This is the sourdough starter recipe that worked for me (I love making this bread or this bread with it!). My friend Joanna didn’t have to resort to using pineapple juice for her original sourdough starter, but then, she lives ten minutes closer to San Francisco. Could that be why hers was easier to come by?
I had liked the idea of 100% whole wheat, but in that first week, while the starter is still maturing, one has to dispose of half the starter each time it gets fed. So I mainly used quality all-purpose flour for that, from the health food store. It saved me time and resources, as I didn’t have to fresh-grind my wheat berries into flour, for a mix that would (partly) be thrown out.
What was the reason for using half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour for the initial mix? Because, the whole grain flour actually has more wild yeasts in it (and other things too). So there’s a better chance of introducing those wild yeasts, when starting out. But switching to white flour afterward makes sense too, as the white flour provides all the necessary starch for “feeding” the wild yeasts that have been cultivated.
Some experts claim that by using whole wheat flour the whole time one is cultivating the initial starter, other organisms will continue to be introduced too, as whole grains are a source for many different microorganisms. But we’re aiming for the culture of the yeast and lactobacillus bacteria, so we don’t want to introduce too many others along with that. Hence, the white flour feedings.
The whole sourdough starter process will take a week to mature. The initial mix may take 1-3 days to begin bubbling. If the starter does nothing by the third day, throw it out and start over. Be aware that certain grinders make the flour too hot, killing the yeasts. My Vitamix grinds 3 cups of wheat berries in a minute and a half, but the flour became quite warm to the touch. So I used frozen wheat berries that I store in the freezer to resolve that issue. Check Mike’s page on trouble-shooting, for other potential issues, if things go awry.
After culturing this starter for a week, it will make a scant cup or so of starter. After it gets “fed”, half is refrigerated for the next project, and half is used to make a loaf of bread.
1/4 c. pineapple juice (canned or from concentrate is fine)
1/4 c. all-purpose flour (organic, if possible)
1/4 c. fresh, home-ground whole wheat flour (or from a reputable supplier)
1-2 lb. more all-purpose flour, for follow-up feedings
Spring water (non-chlorinated), for follow-up feedings
1. In a glass measuring cup (2-4 cup), or other bowl, mix together: > 1/4 c. pineapple juice (room temperature or slightly warm) > 1/4 c. all-purpose flour (organic, if possible) > 1/4 c. fresh, home-ground whole wheat flour (or from a reputable supplier)
2. Cover the container with plastic wrap and let sit. A warmish spot, at anywhere between 65-80 degrees should work.
3. Stir the mixture several times daily.
4. Note when the mixture starts to get a bit bubbly. It’s working! This should happen at some point in the first three days.*
5. When the mixture has gotten bubbly, and has doubled in size, it is ready for its “feedings” to begin. First, mix in the water: > 1/4 c. spring water (non-chlorinated)
6. To the water/starter mixture, add: > 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
7. Cover the container with plastic wrap and let the mixture double in size.
8. When it’s doubled in size again, start throwing half of it out. Even if it hurts. I hate to “waste”, but the starter is gaining in momentum. It’s still not matured, but if you kept all the premature mix, you would have too much.
9. After throwing half the starter out, feed again. Mix in: > 1/4 c. spring water
10. To the water/starter mixture, add: > 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
11. Keep repeating this process of letting it double, throwing half out, and feeding again, for one week.
12. After a week, you can start feeding it with freshly-ground whole wheat flour, if desired. Begin making bread with it, reserving half the starter in a jar in the refrigerator, and using the other half.
Note: I use red winter wheat berries (found here on Amazon for a good deal), for my whole-grain bread making. Delicious, and healthy!