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

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.

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.