Sourdough starter Questions


Getting ready to make a sourdough starter but have a couple of questions. pjh recommended I start with a simple starter of water, honey, flour & yeast in a 3-4qt glass/ceramic container. First, knowing there are endless recipes out there (some simple, some more complex), is there a big difference between them in terms of the final product or are they fairly similar in character and taste?

My next question is whether it's okay to start this out in a smaller, 2qt bowl or if I would be risking an "I Love Lucy" moment as it takes over my kitchen. Anxious to get started but don't have a 3-4qt crock or jar handy.

Thanks for your advice!

badge posted by: MattieO on March 31, 2011 at 8:25 pm in Baking, sourdough
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reply by: wingboy on April 01, 2011 at 1:32 am

Hi MattieO,

The only real rule is that there are no rules!

I keep my starter in a pint glass jar. When I feed it, I use a 2 quart food safe plastic container. You may need to adjust the quantity of your ingredients to fit the container. My starter generally just doubles (1 cup, fed, becomes 2 cups which doubled is 4 cups).

reply by: placebo on April 01, 2011 at 1:34 am

I recommend you use this method to make a starter. Since you begin with only 2 tablespoons of flour, you only need a small container. A small glass bowl works well.

I'm in the camp that believes commercial yeast has no place in the making of a sourdough starter. After all, you're trying to cultivate the wild yeast and lactobacilli that are already present in the flour. Commercial yeast will compete for the same resources, so its presence makes it harder for the wild yeast to get going.

reply by: MattieO on April 01, 2011 at 2:48 am

Great info! Thanks for the help!

reply by: MattieO on April 01, 2011 at 11:37 am

Hi, Placebo & Wingboy- Thanks again for taking some of the mystery out of this for me. Reading some of the posts & "fixes" for starters gone wrong on some of the other breadmaking sites are a bit intimidating, which is something I'm not used to when it comes to cooking. Chemistry & microbiology? In college I tried not to get near that side of the campus!

I'm just going to try to not get too wrapped up in the complexity, keep it in its proper perspective and just go with it. I'm going to follow your advice and use the pineapple juice method. I'll let you know how things progress. Many thanks!

reply by: ColleenMI on April 01, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I know what you mean by intimidating. My head was spinning after all the stuff I read. In the end I tried two starters--one with pineapple juice and one with water. They both worked! The PJ was a little faster. Have fun, you might like microbiology in the kitchen. :-)

reply by: MattieO on April 03, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Update: As I was exploring the info mentioned in the link you suggested, I also found a day-by-day review of that method. I was also able to ask a few questions and now have a much better idea of not just the "how" but the "why." I'm on Day-2 of the pineapple juice starter-Too early to tell but so far, so good! Thanks again for the great suggestion!

reply by: placebo on April 04, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I'm sure it'll work and you'll soon be baking your first loaf of sourdough using your new starter. The most important thing with sourdough is having patience. After I succeeded in making a starter after a few aborted attempts, I realized this is especially true with creating the starter.

In any case, good luck! Have you decided which sourdough recipe you're going to try first?

reply by: MattieO on April 05, 2011 at 2:02 am

Probably start with the Ultimate Sourdough Baguettes, but I'm open to suggestions.

reply by: placebo on April 05, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I've gotten good results with the Extra-Tangy Sourdough. I like it because it's a simple, straightforward recipe, and the resulting bread tastes really good.