The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Using Pineapple Juice to boost a lazy start

Mylissa20's picture
Mylissa20

Using Pineapple Juice to boost a lazy start

I recently got some great advice from a TFL friend to boost my languishing start using pineapple juice.  I looked up the original posts on that method and decided to give it a try.  I started on "day 4" of the process on part 2 of the pineapple juice post.  My only question is whether or not to feed it once daily this way as is hinted at in the instructions, or to feed it twice daily since my start does bubble and expand, just not as much as it should.  I don't understand enough about the process to know whether or not twice daily feedings with pineapple juice could overload the start or something.  Does anyone have an opinion?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Using Pineapple juice is recommended from the start to lower the pH, so the nasty bacteria don't take hold. They don't like the higher acid levels that the Pineapple delivers. Adding the juice at day 4 might not hurt but the nasty bacteria, if it has taken hold will be harder to get rid of. If the starter smells good now (hints of fruit or other nice aromas like cheese), I would switch to water and feed as per the schedule. If you have any questions about the health of the culture, you could start over and follow the procedure using the unsweetened juice.


You could just feed with water and keep going regardless of how it smells and eventually it will recover and start to smell sweet.  As they say "it's not rocket science but it IS microbiology".


Let me know if this isn't clear.


Eric

Mylissa20's picture
Mylissa20

that quote made me laugh.  I have been trying to boost a start I've had for a while, but that I think got contaminated with something when I added a friend's start to the mix.  I did start a new one just in case this one doesn't pull through.  It is bubbling nicely now, and looks like after only the one pineapple juice feeding it is going to double (which it hasn't done well in months).  Should I do one more before bed and then switch to water tomorrow, or do you think it needs more time to kick the bad critters?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I don't think it matters. The juice isn't kicking out the critters. Twice daily feedings all at room temp is all it really needs.


Eric

bsleap's picture
bsleap

I think I have just made a mistake and thrown away my starter at day 5 because nothing was happening (apart from 6 bubbles !) The temperature in my house is usually about 55 during the day and rises to about 69 when I get home and turn the heating on. Am I right in thinking if I had just continued feeding and discarding  it everyday it would have eventually worked ?  I am using the method in 'The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It uses Rye flour to start and pinapple juice, changing to bread flour and water at day 3.  Would adding organic grapes (saw that mentioned in Nancy Silverton's book) at the outset have helped ?


This is my first starter so I don't really know a lot, eager to learn though.


 


Thanks in advance for any advice


 


 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

If your house is 55F during the day, I think that's too cold for your starter to develop quickly at room temp. Nice room temp should be 69-73F. 


Here are a few suggestions for a warmer spot:



  1. Hang a lightbulb in a cardboard box, turning it on, and leaving your starter in there. 

  2. Leave it in the oven with the oven light turned on. 

  3. Set it on or near a heating pad set to low. 

  4. Set it on or near a sunny spot that will get to the right temperature. 


Your starter might have been fine, just at those temperatures, probably too cool to be really active. 


I've made (and continue to use) Silverton's starter. It works well for me, but I think the pineapple juice + whole wheat (or rye) approach is substantially faster. If I had to do it over again, I would use the pineapple juice technique. 




 

bsleap's picture
bsleap

Thank you very much for the advice. I can easily put it in the oven leaving the light on. I will start a new batch this evening and give it a go.


I live on the Oregon Coast so it never gets really warm and my house is on the cold side even in the summer.


Fingers crossed.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

let us know how it goes! hopefully you'll have a happily bubbling starter soon. 

bsleap's picture
bsleap

Hi Cranbo


Fingers crossed that I didn't kill my starter today by being over zealous with the light bulb treatment. It is amazing how much heat one little bulb can generate. At least I can start again and be hopeful of maintaining the correct temps.


Thanks again

Mylissa20's picture
Mylissa20

I used the pineapple method offered on this site to start a new start while I was trying to revive mine, and it worked beautifully!  everything happened right on schedule just as he said it would.  I am going to try baking with my new start this weekend to see if it has lifting power, but it looks to be very healthy and active.  If the method you're using now doesn't work, I would try that one!

Leslie B's picture
Leslie B

I'm on day 4 of the pineapple starter using rye flour.  Nothing is happening.  I have the same issue with it being cold in my house, and sadly, no light in the oven.  I've put it in a box and stuck it in a window, but I was wondering if extreme temps could also affect the starter?


And, it seems pretty dense.  I've followed the directions exactly.  I borrowed a starter last night and it is more liquidy.  I'm at high altitude in Boulder and am wondering if the consistancy should be on the more liquid side.


I baked today with the borrowed starter and had similar failed results as always- but I'll post that somewhere else.

Mylissa20's picture
Mylissa20

I live in Utah, so I get where you're coming from with the cold dry winter climate.  I currently don't own an oven (I bake in my neighbors oven) so I can't use my oven for a proofing box either.  One thing I have tried that has worked is to make a "rice bag," warm it and put it into the microwave with my start or dough. 


You can take a sock and fill it with rice.  Microwave the rice sock alone for 2 minutes or so until it is fairly warm.  Then place the rice sock off to the side of the inside of the microwave and place your start inside the microwave with the sock while you are gone.  The sock will keep the temperature high in the microwave for quite a few hours and having a controlled environment will help your start out. 


Once you have gotten your start active, you might consider keeping it as a refrigerator start, since your house stays so cool on a regular basis.  Once my starts are active, I put them in the fridge and feed them every other day.  They keep well that way, I don't have to feed as much, and they still make nice loaves.


Whatever happens, don't give up!  Determination goes a long way with sourdough!

placebo's picture
placebo

Can you find a warm spot in your house where you can keep the starter? When I was trying to revive a dried starter at my brother's house in Wisconsin, it didn't do much until I kept it on a table that was above a radiator. The rest of the house would drop into the low 60s overnight, but that spot on the table stayed quite a bit warmer.


You could try adding more water to the starter to thin it out. I think I remember reading somewhere that thinner starters are easier to get going in the beginning, so it might be worth a shot. You could always divide what you have in two and add water to only one portion then keep the one that fares better.

bsleap's picture
bsleap

Hi Leslie B,  


I know you don't have a light bulb in your oven but is it possible to add one ?  We had a freeze here over night and so I was not sure if my oven light would be enough to keep the starter at around 70 - 75, so I put the light bulb end of a flexi reading lamp in to the oven as well (I had to leave the oven door slightly oven to get the oven light to stay on anyway. After about 4 hours I checked the temp of the container that the starter was in and it was 83 - oops !  obviously I over did the light bulb treatment. So I was thinking if you had something like a reading lamp you could use it in place of an actual oven light and then should be able to keep the temp at around 70 which was what happened when I turned of one of the lights.


Of course I am not sure now if I have 'cooked' my starter but I guess I will find out tomorrow when it should rise slightly. If it doesn't then I will just start again using one light bulb only this time.


Berni

Leslie B's picture
Leslie B

Thanks.  I"ll try the rice sock idea.  I've searched for a warm place- it just isn't going to happen here.


But, I do need some clarification on this starter:
Day 4: (and once daily until it starts to expand and smell yeasty), mix . . .
2 oz. of the starter (1/4 cup after stirring down-discard the rest)
1 oz. flour** (scant 1/4 cup)
1 oz. water (2 tablespoons


I don't have enough starter to throw away 1/4 everyday.  If nothing has happened, do I still do "day 4" or wait until it doubles in size?  It hasn't moved at all.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

if your room temps are cold, it may take longer. Feed it, or don't. Keep at it, either way, eventually it will start to grow. 


Don't be afraid to leave the starter alone for 1-3 days, especially if activity is slow. It's not going to hurt it. Do be sure to check it every day though, if it gets any mold, be sure to scoop it off immediately, your starter will still be fine. 

Leslie B's picture
Leslie B

Thanks everyone!  I took my starter to a friend's house and stuck it in his oven with the light on.  I have movement!  It hasn't doubled in size but it grew some.


This weekend I will try to concoct a box with a lamp or lightbulb hanging in it and see how that works- whether it's easy to control the heat or not.


My concern with a heating pad was leaving it on while I'm not there.  I've heard stories that they can start fires. 


Thanks again.  It's just nice to know that temperature was the problem (this time) rather than something else I did- like my issues with bread.