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Jan 15, 2009 08:42 PM

Starting your own starter [split from LA]

It's very easy to start your own starter. This LA Times article on starters was surprisingly good:

Here are a few other mother lode sites that also tell you exactly how:

Organic, whole grain and rye flours have lots of "wild yeasty beasties" and enzymes that give a starter tremendous oomph. Which is why I recommend the use of rye flour or rye grain to begin any starter, even if you make white flour bread or whole-wheat bread. Moreover, the wild microorganisms present in/on rye flour and grain are already adapted to growing on grain, according to Raymond Calvel, one of the big bread starter gurus.

Fruit juice (pineapple juice, specifically) in lieu of water can aid a starter because of its addition of acid (to keep non-beneficial microorganisms from growing) and a fermentable sugar – a tip from Peter Reinhart.

If you keep your bread fermentation relatively cool (below 85 degrees F), your bread will be sour and rise quite well. Over 85 degrees, and your bread will be more complex than sour, and will have diminished rise and carbon dioxide. Lots more info on starters here on Chowhound. Good luck!

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  1. Addendum:

    This comment was split from
    A sourdough starter to share?
    on the San Francisco Board at

    The OP was looking for a starter from someone else,
    and I responded with how easy it was to start your own.
    Didn't intend this to be a separate thread, as there are many
    on Chowhound already on this subject, but if the info can be
    helpful to someone, I'm pleased.


    2 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine

      It is helpful to at least one I have been making bread for a couple of years now (bread machine) and have been trying to make a starter with no success.
      Thank you for the link and advice.

    2. I started mine from local organic grapes. Wash them off.

      Put them in a bowl of water and let them soak for 20 minutes.

      Mix 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of the water in a small bowl. Cover and see if it ferments. Mine did.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Food Tyrant

        I'm glad that works for you. I'm a little surprised you wash the grapes. Seems to me washing would remove the very microorganisms that you want for the culture (the "frost" on the grapes).

        Though I know several accomplished bakers who have used organic grapes to begin a starter, I've just read that the microorganisms on grapes are never present in the starter, which is why I switched to rye flour or grain:

        “Grapes indeed have yeast and lactobacilli on them. The problem is these particular varieties of yeast and lactobacilli have never been recovered in any sourdough starter that has been examined from any place in the world. These organisms are undoubtedly specific to grapes as certain other lactobacilli are specific to yogurt. There are hundreds of strains of yeasts and equally large numbers of lactobacilli. These organisms develop niches where they thrive. To transplant an organism from one natural environment to another is not a formula for success. It is like taking a polar bear and putting it in the desert.”

        "Microorganisms are more plentiful on the surface of the grain, so a whole grain flour is the easiest (quickest) to get going...Rye flour, because it contains more sugars than wheat, provides more quickly available food, so for this reason it is easier (i.e. quicker) to get a sour going. Also, whole grain flour contains more proteolytic enzyme and amylase (which exist in higher quantities just under the surface of the grain), so again the food source is richer and the sour is quicker to get going."

        It's all fine tuning and a continuing discussion. Hope this helped.