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Pineapple vs water

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Beloz's picture
Beloz

Pineapple vs water

I started my first starter a week ago. I decided to go with the pineapple juice method because for some reason I thought it would work better. 

I followed this method http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2. But I must admit that I might have misread the instructions because I don't know imperial measures. So I'm pretty sure I added too much water as I measured it by volume equal to the volume of the flour. But I thought I got the starter to flour ratio right, which was 1:1/2. 

I ended up starting 3 starters with pineapple juice. I kept only the youngest one and finally worked out the correct ratios and started weighing the ingredients. Today it had totally taken off and last time I checked it had nearly doubled in size. This is day 7.

I also started a starter with the water a few days after the starter described above. And to me it seems to rise equally well even though I started it 3 days later (today is day 4). But what's more surprising is that I can smell the yeast in that one, but the pineapple one just smells sour, can't detect any yeast. 

As an experiment it's totally flawed of course, because I didn't use the same method for both and fed the water starter more, sooner. But I'd be interested to know if anyone else has compared them and what their observations were? 

Beloz's picture
Beloz

And now I notice that the pineapple starter rises faster, but goes down sooner than the water one. I'm guessing that may be because it's too liquid? I'll add less water tonight (stopped adding juice on day 4) and see what that gives. 

tchism's picture
tchism

Interesting observations!

I used the pineapple method 3 years ago and even used it once to make a rice flour starter. The reason I used this method was that I read that the acid in the juice kept unwanted bacteria at bay while allowing the good ones to take hold thus helping to insure success. Supposedly, without it it could take longer for the good bacteria to get the upper hand in the stater's development. Perhaps that is what you are seeing in your results.

chris319's picture
chris319

If it's any help to you, I struggled mightily with starters over the summer and finally got the knack after a great deal of trial and error. The breakthrough for me was getting the consistency right. I now make starters so they are "sticky but not stiff" and easily stirrable. I have successfully made several starters this way and it seems to be pretty dependable. I am familiar with the pineapple juice technique but prefer to use just water instead. You're pouring an awful lot of sugar into the mix with pineapple juice. Sometimes a pinch of salt helps bring around a recalcitrant starter. It's true that by having an acidic environment you will skip the leuconostoc-producing phase but I don't find it necessary and it only saves a day or so.

Beloz's picture
Beloz

Thanks. I find the fruity smell in the pineapple starter mildly unpleasant. I much prefer the smell of the other one, even at the early stage. 

I added less water to the pineapple one today, but think it's a bit to thick now. At least I know what the consistency is supposed to look like because I've kept the other one at a 1:1:1 ratio from the start by weighing the ingredients. 

There's so much information out there but in the end it is just trial and error, isn't it. But I haven't baked bread in months and I want my first one now to be a SD! So I don't want to have to keep starting this starter again. But I'm keen to have to stop feeding 2 starters twice a day. It takes me longer to feed them than my pets. My 8yo daughter even gave them names because they are like pets. Hehe. 

Azazello's picture
Azazello

You could easily use a little vinegar as pineapple juice, or even yoghurt.

The juice is there to create a more acidic environment for the yeast to develop more quickly than it otherwise might so any acidic medium would work, in principle. Either the bacteria create the acidic environment for yeast, or you can speed it along a little.

I'm not sure there's massive difference. So (next time) I would just use water and a bit of wholemeal rye flour in with the wheat flour.

One thing I have noticed is that as I've come to bake more bread, so my starter's get going more easily.

chris319's picture
chris319

When I was having trouble getting a starter going, people suggested adding rye, but as I'm trying to replicate classic San Francisco sourdough from the erstwhile Larraburu bakery, I resisted using rye and haven't had a need for it. AFAIK they didn't use anything but wheat flour.

Heath's picture
Heath

I recently used the pineapple juice method very successfully.  The fruity smell is irrelevent really since after day 4 you stop using the juice and start using water.  By the time you bake with the starter there's really no juice left in it.  As others say, the pineapple juice method gets the same results in the end as just using flour and water, and just saves a few days.  I first baked with my starter on day 7 and the bread turned out quite well.

I refrigerated my starter after two weeks and now only feed before baking with it - about once a week.

Beloz's picture
Beloz

Less water did the trick. 12 hours after the last feed it had more than doubled! It's a bit too stiff now to be 100%, so I'll gradually add a bit more water. 

I stopped using juice 4 days ago, but I can still smell it. Maybe it's my imagination. The starter with water is doing surprisingly well too. I might keep it going and give it to someone as a present. 

I thought it needed 2 weeks to get the nice flavour? I'm waiting for the dough hook for my mixer to arrive anyway. I am no good at hand kneading (arthritis) so bought a 1970s Kenwood Chef last weekend. Very excited about that too! 

Am I supposed to keep feeding the starter twice a day until I use it? 

Heath's picture
Heath

I believe most advise to wait longer than a week to start baking with a new starter, but mine was very active and smelled nice and yeasty after a week so I decided to give it a go.  It worked well,  The flavour matures the older the starter, apparently, although I haven't noticed any flavour difference - maybe it's happened too gradually for me to tell?

You should keep feeding the starter twice a day while it's out of the fridge (although I believe some only feed once a day).

If you've fed your starter without pineapple juice 8 times then the amount of juice in it will be miniscule by now, if you're discarding half each time.

chris319's picture
chris319

I don't get this concept of discarding a portion of the starter. I never discard any. You're going to need more starter once you start to use it up by baking with it, so why throw any away? If it overflows the vessel, use another vessel or a bigger one.

I agree that if you want to acidify your early starter, white vinegar would be a better choice, say 1/4 to 1/2 tsp in addition to the water (a little goes a long way!), but again I don't find it necessary. I'm not in that big a hurry.

I also don't get this concept of giving your starter a cutesie name. It's starter.

Beloz's picture
Beloz

But if you don't discard, you would have to keep adding more and more flour and water to keep your 1:1:1 (let alone 1:2:2) ratio and make sure you don't starve the good bacteria. Which would be ok if you use it daily. But I only plan to bake once or twice a week.

Giving the starters names was my 8yo daughter's idea. You know, a child...

chris319's picture
chris319

I don't pay attention to ratios, just flour and water, sticky but not stiff. The bacteria will work it out for themselves.

I can only share what works for me.

I use unchlorinated water. Does your flour (hopefully unbleached) contain an ingredient called "malted barley flour"? It's good if it does.

Beloz's picture
Beloz

I used tap water for the pineapple juice one at first, then switched to bottled for both starters and now switched back to tap. Not sure how much chlorine or similar is in the tap water here in Australia. 

Not sure about the malt in the flour either. I fed 1/3 freshly ground wheat berries and 2/3 AP. It's not unbleached. I read somewhere bleached and non-organic is supposed to work better for starters. But by now I can probably feed it any type of flour. 

I ended my experiment by throwing out the youngest starter which was the water based one. What I mistook for a fermented fruit smell was just a typical SD stage, because now the water starter started smelling the same. And I got fed up feeding both. The juice starter is going strong.

chris319's picture
chris319

Does it smell yeasty?

What is the temperature where you keep your starter?

Beloz's picture
Beloz

I can't actually smell yeast but it looks fantastic. Sticky and doughy. It smells slightly sour now. 

I kept it in the oven with the light on for the first few days, but moved it to the bench a couple of days ago. 

I fed it all white AP flour for the last 2 feeds and it seems to work well. I plan to make a white sandwich bread with it first. I know, probably seems sacrilegious to the artisan bakers, but I aim to slowly convince mini-me that there's more to bread than Wonder White. 

chris319's picture
chris319

It's not ready until it smells yeasty. That's the whole point of starter :)