This is the comment thread for the Breadtopia blog post originally published here:
Eric, I am super impressed with your method for creating a sourdough starter. I live in Costa Rica and prior to moving here I dried my starter into flakes for transporting from Texas to Costa Rica. I was able to revive it successfully and have made some wonderful bread in the past few years.
I stopped baking my own bread because we found a terrific baker in town making excellent artisan sourdough breads. I actually neglected my starter to the point I could no longer get a decent rise in a loaf of bread. Two months ago the baker retired and we have no longer have a source for sourdough bread. So, it was time for me to get back to baking and I needed to create a new starter from scratch. This it what lead me to your Breadtopia website.
I am just now on step 3 of your method, and I added the flour and water about 3 hours ago. The volume has already doubled and it’s bubbling and brewing just like a healthy starter should. (I should mention here that Costa Rica produces some of the finest pineapples, and we have an abundance of pure fresh pineapple juice.) Just 2 more days and we’ll have fresh sourdough bread again.
Thank you so much for publishing your starter recipe.
Excellent. Glad to hear it.
Eric, I am new to sourdough starts and would like to better understand how and what to store my start in when its in the refrigerator. I have a large plastic bottle that was once used for coconut oil and would like to use it, but I’m afraid of the lid closing in the gasses or the plastic breaking down. Otherwise I have a home made crock bowl with no lid. Could you help me with that basic question?
A wide mouth glass jar with a loose fitting lid works well. A lid is necessary to keep the starter from drying out, but it shouldn’t be air tight. I use this jar with the rubber seal removed - works great.
Have you made a spelt sourdough starter without using the starter from a white flour starter?
Do you mean have I made a spelt sourdough starter from scratch? I haven’t but it shouldn’t be any more or less difficult than making a starter from any other wheat flour, including white flour.
Do you ever add pineapple juice to the stater when maintaining it? Or is the pineapple juice just to make the starter?
Just to get it started. It’s not essential even then, just improves odds of success.
I haven’t made bread with starter for several years. When I did we were living in Florida and the bread was awesome!
Now we are at 10,000 ft. altitude in Ecuador and I decided to make some starter. I have a flour I purchased from a mill in Penn. that is an ancient wheat and is basically a whole wheat flour. I made the starter at noon yesterday, using the typical 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, and by 10:30 today it had doubled and was very active.
I stirred it down, removed half, and added flour and water. At this writing it is already increased in volume by half!
I realize from having baked here for years the difference reduced atmospheric pressure makes on leavened products. So I’m wondering if the same applies in this case to starter? If that is the case, then what adjustments need to be made?
Thanks for the very informative video on making a SD starter. I’m wheat intolerant and hope to be able to eat wheat bread again - sourdough wheat that is! My starter is active (after step 2) but not terribly so. The one big difference I noted between my starter and the one you made in the video is the liquid consistency - mine is much thicker than yours. I live in a cold climate (Colorado) at @5000 feet but don’t know if this matters. I used sprouted organic wheat flour, unsweetened pineapple juice and filtered water as your video instructs. Would appreciate your comments.
Being at 5000’ shouldn’t make a big difference in how you do things. You can thin your starter by adding some water. Once the starter is going, all you need is flour and water to maintain it. When your starter rises well after feeding it and it’s bubbly and spongy, you can bake with it.
I’m a rank amateur baker, but I love sourdough bread, especially rye. Thanks to your instructions, I’m just about to transfer my first sourdough starter to a jar - after almost giving up on the process. I got as far as stage 3 on your list, with no signs of life at all. Then I moved the container out of the kitchen and into the den where it’s a consistent couple of degrees warmer, and the next day the soupy mixture had tightened up and there were bubbles! I expect to try my first bake in a cast iron container the next few days. My question, though, is this: Do I need to match the starter with the bread I’ll be making? It’s a whole wheat starter; can this be used to produce a sourdough rye, or do I need to morph a bit of the whole wheat into a rye starter? Thanks so much for your hugely informative and entertaining site.
Hi Eric! I had a decent-looking starter going, very elastic with some bubbles, but after the final step of adding more water and flour, the bubbling has ceased. I tried feeding it some more filtered water and flour but it hasn’t helped. It’s in my kitchen which ranges from temps 60-80 degrees fahrenheit. Any ideas as to what’s gone wrong?
OK, please be patient with me here so I can solve this mystery. I have tried many times to make a starter so I can make sourdough bread. Im from San Francisco and living in Rio and I miss the stuff a lot. I cook for a living and host in my home in a group that cooks and chefs here use. Its really fun. I oove to bake and successfully make lots of bread. Heres my problem. I start my starter with “weighed” amounts of flour and water. I use bread flour because I cant get rye here, but theres no reason it shouldnt work. I mix in a glass bowl with a loos cover and always get a huge reaction within a few hours. I wait for 24 hrs and then weigh and add water and flour again. Its alwasy alive and really growing, but… after that feeding it always fades and wont come back. Ive tried adding only flour and get a lot of bubbles, but never does it come back enough to be usable. I tried Chef Johns method and others many times. Quite often I get a bowl of liquid, thats why I dont add water. What is wrong and what am I looking for after that first or second feeding? Why do I never succeed with this? A mystery…
Sorry for the late reply. No, you can mix and match. Usually, the amount of starter is a fairly small percentage of the total recipe, so the flavor and performance differences using a (whatever) based starter is pretty subtle. You might want to experiment so you can experience the differences for yourself. Most of the time, because of the above reason and laziness, I keep just one starter the same all the time and use it for all types of recipes. When I want to be a purist and/or stay true to a particular recipe, I’ll split my starter and morph one ahead of time for that recipe.
Not really. I’d have to see what you mean by “decent looking”. Photos would probably help. If feeding it didn’t help, there’s a chance your starter wasn’t all that great to begin with. Or possibly you just need to stiffen it up more. If it’s too runny you won’t see much action. With a thin, runny starter, the bubbles (from fermentation) will rise up through the mix and it will look like nothing is happening. But if the mix is stiff, the dough will trap the bubbles and it will rise and get spongy. In other words, when the starter is thick, it’s easier to see when the starter is doing well. Could that be it?
Mysterious indeed. It does really well and then dies out?
Is this a natural sourdough starter you are working with or commercial instant yeast?
I live in Central NY, near Lake Ontario. We experience varying temperatures throughout the year…wet to dry, negative cold to cooking an egg on the sidewalk hot. My question would be what is the ideal climate for natural yeast to be in the air in order to make a successful starter?
On the warmer side is going to be more conducive for sourdough growth. The yeast is more likely to come from the whole grain flour than from the air, but wherever your yeast comes from, warm is good.