Author Topic: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters  (Read 23550 times)

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Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #40 on: August 13, 2010, 10:08:46 AM »
Matt,

Thanks for giving me recommendations on what to do with these sour dough starters.  I will take them out of the refrigerator today and feed them again.  Since I am new to starters, I have a lot to learn.  I know you have studied starters for awhile and I appreciate your help.  :)

Norma
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #41 on: August 13, 2010, 10:54:49 AM »
I agree with Matt, if I put a starter to sleep at it's most active state and relatively dry (read slightly more flour than water), I tend to have a starter that last longer in the fridge.  That is it takes longer for the hooch to separate out.  I also use it cold if it's only been 2-3 days in the fridge active.   

Even if you decide not to take it out and refeed it, it's no big deal.  When you do take it out to use it, just let it become active before using it.  It may take an extra 30m - 1 h more since it was put to sleep semi-active.

Norma, you'll soon find out that starters are very easy to maintain and use.  If you use it at least once a week, I usually pull it out and let it get to room temps and active (within 2-3 hours).  After I use what I need, I usually stir in some flour and water and let it sit out for several more hours.  Once it's active again, I'll put it to sleep.  If I go to use it in 2-3 days, b/c I put it to sleep active, I'll sometimes use the starter cold and it works fine.

If you don't  use it for several weeks, I've read recommendations of feeding it at least once a week.   You can pull it out of the fridge and feed with a tablespoon of flour and = or less amounts of water (up to you), stir it in cold and stick it back in the fridge.   

But I don't do this.  I just reactivate it when I need it.  this usually takes 5-6 hours if the starter is rather old.  I pour the hooch out but others say keep it in. 

Good luck and tell us if you notice an improvement in your pies or not. 

Chau
« Last Edit: August 13, 2010, 11:21:48 AM by Jackie Tran »

Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #42 on: August 13, 2010, 11:10:24 AM »
Jackie Tran,

Since you and Matt have been working with starters for awhile, I am happy with advise on how to go about feeding these starters and all what goes into feeding them and helping them to become more active, after being kept in the refrigerator. 

I am also interested in seeing what can be achieved with these starters.  I canít figure out it I first want to try one in a pizza with a long room temperature ferment, (with or without a proofing box) a bread made with one of the starters, or what to try first.  ::) Now I have many more options to try in getting a better tasting crust.  It will just take me a long while to figure all this out.  Soon Steve (Ev) will have his WFO built, so maybe I even will be able to try a dough with one of these starters in his WFO.  That would be really interesting to me, because I never ate a pizza made in a WFO.  The journey continues.

Thanks for your help,  :)

Norma
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Offline Matthew

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #43 on: August 13, 2010, 12:13:57 PM »
Norma,
Now that your starter is active you can begin to bring it to your preferred consistency by discarding & feeding. 

Matt

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #44 on: August 13, 2010, 12:21:31 PM »
I generally leave mine on the counter at room temperature for an hour after feeding and then return them to the fridge.

Craig
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Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #45 on: August 13, 2010, 01:37:46 PM »
Matt,

I really donít understand a lot about starters at this time.  What do you mean by preferred consistency?  Do you mean I would feed the starter less flour and water?  I think I read somewhere about feeding less flour and water, now that the starters are active.  Do I just feed the starter the brand of flour I would want to use in a formula?  I think I am going to Fredís Music and get some Pizzeria flour, when I find the time.

Thanks for your continued help,  :)

Norma

Craig,

Thanks for telling me how long you leave your starter sit out after feeding.  :)  I will learn the whole process in time.

Norma
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #46 on: August 13, 2010, 02:39:18 PM »
For feeding my Italian cultures, I discard half and add flour and water to get a consistency of a thick batter.

Craig
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #47 on: August 13, 2010, 03:01:48 PM »
Norma,

In due course, if you think that you are likely to want to use the preferment dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/preferment_calculator.html at some point, you might want to start weighing the amounts of refreshment flour and water that give you the desired hydration for your starters when successfully used in dough formulations. The reason for this is that the preferment dough calculating tool asks for the percent of water used in the starter/preferment. To calculate this number, you need to know the hydration/composition of the starters. Most people learn through experience how to convert the weights of the refreshment flour and water to volume measurements. That way, they don't have to weigh the flour and water every time.

Peter

Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #48 on: August 13, 2010, 05:08:25 PM »
Craig,

Thanks for telling me how you feed you Italian cultures and how you decide what the consistency should be.

Norma

Peter,

I do understand I will need to use the preferment dough calculating tool to be able to use the starters. 

I didnít know I should weigh the amounts of flour and water to give me the desired hydration for my starters.  Hope I donít have problems with the math part of calculating what percent of water is used in the starters, so I can then use the preferment dough calculating tool.  I donít even know how to go about doing that. 

Norma
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Offline Matthew

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #49 on: August 13, 2010, 05:11:59 PM »
Matt,

I really donít understand a lot about starters at this time.  What do you mean by preferred consistency?  Do you mean I would feed the starter less flour and water?  I think I read somewhere about feeding less flour and water, now that the starters are active.  Do I just feed the starter the brand of flour I would want to use in a formula?  I think I am going to Fredís Music and get some Pizzeria flour, when I find the time.

Thanks for your continued help,  :)

Norma

Craig,

Thanks for telling me how long you leave your starter sit out after feeding.  :)  I will learn the whole process in time.

Norma

Norma,
Right now your starter is likely quite liquidy, you can thicken it (if you wish) by adding more flour than water.  For example; when I refresh my starter I feed it 60 grams of Caputo flour & 40 grams of water; therefore my starter consistency is 40% water.  Once active, I take what I need, put 2 cups in a clean container & discard the rest.  I then feed it again & let it sit out at room temperature for 1 hour prior to refrigeration.  A thicker starter (sponge) will remain more viable in the refrigerator vs a thinner starter (poolish).

Matt


Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #50 on: August 13, 2010, 05:32:34 PM »
Matt,

Both of my starters are really thick, like a really thick pancake batter.  I can understand better now since you have explained it to me how you determine the hydration of the starter.  I appreciate you explaining how to discard the starter after you put two cups in a clean container.  I wasnít sure how to go about that, either.  I didnít understand that a thicker starter is called a sponge and a thinner starter is called a poolish.  I just had experience with my poolish I used for my Lehmann dough and that is really thick.  I wonder why the sponge and poolish names are then interchangeable.

Thanks for your help.  :)  I will get all this down at some point.

Norma
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #51 on: August 13, 2010, 06:25:46 PM »
Norma,

It isn't absolutely necessary that you use the preferment dough calculating tool. If you can find and use an existing dough recipe that calls for a natural starter/preferment and can get the recipe to work, then that might be good enough for your purposes. The advantage of the preferment dough calculating tool is that it allows you to devise your own dough formulations where you can alter just about any of the baker's percents of the ingredients permitted by the tool. You can also use the tool to convert a dough formulation using commercial yeast to one using a natural starter/preferment. Moreover, because of the way the tool was designed, if you enter the proper numbers for the starter/preferment into the tool, the risk of ending up with an incorrect hydration should be quite low.

With respect to the way the water percent is calculated for the starter/preferment, if you look at the preferment "box" at the middle of the preferment dough calculating tool (http://www.pizzamaking.com/preferment_calculator.html), you will see a "Note" that tells you how to calculate the number that applies to the water. So, using Matt's numbers of 40 grams of water and 60 grams of flour as an example, the number to enter into the tool is 40/(40 + 60) = 40/100 = 40. It is so simple, a caveman can do it.

For background purposes, I think you might find it helpful to read this thread where I discussed a hypothetical example of adapting a basic Lehmann dough formulation to use a natural preferment rather than commercial yeast: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6969.msg59839.html#msg59839. However, just because you can use the preferment dough calculating tool to create a dough formulation, does not guarantee you success. Member mooncrickett apparently discovered this as he explained in the thread at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10578.msg93820.html#msg93820 and more recently at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11434.msg104331.html#msg104331.

There are also other limitations to the preferment dough calculating tool. One is the limited number of ingredients that can be used with the tool. It provides for the basic ingredients of flour, water and salt, commercial yeast (but only if used to supplement the natural starter/preferment, such as the Jeff Varasano dough formulation, for example), and sugar and oil. The latter two ingredients were included for those members who wish to make Neapolitan style pizzas in standard, unmodified home ovens and find it useful to add some sugar and/or oil to the dough formulation (e.g., a Caputo dough) to improve the performance of the dough in such an oven. I should also mention that the tool does not provide for milk, vinegar or baking soda--some of your recent favorite ingredients. It also does not provide for using exotic ingredients like yak vomit (scalded or unscalded), which I have heard through the grapevine you are considering as a way of getting more flavor in your Lehmann crusts at market.

Peter
« Last Edit: August 13, 2010, 06:27:17 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #52 on: August 13, 2010, 08:34:15 PM »
Peter,

I probably will use existing dough recipes to begin with, but as I learn how my starters work, I will use the preferment dough calculating tool.  Since I am always into experimenting this should become a useful tool for me.  I am sure the way you explained how to use it, will be helpful for others, too.  I have used that tool for changing other formulas, but didnít know it could change a formulation using commercial yeast into one using a natural starter.  I can now see how easy it is to use now, since you have explained it to me.  After you now gave me the link for Lehmannís NY dough with a culture, I now can see the difference between a liquid and a sponge culture and it also might be called a poolish or wet sponge.  I see in your post at Reply 21 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11434.msg104502.html#msg104502 you just personally use the descriptor ďnaturalĒ or ďnaturally leavenedĒ, when speaking of starters or preferments that are based on natural, or wild yeast. 

I appreciate you have provided all these links for me and others and have explained all what goes into using starters. 

LOL, I donít know where you heard thought the grapevine that I am planning on trying Yakís vomit, (either scalded or non scalded) but I wish you would clue me in on your source.  :-D  I might have to take care of that.  I do have something up my sleeve though for trying out the scalded and unscalded sour dough mixes tomorrow, since no one has given me ideas.  I know this is off-topic, but is that sour dough mix also called a natural yeast starter or what could it be called, because there is no yeast added?

Thanks for your help,

Norma
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #53 on: August 13, 2010, 09:18:16 PM »
I know this is off-topic, but is that sour dough mix also called a natural yeast starter or what could it be called, because there is no yeast added?

Norma,

The sour dough mixes you have been experimenting with--with milk, sugar and flour (plus wild yeast)--is quite unusual and does not conveniently fit the standard definitions of preferments, even though there are biochemical actions that are common to both natural and commercially leavened preferments but perhaps with more lactic acid production because of the way that the lactose in milk is transformed to lactic acid. I think I would simply call the sour dough mixes "natural sour dough mixes", mostly to differentiate them from standard preferments that include commercial yeast. Unfortunately, there is no way to shoehorn the sour dough mixes into the preferment dough calculating tool. That tool was designed mainly for Neapolitan style doughs while also being capable of being used for other types/styles of pizzas. I have used natural starters/preferments for just about every style of pizza (Sicilian excepted).

Knowing that you have been trying to increase the flavors of your Lehmann crusts, I think that you will experience a new dimension to the flavor and texture aspects of your crusts with the new cultures. If you can get the cultures to the point where you elicit the best flavors from them, which can take a fair amount of work, I think that you will find it difficult to ratchet up those flavors to a higher plateau. There are only so many ways to increase the intensity of flavors, a few of which you have already tried, like preferments, and are now trying with the natural sour dough mixes. You would perhaps have to go a different route, which is likely to produce fewer "natural" features and characteristics than what you get from your new cultures.

Peter

Offline Ev

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #54 on: August 13, 2010, 10:03:43 PM »
Oh, to be a caveman once again..............
...........say, didn't we (us cavemen, that is) invent mead at some point? The immaculate fermentation as it were?......................... ???

Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #55 on: August 13, 2010, 10:16:04 PM »
Peter,

Thank you for answering my off-topic question.  I had noticed when room and proofing box fermenting of the milk, sugar and flour that they acted just like the starters I was trying to activate in this thread.  I might dry some of the ďnatural sour dough mixĒ and then see if I can activate the sour dough mix at some point. Maybe I would try and see if they have any leavening power without using commercial yeast. That also would be an interesting experiment.  I watched how the milk, sugar and flour did first have a liquid on the top surface and then developed bubbles, just like these Italian starters.  Gives me more to think about.

You have tried so many kinds of pizzas with natural starters/preferments. You posted that you didnít try any starters/preferments in the Sicilian type. I never notice that you didnít try any starters/preferments in that type of pizza. That is one place I did try natural starters that Toby helped me with.  That also gave me some knowledge about ďwild yeast startersĒ and how they behave.

I think you are right about me and trying to increase the flavors of my crusts and maybe after I learn enough about these starters I just activated, I might be able to experience a new dimension in the flavor of my crusts. My preferment for the Lehmann dough does increase the flavors of the crust some and I really like how that dough handles.  Maybe in time these new starters will help me increase the flavors of my pizzas at market more.  This will take me a long time to study, but it will be interesting.  I still have so much to learn about these starters.

Norma
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Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #56 on: August 13, 2010, 10:20:40 PM »
Oh, to be a caveman once again..............
...........say, didn't we (us cavemen, that is) invent mead at some point? The immaculate fermentation as it were?......................... ???

Steve,

I would like to go back in time, but not to be a cavewoman.  They got their hair yanked.  :-D  You are going to get some of these starters to play around with.  Hope you can also get some good results from these starters.  We might soon be experimenting with these starters at market, if we can get the basics down.  Have you been reading this thread and taking this all in?  ::)

Norma
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Offline PizzaPolice

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #57 on: August 14, 2010, 12:56:26 AM »
OR....  just go back a hunnert years....

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=4614.0

Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #58 on: August 14, 2010, 09:12:07 AM »
OR....  just go back a hunnert years....

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=4614.0


PizzaPolice,

LOL, when I read your post at Reply 2 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4614.msg38978.html#msg38978 I cracked up laughing.  I had played the Oregon Trail many times on a computer game that my granddaughter had.  That game was fun. I raised that granddaughter from the time she was small and the Oregon Trail was one of our favorite games. So many things happened that you had to take care of.  I can imagine the sourdough jug swinging back and forth on the wagon on the way to Oregon.  Chester wasnít even sure he got the measurements right from your post.

Thanks for the humor you injected into this thread.  It always is good to have something to laugh about.   :-D

Thanks,

Norma
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Offline norma427

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Re: Finally Am Trying to Activate My Starters
« Reply #59 on: August 15, 2010, 03:58:16 PM »
Since I have been anxious about trying out my newly activated starters, I decided to make a preferment dough today to try out.  I really should have started the dough yesterday, but didnít find time.  I also donít have Caputo or Pizzeria flour right now, but will get some soon.  I just used granoro ď00" flour, which I had on hand.  I removed the Ischia starter from my refrigerator this morning and fed it the granoro ď00" flour.  I still have other Ischia starter, so if this doesnít work out, I can still experiment with another flour, when feeding the starter.  Pictured are the ingredients I used minus the sea salt, which I forgot to place in the picture. My starter was active and more alive as can be seen by where I placed the rubber band in 2 Ĺ hrs.  I used the preferment calculating tool to come up with a formula for this dough.  I am not going to post the formula now, but will post it after I try my first pie with a preferment. Pictured in the other picture is the dough I mixed.  I am letting it bulk ferment in my proofing box.  Then I will ball it and let it proof some more. 

I am not sure where I am going to bake this pie, but wanted to try my BBQ set-up with a different configuration to try and get higher temperatures, but it has been raining off and on in our area, so I donít know when I am ready to bake this pie today, if I can use the BBQ grill or if I will try out my home oven with the soapstone.

I will post pictures whether the pie turns out or not.  ::)

Keep your fingers crossed for this pie
Norma
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