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The THM cookbook has a recipe for starting wild yeast, but the proportions are really huge. You don't have to make that much!! I'll list an easy wild yeast starter here, and in 10 days or less you should have a nice, sour, bubbly starter.
Wild Yeast Starter
Whole Wheat Flour
quart canning jar
loose-weave cloth (birds-eye weave cloth diaper, or very thin tea towel)
- Mix about 1/2 C whole wheat flour and 1/2C tap water in the jar, with the wooden spoon. I used my regular city water with no problem, but if your water is extra chlorinated (of if this first run doesn't work) considering buying a jug of spring water. Once your starter is healthy, regular tap water is fine for making the bread.
- Cover the jar with the towel & secure with the rubber band, to keep insects and dust out.
- Ideally, you'll place the jar outdoors for 12-24 hours. As long as the temps are above 50 degrees or so, this should work fine. If it's below 50, rest your jar in the house in a high traffic area with as much fresh air as possible - like the end of your kitchen counter near the entry door. We are trying to capture the wild yeasts that are in the air outside. There are some yeasts in your house as well, but you'll get many different strains from outside which will rise better than just a few kinds.
Now you repeat the same procedure for as many days as it takes to get a bubbly, sour/beer smelling starter! Every day, add about 1/4C each of whole wheat and water. Stir well, cover and rest.
When the jar gets about 1/2 full, throw about half of it away, wash the jar and replace the remaining starter, and keep adding flour and water every day. You can add flour/water morning and evening, or just once a day. Either way should be plenty to feed to baby yeasties.
I was planning on 7-10 days for mine to grow, but my starter completely surprised me by going from, "look, I think that might be a bubble!" on day 2, to "Ok, the jar overflowed" on day 5!! Different regions of the world will have different yeasts with different growth habits, strength, and even flavors. Be patient!
If you've been at it for 10+ days with absolutely NO signs of life, you'd better start over.
That's it!! If y ou try a time or 2 with no luck, get pure water. Also, if you've been using ancient flour from the back of your cupboard, a nice fresh sack is in order. The ground wheat will have some of it's own yeasts from when it was milled and those will start to grow first. Old flour has a flat and rather old taste in bread anyway, and you'll want fresh flour for baking your bread. (6 months old is fine, just don't use that *one bag* that you bought for a Thanksgiving recipe 3 years ago)