The Fresh Loaf

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Need an easy recipe for starter from scratch

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dmlfl1's picture
dmlfl1

Need an easy recipe for starter from scratch

I'm not used to working with starters and some of the recipes posted look confusing.  Does anyone have a simple way to make a first batch?  Would a large mason jar be adequate to begin keeping starter in?  Why does the kind of flour matter? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but it's not.   There are many recipes for starting a starter here.  The trick it to pick one and stick to it and don't switch back and forth between them when you get worried.  Patience is a key and so is reading Debra Wink's Pineapple solution #2 and solution #1 in her blog is good background information.  Also includes a recipe.  Being in Florida, a warm humid environment where everything grows easily, I would go with the unsweetened pineapple juice starter.   

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233/wild-yeast-sourdough-starter

The search machine is in the upper right corner and is your friend.

The more "whole" the grain flour, the more natural yeasts in the flour and the sooner your starter will grow.  A large Mason jar is too big for rye flour and I think you should start with small amounts of water and flour or there will be a lot of waste.  You want a container that you can see thru, a loose fitting lid (remove the rubber seal from the mason jar) that will protect your starter from drying out or insects yet allow gasses to move back and forth from the starter.  A tight fitting lid is bad, and trapped gasses have strength enough to pop or break a container.  I like to use loose fitting plastic bag and a large rubber band that just holds it on.  The space in the jar should be about 5 -8 times that of the amount of starter.  Always smart to park a soup bowl under the jar to protect surfaces.  

dmlfl1's picture
dmlfl1

Actually, chewing gum and skipping rope are much preferred to reading complex instructions on making yeast starters!  Thanks for the tips and recommendation on getting it going.  I still need learn about the starter flours and why some yeasts are called "wild".  I'll read Debra Wink's blog.  I appreciate your input and hope to begin mine, soon.

dmlfl1

G-man's picture
G-man

I think the point Mini is making is that the many directions and instructions out there make the whole thing seem so much more complicated than it needs to be. Directions shouldn't be complex, and tend to boil down to the same basic steps. Times may vary, amounts may vary, but the process is basically the same. Same with chewing gum. We can go into pages and pages on elasticity, sweetness, artificial colors vs natural colors and uncolored, artificial and natural flavorings, ingredients, etc, etc, and make the whole thing seem a lot more complex than it really needs to be.

In the end you unwrap the piece of gum, stick it in your mouth, and chew. Don't be discouraged by the amount of info out there. Choose the easiest method you can find and stick with that method.

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

There are two issues. The first is getting a starter going and the second is moving an acive starter into production. I'll only address the first.

1. Get some good whole wheat flout ... (US) Bobs Red Mill, Hodgsons or whatever you can get that seems kinda rustic.

2. Mix it with water say 3 parts water to one part WW flour by weight. Approx is OK here. You don't need a lot, say 2 oz flour to 6 oz H2O or even 1oz to 3 oz.  Now, here is where most people fail ... use non-chlorinated water. If you have a Britta, thats OK or just buy a gallon of distilled water. Remember, chlorine kills bacteria which is why municipal water has chlorine in it to begin with. Never, ever use chlorinated water with your starter.

3. Put the gloop in a clean, clear container (Mason jar is cool) and put a piece of cloth over it secured with a rubber band or such. Make sure that the container is big enough so it is only 1/4-1/3 full at first. Starters like access to air to start. That is actually where many of the bacteria are. 

4. Leave it in a nice airy place at 75-85 degrees. Move it around to maintain a nice ambient temp. It's not fragile, so move it if you want or need to.

5. Check on it every day or so to see if it is producing bubbles. That's why you use a clear container. 

6. When it is producing a bunch of bubbles (you will see them but it will not be like water boiling ... maybe like champaign that has sat in the glass too long) , then you move your active starter into the build and maintain stage. Follow any number of recipes/schemes  for this but it is just a matter of mixing equal parts starter, flour and H2O by weight to get to a 100% hydration starter and follow 3-5 above.

Paul

 

 

 

dmlfl1's picture
dmlfl1

Paul,

Thanks for sending this in plain language.  Some of the sites I looked at seemed written in METRIC!  So, just start with flour and water?  That is simple enough.  I'll try it.

dmlfl1

G-man's picture
G-man

Hey dmlfl1,

Welcome to the land of wild yeast. Sourdough is an incredibly rewarding field once you really get moving. I hope you decide to stick with it and don't get frustrated. Since you seem to be in good hands, I just thought I'd explain why metric!

Most chefs and bakers, even in the USA, use metric measurements rather than Imperial. The reason is fairly simple...it's more accurate. More than that, plenty of chefs do internships and apprenticeships in Europe, where they use metric. Many recipes and formulae in the professional community are written in metric for ease of communication. Believe it or not, cookbooks written for an American audience are significantly 'dumbed down', which is to say they're turned from technical manuals into something resembling what my grandmother (and probably yours, too) wrote on notecards before they're sold to the public.

So yeah, you'll read a lot of recipes here written in metric, even if they happen to be written by Americans. If you get bitten by the bug, you might find yourself looking into getting a kitchen scale that weighs in grams as well as ounces. It ain't such a bad thing.

dmlfl1's picture
dmlfl1

Ha, ha.  I still have a box with hand-written index cards that hold some of my favorite handed-down recipes!  The European baker aspect was very interesting.  Since math conversion isn't my strongest subject, I guess I'll look into your advice of a scale and an updated measuring cup.  Thanks!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

started mine using TFL's soudoughlady's method using pineapple or orange juice.  I used orange juice.  Piece of cake and it makes great bread.

sup3rbuck's picture
sup3rbuck

Hi there and what a greeat forum this is.

There are so many threads regarding starters and i have read for many minutes now but not found a direct answer, so thought i might jump in, in this thread.

 

When the starter is going well and it rises and falls over 12 hours periodical. 

How do you keep it "safe". I've read that you could put it in the refrigerator  and feed only ONCE a week, is this true ?. And if it is, should it be SEALED completely so it doesn't get affected

by cheese and what have you. ?

Maybe put it in refrigerator for 7 days completely sealed, then take it out and feed it in an open container for 12/24 hours and then in the cooler again ?.

Sorry for jumping in on this thread but feel the question is well placed here.

Thanks

 

Grenage's picture
Grenage

A healthy starter should be able to fend off most nasties, as the conditions aren't in their favour; you can can cover the jar with some wrap, or you can just use a jar with a swing lid (or loose lid).  Once a week should be fine, but you'll need to liven it up before use in a recipe.

For the record, I don't put mine in the fridge -  I'm too whimsical and don't like planning ahead!

sup3rbuck's picture
sup3rbuck

I find that mine dies after 4 days in the open if i dont feed it, so i really like to know how to keep it alive for longer time.

How often do you Grenage use your starter ?.

I never had one in the fridge so i will try that soon, thanks.

Grenage's picture
Grenage

Hey there!

At the moment I am still in the obsessed beginner's stage, so I'm baking a lot - probably every other day.  In the open it will die (or become quite unwell) very quickly if you don't feed it, as it will simply run out of food.  I feed mine once a day, but I'm not keeping the volume much smaller; I ditch all but 30g, add 60g water and 60g flour.

leslie c's picture
leslie c

I find that keeping it in the fridge is the way to go unless you're using the starter A LOT (or like some, if you just need it on hand in case the fancy strikes you right then and there:). If you keep it in the fridge you can feed it once a week, or even less. Over the summer when we were in the middle of buying a house and moving, I barely had time to sleep let alone feed my starter. I thought, from time to time, I would starve it to death, but I kept it in the fridge and my starter somehow lived. I'm sure there were times when I went at least two weeks or longer without feeding it. 

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

Here is a reasonable schedule. Adjust to meet your needs.

I bake once a week on the weekend, often Saturday. So ... on Friday I do about 50 gm. starter with 50 gm each flour and water. I let it sit out overnight and refrigerate in a closed container until Thursday PM.  Thursday PM I take it out and refresh it and then I refresh that once more Friday  AM to get my really vigorous working starter. What remains of the refreshed Friday AM starter is my bit to refresh and store for next week.

I have had starter in the fridge for several weeks (2-3) that I was able to get going again after a sluggish refreshment or two. A good starter is not all that fragile or prone to spoil.

leslie c's picture
leslie c

I do something pretty similar. I'll keep it in the fridge until Thursday PM, feed it Thursday PM, then I will either feed it Friday AM or Friday PM as soon as I walk in the door home from work. If I feed it Friday PM around 5:00, set it someplace warm, it's completely puffed up and ready to go by about 9PM. Then I make a sponge. My starter takes about 5 hours to hit peak. Then I keep feeding it over the weekend in the evenings, and I put it into storage during the week.

 

Except lately, I've been baking sourdough during the week, so the starter just lives on the counter. Going through a lot of flour these days. I work full time, so this isn't easy--I've been using a variation of Lahey's no knead recipe where the dough basically just sits all day while I'm at work and I bake it when I get home. My family uses this loaf as a standard all-purpose bread, and we use a lot of it. Sandwich slices, toast, all those things. The weekend is when I can get creative and make more interesting and unusual loaves. 

leslie c's picture
leslie c

Hey! I just posted my starter recipe here: http://cooksquill.blogspot.com/2012/04/sourdough-starter-recipe-that-works.html. You may have already found a starter recipe that worked for you, but I noticed your post a couple weeks ago and I decided I should post something about my own starter recipe on my blog. If you're still looking for a good starter recipe, this one is as simple as it gets.