The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

using organic grapes/raisins for starter growth

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pincupot's picture

using organic grapes/raisins for starter growth

Has anyone used organic grapes or raisins to kick-start their sourdough starter? I read about using either of these in several cookbooks that I own or got from the library. One was from the La Brea Bakery breadbook. Does using either of these change/enhance/or otherwise alter the starter for better or for worse? Any ideas? Much appreciated...

JMonkey's picture

I've only started one starter from scratch, but I just used whole-rye flour, water and a tiny bit of molasses to get mine going. I put it on a heating pad on the lowest setting to make sure it stayed at 80 degrees, but that was in the dead of winter in New England.

This time, since it's (nominally) almost summer, I'm leaving it at room temp and trying the orange juice treatment to keep the PH low early on so that it kills the bad beasties and helps the yeasty beasties.

But raisins certainly couldn't hurt!

rmk129's picture

Just wondering how critically important the temperature factor is when you are creating a starter...can you still create a successful temperature if you are not able to keep it at 80 degrees? Do you just have to wait longer and/or adjust the feeding schedule to longer intervals, or does a low temperature effectively halt the entire process in its tracks?

I'm not sure exactly what temperature my apartment is but my nose is cold, so maybe the good "yeasties" will be too cold too... I just moved my starter jar to the top of my fridge after I read JMonkey's post about using a heating pad, because I figured that is probably the warmest place for it??? I would appreciate any advice!

JMonkey's picture

I've only made one starter from scratch, and I was following the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion instructions, but I know it's possible because tons of other folks have done it.

I'd suspect, though, that 80 degrees may give you a better shot because yeasts like that temperature for reproducing. That said, for a long-term starter, I'd rather keep it cooler, since the bacteria that make the sour acids seem to like it cooler, and they reproduce much more slowly that yeasts.

You'll probably be fine either way, though. People made successful starters long before heating pads and refridgerators! :-)

rmk129's picture

Yes, I suppose heating pads & refridgerators were a bit hard to come by when preparing bread before the advent of electricity ;) My mother-in-law said that she used to mix flour and water together to form a ball, then she just put it aside and let it sit for a couple of weeks. After that, she would break through the crust that had formed and use the dough from the center to start bread. I don't know if she saved a bit of the center for the next batch, or if this qualifies as a "true" sourdough, but she certainly didn't spend any time worrying about temperature control etc. I'm sure she had failed batches, but I love how relaxed she was (and still is) about baking and cooking :) I must admit though, that since we have access to modern gadgets and amenities, I enjoy treating the whole bread-baking process as a bit of an experiment when I have some factors I can control...maybe I will just work on being "partially" relaxed about the whole thing :P

sphealey's picture

=== After that, she would break through the crust that had formed and use the dough from the center to start bread. ===
I believe that is the basis for Flemish desem bread (which must be a form of sourdough), although there are more steps in the historical process (see Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book for details).


timtune's picture

i've found the reinhart method in the BBA to be quite good...i've tried the raisins one , but still find the BBA's method to be better, in my opinion.
So far i have one rye and one wheat starter. :)