The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

pineapple juice boost

mrsleprechaun's picture

pineapple juice boost

I began today attempting to revive a floundering starter with pineapple juice--1/4 C. freshly ground soft wheat, 1/4 C starter, 2T pineapple juice, room temp approx 79F.  It's been about 7 hours and it is looking very happy (bubbling, doubled, smells decent).  It is now bedtime and I'm wondering if I should give it more juice, put it in the fridge, reduce and feed, or just leave it alone?

If I leave it alone now and it does not recede by morning, what do I do next?  And if it does recede?    

Many thanks and my apologies if this answer is already floating somewhere on this site.

Ford's picture


Debra Wink’s Sourdough Starter Recipe[1]

There is nothing magic about the two tablespoons of measure used throughout the first three days.  Equal weights didn't provide a high enough ratio of acid to flour to suit me, and equal volumes did.  Two tablespoons is enough to mix easily without being overly wasteful (and just happens to be the volume of an eighth-cup coffee scoop, which is what I kept on the counter next to the flour and seed culture for quick, easy feeding).  These first few days don't really benefit from being particularly fussy with odd or precise measuring, so make it easy on yourself.  Keep it simple, and let Mother Nature do the rest.


Day 1: mix...

2 tablespoons whole grain flour* (wheat or rye)

2 tablespoons pineapple juice[2], orange juice, or apple cider


Day 2: add...

2 tablespoons whole grain flour*

2 tablespoons juice or cider


Day 3: add...

2 tablespoons whole grain flour*

2 tablespoons juice or cider


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)


* Organic is not a requirement, nor does it need to be freshly ground.


**You can feed the starter/seed culture whatever you would like at this point.  White flour, either bread (unbleached) or a strong unbleached all-purpose like King Arthur or a Canadian brand will turn it into a general-purpose white sourdough starter.  Feed it rye flour if you want a rye sour, or whole wheat, if you want to make 100% whole wheat breads.  If you're new to sourdough, a white starter is probably the best place to start.

On average, yeast cells begin to grow on day 3 or 4 in the warmer months, and on day 4 or 5 during colder times of the year, but results vary by circumstance.  Feed once a day, taking care not to leave mold-promoting residue clinging to the sides or lid of your bowl or container, and refer back to the different phases to track progress.  Once you have yeast growing (but not before), you can and should gradually step up the feeding to two or three times a day, and/or give it bigger refreshments.  This is the point at which I generally defer to the sourdough experts.  There are several good books on sourdough that address the topic of starter maintenance and how to use it in bread.  Just keep in mind that the first days of the seed culture process have nothing to do with developing flavor or even fostering the most desirable species.  The object is simply to move through the succession and get the starter up and running.  The fine-tuning begins there.  Once yeast are growing well, choose the hydration, temperature and feeding routine that suits you, and the populations will shift in response to the flour and conditions that you set up for maintenance.

One more thing I have found is that with regular feeding at room temperature, new starters seem to improve and get more fragrant right around the two-week mark.  Maybe this coincides with the appearance of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis mentioned previously.  It is generally regarded as the most desirable species, as well as the one found to be the most common in traditional sourdough.  A Fifth Phase?  Obviously, there is still more to learn.  -Debra Wink

[1] Bread Lines, a publication of The Bread Bakers Guild of America, Vol. 16, Issue 2, June 2008.

[2] Pat Doucette first proposed pineapple juice, Debra Wink prefers this to other juices.
Bread Lines, a publication of The Bread Bakers Guild of America. Vol. 16, Issue 1, March 2008

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

From the feeding, I'm guessing you have a hungry starter that isn't fed enough flour. Feed it again before going to bed but remove just a level tablespoon of starter and mix with half a cup of flour and enough water to make a very soft dough.  Give it time in a warm location overnight.