The Fresh Loaf

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My amazing sourdough story

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thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

My amazing sourdough story

Hi all,


I'm the new guy on the block and want to share an amazing event with you. I say amazing because it's never happened to me before.


I started sourdough baking about 5 years ago but it's been an off and on thing with me. My starters have never really taken off as I thought they should. I've tried dozens of recipes but nothing to write home about. Although, my last starter was a pretty fare success. Unfortunately, I lost it along with everything else I owned in an apartment fire a couple years ago and I really haven't had the time to start another one until a day or so ago.


Now that I'm retired, I have all the time in the world to bake sooooo, I started another sourdough starter. The amazing thing is that it's very active and has doubled in volume within 24 hours.


I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS! I've never seen anything like it before. I have active, bubbling starter on the third day.


If anyone wants to try this for themselves, here's exactly what I did;


Day one;


1/4 cup King Arthur All Purpose flour


1/4 cup Gold Medal Whole Wheat (King Arthur Wheat isn't available in this area)


1/2 cup Gerber PUR purified water


1 teaspoon Domino white sugar


all to a sterile glass jar, stirred with a clean wooden spoon and a loose fitting top.


Day two; (12 hours later)


1/4 cup King Arthur All Purpose flour


1/4 cup Gold Medal Whole Wheat (King Arthur Wheat isn't available in this area)


1/2 cup Gerber PUR purified water


Day three really isn't here yet until midnight and, I have a very active starter already.


AMAZING!


Rick

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

 


...to feed my 'pet'. As mentioned above, it had been very active over the past few hours and double itself then fell back according to the traces on the side of the jar.


As I smiled and lifted the top to feed it again, I almost fell backwards from the smell. It stunk to high heaven.


It didn't look bad but it sure did smell bad... Smelled like sewage so, down the drain it went which is about typical for all my starters I have ever tried to start.


 


I've started another one, though. No wheat flour this time, just white. Let's see what this one does...


 


Rick

Mebake's picture
Mebake

You shouldn't have ditched it. Its only normal as this "sewage smell" is a result of leuconoscos bacteria. keep refreshing for few days more , and you'll end up with a sweet beery smell of a sourdough.


Khalid

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

the classic behavior of a new starter.  All of the activity you witnessed was bacteria-driven, not yeast-driven.  Had you hung onto it and kept feeding it regularly, it would have gone into a slump for another 2-3 days and looked as though it was absolutely dead.  Not so!  In each of those stages, a different group of microscopic critters is having a heyday as conditions favor their activity.  As the pH continues to drop, the mixture eventually becomes acidic enough to foster the growth of yeasts and beneficial bacteria who have just been waiting their turn for a suitable environment.


Use the search facility here with the term "pineapple" (less the quotes, of course) to locate some very helpful starter development strategies from Sourdolady, Gaaarp, and Debra Wink, to name a few.  Using pineapple juice instead of water in the first few days provides an acidic environment that the yeast enjoy, which allows you to bypass the frothy, stinky, slumping bacterial stages.


By the way, you don't need to add any sugar.  There's plenty of food in the flour itself to support your sourdough menagerie.


Good luck with your starter startup.


Paul

Yogibaker's picture
Yogibaker

Hi Rick


I'm a newbie to all this, but had really fantastic success following Dan Lepard's starter recipe.  He suggests including a few organic raisins in the starter to begin - apparently the yeasts on the skins helps with the development.  He also suggests including a tablespoon of live yoghurt, which apparently inhibits the development of the stinky bacteria you experienced.  I followed his recipe and my starter never smelled like sewage - sometimes like old paint, but not really nasty.


Anyway, passing these ideas on to you in the hope they help ...


Enjoy!


 

amolitor's picture
amolitor

There's a bunch of starter recipes that call for some sort of milk product. My theory is that these provide a jumpstart on the acidity, just as the pineapple juice does. They either have lactic acid in them (yoghurt) or they'll rapidly produce some (if you use just milk).


That said, just flour and water also seems to work!


 

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

OK, here we go. Since I started this 'blog' about my amazing sourdough story, I'm going to share with you all my steps, both good and bad, from here on.


Now that I've thrown away a perfectly good culture, the best I've ever created apparently, out of ignorance, here's the new one. (If this one stinks to high heaven, I'll do my best to keep it alive this time... LOL)


Day one;


1/2 cup King Arthur All Purpose Flour


1/2 cup Gerber PUR purified water


1 teaspoon Domino granulated sugar



Any and all comments, suggestions, criticisms, and ideas are very welcomed...


 


Thank you all for commenting about this so far, btw. I'm enjoying this little web site/forum board and have noted all you've said.


Cooking and baking is one of my hobbies. I've never been married so have had to fend for myself for the past 45 years or so.


 


Rick

alldogz's picture
alldogz

Hi Rick...good luck, but in the event it shouldn't work i would highly recommend the highly acclaimed (and worth every bit of praise) sourdolady starter at this link. you use less flour...mine did great, and when i had a question i had wonderful support on this forum...i never had the poo smell using the pineapple juice (just buy a little can of pineapple chunks packed in water/juice ..not syrup and strain it off..one small can will do ya)....


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233


Alldogz/Becky

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

You can probably do without the sugar. Flour (rye is best to start) and water or, for the first couple of days, flour and pineapple juice. Switch to white in a few days. 


That jar is HUGE. A one pint mason jar would do you and you wouldn't be discarding much flour keeping your starter small. Aim for a round jar with a large mouth, like a peanut butter jar. No corners for stuff and spatulas to get stuck in and usually no lip either. I advocate keeping your starter to about a half cup or less, you can always build up for recipes that need bigger amounts.


Here's my Starter Step by Step photo essay you can go through to see what you are likely to run across. Even if you don't follow that particular process at least you'll get a sense and see what will come down the road. This is the famed Debra Wink formula with photos, basically.


Good luck and always remember THE most important ingredient when dealing with sourdough: Patience. 

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

I wanted to reply to this post by Rainbowz about my 'big' jar.


As mentioned above, I once had a wonderful starter going a few years ago but lost it in a fire.


Reason I use the big jar is because my neighbors get wind of my sourdough baking and ask for some. I like to keep 4 cups around at all times for baking and giving away to friends.


It's an 8 cup jar and won't overflow if my 4 cups happen to double overnight.


So, keeping 4 cups around all the time helps in all recipes I've made, (Sometimes two or three a day), and for giving away.


 


I started small once but ran out a number of times so, it's 4 cups or nothing around this old apartment.


 


Rick

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

That sounds like a valid and logical reason to keep a larger quantity! You have lucky friends indeed.

CeraMom's picture
CeraMom

I used Rainboz site and made a fabulous starter ( who perished, sadly, during a child's illness... reduced to a gloppy stanky jar in the fridge ).

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Thanks, Becky.
I have noted all responses from you 'guys' so, if I fail here, I'll try other things.
One of my problems is obtaining basic foods in this military town I live in. My choices are very very limited. The top name brands have all been eliminated and only local or second rate food products are on the shelves, now. I may be able to buy canned pineapple in syrup only. (I'm in the South. They love their sugar down here.)
This past recession has caused most all restaurants to serve their food on plastic plates with plastic silverware.
I am very very disappointed in the three grocery stores I have to choose from in this area after coming from California.


Anyway, here's day two. About 18 hours later; (Nothing really to report...)


Added;
1/2 cup King Arthur All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Gerber PUR purified water


http://allricksstuff.com/ForumPix/sd1.jpg


Now, to see what day three will bring...


Rick


 

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

If pineapple juice is hard to come by, try orange juice. It will work just the same, and I'm sure it would be available just about anywhere. It can be fresh, canned or frozen. It really will help things along, as will some wholegrain flour (rye or wheat).

CeraMom's picture
CeraMom

I was also about to suggest orange juice!


I'd also refrain from adding sugar. Sugar will feed bacteria well before it feeds yeast.

CeraMom's picture
CeraMom

I was also about to suggest orange juice!


I'd also refrain from adding sugar. Sugar will feed bacteria well before it feeds yeast.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Thanks again,


I can't get the photo thingy to work anymore so I've got to post a link from my web site for pix;



 


Well, I guess it is... Sorry,


Rick

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

 


Absolutely wonderful article about sourdough starter. You have 'the gift of gab' and had me laughing out loud throughout your whole process.


Extremely entertaining and an excellent excerpt about beginning your own sourdough starter.


I give it 10 stars out of 10.


 


Rick

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

About 8 hours have gone by since it's last feeding and there's activity within the glass jar.


I'm afraid to open it because the last time I did at this time, it stunk up my whole apartment.


(I've got to figure out how to feed it THROUGHT the glass walls. LOL)


 


Rick

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

just long enough to check it, feed and close up again.


"Wanna go walkies?" 

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

A few bubbles was about all 'Stinky' had to show me today.


Fed him about 13 hours into the third day. Didn't smell to badly but not very pleasent either. Nothing like sewage this time but still a little foul.


Same feeding but next time I think I have to throw away all but about 1/4 cup?


I marked the inside of his home after scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula. 4 marks to show if any activity in the next 12 hours might take place.



 


Rick

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Or is one of them cheese?

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

 


Two butter dishes at all times and considering adding a third.


I try to keep about 10 pounds in the freezer for back up.


I love butter and put it on most everything.


I cook and bake with it and need it soft most of the time.


I keep the cheese in the fridge.


 



 


Why?


 


Rick

rfedele's picture
rfedele

That's a lot of Great Value Butter, I know Walmart has pineapple juice, now whats up with that?  You should really try the pineapple juice starter! That's an order!

caraway's picture
caraway

  Rick, I do believe you've surpassed even Paula Deen's butter affliction!  : )


 


Sue

possum-liz's picture
possum-liz

Just a thought. If you're only using white flour, make sure the water you're using isn't deionised or reverse osmosis. I think the little beasties like a bit of minerals.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

 


Hi guys,


I love my butter! I even lick the knife clean before it goes into the sink for washing.


I also cook Asian style about 4-5 times a week and have just come back from Wal-Mart with 4 small cans of 'Pineapple Chunks in 100% juice', by Dole, to add to my Asian cooking recipes.


This was a pleasant surprise to find Dole on the shelf.


 


The water has plenty of minerals in it but no clorine/cloride.


 


I'm still settling into my new little retirement apartment and stocking up on the 'good stuff' as I find it.


My little place has a nice pantry, btw.


 


DAY THREE;


Stinky hasn't moved an inch. He now is covered with hooch and smells bad but not real bad as before but not like a bucket of paint thinner or dough either.


Should I dump all but a 1/4 cup then add the Pineapple juice and 1/4 cup flour and water back???


Is it safe to modify him at this stage?


 


I'm thinking of adding 1/4 cup Whole Wheat


1/4 cup Water


1 teaspoon Pineapple juice


 


What do you think?


 



 


Rick

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

 


It has always been hard for me to 'stay within the lines', (You should see my coloring books), so experimenting is what I like to do best.


Who knows, maybe I'll stumble upon the greatest 'invention' ever invented...


 


What I've done here is, dump all but 1/4 cup of Stinky down the drain.


To him, I've added;


1/4 cup King Arthur all purpose flour


1/4 cup Gerber PUR purified water


1 teaspoon Pineapple juice


 



 


It's 6am Arkie time. Now, let's see what he does...


 


Rick

alldogz's picture
alldogz

Adding at least whole wheat or rye as half your flour when you add.  Yours is doing EXACTLY what mine  did (i followed the sourdolady's starter "start" exactly)and i had the "hooch" stuff..i just stirred it back in and then measured a 1/4 cup added equal WEIGHT water and flour...and finally it took off...but it wasn't till like day 11 that i really noticed anything going on and minioven helped me do a little test on the yeastie beasties....they really like chomping on the rye and ww to get started...so i would add that vs. ap...if ap is all you have it will probably work..just take longer to get going...and i know it is hard...BE PATIENT...even when the "bombe sniffing dogs" are at your door and decide they would rather roll in it than alert the authorities of the yeast in a jar...just hang in there....feed, stir, feed, stir...Alldogz/Becky

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

 


Hi Becky,


It's the first time in my life that I don't HAVE to do anything, (Get up in the morning, go to bed early, go to work, etc.) so, have all the time in the world to just 'play around'.
I like to play, (ever hear of a man that didn't?), and experiment with ideas I've been wanting to try.


This little thread has opened up lots of options. I have enough information here to open a sourdough store so, I'm going to experiment a little to see what happens.


You guys are already experienced at all of this and have already done it but I haven't. It doesn't mater to me if my sourdough takes 3 days or 3 months to get going. Where am I going?


Now, it's my turn to try it.




I want to thank everybody for all your help, here. I'm really enjoying all the input.


I'm having fun, I hope you are,


Rick

Zenith's picture
Zenith

Since you have lots of free time, you might want to read Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book and try building her desem starter.  Not that it takes so very much time, but it is an intensive project with lots of steps.  I did this and have a wonderfully reliable whole wheat starter that I now can simply keep in a jar in the fridge and refresh every week, which I faithfully do even if I'm not going to bake.  I only keep about a quarter of a cup, but it doubles so reliably and quickly that I can easily build it up in volume in two days to be able to bake on the weekend.  I wish I could share some with you, but you sound as if you're the kind of guy who likes to figure it out for himself!

Labernathy's picture
Labernathy

Hi from a fellow Arkie (where are you, by the way?)


I didn't have good starter success until I used the pineapple starter mentioned here.  I used rye and whole wheat flour, which helped, too.  Mine followed the process, and by the 4th day, I had starter ready for building up.  This was less than a month ago, so I'm fairly new at starter creation, too. (I'd always used starter given to me, before).


It's a fun project, for sure.


Leigh

RikkiMama's picture
RikkiMama

I agree with Leigh about the pineapple starter, ww and rye flours.  My first attempt at a starter, following instructions in ABED, didn't produce the desired results.  I got fresh ww & rye flours and used pineapple juice for Phase 1 & 2.  I think I did 1:1 pineapple juice and water for Phase 3.  The result - a lovely, active starter in relatively short amount of time.  I'm totally sold on using ww, rye, and pineapple juice for making a starter from scratch.


If Stinky doesn't do much, try adding the rye flour and pineapple juice to help get the desired yeastie beasties and bugs going.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Hi Leigh,


Jacksonville, AR. Just a little north of Little Rock.


True, I do like to figure things out on my own. Never had any patients in my youth but, now I have a lot of time to do a lot of other things while waiting.


 


Hi RikkiMama,


From what I've been reading all over this web site, the Pineapple version is the most popular. I will try it if all else fails.


 


 


Does the Wheat and or Rye flours add a bit of taste differencs to a recipe made with the starter?


Why don't we use vinegar as a Ph reducer? It's used to give a quick sour taste to other recipes?


 


Thanks,


Rick

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Regarding the ww or rye in the starter:


These types of flour, especially if they're 'organic' will still have the most yeasties you want to cultivate on them, rye the most. These are suggested as the better choices for STARTING a starter. Once you get the yeasties and their lacto buddies going, you can switch the starter over to AP flour., decreasing the rye and increasing the AP over, say, three feeds. A few more all AP feeds and the remaining original flour is diminished to the point of irrelevant.


Some people keep rye starters for just their rye breads, ww starter for just their ww bread and AP or bread flour starter for just their white bread. They've decided to not get rye in their white or white in their rye. 


As to whether a ww and rye specific starter adds a specific flavour to the breads, I can't say (but others can) as I haven't kept special starters. For my less than purist needs, I can make a makeshift rye starter by feeding some of my white with rye for two or three feeds and again, the small amount of white/wheat flour remaining is negligible. 


Someone who's allergic to wheat, on the other hand, will definitely be a lot more picky than I would be and for good reason.


But in the case of getting your starter going, the primary advantage is the yeastie population in rye or ww being a lot higher than the more processed all purpose or bread flours. 


Why not use vinegar?If you read Debra Wink's posts on pineapple juice starter, she explains why vinegar won't do as well.

Quote:
And vinegar was so highly inhibitory to yeast in the doses required to lower the pH, that it was no solution at all.
Labernathy's picture
Labernathy

Rick, I work in Little Rock and drive through Jacksonville every day! 


I think your questions about the wheat and rye have been answered, but. . .  I bought freshly milled whole wheat flour from The Old Mill Bakery in Little Rock (they mill their own daily) and just ground rye berries (from Whole Foods in Little Rock) in a coffee grinder to make the rye flour.


I don't think the freshly milled makes as much difference, as much as using whole-grain flours, but I like the flavor of Old Mill's flour, and it's a lot fresher than what I can get from the grocery store.


Leigh

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

If you pass by Jacksonville to go to work each day, then you must live a little north of me. Cabot, Beebe, maybe Searcy?


I've never looked, myself but, looking to your left or east going to work, you might see my place. It's the only 'skyscraper' in Jacksonville, 9 stories tall. It's right 'downtown' off of Main Street called, oddly enough, "The Towers".


I don't get out much anymore but have heard by others that LR has a few stores that might interest me. Unfortunately, I don't have the room to add all the kitchen gadgets I'd love to own now that I'm retired. So, I'm getting by with the basic necessities of small apartment living.


I'm pretty happy with things as they are and just love this retirement thing... (Have I said that before?)


 


Rick


 


 

Labernathy's picture
Labernathy

We live on Greers Ferry Lake.  Love living there, don't like the commute.


I can tell you are enjoying retirement!  Jacksonville is a nice town, and is close to Little Rock if you need more adventure (or ingredients).  I'll look for "the tower" on the way home tonight and will wave at you.


Leigh

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

That is a bit north, almost dead north. I feel for you about your commute. Sheesh!


Let me know if you can see 'The Towers' from the highway. The main sreet exit, #9, should put you dead west of my place but not sure if that would be the best viewing angle, though. As mentioned, I've never looked, myself.


I'm on the 6th floor... I'll wave. LOL


 


Be safe,


Rick

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

 


I read Debra's post but missed that apparently.


I dislike rye very much and don't care for 100% whole wheat either. I also refuse to put Pineapple in my mouth unless it's cooked, was the reason I was asking.


It seems that the best way to make a starter is with all the things I won't eat. LOL




Thought I'd mention that the successful starter I once had was bought from San Francisco in dried form. Had to nurture it back to life then lost it in that fire.




Thanks again,


Rick


 

amauer's picture
amauer

Yes, someone who is smart about Butter. I can't stand it when people ruin perfectly good food with margarine, especially bread! Our beloved Julia Child refused to use anything else. WE have a good creamery locally (Hope Butter) that is much used by Twin Cities chefs.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Hi all,


No news from Stinky. Smells about the same. Covered in hooch... not too bad but not real good either. Lost track of what day he's on... 4, 5? I guess it doesn't matter much. It's not how long it takes him to wake up, it's what he does when he does wake up that counts, I think.


As long as he doesn't go foul, I'll keep him around for awhile longer.


 


I just love this retirement thing. I'm having a ball.


 


Thanks for all your input,


Rick


 

CeraMom's picture
CeraMom

I think my starter took well over a week. At some point I said, FINE, FORGET IT, and decided not to feed it anymore. The very next day ( I hadn't gotten around to throwing it out ), it had doubled and smelled lovely!

JessicaT's picture
JessicaT

Keep feeding him!!!! The odour WILL go away! 

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

I think Stinky is on day 5. The smell has gone down and is giving off more of a pineapple smell rather then a bad food product smell, since I added some pineapple in mid stream earlier. I may have stopped those bad smellers with the added pineapple.


Anyway, I fed him,


1/2 cup KAAP flour


1/2 cup purified water


This doubled his volume with lots of new food.


Let's see if he wakes up today...


 


Rick

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Dumped half of him out, washed his 'cage', fed him well and put him back were he belongs.


No news except that he doesn't stink anymore. Smells a little fruitty with overtones of flour.


Maybe he'll wake up today. You all know I haven't followed any rules around here on making starter...


 


Rick

RikkiMama's picture
RikkiMama

Now that Stinky isn't stinking, are you going to give him a new name?  Very likely, having added pineapple juice helped get rid of some of the bugs that gave the stinky smell.


I know you don't care for whole wheat or rye.  But, as others have mentioned, adding just a small amount of either would make Stinky very happy.  Those flours contain the bugs that you want for your starter.  I don't think you wouldn't need much, couple of tablespoons should do it...just for feeding.  When you are ready to make your starter for bread, you could skip adding those flours so that they won't flavor your bread.


For me, using a small amount of whole wheat flour in the starter that I use for baking, gives the bread a more complex, slightly nutty flavor.  But it isn't overwhelmingly whole wheat flavor.


Once Stinky wakes up, you might want to try taking a portion of Stinky and adding a small amount of fresh whole wheat flour in the feeding and compare the results to using only AP flour. If you have a market where you can buy flours in bulk, it's more cost effective since you can buy a small amount for the experiment.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

I thought of renaming him, 'Arkie Sour'. I think the name Stinky is more personal, though.


I certainly don't think I've invented the greatest invention ever invented...


 


After this morning's feeding, Stinky is showing signs of life. The two red lines shows his movement. It's only surface bubbles, though, and no 'deep regurgitation' type activity. He also smells pretty good. He smells a little like, sour dough.


 


As unorthodox as I've been throughout this whole experiment, it appears that I now have a sourdough starter although, not very active, it should work, and will most likely be a mild one.


I'm going to assume he'll get stronger over time and become a better sourdough in time.


 



 


I'm now going to start dumping out half to re-feed him back to whole to keep 3-4 cups around.


 


Thanks everybody,


 


Rick

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Hi all,


After Stinky's last feeding, I put him in the fridge for a week. Last night was feeding time so I dumped out a cup's worth to make BLT Buns instead of throwing it away.


Stinky smells pretty good, now but is not very active. Just a few surface bubbles is about all he's good for and not much sour taste either after eating these buns.


I added 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast to help him along this time and this is my results.


The bun's crust is rather hard but the crumb is like Wonder's White Bread. Very soft. The whole bun is as light as a feather and they taste pretty good, too.


I love BLT's made with burger buns instead of 'normal' bread. Mmm, I ate two of them.


 


amolitor's picture
amolitor

It is my impression that one wants to feed a few cycles after pulling a starter from the fridge, to get the ecosystem rolling along again. When your starter will double before it deflates, it's ready to go. If it won't double, keep feeding until it will!


On the other hand, your buns look tasty!