Thank you for the information. I had wondered if instead of using fruit juice, if it would be okay to just use a little wine. I sure don't know much about making a starter. I had originally just wanted to add water and flour, but when Toby said sometimes he used fruit juice for a starter if just made me wonder if I could add the wine.
I don't know how the sweet wine would affect the starter.
Do you have experience in making starter's?
Hey Norma, sorry perhaps I didn't adequately explain the purpose of the fruit juice. Its main role is to add acidity to the initial flour/water mix. This prevents undesirable bacteria such as leuconostoc from taking hold. This is typically seen as an explosive growth about 48 hours after initial mix. This explosion in bacterial growth is often mistaken as a miraculous hot-shot starter which then gives way to disappointment because the growth spurt is short-lived as the acid-producing bacteria start to take hold and the leucs die off. Many people think their starter is dead at this point - which is absolutely not the case. Continued feeding will see increased acidity until the environment is fit for the natural yeast to proliferate. Then, and only then will you start to notice the typical yeasty odours one associates with a mature sourdough starter.
So to summarize: the fruit juice is simply a way of preventing the initial leuc growth. I suspect the fruit sugars also go some way to feeding the bacteria/yeast but that's not the main reason one adds juice.
It is definitely not a necessary addition but it is a handy one. To be fair: my most recent rye starter was a simple flour + water mix and required no juice at all. For whatever reason, the 'leuc' stage was bypassed altogether (this could be due to flour, environment...not sure) and so while things *seemed* slower in getting underway, it turned into a very healthy starter.
Hope that clarifies things. I'm not sure how acidic your wine is - but if you're unsure, or it is of value to you for other purposes (drinking for example!) - I wouldn't bother adding it your initial starter/culture.
Oh and an update on my own rye starter. A few hours ago I mixed up a dough (20% rye, 80% high gluten) which seems to be doing very well. No questionable sulphurous smells (as I was experiencing about a month ago).
So it would seem whatever was causing problems previously has cleared.