Author Topic: Cultures: Activate...  (Read 2897 times)

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Offline Mo

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Cultures: Activate...
« on: March 14, 2009, 09:20:11 AM »
Arrrgghhh....


Converted a busted convection oven into a bacteria breeding facility for my Ischia Island and Camaldoli cultures but did not get my initial temperature right. Yesterday morning the two cultures fit perfectly the description of "contaminated" in the instruction booklet. Washy washy washy with the clear blue cheer...

So, I added a tea light to the set-up and is now holding nicely at 88-91 degrees. I'm hoping there will be a degree or two leeway on the high side (even though there wasn't much leeway on the low side...) I know they cautioned anything over 100 degrees but I'm pretty positive my set-up won't get that warm.



Offline Matthew

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2009, 11:58:15 AM »
Arrrgghhh....


Converted a busted convection oven into a bacteria breeding facility for my Ischia Island and Camaldoli cultures but did not get my initial temperature right. Yesterday morning the two cultures fit perfectly the description of "contaminated" in the instruction booklet. Washy washy washy with the clear blue cheer...

So, I added a tea light to the set-up and is now holding nicely at 88-91 degrees. I'm hoping there will be a degree or two leeway on the high side (even though there wasn't much leeway on the low side...) I know they cautioned anything over 100 degrees but I'm pretty positive my set-up won't get that warm.



Mo,
You're activating 2 cultures at once??  Bill/SFNM may be able to confirm this, but I believe that activating 2 cultures at once highly increases the probability of contamination.  Watch your temperatures when proofing as high temps lead to over acidic cultures which is almost as bad as contamination.

Good luck,
Matt
« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 12:15:43 PM by Matthew »

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2009, 12:26:49 PM »
Just a precaution I have always taken, never to be working with more than one culture at a time in the event I do something stupid like taking the whisk out of one culture and sticking it in another.



Offline Mo

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2009, 03:39:23 PM »
Just a precaution I have always taken, never to be working with more than one culture at a time in the event I do something stupid like taking the whisk out of one culture and sticking it in another.




That's a really good point and one I defiantely thought about before proceeding. I did take extra care to not cross-contaminate (a favorite expression of the foodservice biz) while preparing the cultures. The mason jars are loosely fitted with lids. The reasoning that led me to think it was ok to proceed with two at once was: 1) there was no specific directive against doing so in the instructions; 2) as long as I don't inadvertently cross-contaminate with dirty utensils or the like, the chances they would cross each other was no more likely than being contaminated by pre-existing natural yeast in the proofing environment.

But, having said that, I was just informed by the guy working with me that the jar holding the Ischia culture cracked open last night while he was washing and we lost the whole thing. Down to one. Good news is that it looks much better than before (after three washings and at least one more to come). The hooch is at the top and there are few bubbles/foam to speak of...Good news, right??

Mo.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2009, 04:09:26 PM »
the chances they would cross each other was no more likely than being contaminated by pre-existing natural yeast in the proofing environment.
Maybe not. These cultures have been specifically selected because they thrive in the "proofing environment", perhaps much more so than any that natives that happen to be in the vicinity. 

Offline Mo

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2009, 04:51:51 PM »
Maybe not. These cultures have been specifically selected because they thrive in the "proofing environment", perhaps much more so than any that natives that happen to be in the vicinity. 


Yeah, good point there. I suspected my logic wasn't fool-proof on that point. In any case, the fates intervened and we are down to one culture due to breakage.

What I'm wondering is: why did my mason jars break? It wasn't just one, the other was cracked as well. I've used them for canning in the past and no issues. If it was just one I wouldn't pay too much attention, but now I'm seriously puzzled why they both cracked...


Mystified Mo...

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2009, 06:21:52 PM »

So, I added a tea light to the set-up and is now holding nicely at 88-91 degrees.

What I'm wondering is: why did my mason jars break? It wasn't just one, the other was cracked as well.

Mystified Mo...

Was the tea light (which I assume means open flame) directly under that mason jar?  Mason jars are pretty sturdy and meant to take high temps, but not direct flame.  Also, each time you use them, they should be checked thoroughly for even the tiniest chips and cracks, which when heated, can "explode".

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!

Offline Mo

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2009, 08:49:30 PM »
Was the tea light (which I assume means open flame) directly under that mason jar?  Mason jars are pretty sturdy and meant to take high temps, but not direct flame.  Also, each time you use them, they should be checked thoroughly for even the tiniest chips and cracks, which when heated, can "explode".

~sd


No, I've kept it fairly removed from the cultures, just trying to keep a nice, even ambient temp. I've been using an infrared non-contact therm to check surfaces...See below:


Offline Mo

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2009, 09:20:13 PM »
Wel,l I think I've got the culture properly sorted and by my estimation should be fully active by the am, so I can attempt a full-day room-temp fermentation. I'll post the results in a new topic.

Offline Mo

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2009, 12:22:32 PM »
Wel,l I think I've got the culture properly sorted and by my estimation should be fully active by the am, so I can attempt a full-day room-temp fermentation. I'll post the results in a new topic.

What a pain. I've been a little concerned that my culture hasn't quite responded the way I thought it should. I kept thinking that the next day would be the day it was ready. I have read a bunch of other posts now and am realizing that the directions included with the cultures are Highly Ambiguous at best. It is not immediately clear from the booklet that the 85-90 degrees be maintained ONLY for the first 24 hours and that the rest of activation take place at room temp. I was beginning to suspect the culture was over acidic as the nice sweet/sour smell it had at first became different, more intense and the culture displayed low activity.

I have now washed again and placed it at room temp. Will feed for 24-36 more hours and await the results. I might email sourdo.com and suggest they re-visit their instruction booklet...

Thankfully this site exists and I am able to proceed with the experiment.


Offline kiwipete

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2009, 04:23:42 PM »
You probably don't want to hear this.. but.. I suggest you don't make dough with that culture yet...
From my own experience, and others on this forum too from what I have been reading on this forum over the years, you probably should spend some more time getting "to know" your culture. For people like Bill, myself and others who have been dealing with cultures for a long time, feeding routines, knowing when they are active and lots of other things have become second nature. But the only way we gained this knowledge has been through trial and error (in my case lots of errors.. :))

If I were you, I'd spend a few weeks just feeding and observing the "beastie". Making sure you are getting consistent rises, so the process becomes reliable. Then maybe play around with some of the variables such as stiffer mixtures or wetter mixtures (I currently use 50:50 by weight) Then when you are totally comfortable, make some dough.

Having said all that, I can understand that you are keen to make some dough. I too wanted to make dough with my starter a.s.a.p and guess what: I didn't get the results I was hoping for. (certainly not the first few times)

My two cents worth..

Offline Matthew

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2009, 04:36:02 PM »
What a pain. I've been a little concerned that my culture hasn't quite responded the way I thought it should. I kept thinking that the next day would be the day it was ready. I have read a bunch of other posts now and am realizing that the directions included with the cultures are Highly Ambiguous at best. It is not immediately clear from the booklet that the 85-90 degrees be maintained ONLY for the first 24 hours and that the rest of activation take place at room temp. I was beginning to suspect the culture was over acidic as the nice sweet/sour smell it had at first became different, more intense and the culture displayed low activity.

I have now washed again and placed it at room temp. Will feed for 24-36 more hours and await the results. I might email sourdo.com and suggest they re-visit their instruction booklet...

Thankfully this site exists and I am able to proceed with the experiment.

MO,
I hate to say I told you so but I warned you of this on Reply #1.  Don't worry, it can be easily fixed; Start by doing a single wash @ continue to feed in 12 hour intervals @ room temperature.  It should be fully active in about 3 days, if not, wash again & continue with the same regimen.

Good Luck,
Matt

Offline Mo

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2009, 05:17:58 PM »
MO,
I hate to say I told you so but I warned you of this on Reply #1.  Don't worry, it can be easily fixed; Start by doing a single wash @ continue to feed in 12 hour intervals @ room temperature.  It should be fully active in about 3 days, if not, wash again & continue with the same regimen.

Good Luck,
Matt

Dude, You are so right! But I totally misinterpreted (or just misunderstood) your comment. I assumed you were talking about cultivating at temps over 90 rather than the need for pulling the stuff out of the high temp environment altogether.

I really think the instruction book needs to be much clearer on this point of the process. At no point does it say to pull out of the 85-90 degree proofing environment. It also repeatedly makes the point that temp is critical (just not which temp). It never mentions continuing the proofing process at room temp, though from the posts on this site which contained emails from Ed (the sourdo.com guy, I'm assuming), I soon gathered that this is the necessary second step of the process.

Anywho, live and learn, live some more, learn some more...

Offline Matthew

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2009, 05:50:24 PM »
Dude, You are so right! But I totally misinterpreted (or just misunderstood) your comment. I assumed you were talking about cultivating at temps over 90 rather than the need for pulling the stuff out of the high temp environment altogether.

I really think the instruction book needs to be much clearer on this point of the process. At no point does it say to pull out of the 85-90 degree proofing environment. It also repeatedly makes the point that temp is critical (just not which temp). It never mentions continuing the proofing process at room temp, though from the posts on this site which contained emails from Ed (the sourdo.com guy, I'm assuming), I soon gathered that this is the necessary second step of the process.

Anywho, live and learn, live some more, learn some more...

My apologies bro, I should of been more clear, I just assumed you knew what I meant.  You're right about the instructions, they are not very clear on the proofing temperature after the initial 24 hours.  I have Ed's book & the instructions are the exact same.  Have a look at this thread, I'm sure it'll be helpful.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,8018.20.html
Let me know how you make out. 

Matt
« Last Edit: March 19, 2009, 05:51:59 PM by Matthew »

Offline Mo

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2009, 12:48:54 PM »
Three 12-hour feedings later and I am back to having much confidence in the results of the culture activation. I am just hoping it is done by later tonight so that I can try a room temp ferm sometime tomorrow.


Mo.

Offline Matthew

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2009, 02:54:14 PM »
Three 12-hour feedings later and I am back to having much confidence in the results of the culture activation. I am just hoping it is done by later tonight so that I can try a room temp ferm sometime tomorrow.


Mo.

An indication that your culture is fully active is at least 2 inches of expansion within 3-4 hours of a feeding.

Matt

Offline Mo

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Re: Cultures: Activate...
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2009, 03:26:51 PM »
An indication that your culture is fully active is at least 2 inches of expansion within 3-4 hours of a feeding.

Matt


Yeah, good to know. The nice slightly sour/sweetish smell has returned and the activity is a lot of nice small, uniform bubbles over the surface. I fed it at 9 am and it now shows about an inch to an inch and a quarter.