The best starter for sourdough bread is a natural one. Good quality flour, clean water and fresh air is all you need to get started. It may take a little time to grow, but if you feed your starter - you will be rewarded with an endless supply of natural yeast!
Actually the directions given are in this recipe are complete. I have a wild starter that I started this exact way (filtered water instead of bottled) over thirty years ago. I use it to make bread in a bread machine and to make sourdough waffles. I've almost lost it a couple of times, but after adding a little more unbleached flour and filtered water it bounces right back. Again, I've kept this strain going for over thirty years. - 28 Mar 2008 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)
I have this exact starter. I love it. I gave you 3 stars due to you saying throw a cup or two down the drain. #1 throwing it down the drain will eventualy clog your drain. #2 instead of throwing it away make a banana bread of Pancakes waffels or english muffins with it. TIP. Instead of using 2 cups of water and 2 cups of water to start your starter. Use 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cuo of flour. I keep approximately 1 cup of starter in the fridge at all times and when I feed I take out 1/2 cup and save it till I have enough to use or I will use it as a sponge starter for a recepie. I do not throw it away. If you must throw it away put it in a paper towel and place it in your compost pile. - 04 Aug 2009 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)
I'm two weeks into starting and I've yielded 2 loves of wonderful tangy bread using the "Sourdough Bread III" recipe from this site. I will admit, I wondered how this was all going after week 1. There didn't seem to be much activity, but after doing a search online, I found a sourdough forum. I was comforted knowing I wasn't the only clueless newbie to sourdough bread. The fact that my second loaf turned out well was also confirmation that things are okay. Make sure to use bottled or filtered water. Chlorine from tap water could stop the chemistry. I started with 1/2 cup each flour and water. 2 cups seemed too much when I would only have time to make bread on the weekend. Now I keep in the fridge and 'feed' once a week. Approximately 12 hours before making bread, I take it out of the fridge, feed, and allow it to reach room temp. - 26 Jul 2009 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)