The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

When to move from Phase 2 to 3? (re Reinhart's pineapple seed culture...)

Mira's picture

When to move from Phase 2 to 3? (re Reinhart's pineapple seed culture...)


Obsessive neophyte here.  Reading Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Breads Every Day" and after reading Debra Winks letter on pineapple juice, I decided to try Reinhart's seed culture recipe last Monday:

Monday evening, Day 1, Phase 1: 3 1/2 TB whole wheat flour + 1/4 cup pineapple juice

Tues and Wed: aerated culture 3 x a day.  House temp. varies 23-25 degrees C.  I keep my culture in a glass dish on the counter, loosely covered in saran wrap.

Thur. evening, Day 3, Phase 2: bubbles appeared, so I added 3 1/2 TB whole wheat flour + 2 TB pineapple juice to the Phase 1 seed culture.

Friday morning: aerate

Friday evening: I come home from work, and I am thrilled: there are bubbles throughout and my science experiment smells really beery.  DH spoons a taste and comments on the sour flavour.  I lick the spoon and promptly spit it out.

The culture must have foamed and fallen at some point during the day, because the top of the saran wrap is coated.  I mix ("aerate") for 10 seconds and it deflates some more, along with the bubbles.

I go out.  Came home just still smells beery but it hasn't foamed up.  There are bubbles.  I mixed it and now, well, I'm wondering if I should be proceeding to Phase 3 according to Reinhart's book (page 40).  I didn't feed it today so am concerned that it won't foam up again and be bubbly. Did I miss the boat?

Phase 3 consists of adding 7 TB flour with 2 TB filtered water.  Should I have added it this evening?

thank you!


Mira's picture

Oh boy. After reading posts for 1/2 hour I think my culture will go hungry if I don't feed it so I've decided to give it 2 oz whole wheat flour and 2 TB spring water. Now it looks like porridge.

This starter is very different then anything I've read elsewhere but I've committed to it so I'll see how it goes!

BLHNYC's picture

Hi there-

I am curious about how this came out. I, too, am new to bread baking and have been working my way through Artisan Bread Every Day. (I have ciabatta dough in the fridge right now.)

I am really interested in creating the pineapple seed culture but am a little intimidated by it. How is it going for you?


Mira's picture

Hi Beth,

This is what convinced me to try pineapple juice method:

This morning my seed culture had bubbled up and expanded and I just finished stirring it.  But I'm now thinking about moving right into Phase 4...


PanDulce's picture


First time posting here. Tonight I'm going to start my sourdough starter according to the Artisan Bread Every Day method, so it's good to read that everything is working OK for you. Good luck!


Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Look no further than the pineapple solution one post up.

The juice is only needed until the thing comes to life and then you can switch to water and white flour. Remember the source of the living organism is the rye or whole wheat flour. The spores are already present. You just need to give them conditions in which to wake up and go to work. That is the acid in the juice. Once that happens, feeding them spring water and all purpose white flour is fine.

If you are using volume measures, you can do this with as little as 1 Tb starter: 1 TB water and 1 TB flour in a small plastic cup. No reason to use more as you are just throwing away your flour. You will be doing this every 12 hours......that is twice a day for several more days until you have a healthy looking starter, at which time, you can move it to the fridge until ready to use. If you have the time, leave it out and keep feeding. The health and character of the starter will improve over time.

Using these volumes will give you a "wet" starter,  but it will work. It may not rise much as the goop isn't thick enough  to trap air, so you may see more tiny bubbles to near foam on top.  A better way is 1:1:1 of each by weight. 20 grams if each is plenty. But this requires a set of scales, which you may not have.

The water/flour ratio need not be exact. Everything from runny soup to almost dough is used and works. Once established, you may want to run the amounts up to 1:2:2 to as high as 1:5:5. Starter, water, flour. This gives them a big pasture to graze in and promotes vigerous growth.

PanDulce's picture

Really appreciate that you took the time to explain all the details. I've started mine last night. We'll see how it goes. I'll try the idea of keeping it at room temperature for a few more days after it starts (hopefully!) to develop the character.

Mira's picture

Ho Dough,

Reinhart's prescribed feedings are less frequent than yours; that could be why my culture is not expanding as much as I'd like:(  It's still bubbling...if this doesn't work out, I'm going to throw it out and try again using your method, which is similar to what I've read in other posts.

Thank you for explaining,


Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

The organisms expand and grow quickly, and often consume what food is present within a 12 hour period. Along with this, as the culture matures, the gluten in the flour is broken down by enzyme action, so it will appear to go flat and not expand. And its all temperature related (wamer means faster). Anything much above 75 to 80 degrees F and it will really start "cooking".

Before you throw it out, try upping your feeding shedule to twice a day. If you want to see if its expanding, up your flour ratio to what would be about 1:2:2 by weight. With measures, that would be 2TB starter, 1/4 cup water, 1/3 cup flour. Or just stick with 1/4 cup measures for the flour and pack it. It's not rocket surgery.  A thick, but pourable batter that would pile up, then  spread  if you poured  it out is about the right consistency for this.

If that doubles or triples, you probably have something that will work.


Mira's picture

I was hoping to get my seed culture to the "mother starter"
 stage but it's not doubling.  It doesn't look like a pourable batter either; it's just a stiff dough that smells like cider vinegar.

Rather than throwing it out I will try as you suggest, 1:2:2.  (1 oz seed culture; 2 oz water; 2 oz flour): I'm using my scale now.   Thanks! 

RikkiMama's picture

Having made my starter using the directions in ABED, I thought I'd chime in on the consistency of this starter.  The starter is definitely not a "pourable" batter.  It is a stiffer starter, especially in the beginning phases. 

The consistency of the final starter is more dough-like when first fed (feeding ratio 1:2:3 - 1 oz starter, 2 oz water, 3 oz flour).  Then, becomes more like a loose, wet, sticky dough/stiff batter after "incubation".


PanDulce's picture

I'm making my starter according to ABED for the first time (Stage 4 Yay!!). At the beginning it is very stiff (a soft dough that has to be kneaded by hand, barely tacky) and after a few hours in gets a little bit softer, but never pourable. You can see the bubbles and the expansion very well!

For the last phase I'm reducing the amount of the ingredients (200 g flour instead of 340 g) because it uses a lot of flour and I'm not going to use my starter immediately (I'd like to give it a few more feedings).

Don't throw it out, the smell is exactly what you should expect, so I think everything is going fine with your starter. Good luck!


inkedbaker's picture

I just started phase 4 and YES it is really stiff......fingers crossed!!