The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter: Raisin water does not ferment - it moulds - help

TaniRDev's picture

Starter: Raisin water does not ferment - it moulds - help

During the winter I made a fantastic starter with fermented raisin water. Water & Raisins 10 days later it was foaming and boozy. The result giving us a starter with really great bakes.

My daughter (9) is making a starter as a project. It has changed the water colour as expected but is not foaming, it is not boozy it has grown mould on top.

The only two things that I can think of is the difference in temperature during winter and early summer and the type of produce. My starter was made with off the shelf raisins, flower and tap water while hers is made with Organic ingredients and spring water.

As you can see on the photo all was honky doory on day 3 – 4 and then it just went down hill until it went mouldy on day 8 – 9.

Please help.

1. Please confirm the root of the problem.

2. Please give me suggestions/pointers on how to fix this dilemma in future.

Thank you

CeciC's picture

Hi T&C

I think Temp takes a big part as well. Last week I have been following the instruction from this website while my room temp was around 30C instead of the recommended 28C. It starting to mold on the third day. 

Another reasons I can think of is maybe we didnt sterilized our jar clean enough. 

Mine us just a rough guess. Some of the experts from here should be able to help us out.



dabrownman's picture

I'm glad you are trying to get a YW culture going.  Since the air does not have the microbes you arr looking for, putting a cloth on top just lets in the really bad stuff you don't want.  You want the stuff that is on the fruit itself.  I use a 14oz clean peanut butter jar with a lid that seals tight that I hand wash. that is clean enough..  No need for such a huge container.  If you aren't using organic raisins, or apples or citrus or strawberries, they may have been sprayed with who knows what to kill anything on the outside.

An acid environment also helps.  Here is what I send to folks trying to get their YW  going - seems to work.

I saw you were thinking about making some YW.  teketeke got me going with mine a couple of years ago and I have helped Janet, Ian and a few others to get theirs going.Her is what I sent trailrunner earlier this year and I think she too is going to get one going soon. Hope this helps.

teketeke's post on YW is a good one if you scroll down far enough when the pictures start to appear again - way down.  She is a great YW baker from Japan and I bugged the heck out of her to get my YW going.  Worked first time.  The idea is to get a slightly acidic base to start from, be a little on the warm side temperature wise, don't use any sugar - use honey instead, use bottled water, open the lid often, right before shaking and get some fresh air in the jar by fanning it it with a piece of paper, shake the container often and be patient like starting any other wild yeast.  The fruit you start with matters.  I started mine with orange and tangelos from the back yard because they are acidic, but I would do it differently today

You want to make sure the fruit you use is organic so no fungicides and herbicides on the skins and has the skin on - except for citrus.  Skins on citrus will kill everything off so you only let those skins sit for a couple of days and then put fruit in without the skins.  What you want to do is get an organic apple and some organic raisins.  People have their own opinions as to which ones work best bit using both is really the cat's meow.    Don't wash the apple. or the raisins since the yeast you want is on the skin.  I use a plastic used peanut butter jar for my YW container but anything with a screw top lid will work as long as you can shake it without it dripping all over the place

Take 20 raisins and mash half of them.  Take half an apple, leave the skin on,  take the stem and base off and core the seeds out.  Chop the 1/2 apple into 1/4 inch pieces.  Mash half the apple pieces.  Save the other half an apple by rubbing the cut side with lemon, lime or orange juice and refrigerate it.  Place all the 1/2  apple and raisins in the jar including the mashed portions.  Add 1 T of orange juice.  Fill jar 3/4 of the way up with bottled mineral or RO water that is absolutely chlorine free.  If you are using other bottled water then pour it into an uncovered glass 24 hours ahead of time so the chlorine can dissipate.   Do not add any honey at this point.

Keep the jar warm around 78 -80 F.  I used a heating pad with kitchen towels folded on top till I got the right temperature.  For the first 2 days, every couple of hours open the jar fan some new air in it, close the lid , shake the jar vigorously, loosen the lid and let it sit on the heating pad that way till you do it all again.  On the 3rd day add 1 tsp of honey.  Keep up the fanning, shaking, loosening the lid till day 4.  By that time, after you shake, the mix bubbles should be visible and remain for awhile.  The the jar lid should hiss as compresses CO2 escapes when you open the lid after shaking.

After a week or so you should have some nice YW to bake with.  To know if it is ready just make a levain with 50 g or the yeast water and 50 g of flour and see if can double in volume in 6-12 hours.

Each week in the beginning,  strain everything out of the jar.    Put 3 T of old YW back in the jar with a few pieces of old fruit say 4 raisins and 4 pieces of apple.  Add more fresh raisins and half a diced apple (you don't have to mash them up anymore).   Add 1 T of honey and fill 3/4th full with water.  The next day it will be ready to build a levain with again.  After it settles itself in after a couple three weeks, you can then refrigerate it 4 hours after feeding it and it will be ready and peaked to make bread after 3 days in the fridge.  I now feed mine every 3 weeks and keep it in the fridge.

You can replace any SD levain with YW.  If the recipe calls for 220 g of levain just use 110 g of YW and 110 of flour to make it.  When it doubles it is ready to go about 6 hours or so.  If you bake a lot like Janet does when you use the YW just replace it with new bottled water and a little honey shake it up  and leave it on the counter a couple of hours before refrigerating.

Any question just ask

TaniRDev's picture

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Thank you Ceci and Dabrownman. I feel like a frustrated PC user calling the call desk/help line. (In this case the bread line) "It worked in the winter but now it's just not doing what it is supposed to do even with supposedly Organic produce…."

As any great helpdesk operator would advise, check the basics and work your way up. I am taking your advice on board and will keep you posted.  A good thing is that I do have my winter leaven to bake with and this is part of a school project. Fault finding is a very important part of learning and improvement. I want the new generation just as Gaga about good bread as I am. So here goes, fingers crossed.


dabrownman's picture

posts on TFL but I'm giving you the award for the most strange and that is saying something!

TaniRDev's picture

Let me see if I can fix it - I coppied form a Microsoft Office Application - It looks like it took the code as well. T&C

TaniRDev's picture

Sorry - Site Admin will have to have a look - it is beyond my power over keyboard - lol