So I'm about to make my very first sourdough start. Counter space is an issue in my tiny condo kitchen. Does anyone know if putting my start in a cupboard would affect it? Does the start need light to ferment?
Are you using a purchased starter that already has proven viability? Or
are you wanting to capture live yeast from the air in your own environment? If the later, you need to let the starter sit out on the countertop where it will be open to capture any live yeast spores that are present.
If you are using a purchased or gifted starter from a reliable source, then, inside a cupboard may be o.k. - but, you need to remind yourself to check on it regularly to watch for activity of growth.
One thing that I don't see mentioned too often here is the need to stir air into the starter when feeding. I got my starter from the Carl's Friends group on the web who are maintaining a sourdough starter kept by Carl Griffith. The directions state to stir well with a wooden spoon to incorporate air into the starter and add that this is a really beneficial thing to promote starter growth.
It is a common misconception that in order to grow a new starter from scratch you need to "capture" the yeast spores from the air. Actually, that is not a requirement. The yeast spores are already on the grains that are used in the starter. It is much better to use a whole grain flour such as whole wheat or rye because most of the yeast is on the outer layers of the grain and you will have much better luck getting a good viable starter up and running quicker. It is possible to do it with white flour only, but the whole grain will ferment much better and your starter will work better. Once it is growing well then you can switch it over to white flour. The reason that some starter recipes call for raisins or grapes, etc. is because they also have yeast spores on them. Also, yeast does not require any light to grow.
Whitedaisy - I made my starter using organic rye flour (contains most of the organisms you need for a good, healthy starter) and water and put it in a jar covered with cling film to stop other things getting in.
It lived in a fairly dark space and was fed regularly (I'll give you the method if you want it). After two weeks, when the first, weak organisms had been cultured out and the starter was good and healthy, it was moved to the fridge in a sealed container and has survived there very happily since last May.
It is used sometimes once or twice a week, sometimes left for several weeks at a time, but each time it is used it is refreshed, allowed to ferment for a few hours, then goes back into the fridge. It thrives on this regime!!
So no, it doesn't need light. And it produces excellent sourdough bread!
Good luck with yours,