The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starters with fruit fermentation vs just flour starters

jangozo's picture
jangozo

Starters with fruit fermentation vs just flour starters

Hi,

I want to make a sourdough starter and I'm currently looking around for the recipe I want to follow. There are some which use fermenting fruits such as grapes, apples, etc. others use just flour.

What are the differences between the two? Will the fruit starters give a different taste to the dough?

Thanks!

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Flour + Water + Time

Some add catalysts such as pineapple juice or grape skins etc. But what is fermenting is the flour! and this is the starter.

Once the starter is made, however you choose to make one, the finished starter will be a flour + water. The added "catalysts" are just to help make one. Once it is made then generally it is just fed flour + water to be kept going indefinitely.

There is such a thing as Yeast Water which is made and kept going with fruit but that is different.

When a starter is used in a sourdough it will be flour + water. The temperature and feeding schedule will affect the starter either making it more yeast or bacterial therefore making it more or less sour. But what also effects the final bread is how the starter is used within the dough, i.e. how much starter to use, how long the dough is fermented and at what temperature.

So many factors involved here.

No two people have exactly the same starter. And one starter can bring out different qualities in different breads depending on how it is used. And a change in feeding can change your starter.

Welcome to sourdough.

ericreed's picture
ericreed

Pineapple juice is actually used to change the pH of the starter and encourage the proper bacteria and yeast to grow. Grape skins and other fruit are used with the idea that the natural yeasts/bacteria on them will inoculate the starter. The former is solid science, the latter is...less certain, but certainly unnecessary. It's likely that the strains of bacteria and yeast growing on fruit are not quite the same ones that enjoy flour and there is plenty of both already in your flour. (Particularly if you use a little whole rye flour in the mix to get it started.)

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10856/pineapple-juice-solution-part-1
http://yumarama.com/968/starter-from-scratch-intro/
(The link to part 2 is broken in the first, but the yumarama blog is linking to it correctly.)

jangozo's picture
jangozo

Thanks for the detailed reply. I'm now just trying to decide between pineapple juice and only flour starter. Although you're saying that pineapple juice will encourage the proper bacteria to grow, I don't get a sense that it's something you're recommending. Paul's article in yumarama certainly points towards pineapple juice starters being more preferable because they lack the nasty smell.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

You mix flour and water together then wait.

In a relatively short time the mixture will bubble up. This first bubbling is leuconostoc - bad bacteria. Given time the mixture will become acidic and kill off the bad bacteria making it a viable home for the yeasts and good bacteria. Once this has happened a starter is born.

Adding the pineapple juice speeds this process along. Once this process of the mixture becoming viable for good bacteria and they have taken hold then the pineapple juice is not needed anymore.

with time and patience this can be done with just flour and water. To speed things up then pineapple juice is a good method. Whole rye works best too.

jangozo's picture
jangozo

Whole rye? Do you have a link to a recipe that uses whole rye. I see a lot of people here use different kinds of flours in their starters.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Whole Rye lends itself well to starters. More fail safe then other flours. I've sent you a private message.

jangozo's picture
jangozo

Thanks! I'm reading the recipe now.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

I was confused by information overload. What I've sent you is my starter made simple formula. It hasn't got to be complicated.

When I first started it failed. Too much info coming from loads of people. I'm not saying it was bad info but it can be very confusing for someone who is first starting. I also was not used to this term "cups". So what I did was start afresh, took on board advice and applied the basic principle with my own common sense. And voila, my starter was born.

This is what I've given to you.

AdrianaC's picture
AdrianaC

Would you mind sharing your simple formula?  I'm just getting interested in this and am definitely on "information overload"!

Thanks

ericreed's picture
ericreed

It's pretty common to use wholegrain flour, rye or wheat, to get the starter going. To quote King Arthur Flour, "... whole grain flour (whole wheat or rye) is used at the beginning of the process. This is because whole grains contain more nutrients and sourdough-friendly microorganisms than all-purpose flour."

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2012/04/05/creating-your-own-sourdough-starter-the-path-to-great-bread/

Indeed, Michel Suas in Advanced Bread and Pastry even uses 5% whole rye when building the starter for the final dough in all his sourdough recipes for that little extra invigorating kick. (Whole rye by all accounts works better for this than whole wheat.) 

Ford's picture
Ford

The pineapple solution works!  It is the acid that gives it the head start, but the bacteria and the yeast come from the flour.

Ford

Arjon's picture
Arjon

I'm curious. Has anyone tried starting and/or maintaining an SD starter using YW instead of regular water? Or seen anything about doing so and what happened?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

but it takes much longer.  Much faster using flour and water with a bit of pineapple juice.  The yeast in YW is not one that lives well in a acid environment so it has to be replaced with one that does..... so why start with it? 

Arjon's picture
Arjon

then would I be correct to assume there's no reason to try using YW instead of filtered when I feed my established SD starter? 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

But I think the YW yeast won't survive in your starter environment.

Arjon's picture
Arjon

to sate my curiosity, I'll try to remember to let people know what happens. Haven't seriously thought about trying to use YW yet, so not holding my breath. 

Natharrah's picture
Natharrah

If you have at least one pack of yeast this one is super easy... It's not traditional. I'm attempting a traditional starter now with just flour and water. But this is the first bread I've successfully made.. https://www.thespruceeats.com/potato-flake-sourdough-1806084