I have tried many methods of starters. The pineapple juice and water and flour. With no success. Most end up smelling like puke. So I ended up buying some starter dust off ebay. The starter doesnt smell sour yet after a week. I am using king arthur unbleached and 2 cups warm water and 2 cups flour. I see mild activity and it doubles in size and then shrinks. it just smells like flour and water. Please help!
If it doubles in size and then falls back, that just means that it is working and consuming all of the available food at which point it goes into hibernation until the next batch of food turns up and the gas generated escapes hence the loss in volume.
It shouldn't necessarily smell of anything, perhaps just a bit yeasty, but it should develop quite a sour taste particularly just before you feed it. So first thing I would do would be to take a small bit and stick it in your mouth and see what it tastes like.
Other than that, I would be getting myself a nice simple recipe (SourDom's Pane francesa from this site's beginners blogs for instance) and start making bread.
Good luck with your projects.
+1 for the taste test.
I fully expected my starter to smell like sourdough all the time..not true! It smelled like that on the 3rd day when I first noticed yeast activity in the starter, but after a few feedings it ends up smelling like regular bread. Taste a small spoonful and you should notice a sour bite.
Last thing: you might be feeding your starter too much water. You should be adding equal weights of flour and water, not equal volumes. A general rule of thumb is that water is about twice as dense as most flour, so if you add 2 cups of flour then you should only need 1 cup of water.
Great help! I was just adding a cup of flour and a cup of water. Maybe I should get a scale. Anyways, my new starter smells good and looks active! i will taste test asap!
If it doubles in size then shrinks over a period of a few hours (typically 6 hours), then it is somewhat active. If you have doubts about your approach, try a different brand of bottled water. Must be real spring water, not demineralized, not ozoned, no chlorine.
ps: Fermented pineapple smells just... ewwwwwww.