Isn't it adorable? Thursday's assignment for the 28-Day Real Food Challenge is to start or otherwise acquire a sourdough starter. No directions were included so, although I knew the basic idea behind sourdough, I hit the web for instructions. There are lots and lots of instructions out there and no two are the same! Ultimately, I stumbled into this article from Eric at breadtopia.com (which, though I haven't fully explored it yet, looks to be a great resource for those who'd like to bake their own bread).
The method Eric demos, in both article and video form, is incredibly simple- but surprisingly includes pineapple juice. The purpose of the juice is to create the right level of acidity in the culture for the yeast to start working. If you are interested in the science behind that- and it really is fascinating- Eric mentions in his post that Debra Wink, the discoverer of this method (a chemist and baker), had sent him an essay on the topic that he would forward on upon request.
I didn't get my starter started until the middle of the day. Even so, several hours later when I stopped by to check on it there was already action. When I initially combined the ingredients, the starter looked similar to the picture above. When I checked on it later, the picture below is what I found. It appeared to have already started fermenting a bit as there was what appeared to be a bit of hooch (alcohol resulting from fermentation) on top. I stirred the mix (resulting in the above photo) and set it back safely on top of the fridge.