The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter Wheat Flour

  • Pin It
chris319's picture
chris319

Starter Wheat Flour

Still no joy with my starter experiments.

I've tried every elixir I've read about and could think of and am still not getting off the ground, so I'm beginning to wonder if the flour I'm using has enough of the right kind of wild yeast to make a vigorous starter. Is this a ridiculous notion? The best I've gotten is some tiny gas bubbles on the surface which eventually disappear and the starter then goes as flat as a week-old glass of root beer.

I've tried, in various combinations, spring water, pineapple juice, milk, yougurt, cultured buttermilk*, beer, wine, honey, vinegar water to a pH of 3.5, organic grape skins and cumin, all to no avail. Having tried such a wide assortment of diluents I'm beginning to suspect something is up with the flour. The room is the right temperature and the starters are properly refreshed. I'm thinking it's not my technique, my diluents, the pH, etc.

The yeast we are after for sourdough is candida humilis fka candida milleri. Packaged baker's yeast is saccharomyces cerevisiae, i.e. the wrong kind of yeast for sourdough, so packaged yeast is a no-go.

It is well established that starter can be made from wheat flour, so suggestions such as "try a little rye", though well intentioned, are off the table.

What kind of flour do successful starter makers like? I've been using King Arthur organic whole wheat.

*Cultured buttermilk made lots of mold, but no c. humilis.

chris319's picture
chris319

I found this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saccharomyces_cerevisiae

Take special note of the following sentence: "... it was originally isolated from the skin of grapes ..."

In other words, grape-skin yeast is the wrong kind for sourdough.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Your thinking is misguided. S. cerevisiae is not the wrong kind of yeast. As you see it exists in the wild. LAB are what make sourdough, sourdough. For a sourdough that has been propagated daily L. sanfranciscensis is the likely and desired LAB. In fact you don't really have much control over what yeast takes hold but S. cerevisiae is commonly found living with L. sanfranciscensis. 

coffeecat's picture
coffeecat

I had good results with the wild yeast blog's starter recipe using orange juice I squeezed fresh the first day and kept using it the next 3 days or so and Bob's red mill dark rye. I tried feesimg it plain AP flour but it didn't get as active as when I fed it the rye flour. I have just kept feeding it rye flour because it seems to enjoy it more than the AP, hope that helps :-)

coffeecat's picture
coffeecat

Also, apparently I'm a little slow and the "try a little rye" portion fell off the journey from my eyes to my brain, haha.....

chris319's picture
chris319

S. cerevisiae is not the wrong kind of yeast

The experts would disagree with you. The benefit of C humilis over S. cerevisiae is that the former does not compete with the LAB L. sanfrancisco for maltose, a "symbiotic relationship"

A little google searching will confirm this.

L. sanfranciscensis prefers to consume maltose, while C. milleri is maltase negative (C. milleri is the old name for C humilis, the predominant yeast in SF sourdough.

http://www.wikipedia.or.ke/index.php/Sourdough

S. cerevisiae is commercial packaged baker's yeast. If it were that easy we could all make genuine SF sourdough just by adding baker's yeast and save everybody a lot of effort (and research).

There is a bakery local to me which now lists "yeast" on its ingredient list (it didn't used to). Presumably they are now adding baker's yeast to speed up production. The lack of flavor in their bread bears this out.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

And S. cerevisiae preferred sugars are glucose and fructose. So no competition with L. sanfran. Various species of yeast can live symbiotically with L sanfrancisco.

"S. cerevisiae is commercial packaged baker's yeast. If it were that easy we could all make genuine SF sourdough just by adding baker's yeast and save everybody a lot of effort (and research)."

Er. No. Where's the LAB? 

You talk as if S. cerevisiae is the enemy! It's a species of yeast extracted from brewing beer. The method of producing it may be questionable but it's just yeast.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Chris, when do the tiny bubbles disappear?  About day 2 or 3?  If so, the following "flat as a week-old glass of root beer" stage is just that, a stage.  Don't throw out your starter then just because it appears inert.  The first lively, bubbly, and sometimes stinky stage is powered by bacteria, not by yeast.  The second "flat" stage is also powered by bacteria, just a different kind than the active ones in the first stage.  All the while, the pH is dropping and it eventually gets to the point where the yeasts and lactobacilli that you want are able to dominate the starter ecosystem.

Stay the course, even though the starter looks to be dead as a doornail.  It isn't.  It's just cycling through successive populations of microorganisms as the chemistry changes.  Eventually, it gets to the population that you want.  That may be day 5 or day 6 before the yeasts kick in and start producing bubbles of their own.

Paul

chris319's picture
chris319

I've let some of these starters sit for over two weeks with no activity anywhere. If you stir them, there is no texture and there are no gas bubbles beneath the surface. I'm also not seeing any expansion in volume. None. The only increase in volume comes from my adding flour and water for refreshments.

I've been given the "wait it out and your starter will come to life" advice before to no avail.

Note that my progress is measured in weeks, not days. 6 days would be instant starter for me.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

And a rather disconcerting one, too!  If we mix flour and non-chlorinated water together, it's virtually impossible to avoid some kind of fermentation, even if it isn't a desirable one.  Those that I have witnessed which produced the desired outcome have all followed the active leuconostoc to flat something else to active lactobacillus/yeast progression in about a week at summertime temperatures.  When house temperatures were in the 60's, the process took closer to 2 weeks.  The others went in different, nasty directions but still fermented.  The pineapple juice method leapfrogs past the leuconostoc and flat stages by immediately providing the low pH environment that the lactobacillus and yeast require.  Well, except for the one time that I used bottled pineapple juice which, unbeknownst to me, contained preservatives.  That one went nowhere.

I'm not sure what to suggest, Chris.  If the water you use is free of chlorine or other antiseptic chemicals and the flour is whole-grain anything, the only other significant variables are hydration and temperature.  From what you've said in earlier posts, those don't seem to be problem areas, either.  Which leaves me without further suggestions.

Paul

mwilson's picture
mwilson

In my opinion, I believe it's easier to create sourdough as, funny enough, a dough!..

My mate wanted to start a sourdough. So gave him some basic instructions and it worked first time no issues..

Here's what I instructed.

Buy some raisins. soak them with an equal amount of water (100g if memory serves) overnight. Use the liquor to make a firm dough with white flour at 50% hydration. Ball up place in a container, cover with cling-film and poke a few holes in the top, as keeping it airtight will encourage mould growth. Leave for 48hrs in a warm place 22C+. It will gradually flatten and develop a crust with micro bubble underneath. Remove the crust and take 100g of the gooey stuff and feed 100g flour and 50g water. Ball up. Leave for another 48hrs. Again it will spread but it should produce more gas this time. Now move to feeding every 24hrs. And then every 12hrs. It will easily triple between feedings.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

The leaven instructions in Dan Leopard's 'The Hand Made Loaf'  have worked for me on a number of occasions.  It produces an active culture within 3 days and a leaven ready to be baked with by day 5.

Janet

chris319's picture
chris319

Not condescending but cynical, yes.
I'm not sure what to suggest, Chris.  If the water you use is free of chlorine or other antiseptic chemicals and the flour is whole-grain anything, the only other significant variables are hydration and temperature.  From what you've said in earlier posts, those don't seem to be problem areas, either.  Which leaves me without further suggestions.
Now you understand my quandary. I've tried everything to no avail. People have said "just wait it out and it will happen" but it never does. Given that the conditions are otherwise favorable (yes, the water is non-chlorinated), considering all of the different ingredients and pH levels I've tried, this remains quite a puzzlement. Having tried every conceivable ingredient with no success (except the cabbage leaf) I'm thinking it's something else, such as the flour. There aren't too many variables left.
I'm now at the "I'll try anything" stage.
PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

 

 

This might test your resolve but it is something completely different: a 'hardball' starter. It's pretty much what mwilson describes in his post. Use the Search tool to look for hardball and you'll find my post from a few years back about beginning a starter with Tom Jaine's technique. Nothing more than flour and water, so it's about as basic as can be. 

Perhaps it will work for you. I certainly hope so. 

Paul

chris319's picture
chris319

My latest attempt is the method demonstrated by Joe Ortiz on Julia Child's show. It is a firm levain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEP3QW-V0sw

Buy some raisins. soak them with an equal amount of water (100g if memory serves) overnight. Use the liquor to make a firm dough

My first question is, how is this different from using grapes, and is the yeast going to be s. cerevisiae? It is not the yeast we're looking for in sourdough. I will try to find some more references to this. I read an article just last night saying emphatically not to use s. cerevisiae for sourdough, but now I can't find it.

Like you, I'm using a liquor made by soaking whole cumin seeds in water, then straining off the seeds. This isn't exactly the method used by Joe Ortiz who used ground cumin. If it doesn't work then I'll try Ortiz' ground cumin.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

HI Chris,

Not sure if you have read THIS but it contains a lot of information that might help you unravel your mystery.  Debra had to go on a 'hunt' to figure out what was happening to her starter too until she was able to discover what the problem was.  

You did mention that you have tried pineapple juice but you didn't mention if you read her blog piece so sorry if this is something you have already read.  I know how frustrating this can be and adding any more information can get to be a bit overwhelming.  Before I figured it out I broke down and ordered some dry sd HERE.  I used it for quite awhile before I finally felt up to trying to mix one of my own again.  

Take Care,

Janet

chris319's picture
chris319

S. cerevisiae preferred sugars are glucose and fructose. So no competition with L. sanfran.

You're contradicting an awful lot of reearch on S.F. sourdough.

All strains of S. cerevisiae can grow aerobically on glucose, maltose

There you have the competition for maltose with L Sanfran. C humilis is incapable of consuming maltose. That's what makes it propitious for this kind of bread. One can introduce s. cere.  by adding baker's yeast, grape skins, etc. but it's not the principal yeast in S.F. SD. and will compete for maltose with L. sanfran.

For years S.F. sourdough bakeries (when they were in operation) eschewed baker's yeast. It would have speeded up production for them, so one must assume they did so for a reason. Based on firsthand experience with a bakery which began using baker's yeast only recently I can tell you that yes, the bread will rise and will do so faster, meaning they can make more loaves per day at lower cost, and the bread will sell. However, the discerning consumer will find it more like Wonder bread than genuine S.F. SD, again from firsthand experience.

From Kline and Sugihara's patent:

T. holmii contributes to the selective growth of L. sanfrancisco both in the mother sponge and in the flour slurry cultures of this invention prepared from mother sponge. T. holmii does not utilize maltose, a sugar required by L. sanfrancisco for rapid and heavy growth, and thus not only does not interfere with the growth of the latter but may actually enhance it.

T. holmii is the old name for c. humilis.

chris319's picture
chris319

Hi Janet - I've been all over Debra's postss and have tried pineapple juice more than once, as well as other liquids with pH around 3.5 - 4.0. It does stop the leucs from forming but is not the silver bullet. Debra is aware of my situation and has been very helpful but so far no luck.

placebo's picture
placebo

I used Gold Medal whole wheat flour to make my original starter. I followed Mike Avery's old method, which essentially is to mix equal weights of flour and water and wait, only feeding upon signs of activity. Since then, I've successfully made starters using King Arthur flours, probably AP and white whole wheat, as well as rye, following Debra's and Mike's methods.

Perhaps you got a weird batch of flour. I suggest getting a cheap bag of whole wheat flour (or perhaps just buying some in bulk as you probably don't want 5 lbs of the stuff) and try again. If it works, then perhaps it was the KA flour. If not, you'll know the problem lies elsewhere.

I've seen some of your earlier posts, and I think you're making things way too complicated. Keep it simple. Stick with water and flour and see how it goes. There's no need to spike the initial mixture to get yeast growing.

 

 

chris319's picture
chris319

Perhaps you got a weird batch of flour.

That's what I'm thinking. I'm on my second bag of KA organic WW.

It shouldn't be this complicated or critical. You name it, i've tried it (except the purple cabbage and potatoes).

I'm halfway tempted to save the remainder of this bag of flour and send it to a lab to see if there is any C humilis in it, except I have no idea where to find such a lab and how much it would cost.

chris319's picture
chris319

With the Joe Ortiz stiff starter demonstrated with Julia Child, the exposed surface of the lump of dough dried out after 12 hours, forming a dry crust with cracks in it. The opposite side sticks to the bowl and has a spider-web-like texture. Is this telling me the gluten has developed? It now looks like a big oatmeal cookie in the bowl with no surface bubbles like on TV. Joe Ortiz told Julia that the role of the cumin was to "engender the happy bacteria out of the air" like a magnet. Whatever.

A starter made according to instructions in Sunset magazine is showing some surface bubbles. Created by Dr. George K. York, this one adds yogurt to heated milk. Flour is then added when a curd forms. I don't understand why the two ingredients can't simply be mixed together but this is what the recipe calls for. Another starter made only with nonfat milk had some surface activity which has subsided. None of the three starters smells yeasty yet but I will give them more time.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

The ball will never dry out on top or anywhere else.  Keep it covered in plastic or in coverd plastic tupperware. Sweetbird did a whole post on this method with great pictures that you need to read and follow. thsi method always works.

vtsteve's picture
vtsteve

What's your (attempted) culture's temperature?

chris319's picture
chris319

Perhaps you got a weird batch of flour. I suggest getting a cheap bag of whole wheat flour (or perhaps just buying some in bulk as you probably don't want 5 lbs of the stuff) and try again. If it works, then perhaps it was the KA flour. If not, you'll know the problem lies elsewhere.

This seems like a silly notion but it might not be. I had been using KA organic WW. I picked up some white whole wheat (that seems like an oxymoron to me) from Trader Joe's under their house brand "Baker Josef's" and made some starter about 24 hours ago. It is going through the leuc phase but I'm using straight non-chlorinated water. It's already started to puff up and bubble. I've had false alarms before. Time will tell. The regular KA flour might be made from red wheat and maybe it doesn't make starter very well?

placebo's picture
placebo

Nah, I've made starters using King Arthur AP flour and Gold Medal whole wheat flour with no problem. 

chris319's picture
chris319

I've made starters using King Arthur AP flour and Gold Medal whole wheat flour with no problem.

That's nice, but those aren't the flours that are giving me trouble.

placebo's picture
placebo

But you suggested that perhaps flours made from red wheat were the cause of your difficulties. I'm pointing out that the answer is no because I (and many others) have successfully and straightforwardly made starters from such flours.

Red5's picture
Red5

Chris, everything you seem to know so certainly is wrong, if the information you've been gathering is correct, you would have had a starter by now. If you could post your technique, that would be useful information, not telling people who can get a starter going and maintain it for years what yeasts and bacteria are correct or not. 

It's not the flour, it's something you are doing wrong. 

chris319's picture
chris319

It's not the flour, it's something you are doing wrong

What, pray tell? You've got all the information there is to have, so solve the problem.

I'm pointing out that the answer is no because I (and many others) have successfully and straightforwardly made starters from such flours.

Then go ahead, solve the problem.

I have received private correspondence from Debra on this subject and even she (and others) are out of ideas.

I'm not doing this in an igloo at 40 dgrees F. Anecdotal statements such as "I've made starter before" don't advance the cause without identifying the "something" I'm doing wrong.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Not out of ideas, just out of precious time to donate. What little you told me gave the impression you were veering off in your own direction rather than sticking to tried and true methods. There isn't anything wrong with red wheat or the brand of whole wheat flour you were using, as many here have the viable starters to prove. I am in complete agreement with what Red5 has written. S/he read my mind ...

I wish you well,
dw

What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so.
~Mark Twain

placebo's picture
placebo

My point wasn't to solve or identify your specific problem, but it was to rebut your mistaken notion that the type of wheat flour is the cause of your problem. My intent was to keep you from heading down yet another false path. You may dismiss my observation that I and many many others have successfully made starters using the same type of flour you are using as simply anecdotal, but I'd say it's pretty suggestive evidence that the problem lies with your technique.

chris319's picture
chris319

Take two on Joe Ortiz' starter, this time adding ground cumin directly to the starter (you can sure smell it) and covering the bowl with plastic wrap, a step Ortiz twice omitted from the Julia Child demonstration. Maybe he thought his "happy bacteria" magnet wouldn't be able to suck in those airborne microorganisms if he covered it. Using KA organic WW for this one.

Red5's picture
Red5

I don't have all the information, I have your assertions that you are doing things correctly, which you by your results...you are not. 

Brian123 wrote:
The room is the right temperature and the starters are properly refreshed. I'm thinking it's not my technique, my diluents, the pH, etc.

Define properly refreshed. Also, consider for a few moments, it may just be your technique. 

If you are so certain it's the King Arthur flour then why do you keep using it?

Also, your first post implies these are your first starters, and all attempts have failed. Then later you post that you have begun starters this way in the past. What did you do in the past that worked that you aren't doing now?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

chris319,

There are so many ways to begin a starter. Some work better than others (for various reasons). I prefer just to use flour & water, although there is something to be said for Debra Wink's pineapple juice method. 

My recommendations: pick a single method (such as Debra Wink's, Nancy Silverton's organic grape method, or anything else), follow it to the letter, and stick with it. Document your build process exhaustively: take good written notes, and take lots of pictures. If it gets stuck again after 10 days, post your written and photographic results here. Don't throw out your results, and don't start over again with a different technique; both will waste more time. Instead, your feedback here will help us suggest adjustments to your process to get it to work for you. Focus on your technique and your attention to detail, and you will see results. 

General recommendations to kick-start a starter: 

  • Your first 4-5 days of feeds should be with some kind of whole grain flour: whole wheat, rye, etc. Preferably organic, but whole grain. 
  • If you want extra insurance (eliminate water as a variable), use whole grain flour and bottled filtered water. 
  • Keep your starter in a warm place. For your first 3 days, optimum temps for build will be 80-89F. 
  • Your starter may go thru a stinky phase, this is normal part of the process. Ignore it and keep with the feeding schedule.

Continue to be patient and pay attention to details, and I guarantee that you will be successful starting your starter.  

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When making your starter, keep your notes under your starter.  Keep separate notes for each one.  Write down the date and time each time you handle, sniff, refresh or do anything to that starter so you can read each time you check your starter what exactly you did with it.  Write down your observations.  

Memory can be a slippery thing.  And maybe yours is playing games with you no matter what the reason.  It may help to have a kitchen helper person with this starter thing. 

:)  Relax and stay cool,  Mini

chris319's picture
chris319

What little you told me gave the impression you were veering off in your own direction rather than sticking to tried and true methods.

The "tried and true methods" didn't work for me. I believe I have made that much clear.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Hi chris319, not sure who you are replying to here.

Which exact tried and true methods are you referring to? 

Again, focusing on a single method, and documenting and sharing the results here will help diagnosis. 

Without seeing/reading about exactly how you are doing things, it's difficult if not impossible to help you figure out what is going wrong with your starter build. We would need to know:

  1. How often you feed
  2. What you feed
  3. How much you feed (ratios / percentages of leftover starter, flour, water; also weights of each in grams or ounces)
  4. What temperature you store your starter

As I said before, there are many methods, IMO some generally work better than others. For example I tried the method listed here that someone said was "guaranteed" to get started 2-3 days. I didn't have the same success; mine took 6 days to get started. But not all the environmental variables were the same.

The point is: it worked, it just took longer, and I had to be patient. Pick one method and stick with it, and as I said you will be successful :) 

chris319's picture
chris319

I was responding to Debra.

This caught my eye in the page you linked to: whole grain rye flour, which sometimes FAILS to ferment for unknown reason

This sounds like my starters, only I've been using WW flour.

As for which tried and true methods, see The Pineapple Juice Solution parts 1 and 2.

One fellow said all you had to do was combine flour and (non-chlorinated) water, leave it at room temperature, refresh every day and wait. Three weeks later, no starter, no gas bubbles, no yeast, etc.

I've tried all manner of other "can't fail" starter recipes, too numerous to mention, but not those which call for the addition of baker's yeast (a lot of them do).

Room temperature for me is mid-70s.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

So what happened with the outcome of the Pineapple Juice starter? 

Day 1: mix...
2 tablespoons whole grain flour (wheat or rye)
2 tablespoons pineapple juice, 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: mix . . .

2 oz. of the starter (1/4 cup after stirring down-discard the rest)
1 oz. whole grain flour (1/4 cup)
1 oz. water (2 tablespoons)

Day 5 - 10 (and onward): once-a-day feed, same as Day 4, same time of day (important!) 

The fellow that said combining flour + water is sort of right, but the devil is in the details. For example, he doesn't mention what "room temp" is. Room temp is typically 68 °F - 77 °F. These are both generally too low for establishing a starter quickly. Yeast and lactic acid bacteria favor higher temperatures for optimum multiplication and fermentation. Lactobacillus (such as Lb sanfranciscensis) favors 71F (22C) and above. 

If your room temp is at the lower end, it can take a much longer time. Generally you want to start your starter at higher temp (I recommend 80-90F), you should see activity much more quickly. 

I highly recommend to try Debra's pineapple juice approach again, document your results, keep track of timing, and post the write-up + photos here. This time a few recommendations:

  • keep your starter in your oven with the light turned on, or sitting on top of an electric heating pad for days 1 - 4 (don't let it go over 100F though) 
  • don't switch flours for 10 days of feeding. if you've been following the process, your starter ecosystem should be well established by then.   

One final note: there is no need for the addition of bakers yeast to start a starter; IMO those really sourdough starters. 

Stick with it, you will be successful. 

Nick Sorenson's picture
Nick Sorenson

I haven't tried a started in the city (been on well water since sourdough) but I wonder if the water is killing your bacteria. But... just read you're using spring water. If it truly is spring with no additives then that shouldn't be your problem.

I believe you can buy starter from King Arthur. So that may be one way to get the ball rolling if you don't have a friend with a jar on their counter.

chris319's picture
chris319

Regarding the pineapple juice starter, let's just say that if it had worked we wouldn't be having this discussion.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Chris319, I understand that it didn't work, but I'm also echoing what others have said earlier in this thread.

Pick one proven technique (i.e., proven by others to work), stick to it, and document it here. 

As I said before, there are many approaches that work. Without appropriate documentation, we can only guess about what the problem is, and it is only ingredients and technique. So if it's not ingredients, it's your technique. (I consider environmental variables such as water quality, flour type, room temp, etc. as part of ingredients and/or technique). 

I only recommended the pineapple solution because it has been proven by others to work.

chris319's picture
chris319

Cranbo - What caught my eye was the statement by someone else that sometimes their rye flour failed to ferment. I'm now testing the theory that I may be up against a similar situation; I may or may not be -- can't draw any conclusions yet. It's safe to rule out water and temperature as obstacles.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

I saw that in mariana_aga's blog post as well. 

I have built a starter using the same technique she used, and it did not work as quickly for me. By day 4 (aka refreshment 4), it tasted sour, but no leavening power: a small batch of 210g batch of dough (10g of day 4 starter, 100g AP flour, 100g water) showed no leavening after 16 hours at room temp of 75F. It took until days 7 - 8 to see visible signs of leavening. Within 10 days it was a very flavorful, sufficiently vigorous starter. 

The point is this: all of the technique, ingredient and environmental factors come into play. I don't have the same flour nor water that she does, my temperatures varied somewhat from hers, nor do I know what other yeast or ambient bacteria lurk in her kitchen. The same recipe done by 10 different people will produce 10 different results because of these factors.

I think patience is a key ingredient to the formula of sourdough. :) In the end, all you really should need is flour, water, sufficient heat and time. 

One last thing: what quantities do you use to build your sourdough? Not that I advocate it, but there may be something to using larger quantities of flour (a la Nancy Silverton). It would make sense that more flour improves the odds of the right yeast & LAB colonies getting established. 

 

 

chris319's picture
chris319

You may be onto something regarding Nancy Silverton and larger quantities of flour. I'll have a look at her recipe again. In the meantime I'm going to let the Trader Joe's flour experiments play out. I wouldn't rule out that there might be the odd batch of flour that just doesn't take off for whatever reason.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

It is my experience that when someone says they followed instructions exactly, but it didn't work, and they cannot document exactly how they followed those instructions, they didn't. It is a principle that something not written down at the time never happened. It doesn't matter whether it's coding a complex algorithm in C, simply using CSS to style your web page,  assembling an IKEA 3D puzzle pack, or getting a sourdough mother going: If it went wrong and you didn't document it, you didn't do it as instructed.

Throughout this entire thread, you've said over and again you've done everything right but it still doesn't work. And yet, you haven't once provided your documentation. It follows then by the preponderance of the evidence that you have not done everything right, and you haven't done it right multiple times.

chris319's picture
chris319

there may be something to using larger quantities of flour (a la Nancy Silverton). It would make sense that more flour improves the odds of the right yeast & LAB colonies getting established.

Nancy Silverton's recipe calls for 2C flour and 2 1/2C water, which will make enough starter to make bread for an army.

On the other hand, in the Pineapple Juice Solution, Debra's recipe calls for 2TB flour and 2TB liquid, which are the quantities I've been using.

The Joe Ortiz starter calls for 1/2C flour and 1/4C water and after 3 days is starting to develop some surface bubbles. This raises the question of whether the activity is due to the dryer mixture or the quantity of flour used.