10 March 2011

The Resurrection of the Starter

This is Wilson.

Wilson was my beloved sourdough starter before I got pregnant.

Yes, I said was, for Wilson has since passed on. He was hidden in the back of the fridge during my first trimester and neglected for so long that he eventually turned grey and went into extreme hibernation. When we moved from our apartment, I wasn't in the mood to try and revive a clearly troubled starter so I let him go to Sourdough Heaven. Besides, he was starting to smell like potato chips (not a good smell for a starter).

Why am I telling you about Wilson? Because I am going to reincarnate Wilson! Yay Wilson!

I'm following the "recipe" for a wild yeast starter here. I'm using Hodgson Mill whole grain rye flour and R.W. Knudsen organic pineapple juice.

Why pineapple juice, you ask?

Mixing just flour and water creates an environment that is almost neutral pH, but the yeastie beasties we want prefer an acidic pH. The neutral environment is good for other organisms in the flour that produce acids as a by-product, thus lowering the pH to a level where the yeast can grow. But this takes longer and can be very frustrating because the starter will look like it's doing awesome around day 3 and then appear to "die" on you. This is because gas-producing bacteria cause the starter to grow and then die out when the environment is no longer to their liking. It's only after these bacteria die out that the yeast is allowed to grow. By using pineapple juice, we bypass that initial phase and go directly to an acidic pH favorable to the yeast. The yeast get a foothold right away and don't have to do battle with the gassy bacteria.

Make sense? If not, don't worry. You don't have to know why something works for it to work (thank goodness!)

So last night I mixed 2 tablespoons rye flour with 2 tablespoons pineapple juice in a mason jar.

I will continue adding 2 tablespoons each flour and juice for the next two days until it starts bubbling and then I will start discarding and feeding (if I didn't discard some of it every time I fed it, Wilson would take over my kitchen in about a week! First stop kitchen, next stop...WORLD).

Stay tuned!


  1. Love the GK Chesterton quote..will link to your blog perhaps you would to mine?




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