I'd like to use up all the flour in my pantry before I buy more. Will this work?
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Yes, but it will be best if you use an unbleached flour.
Thanks boulangere, the "Better for Bread" type by Gold Medal is unbleached but it has a higher gluten content than AP unbleached I believe. I know higher gluten is good for bread dough but I haven't found anything written on the subject of using it for actual starter.
I have read that organic flour is better for starters and also using part rye flour; I have neither of those at the moment. But I am OK with this being experimental. It will either work or I will procure better ingredients for next time....
Oh, even better! I've not looked at that one for a while, so good to know about the protein content; thanks! Rye is suggested because it ferments so fantastically (think rye whiskey). I like to use it when I've, ahem, let my barm go unfed for 5-6 days, and never use more than a tablespoon in the refreshment. If you use any more, you risk throwing the fermentation into overdrive. In a wild-yeast sourdough, there are some serious acids at work (lactic, acetic), so the stronger the protein the better. You'll be fine with what you have!
Thanks boulangere. It was going well until I overfed yesterday. I am trying to rescue but might start over if unsuccessful. Years ago I followed Nick Malgieri's method for sourdough (but I think it involved a tiny measure of commercial yeast). This time I was following Daniel Leader's stiff levain method with no commercial yeast.
Do you recommend a favorite person's method for beginners to follow?