The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough newbie

JustJoel's picture
JustJoel

Sourdough newbie

I’ve never made sourdough. I’ve never made a starter (well, I did try once. It turned into a muddy stinking mess after three days). I would like to try, not because I love sourdough, but because it’s a challenge, and anyone learning to bake bread should tackle it at least once!

Does anyone have any good advice for a beginner? What is the best way to begin and maintain a starter (I know this is a hotly debated issue, but surely there’s an entry level!) How much starter do I make in the beginning? What should I look for while the starter is developing (yes, I’ve done some research, but I’d like to hear from actual people with personal experiences, with whom I can exchange info and ask questions). When the starter is ready, how much do I add to the dough? And who pays for all the flour I’ll throw out while developing and maintaining the starter (just kidding. Kind of). Are all sourdough breads chewy and a bit tough, or are there versions with a softer crumb? Can I use the starter in any other kind of bread with beneficial results, or does sourdough starter, as the name implies, just for sourdough bread?

Believe it or not, I was the same way when I started baking straight breads. Fear is a bread killer!

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2

I used it and baked bread with it after 10 days.

JustJoel's picture
JustJoel

Thanks, this is a great starting point! And I love pineapple juice! The only thing I don’t see here is that in most of the sourdough starter recipes I’ve seen, once it’s started and the yeast has developed, you can refrigerate it and only feed it once a week. That’s the type of pet I need!

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

I mixed my first starter 12 days ago and baking my first full sourdough loaf today. By day 2/3 it looked awful and smelt too. I persevered with it, poured off the liquid and fed. Details in my recent posts. There does seem to be a fair bit of waste in the early days but by day 9 I used the discard in pancakes and on day 10 made a half yeast/ half starter bread which was really good. We’ve just finished it at breakfast and it made super toast.

i think if you search on my name you will see the photos and questions I asked. I started with equal quantities bread flour/ water and 6 chopped grapes. I am in the UK and the starter was kept in the airing cupboard to provide a constant warm temperature about 25c.

as I say I am an absolute beginner but enjoying every mouthful!

Ford's picture
Ford

The Pineapple Juice Solution will get you by the bad smell period.

JustJoel's picture
JustJoel

I found a starter that seems fairly simple to follow and easy to maintain, but the recipe calls for 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of water, and requires the same amount every day for 5 or more days, without removing any of the previous starter. Won’t that make a huge amount of starter? The recipe is here: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-sourdough-starter-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-47337

MonkeyDaddy's picture
MonkeyDaddy

The recipe linked to above at the Kitchn website does use a tremendous amount of ingredients - very wasteful.  If you follow the instructions that Danni linked to for the Pineapple Juice solution you'll be using much less to start off with.  Unfortunately, there will be some waste when you're getting your culture going for the first time.  But once it's stabilized and growing well the waste can be minimized.

The second thing you're correct about is mentioned in your post higher up the page:  After it's stable you can indeed feed your sourdough weekly and keep it in the fridge.  In fact, you can even go for much longer periods than a week.  I haven't fed mine in a couple months, and I've gone as high as three months without any trouble.  If you let it sit that long the flour will sink to the bottom and a greyish liquid will float to the top.  If it smells clean/sour/alcoholic it is fine to stir back in, although some folks prefer to pour it off before feeding (I stir mine back in).  If is smells like old cheese, or dirty feet, or has a pinkish/reddish color to it dump it, sanitize your container, and start over.  One of the well-known posters here, Dabrownman, came up with a starter maintenance routine he calls the No Muss No Fuss Starter plan.  Using this routine, he can easily go up to 16 weeks between feedings, and many of us here have adopted it with good results (I have actually got two starters in my fridge, three if you count my yeast water).

Good Luck!   --   Let us know how it goes.

     --Mike

 

CathinMalvern's picture
CathinMalvern

i followed a British tv bakers recipe. The link is https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sourdough_starter_with_45126

I did get through a fair amount of flour and also asked for advice on this forum when I had the huge reaction on Day2/3 then nothing much. It got going slowly but took off all of the sudden. I think it is about experimenting a bit to find the best temperatures and places in your own home,

happy Baking!

syros's picture
syros

I followed the Kings Roost video using flour and pineapple juice for the first feeding and then water. Very simple and it was the one that worked for me after several weeks of frustrating attempts to get a starter going. I used rye and pineapple juice. It was amazing!

hippygirl's picture
hippygirl

I just wanted to add that this is the same method I'm currently using as well.

I did run into a bit of a hiccup when, on day 4, I changed from WW to AP for two days and it showed NO signs of life whatsoever, but when I went back to WW, it sprang back to life. I'm guessing either a)it wasn't strong enough yet to make the change or b)it "would" have worked given time, but I was too impatient and panicked.

Anyway, so far, this is the ONLY starter I've been able to get going and keep moving...currently on day 7.

syros's picture
syros

Hi there. Stick to the whole wheat for now until your starter is well established. Changing flours on a new starter can slow it down. Once your starter is really on a solid schedule of feeding and rising for at least two weeks then you could start to feed it 50/50 whole wheat and all purpose and switch over to all purpose if you want. But with a brand new starter you need to let it really get established before changing flours. Just my opinion. 

Justanoldguy's picture
Justanoldguy

By far the fastest start of a starter I've ever had was using the Pineapple Juice Solution by Deborah Wink with freshly milled rye. If you don't mill your own flours store-bought rye flour will work just fine. Once it's up and running pop it into the fridge and feed it about once a week. I kept mine as a rye starter. I hated washing my discard down the drain so If I'm not doing a sourdough loaf I use my 100g of discard as a flavor enhancer in a yeast loaf and just adjust the hydration to account for the 50g of water and 50g of rye flour. It works just fine as long as the leavening police don't catch you and confiscate your loaf. ; )