Grape biga starter HELP!

I followed a recipe for a grape starter.  It said to crush grapes and set out for approx. 5 days until bubbles and foam appear. However I noticed mold is starting to grow on the 3rd day. What went wrong? Should I throw it out? Maybe it's too cold this time of the year to try a sourdough starter??? HELP!
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Millciti's picture
Millciti 2008 November 28
Hi Sourgrapes,

It will be hard to help you without more details.

But based on the problems that you are having and just in case your starter won't work.  Please go to the following forum and pick one of the methods described there to start another starter with more of a fighting chance at success.  Not too cold for yeast to grow it just grows slower unless you are talking freezing.  So don't forget to give all the details of your starter techniques etc.

Dom does a great job... and the following forum if you are looking for a method that still uses grapes... sort of.

Best regards,


Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 November 29
Sourgrapes, don't throw it away. keep it for two more days, then strain the solids through a seive. Discard the solids and retain the liquid. Introduce the liquid into an equal quantity of flour and mix til the flour is fully hydrated. Allow to ferment for 24 hours and then use it as a "starter" to inoculate a sourdough.

See my [url="Native Fruit Starter"[/url] album for a few visual clues.
Millciti's picture
Millciti 2008 November 29
I was trying to help but couldn't quite figure out sourgrapes method.  I have only started a traditional white French starter, and a rye starter with the pineapple solution that Peter Reinhart uses in his whole grains.  Both were very successful, I have looked at other methods but not tried any yet.  

Your method is very interesting using your local fruit.  I fermented some sweet cider this fall and added it to bread using both rye and white starter and some caramelized apples it was very good.  But I am still working on my method for incorporating it into dough.  Would your method work with the cider to just add it to flour to make a fruit based starter?


Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 November 29
Terry, the idea of using some types of fruit as the basis for a sourdough in my method is to introduce the flora endemic to the fruit into a bread dough.

See this thread [url=][b]here[/b][/url] which deals with this issue.

Also note the post in the thread which I copied and pasted below.


Links to confirm

by Danubian - posted on: 2008, April 11 - 08:29 Eric,

Here are a few links to posts where we've mentioned the influence of fruit and the need to replenish the 'stock' to continue or boost the fruit influence.
Here and then  here

I guess you really would be correct to say these are "....... flavoured leaven[s]".

Here's another link you may find interesting.

Influence of Geographical Origin and Flour Type on Diversity of Lactic Acid Bacteria in Traditional Belgian Sourdoughs

As far as using pineapple, orange, etc. fruit juice in sourdough to my mind is purely for novelty flavouring not enhance biological conditions which some mistakenly believe.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2008 November 30
Sourgrapes you might like to read this thread here.  It has this quote in it that you might find helpful.

[quote]First, there are no yeasts or bacteria on grapes (or whatever) that are useful in a sourdough starter. Those yeasts and bacteria are evolved to live on grapes, not in the entirely different environment of a continually refreshed sourdough starter.

As for the flour, interestingly it turns out that they don't typically find sourdough microorganisms in the flour either... or in the air. The fact is that they don't really know where they come from. Some sourdough microorganisms have been isolated from the teeth of children, for example. Regardless of where you live or what is floating around in your kitchen, if you start with equal weights of flour/water and feed twice a day by removing 90% of the old starter "batter" and replacing it with fresh flour/water, you will develop a symbiotic association of wild yeast and lactobacilli adapted to living in an environment of continually refreshed flour and water -- otherwise known as a sourdough culture.

In terms of the local microorganisms "taking over" the culture over time... this can happen, but doesn't necessarily have to happen if the sourdough culture has a strong symbiosis and is cared for properly. Indeed, there is strong scientific evidence that many older cultures succesfully resist deliberate infection of competing microorganisms. There are many examples of people maintaining separate sourdough cultures in their homes (or laboratories) which retain their individual character over time.[/quote]
Millciti's picture
Millciti 2008 November 30
Hi Boris,

I think we are mostly on the same page with where sourdough culture comes from.  This will be another great scientific source to add to my growing pile of interesting sourdough arguments, theories & supported evidences.

You said, "As far as using pineapple, orange, etc. fruit juice in sourdough to my mind is purely for novelty flavouring not to enhance biological conditions which some mistakenly believe."  I think I answered too quickly before and gave a wrong impression here.  I actually just added the Apple jack to my bread for sweetness and some extra kick in the yeast (think adding beer) not really to build an apple yeast sourdough starter, just a one time dough.  I don't know what I was thinking...yesterday my post didn't make sense and I couldn't correct it then... Problems with the site last night.

I was only mentioning this because I started a rye starter with this method this spring/summer as part of an experiment.  I had been researching sourdough for a while because it is supposed to be healthier for a variety of health conditions, lower glycemic value for diabetics.  Helpful for those with Gluten intolerance because of the chemical changes from the longer fermentation and symbiotic LAB and yeast cultures.  Fermentation of foods in most cases in the past really wasn't just for preservation, they were better for us.  Nowadays more and more of our food is just becoming too sterile for our bodies to use.  Very simply Sourdough is good for humans, and should be part of a healthy diet.  I just chose two different methods to reach the same goal.

The pineapple juice used in the Reinhart method is supposed to help create an acid environment to encourage only the LAB bacteria & yeast and discourage the other less desirable bacteria to grow.

More info here.

You only use a small amount of juice for the first couple of days.  It is supposed to speed up the development of your starter.

I started my other "French" white starter at the same time (June) based on Professor Calvel's starter from "The Taste of Bread." using mostly white flour and a small bit of rye also a very tiny amount of salt.  Mike has a formula on his sourdough home site.  Both starters are still very healthy but I noticed when I converted my rye starter to whole wheat that it wasn't as happy.  So it has gone back to rye and as for the white.  Sometimes it needs a little rye too to keep its best sweet sour nature so some of the yeast that I captured likes rye better.  So maybe I'm still a little bit in "the yeast comes from the flour camp." 

I am still learning ... Its all good!

So as to the idea of starting starters with yeast from fruit I have read plenty of evidence that the type of yeast involved in fruit fermentation... just doesn't survive in the soup of sourdough microflora. However; the other microflora involved do survive and continue to gain strength if you feed them the right diet... and the result is usually a sourdough starter.  Honest I was trying to help but hopefully haven't confused poor sourgrapes here...

Best Regards,


Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 December 1
LeadDog, I'll get back to your quote & thread as soon as I can, time just doesn't permit yet. I have some lab test results that isolate non lactics, lactics, yeasts & moulds from typical flour samples.
I'd also disagree that yeasts & lactics are not found on fruit skins, plant material, grain sliage, etc.

Terry, no sweat I'll have a look at that stuff a bit later, too.

Maedi, I use IE at work and the reply textbox is awfully thin; makes it hard to see what I've typed 
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2008 December 1
[quote=Danubian]LeadDog, I'll get back to your quote & thread as soon as I can, time just doesn't permit yet. <snip>
I'd also disagree that yeasts & lactics are not found on fruit skins, plant material, grain sliage, etc.
Danubian I'm just quoting someone else.  Notice that he says that the yeast and bacteria found on fruit skins is of no use to a sourdough starter.  I have seen this in a number of places by people with a whole lot more experience than me say that putting fruit in a starter is just a waste of time to get it going.  It would be nice to get the low down on this issue of creating a starter.  I just read "The Bread Builders" and the method in there for making a starter makes the most sense to me that I have heard.  My book is currently loaned out so I don't have the details.
Danubian's picture
Danubian 2009 January 27

At the busy end of last year I enlisted the help of an interested micro-biologist here in Sydney who is willing to do some culture isolates and limited identification of those species of Lactics & yeasts from fruits and vegetables. These fruits & veges will then used as substrate for sourdough starter. Further testing will try to establish if there is any species continuity from these fruit & vegies after they have been introduced to a flour water (sourdough) medium. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

I'm not sure how long I will have the interest or the willingness of this biologist to carry out these tests as it can be pretty tedious and take some time. But I'm hopeful it can be seen through to at least some sort of conclusion.

In the mean time I'll update this thread as info becomes available and post any bits that may be of interest. I don't mean to dominate this thread, so please, if you have anything relevant feel free to post.

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2009 January 27
Thanks for spending the time, are you teaching right now?  How is class going?  I will be interested in your results.  I have thought about asking the micro dept here if they would like some starter for testing.  


einkorn 2009 May 21
my friend is succesfull in making weekly whole spelt sourdough without a starter ,just fermenting fresh home made grape juice 48 hours then puiring a glass of that into the flour and water plus some raw honey a bit salt ,let it sit overnight lightly covered in the oven with pilot light but cant dublicate that results with kamut or einkorn flour can any body help ,does it need more or less acidity ???

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