The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

starter from yeast or not?

Jahosacat's picture
Jahosacat

starter from yeast or not?

I'm ready to start my first starter and I'd like to try making one myself instead of buying one. I've looked at recipes for starters and see some that have yeast and some that don't. I'm curious about others opinions and/or experiences with making starters that include yeast and ones that don't include yeast.


 


Thanks!

BettyR's picture
BettyR

I don't have a lot of experience with starters but I have one in my frig that I've been using for about 10 months...it's still very healthy and active...it was started with yeast. It's not super sour but then I don't like very sour bread so that is a good thing.

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Do your own from pineapple juice and rye flour. There is a summary on this site or use the example from Rainbowz......


http://yumarama.com/blog/968/starter-from-scratch-intro/


 


Follow along exactly as he did it and within a week you will have a workable starter to play with. In that example, he has the instructions, but also links to follow for the background. One of the best "how to start a starter" I've come across, and I've looked at a lot of them.

Sourdough Charlie's picture
Sourdough Charlie

Skip the yeast. All you really need is clean water, organic rye flour and warmth. I started 2 of three starters in this way with little trouble.


 


SC

ppschaffer's picture
ppschaffer

My experience with making starters goes back perhaps 30 years...and, no doubt, part of "my" original starter cells are still in the starter currently being used by me.  There are complicated ways to make starter and easy ways: here's an easy way: Mix together some (say 2 cups or so) whole grain rye and some (say 1 cup or so) water from the tap.  The mixture can be pancake batter consistency or much thicker.  Let stand at "normal" room temperature for two to three days; after that time you may notice bubbles on the top and an increase in volume.  Feed the starter twice daily with more rye and water--say early in the a.m. and late in the p.m.  Stir each time.  If it is not going to be immediately used, refrigerate.  Somewhat frequently--say once or twice a week--remove from refrig and feed.  It will be ready to use 6-12 hours later.  Freezing starter is tough on the starter so no freezer please.


If, after the initial two to three days, the starter does not begin to bubble or if it develops an "off-aroma," "foul-aroma," or seems to be growing something you don't think should be there--like mold--throw it out, wash the container well in hot soapy water, rinse in water and sanitize with a bleach-water solution (50 parts per million [ppm]: the equivalent, more or less, of one capful of household bleach per gallon of cool water) for at least one minute and, after that minute, rinse again with clean water.


Good luck!


 

Jahosacat's picture
Jahosacat

Thanks for all of the replies - VERY interesting reading!

scottsourdough's picture
scottsourdough

When I made my first starter I thought I could get away with spiking it with commercial yeast. It did rise well, but it never developed the flavor (which comes from various bacteria, not yeast) that I was looking for. Raising an all natural starter from scratch is a very rewarding experience, not only do you feel good about it but the starter turns out better in my opinion.


I've seen some recipes using pineapple juice, like someone else suggested, and I've heard a lot about making a starter from grapes (here's a link I found; there are many recipes online). I made my starter from nothing but flour and water, though. This method takes a long time, and can vary depending on where you live. If you try this way, start out with rye or whole whater flour, which are better for the yeast. Nothing happens iafter the first few feedings, so you'll have to discard and refresh the starter many times. Don't get discouraged, though, it tends to work out eventually. You can add something sugary, like honey or pineapple juice if it seems to be taking too long.

Sourdough Charlie's picture
Sourdough Charlie

Another suggestion is to get rye flour which is as fresh as possible ( the "bugs" you want are in the flour, not the air) and put in a warm place. Each day pour off half and replace with equal parts rye flour/water. My starters took 3-4 days, but really took off when I put them in the oven with the light on.


 


SC

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama


You can add something sugary, like honey or pineapple juice if it seems to be taking too long.



 


You don't add pineapple juice in order to give a quick sugar boost to sluggish starter. At least not when you use the pineapple juice method. Maybe other procedures do so, but not this one.


The purpose in using pineapple juice is to acidify the starter and immediately lower it's pH level right from the start and bypass some of the pitfalls that may happen when using just water (false rise, stinky starter, loooong incubation) which has been known on many occasions (just search through all the "Is it dead?" starter threads) to discourage novice starter makers and often cause them to throw out their attempts too soon, thinking they "killed it" or they just plain give up on sourdough. 


I would urge you (or anyone interested) to take time to read over Debra Wink's detailed articles on the Pineapple Method (part 1 and part 2) or at least the quick step-by-step instructions here so you can be familiar with what's going on and why one would use pineapple juice.


My Starter Step by Step tutorial shows in pictures what the difference is between making a plain water starter and one with pineapple juice. And there is a difference during startup even though both methods eventually still got to the exact same place, so I'm certainly not saying "don't use the water & flour method". I will however urge people to give the pineapple juice method a shot since it speeds things up and avoids some pitfalls.


 


(Edited to rephrase a couple of fuzzy bits)

Davo's picture
Davo

I would advise definitely don't use commercial yeast. I don't doubt that eventually any starter will get invaded by lactobacilli and natural yeasts on the flour and switch over to the kind of symbiotic mixture you want, but why delay it by starting out with an overwhelming (to an infant culture) predominance of one type of yeast, and one that will compete with lactobacilli? I have read that commercial yeast utilises maltose, the wild ones in a stable SD mix by and large don't. Lactobacilli do utilise maltose, and break it down to monosaccharides that the wild yeasts do utilise. So wild yeasts don't compete with lactobacilli, whereas commercial yeast does. WIld yeasts and lactobacilli form a stable symbiosis. Commercial yeast and lactobacilli don't form a stable symbiosis. It's pretty simple.

Falsehat's picture
Falsehat

What is all the fuss abour using a starter rather than yeast?

LindyD's picture
LindyD


What is all the fuss abour using a starter rather than yeast?



Taste.

Jahosacat's picture
Jahosacat

I've been making all of my own bread with yeast for about 10 years and for years before that I'd make my own bread from scratch around holidays. To me sourdough will be more of a challenge and a different type of art - the last 10 years I've made 95% of my bread using my bread machine. The bread machine bread has been great and I've made many, many different types. Sourdough seems like yet an different path; kind of like there's a big difference between making bread with an automatic bread machine and making it using a mixer and even more different from using just arm power to mix the bread.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

sours are sour because of the activity of aceto- and lactobacilli, which produce acetic acid (vinegar) and lactic acid (yougurt) accordingly. both are natural airborne organisms and each flourishes best under different conditions, aceto in warm/moist, lacto in cool/drier ... which should dictate how you treat your starter, once it's up and running, i.e., a firm starter that's refrigerated to promote lacto and a soup starter at room temp for aceto, which is why, for example, some sourdough recipes alternate room-temp fermentation and proofing with overnight retardation.


also, almost any acid source will do. the old-time Jewish bakers, when they made starter from scratch, put in a sliced onion (wrapped in cheesecloth for easy retrieval). alternatively, if you soak dried onions, save the water for your next sourdough.


Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Is the sliced onion inserted for a contribution of sourness or for some other reason?
Thanks.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

there may be other chemistry involved, but as far as i know, it was a cheap, easily available acidifier in a part of the world (Eastern Europe) where there were lots of onions and very few pineapples. 

SteveB's picture
SteveB


skip the pineapple juice



Yeah, why would anyone want to do something that has a good scientific basis and has been shown, through extensive testing by Debbie Wink and her associates, to hasten starter development?


 


SteveB


www.breadcetera.com


 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

and what you want to get out of it. i'm as interested in traditional process as results, so one of the aspects of baking that appeals strongly to me is the idea of walking backwards to a time when we didn't have scientific explanations for everything and when people baked with whatever was available in order simply to have something to eat. those results may not be as refined as the more scientifically correct methods and formulas, but they take me back to a place where i can experience -- vicariousy, i admit, and in a very limited way -- a piece of history. 


i'm not gainsaying people whose aims are different and who strive for a (subjectively) perfect balance of taste, texture and color in their breads and will use every bit of information they can in pursuit of that goal. 


we all come to baking in different ways and for different reasons, and while you may be perfectly happy using pineapple juice to build a perfect starter in 2 weeks (or whatever), i'm just as content to take care of my starters, one of which is over 160 years old, and appreciate that people have been baking bread from that particular culture long before my great-grandfather was born.


Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

SteveB's picture
SteveB



i suppose it depends on your approach to baking

 



Now you're on the right track, Stan.  The statement above should have been the title of your post, not the dogmatic, "skip the pineapple juice".  That title certainly appeared to "gainsay people whose aims are different...".


 


SteveB


www.breadcetera.com


 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

i'm glad you approve of my tone this comment

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Thank you, Stan, for the reminder.


 


SteveB


www.breadcetera.com


 

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

If you read rainbowz' tutorial and the Wink article and follow the directions, you will have a fine starter that you will be proud of, more so than if you use commercial yeast or a purchased "culture". 


That said, I did not use pineapple juice, but that's only because I started mine before I ran accross the article.  The pineapple juice will not necessarily make a better starter.  It will definitely eliminate a few very frustrating days in your starter making.  But if you understand that, then it won't be so frustrating for you and you can skip the pineapple juice if you don't want to buy any, and have the patience to wait out the bad bacteria phase.


Do at least start out with high quality organic rye flour and bottled or filtered water, tho. I say, eliminate as many variables as you can.