The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Newbie confusion

beitslaskow's picture

Newbie confusion

Hello--Trying to cut through the multitude of sourdough starter tips (Use pineapple juice!  Mix a lot!  Leave alone! Discard most of what you have and add more feed!). 

Then there's the UW Breadlab method, which, by comparison is deceptively simple--  Feed twice a day, stir, and you're good to go in a week.  Can't be that easy, can it?

Any good data on the science behind this?  

Any good information on methods for wheat vs rye starters?

Is this all "it worked for my grandmother so it works?"  No offense to anyone's grandmother.  I just want to understand the rationale.


alcophile's picture

I started a rye sour culture with organic whole rye flour earlier this year. I followed Stanley Ginsberg’s recipe for the rye sour culture found in his book, The Rye Baker. It is a 100% hydration culture. He mixes equal weights of organic whole rye flour and warm water and each day discards half of the mixture and adds the same amount of fresh flour and warm water as Day 1. I initially thought it was a failure because mine showed little activity for a couple of days after early volcanic behavior, but then began rising again around Day 4 or 5. It took mine about a week before it was ready.

I found some good advice in these posts:

I am certainly no expert, but these posts gave me confidence to continue with my initial rye starter. It has continued to work for me even though I feed it every 1–2 weeks; I store mine in the refrigerator.

phaz's picture

It can, but probably not likely. One owner, a little old lady, only drive around the corner to church. Sounds good doesn't it. Fact is is hard to not get a starter going. So, if ya want a starter, pick a method and follow it through. Or buy some. Or get some from someone. Enjoy! 

gavinc's picture

I recommend these articles. Plenty of data. Debra Wink is a microbiologist and is very credible. 

The Pineapple Juice Solution, Part 1 | The Fresh Loaf

The Pineapple Juice Solution, Part 2 | The Fresh Loaf

This article by Doc Dougherty (doc.dough) is also very credible with plenty of detail. I like this paper as the references are cited at the end.

Methods and Rationale for Sourdough Starter Maintenance and Elaboration RevF.pdf (



syros's picture

I highly recommend this video. After going through bags of flour this worked.

He uses rye flour and pineapple juice and it works!

beitslaskow's picture

OK.  Acidic environment promotes the early growth of yeast, but you'll eventually get there once the bacteria create an acidic enough environment.....


Ming's picture

Why would anyone want to wait longer than necessary to have a sourdough starter established? The end goal is to have it ready to make bread so whatever the quickest way to get there would be my choice.