The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Sourdough Starter - Mike's Way

whw's picture

First Sourdough Starter - Mike's Way

I introduced myself in this post As mentioned in that post, I am new to baking.

After reading most of Mike's website, I commenced making my first sourdough starter yesterday! I opted to use 'Mike's Way' because I could not source for any malt extract which is required for Prof Calvel's method, which is Mike's preferred starting a starter method.

Am posting the step by step pics of my starter (and hopefully all the way to a successful sourdough loaf) here to get feedback from all you more experienced bakers, and also for the benefit of the community at large.

Let's go!

I mix 50 grams wholewheat flour to 50 grams into a small container. Below is what I get. The scale is not so clear in the picture, but it reads about 75 grams.

I then kept the container in a shaded and cool area of my kitchen. Now, being in Malaysia which has a tropical climate, the ambient indoor temperature is a humid 25-26 degrees celcius (78 degrees fahrenheit). Outside, it's like 32 degrees celcius.

I should have checked, but did not, after 12 hours. Instead, I checked at 24 hours and got the below.

Now, at this point of time, the starter smells HORRIBLE! I am beginning to wonder whether this will ever be edible. The smell makes me want to throw up. Seriously bad smelling. Not sure what it smells like. Can't describe it. Rotten and alcoholic is my best description. But lots of fermentation bubbles, and the volume has more than doubled to around 230grams. So I persist anyway.

I add another 50 grams of water and stir. Then 50 grams of the same wholewheat flour and stir. And I get the below:

Will keep you guys posted! Comments welcomed.

pmccool's picture

made with flour and water.  The activity, and the odor, you are observing are from bacterial action, not from yeast.  This bacterial regime will eventually be supplanted by another.  Each will die out as the pH continues to drop as a result of their activities, until the pH is low enough that the yeasts who are present but dormant find the environment to their liking.  They, and the lactobacillus bacteria with whom they cohabit, will establish a stable regime.  You and I call that an active starter.

Somewhere around Day 3 or Day 4, your starter will appear to go into hibernation, if not outright death.  Not so!  It's just another stage.  Follow the directions for feeding and your starter will eventually (a day?  or two?  or three? later) show visible signs of life again.  At that point, it will have about reached the stage of being a functional starter.   You can start using it at that point but don't expect great things right away.  As it matures, it will become stronger in both leavening power and flavor contribution.

You can skip some of the stinky front-end drama if you substitute pineapple juice for the water.  The juice is acidic enough to provide the environment that the yeast like, so they take off sooner than they would while waiting for the bacteria to drive the pH down when using water for the feedings.  Use the Search tool to locate references to pineapple juice.  There's lots of info here.

Have fun!