Sour­dough Starter

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MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS To­tal: 1 week There are as many meth­ods for mak­ing sour­dough starter as there are bak­ers. Clas­si­cists say flour and wa­ter is enough to be­gin fer­men­ta­tion. Oth­ers—like Peter Rein­hart of The Bread Baker’s Ap­pren­tice, who in­spired this recipe— sug­gest adding fruit juice to kick-start things. Mostly, it’s the en­vi­ron­ment that matters: Mea­sure liq­uids to solids care­fully, use fil­tered wa­ter, and use room-tem­per­a­ture in­gre­di­ents to help bac­te­ria and yeast flour­ish and mul­ti­ply. About 2 cups whole wheat flour ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. pineap­ple juice

1 In a quart-size can­ning jar or re­seal­able plas­tic con­tainer, add 3½ ta­ble­spoons flour and ¼ cup pineap­ple juice; stir vig­or­ously with chop­sticks un­til com­bined. Cover with plas­tic wrap and let rest in a warm spot for 48 hours, open­ing the jar and stir­ring again 3 times a day.

2 Stir in 2 more ta­ble­spoons each flour and juice. Cover with plas­tic wrap and let rest an­other 48 hours, open­ing the jar and stir­ring again with chop­sticks 3 times a day. (By the end, you should see some bub­bles form­ing.)

3 Add 5 ta­ble­spoons plus ¾ tea­spoon flour and 3 ta­ble­spoons tepid fil­tered wa­ter; stir vig­or­ously. Cover and let rest 24 hours.

4 Add ½ cup flour and ⅓ cup tepid fil­tered wa­ter; stir vig­or­ously. Cover and let rest 24 hours. Re­peat again the fol­low­ing day. (Starter should be bub­bly, cheesy, and smell like beer.) It is now ready to use or give away.

5 Feed the starter (or ad­vise your friends to) about 8 hours be­fore us­ing: Be­gin by dis­card­ing all but ½ cup starter from the jar. Add ½ cup tepid fil­tered wa­ter and 1 cup to­tal of flours of your choice (a good stan­dard mix is 20% whole wheat, 80% un­bleached white). Mix well, scrap­ing down the sides of the jar. To use ev­ery or ev­ery other day, keep your starter at room tem­per­a­ture and feed it daily. To use in­ter­mit­tently, store in the fridge and feed once a week.

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