side of being an ex-scientist). I bake gluten-free bread all the time so I suspect there is a lot of natural yeast floating about in my house….we will have to wait and see how the bread rises…just knocked it back!
Darcy’s Delicious Treats

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Roundman October 24, 2012 at 2:55 am

May be I had an advantage. I am a retired truck driver who is a very well established home brewer. I am also the son of a baker, and have made bread at home for years, but never sourdough. Sourdough was not a big thing here, Down Under. (Australia) My Man Shed out the back is where I do all my baking and brewing. My sourdough starter took off like the Space Shuttle, the wild yeast in the air must have been full on. Only up to day four, and starter is most impressive, can’t wait for day twelve, make a few loaves and a lunch of “Salami on Sour”.

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Kristen October 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I am on the last part of step two- its been 30 hours… it looks flat to me but my house is cold (65 degrees). When I add ingredients it bubbles up and froths, but then sinks back down. I used whole wheat flour and fresh squeeze pineapple juice. Any ideas of what could be happening?
Thanks

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Kristen October 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm

also, i have not kept my starter in an airtight jar. It just has a cloth over the top of it. Does this make a difference?
Thanks

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SixBalloons October 21, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I would keep going. I saw only minor bubbles after steps 1 and 2 but it really took off after steps 3 and 4. Your cloth cover should be just fine!

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Elizabeth October 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Help! I think something is wrong with my starter. It behaved beautifully on day three and day four. I started getting foamy as soon as I added the flour and juice atstep two and by day 4 it had almost tripled in size before I stirred it. It had also begun to aquire that wonderful yeasty smell. Then this morning when I went to complete step three, the starter still looked good, but when I smelled it, it smelled REALLY sour with a faint whiff of alcohol and none of that yeasty smell I had the day before. It’s gotten more alcoholic smelling as the day has progressed and while there are bubbles in the mixture still, it does not seem to be as sponge-like as it was before. I live in Southwest Florida and its still very much summer here. My kitchen is about 75 degrees. Could the higher temperature have anything to do with it? Is it a total waste or does a really healthy sourdough starter have an alcoholic smell to it?

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Elizabeth October 21, 2012 at 6:18 am

After doing some research, my husband and I decided my starter had developed hooch. There was no seperation of liquid on day 4 but my husband did say he saw a dark liquid on day 2. I didn’t really think about it and was just stirring the starter three times a day as it didn’t occur to me that brand new starter could become food starved that quickly. I went ahead to step 5 last night instead of waiting the full 24 hours and then put the starter in the refrigerator to slow down the yeast activity. This morning, it was as active as ever and had doubled in size. The alcohol smell was still there but was not near as strong. I spooned out half of the starter and then fed it again. That was about 45 minutes ago and it is well on its way to doubling again on my counter. Hopefully next time I smell the starter, it will have that lovely yeasty scent and no more alcohol. :) I was really suprised how vigorous my starter became in such a short amount of time since so many of these posts have to do with delayed reactions. I used King Arthur whole wheat flour that had been opened a while. Maybe extra yeast made its way into the bag during that time. My husband also homebrews. Its been three weeks since he’s been working with brewers yeast in our kitchen, but maybe that’s floating around too!

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Reese Bolinger October 24, 2012 at 7:29 am

I’ve been playing with sourdough cultures for some time and, yes, you probably have hooch developing which is natural. The alcohol is a normal product of yeast fermentation. I’ve personally only ever done the organic flour and water method of wild yeast collection so I’m less familiar with the fruit juice methods.

I’m new to the site so appologies for any repetitions here. If you notice that the vigor of your starter is dropping off, it’s usually that the culture has become too acidic from the action of the lactic acid bacteria that works in concert with the treat to give the sour taste and make the yeast happy and make the environment hostile to undesirable microbes.

You can do a wash to reduce the acidity by adding enough purified water to make the culture pretty thin, dumping out all but about a cup of the culture then adding about 1/2 cup water and enough of whatever flour you are using to make it into a thick batter consistency which should reinvigorate the yeast.

Unless the culture smells really foul, it’s generally fine.

Hope my rambling helps!

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tjb3 October 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I am wanting to get a starter going. My house is usually 65 degrees. Is this too cold or should I put the starter in my oven with the lights on.

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Breadtopia October 18, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Cool temps are fine but putting in a warm place should speed the whole process along.

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Roni October 15, 2012 at 11:57 pm

I kinda used sweetened pineapple juice on my starter by mistake! It’s the third day and it seems like it’s working but… Should I just throw it out and start over or should it still theoretically be ok?

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Breadtopia October 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm

A little late here, but no need to toss. If it hasn’t worked by now though, you might consider starting over. Even when you do everything right, sometimes it just doesn’t work. Although there’s no “right” anyway, as there’s a zillion variations in making starter. It’s all basically mixing flour and water and waiting.

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Dan October 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

Sugar is a more digestible form of carbohydrate then flour. It seems that the bacteria you want to grow in the starter should ferment faster when you add sugar. Only thing I’d do differently would be to do the next feeding earlier, before the starter starves itself. Please post your results. I would like to know if adding sugar to the starter speed is a reliable way to cut down the time to grow the next batch of starter. I used up most of my 16-20 oz jar of starter with every load of bread, and keep only about an inch or so at the bottom of the jar for building up the next batch. I’d like to be able to use them earlier and give the dough more time to develop the sour taste.

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Roni October 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I didn’t throw it out at the end, just started a new one without sugar in another bowl.
The starter that had sugar in it developed much faster even though I never thought of feeding it earlier. I just treated it the same way I did my normal starter and it was bubbly and frothy and had a starter-y texture after one feeding (50 hours or so total). I used it to make a small loaf of bread on the fourth day, just to test it out, because I wasn’t sure if I should keep it at all, and it came out fine. It tasted like a more “mature” sourdough than I’d expected. It wasn’t “sweet” or anything either, by the way…

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Andrew October 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Wow, after day 4, my started didn’t double, it tripled in size over night! Can’t wait to use it in a recipe, thanks for giving me directions on how to create it.

ps. i used organic rye flour instead of whole wheat.

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Andrew October 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm

dammit, i followed your sourdough recipie exactly and i cooked it at the right temp for the right amount of time, it smelt so amazing, but after the 45 minutes, it was glue inside, most of it wasn’t even cooked and it didnt smell sour AT ALL, what have i done wrong

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Breadtopia October 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm

One possibility is your oven is not baking as hot as the temp it’s set to. Do you have an instant read thermometer you can use to measure the dough temp? They’re super handy. If you get a 205-210 reading, chances are the bread is done and no glue.

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Carrie October 15, 2012 at 4:38 am

My first loaf did NOT rise. Total bummer. The taste, however, is very hearty and delicious. I had fed my starter the day before, it rose and bubbled through the next day. I added the amount the recipe I was using called for. However, during kneading, it never did pass the windowpane test. Can anyone talk to me about this? At what point after feeding my starter is it viable to use in the recipe? Any kneading suggestions? I am using a lot of different websites, perhaps that is why I am not having any consistency. Thanks!

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Reese Bolinger October 24, 2012 at 10:23 am

Hey there. A good rule of thumb is when your starter rises roughly 2-3″ in its storage jar after about 2 hours after its been fed, it’s good to go. The caveat is that not every culture behaves the same or is as strong a leavener.

As far a kneading goes, I’ve found you get the best texture if you keep the dough pretty wet so it’s still pretty sticky. Almost as wet as the no-knead breads. There is also some fairly recent information that you’ll get better results with sourdough by using flour that is lower in gluten than bread flour: the wild yeast is simply not as robust as commercial domesticated yeast. You could try substituting some of your flour with all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour.

Ed Wood, who runs Sourdoughs International, did a big study on how wild yeast performs with flour of all different types and grades. There was a fair amount of variability depending on specific culture, what it was isolated on, etc. But in general he found most sourdoughs perform best with softer wheat rather than hard. His website if you haven’t looked at it is http://www.sourdo.com.

Hope that helps.

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SixBalloons October 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I am on day 3 of the pineapple juice starter and I saw some frothiness this morning! Question for Eric, for your basic sourdough NKB, do you use this whole wheat starter or do you keep a white starter for that recipe?

I have been baking the yeast NKBs all summer thanks to your great site. People look at me in utter disbelief when I try to explain how simple the recipe is…! I am so hopeful about conquering sourdough.

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Breadtopia October 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I use white starter because that’s what I typically have on hand. But it works perfectly well to use whole wheat starter.

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Andrew October 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm

“Step 4. Add ½ cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 to 1/3 cup purified water. You should have a very healthy sourdough starter by now.”

so after you add that flour and water, is that when you can use that as the starter to bake bread straight away? or how long do you leave it after step 4 before using it in a recipe?

also when i store my starter in the fridge, i know you have to feed it once a week, but how much flour/water do you feed it?

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SixBalloons October 14, 2012 at 10:38 am

Andrew, I am no expert but I believe you would be able to use it right then… You have a healthy starter at that point.

There is a video on managing starters which answers your question. Double the volume with every feed.

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Jennifer October 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Hi Andrew,

You can start using it to bake bread when your starter doubles in volume after a feed. If it doesn’t double in volume, then it’s not ready to double the volume for your bread dough either.

Jennifer

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Brian October 13, 2012 at 5:07 am

On the 5th day of my white AP flour/pineapple juice starter, it appears to have failed. I’ve seen maybe 5-10 BB size bubbles throughout the whole process, nothing close to what the video has shown. It would get that elastic feeling at times, and even had a sour smell until this last round of added flour. But no serious activity. Should I abandon?
Thank you in advance for any advice.
Brian

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Jennifer October 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Hi Brian,

Keep going. Mine took about a week and a half to really start seeing real activity from yeast. I just kept feeding it and make sure the container is clean and no mold growing. Sometimes if your room temperature is a bit low, it will take longer to happen. I am from Melbourne, Australia and the winter is quite cold. So that was probably why it took longer than other people.

Feel free to start another batch but I would say keep this current one going as well and see what happens.

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Brian October 14, 2012 at 9:42 am

Thanks for the reply Jennifer, I’ll take your advice and hopefully it will behave.

Best Regards,
Brian

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SixBalloons October 14, 2012 at 10:42 am

Hi Brian, please keep us posted, I am two days behind you. Day 3 showed some froth but today there seems to be no activity. I am going to move it to a warmer room.

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Brian October 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Will do SixBallons. I added 1/2 cup flour and and 1/3 cup water at about 10:30 this morning, when I stirred it tonight there was about 6-8 BB sized bubbles in the mixture (picture attached – hopefully you can see).

Thank you again everyone for all the help. I am opening a cafe soon and I want to serve my own sourdough instead of someone else’s.

I’ll update again tomorrow.

Best Regards,
Brian

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SixBalloons October 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Just mixed in my WW flour and water per step 3. Can’t wait to see if it’ll work. Who knew this would be so exciting! My day 3 froth photo can’t be uploaded but I tweeted it here http://t.co/DnLtmZtB

Jennifer, is there anything I should do to avoid mold on the container? Does one need to switch to a clean one if our process takes >5 days?

SixBalloons October 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Brian, Jennifer, thanks for all the tips. Lots of bubbly action today, so I just finished step 4 and am hoping my starter has doubled by the time I wake up in the morning.

If all goes well, there will be a large amount of starter. I like the sourdough pizza dough recipe as it uses up 1-1/2c starter. Hope it works with WW starter in that quantity. Then I will feed it again and try for a nkb!

Jennifer October 15, 2012 at 4:16 am

Hi SixBalloons,

I only got mold because I wanted my starter to get warm in the cold Melborne winter. So I put it right next to the window, pretty much direct sunlight. Then within a day it grew mold. Later I read that you are not supposed to put your starter next to the window. So for the second batch I didn’t do that.

For the second batch, I just fed it as per instruction for making sourdough starter. But every time after feeding, I’d take some kitchen paper towel and just wipe the inside of my jar being careful not to actually touch the starter mixture. Just to keep it clean inside. I believe it would have been fine even if I didn’t wipe it.

Good luck. I really hope it works for you as well.

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Brian October 16, 2012 at 9:19 am

FINALLY!
After I added 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 water yesterday, I wake up this morning and have serious activity like the video. This is the start of 9th day. Thanks for all tips everyone, and good luck the rest of the way.
Regards,
Brian

Jake October 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Hi Tony!

I’m about 4 days into the process, I had not read the part about using pineapple juice and had to look up why! I ended up using orange juice, although it’s about 70% apple base, and it’s working seems to have avoided any harmful bacteria hopefully! Looking forward to actually baking the bread!

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Monica October 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

I just started my starter yesterday. But the only yeast I had was rapid rise yeast. It bubble really good yesterday. I left it on my counter and today it has the yellowish looking liquid on it. Is it still good? And the recipe is the flour, yeast, sugar and water. I got the recipe out of my Betty Crocker cookbook that I got over 30 years ago.

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Tony October 12, 2012 at 4:44 am

Monica, the liquid on top of your starter, I believe, Is called hooch. Yes it is normal. You can stir it back into your starter, or if your starter is very runny you can just pour it off.
You should try making a sour dough starter. Eric has a wonderful video with very detailed instructions.

God bless, and happy baking!
Tony

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Brian October 11, 2012 at 6:34 am

Greetings,
my starter is at about the 72 hour mark, no bubbles yet, but not discouraged. Using the pinapple juice as directed. thank you for the video, very nicely done!

Best Regards,
Brian

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Tony October 11, 2012 at 4:42 am

Thanks Breadtopia for the wonderful sourdough starter recipe. Here’s a picture of my first loaves of whole wheat bread!

God Bless
and happy baking,
Tony

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Breadtopia October 11, 2012 at 4:49 am

Beautiful bread, Tony.

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Carrie October 10, 2012 at 4:51 am

I am on day 7 of my starter…..was a little slow to get bubbling, but yesterday when I fed it, it got very large over the course of the afternoon! I plan on using it to bake today……this will be my first loaf! Will update how it goes.

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Andrew October 10, 2012 at 12:25 am

I tried creating a starter without the pineapple juice, just feeding white flour with water for the course of a week, and there was lots of bubbling, it was very foamy and very sticky, i used it in a sourdough white bread recipe and the dough just didn’t cook, the crust was crispy and the middle was very fluffy and air-rated but it just hadn’t cooked, it was still doughy and yellow in colour, i had it on the right temperature for 45 minutes or so, and when the bread was baking, it didnt even have that wonderful baking smell that bread usually had. I did everything right as i’ve been baking normal bread with commercial yeast for more than half a year, so it must havfe been the starter. I’m going this pineapple juice method

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Debbie October 8, 2012 at 7:23 am

So much to my surprise the recipe for this sourdough recipe actually worked! I say this because my love for baking bread has become my arch nemesis & the fact that I refuse to give up on one of my true passions will not deter me from baking a great loaf of bread. However, I have had many frustrating & disappointing loaves but I just can’t seem to give up & with the help of this wonderful website it truly has opened up a whole new world for me so thank you for giving me the inspiration I need to continue! question how should I store my starter?jar with tight seal & store in refrigerator?

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Breadtopia October 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Hi Debbie,

I love your story!

You should store your starter in the fridge between baking days but not with an air tight lid. Keep it loose to allow just a tiny bit of air passage.

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Celia Cooper October 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Is it possible to use tapioca,rice , quinoea or amaranth flour? I am allergic to all other types of flour but would really like to make sourdough. Best wishes, Celia Cooper

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Breadtopia October 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Hi Celia,

Yes, it is possible. Just more challenging since those flours don’t rise much so it’s not nearly as easy as with wheat flour to tell when the starter is ready to use or if it’s working.

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Jane September 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Somehow i can’t find the thread here for baking bread in a roemertopf. I found it once before but can’t get back to it. I’ll be ready to bake tomorrow, so if anyone knows how to get there, please give me the clue.

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Mary Zins September 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

I got tired of trying to maintain my starter. Sometimes it stopped bubbling, sometimes it got this strange film over the top and I’d start a new batch over again. But when the last one went over the hill, I still had some dough left in the refrigerator. There are only 2 of us so a batch of dough lasts a week or so made in small loaves and I usually have a couple different doughs in the refrigerator.

So instead of going back to a liquid starter for a new batch of dough, I just threw in a fist size chunk of refrigerated dough that was about a week old. Worked just fine.

You do need to get a starter to work the first time, but if it fails, dough is a good back up. I’ve frozen dough in the past, maybe a frozen chunk would be a way to stabilize your starter if you are away for long and cannot do the feeding routine.

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Brian September 30, 2012 at 11:21 am

I use and feed my starter just 3 or 4 times a year. I forget about it for up to 6 months at a time. I’m a very bad daddy. One time I had a big crusty mess at the bottom of the jar…but after digging around I found some softer starter material…It took right away upon feeding and putting under the oven light over night.

Now I keep my starter a little liquidy so that it won’t dry out before I’m ready to use this.

I know this is far from best practices, but I’m telling you its a miracle how the stater comes back to life and make good bread.

Negligence probably won’t kill it…I think you actually have to try. My starter is over a year old from the pineapple juice method.

Most of the time I bring it back to life, I feed it a couple times just in case…I have been giving it to family and friends as well…They think its for them–but really its in case I kill mine I have an established back up.

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Carrie September 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Ok, so I am new to this. I made Amish Friendship Bread years ago when I was single. Now I am a married mother of two, and want a whole wheat bread that I can produce at home. We are on the path of becoming more self sufficient, and baking our own bread is part of our plan. Can you tell me a good recipe, or where do I go, once I have the starter successful? I just put the starter together this afternoon, hoping and praying it does its thing! Thanks so much!

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Jen September 25, 2012 at 6:02 am

Hi,

I’ve started another batch of starter. After the failure last time, I think I am finally getting somewhere this time. My starter is smelling sweet and yeasty. I am hoping to start baking with it soon.

I have a question though. A lot of sourdough recipes don’t specify the percentage hydration of the starter. When that happens, do I just assume to use 100% hydration? I am looking forward to Dan Lepard’s walnut bread.

Thanks

Jennifer

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Breadtopia September 25, 2012 at 9:25 am

I’m thinking they don’t specify just because it can be just about anything. I go with about 100% or less hydration normally and then adjust if a recipe happens to specify something else.

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Rachel September 24, 2012 at 5:35 am

Hi, my starter started the first week doubling but after 5 days or so bubbles regularly, fed every 12 hours when i see bubbles, but not rising much anymore? Any suggestions?

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Breadtopia September 24, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Hi Rachel,

A couple of possibilities come to mind. If your starter is too runny it won’t trap bubbles well and so won’t rise well either. You could add flour only until it’s a stiffer mix and see what happens. Also, the amount you feed it should be a significant percentage of what you’re starting with. You might toss all but a few tablespoons of starter and feed that with a cup of flour and 2/3 cup water and see what happens after several hours at room temp.

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Dan September 28, 2012 at 10:07 am

Are you keeping your starter out at room temperature? If you are, you must have a pretty sour starter, but all that feeding may be more work than necessary. According to Eric’s videos, after the 4th feeding, your starter should be ready for making bread. I’ve been baking sourdough bread twice a week since last Christmas and haven’t had problem with starter not doing its job.

Unless you plan to make bread every day, why don’t you keep your starter in the fridge to slow down the yeast so it doesn’t consume the flour so quickly. Eric’s videos suggest that the starter can stay vital for two weeks in the fridge. My spelt starter and white bread flour starter both survived our two week vacation last Spring.

I’ve been making two loaves of sourdough bread each week since last December, had starter made from regular bread flour, Spelt flour and Rye flour and has never had starter go bad on me. Like Eric said, they’re tough bacteria.

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Chris Jaco September 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Hey! I am brand new to the world of bread (which is clearly an interesting sub-culture). A few days ago I began the pineapple juice starter and am amazed and delighted to report that it’s just-a-bubblin’! I told my children that I was going to sell the china, my
hand -me-down heirloom will be mother dough! Thanks!

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Kyt Eubanks September 17, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Hey Chris et al,
Last week a gentleman at my church and I were discussing bread making and he told me that he would share a precious ting with me. He has active sourdough started that his father began more than 45 years ago! I am impressed.

My spelt flour/pineapple starter is going gangbusters.

Best to all,
Kyt Eubanks
Amarillo, TX

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Jen September 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I have started my sourdough starter less than 48 hours ago. I have read the Peter Reinhart’s pineapple solution and comparing with the steps written here.

Peter wrote to feed the starter on Day 1 and Day 2 with juice and flour. But here, Eric wrote to do the second feed after 48 hours, which is Day 3. I was wondering if anyone can explain the difference and impact on the starter to me? Both methods would work?

Thanks in advance
Jennifer

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Breadtopia September 18, 2012 at 4:39 am

Hi Jen,

I’d be really surprised if anyone would know if there’s a difference only because there’s always so many variables with starting a starter. Both should work equally well. Or not work equally well ;-). In other words, even the best attempts to make a starter have to be repeated until they actually work. Sometimes it takes more than one attempt.

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Jen September 18, 2012 at 5:58 am

Well, I just found out the starter jar has gone moldy around the side.

I guess I have to start again then.

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Kyt Eubanks September 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

I am happy bread maker today! Last night I put my second Spelt flour loaf together in the bread machine. I did have to add 1/3 C of oat flour to it because I was short that much in Spelt when I reached the bottom of the bag. I used the recipe on the back of the Arrowhead Mills Spelt Flour bag with only a small adjustment in that I used 1T of honey and 1T of molasses instead of 2T of honey.

WOW! Beautiful, light, golden brown, full of flavor, perfect for toast, sandwiches and more. AND it has not GMO wheat, not nary a drop. Can’t wait to take this to a meeting today of women who want to form an organic coop here. I think we’ll be buying Spelt from here on out. Now I want to try making loaves using part Spelt and part other flours (like oat or rice) to see how they compare. Though we need not go farther to have a good loaf of Spelt bread.

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Breadtopia September 13, 2012 at 9:47 am

Congrats on your wonderful bread. I just pulled a 1/2 spelt and 1/2 einkorn bread from the oven. Spelt is definitely a great way to go.

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Jane September 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

How come no one has responded to my question about using home-made kombucha to make a starter? Come on, people…

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Kyt Eubanks September 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

Jane I confess I don’t even know what kombucha is.

Kyt

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Jane September 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Kyt –
Kombucha (kombu, life-giving + cha, tea) is a fermented drink made from black tea and sugar and a kombucha “mother”. It actually would probably be vinegar without the sugar. It’s a wholesome natural tonic full of good enzymes and bacteria. The way I make it it’s quite fizzy and delicious. If you want to try it, I’ll send you the next culture from the batch I’m making right now. It couldn’t be simpler to make…a batch of sweet tea, add the culture, cover and wait 5-7 days. If you buy probiotics, use this instead. Google it. It’s great stuff!

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Jane September 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Also, don’t try commercial kombucha and think you’ve tasted the real thing. That stuff is wretched! Real kombucha is fizzy and teeters on the edge between sour and sweet (or can go whichever way you make it).

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john currie September 13, 2012 at 8:10 am

hi eric, thanks for all your advice on breadmaking which i have been following to the letter. i use lots of flours, spelt-w.meal-rye-b.corn. along with your pineapple starter which i have just mastered how to make and i now have have real bread for the first time in fifty years.
as my teeth are not getting any younger could you please advise me on how to make a slightly softer crust. many many thanks.
john currie

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Breadtopia September 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

As for softening the crust, it might help to mix some oil into the dough when preparing. Or maybe brushing the crust with melted butter or oil when it comes out of the oven.

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Porl September 18, 2012 at 4:25 am

Adding a large tablespoon of soy lecithin helps soften crust.

However, the real determining factor is wrapping the bread in a towel for the first 30 mins after baking or leaving it in the tin for a while after baking. Don’t leave it in there too long or your crust can be soggy.

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Dan September 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

After a couple months of experimenting, I settled on the following procedure to make sourdough bread that has a soft crust and yet has good size holes. I use Eric’s Almost No Knead recipe. Note that I use at least 8 oz of starter for a load that has 15 oz to 18 oz flour. Haven’t had a problem with too much starter.

1. Put a cup of water in the oven when baking.
2. Brush melted butter over the dough after you’ve completed the second proofing.
3. Put the dough in a large covered bakeware and then turn the oven temperature up to 425 F. The dough gets preheated together with the oven. When I use a loaf pan with no cover, I cover the dough with aluminum foil.
4. 15 minutes to 20 minutes later, the temperature of the oven should reach 425F, then turn the temperature down to 350F and bake for 30 minutes. covered.
5. After 30 minutes at 350F, remove cover and bake for 10-15 more minutes or until the probe on a baking thermometer stuck inside the loaf registers 195F to 200F.

I’ve been able to bake sourdough bread with a very thin later of crust but is otherwise soft and chewy. When I was able to make a tight cover over the dough, I managed a soft sourdough crust that is more chewy. I periodically buy a loaf from the bakery to check my progress.

If you want to try this, please post your results.

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john currie September 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm

thanks dan, i like the phrase soft and chewy, this is what i have been trying to achieve so tonight i will bake a loaf excactly to you your instrcutions.
kind regards.
john.

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Kyt Eubanks September 12, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Hi all,

I bought spelt flour and decided to try making a sourdough starter using the pineapple juice. In 24 hrs I saw tiny bubble on top of the starter and following the instructions kept feeding and stirring for the next few days.

I now have a lovely, bubbly starter made from spelt flour and pineapple juice. It smells great and I can’t wait to make a loaf of yummy organic bread with it.

I am just now baking the second loaf of spelt bread in my bread machine (using dry yeast, not my starter). The first loaf was spectacular; nutty and golden brown and very light and fluffy especially for a whole grain bread. I used the recipe for the bread machine loaf on the back of the Arrowhead Mills Spelt flour bag. I hope that wasn’t a fluke! I didn’t have enough honey for this one and had to substitute molasses for part of it.

I’ll let you all know how #2 turns out.

Best to all,
Kyt

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