Author Topic: water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.  (Read 1247 times)

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Offline widespreadpizza

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water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.
« on: August 10, 2010, 08:35:30 PM »
Hey all,  so for having been at it for several years now,  it feels pretty wierd to put such a basic question out there.  I think I have focused in on a possible dough problem that rears it ugly head once in a while.  I was suspect of this in times past,  but never really chased it down,  I think due to the fact that when I buy bottled water,  I like to change brands every month or two.  I have a very good whole house water filter that I put in about a year ago that removes cloramines and other contaminants,  but is supposed to leave the minerals in the water.  I am not looking to start a water filter debate here either,  all I can tell you is that I am happy with it,  and my water tastes better than without it,actually very good.  I have on and off used my tapwater for both bread and pizza doughs,  lately more often than not,  and I have been ending up with some weak,  slack, gummy doughs.  I started to check in with with the city water lab and have some numbers that may back up my belief as to my problem.  My ph ranges from 6.8-7.8  the lab said average 7.4  so not bad in that respect.  The hardness on the other hand is low: Total Hardness as CaCO3 (mg/L) 14 .  So,  from what I read while poking around the net,  these numbers are less than ideal for breadmaking,  in fact borderline hard water should be better,  like 10 times the hardness that my water has.  So I am wondering if anyone out there thinks that my soft water may be wreaking havoc on my doughs,  both bread and pizza.  And if so,  how do you think I should proceed,  treat my water,  or buy bottled water and stick with one brand that is known to be realatively hard.  If that is the case and you know of one,let me know.  Also,  if anyone thinks for sure that this is probably not my problem at all,  thats cool too.  I am open to all feedback.    Thanks! -Marc


Online scott123

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Re: water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2010, 09:13:42 PM »
I've done a little research on soft water and apparently it does produce slack gummy doughs because it weakens the gluten in some way.  On a commercial level, mineral yeast food is popular, but it might be difficult to find it retail (maybe KA?).  Here's what's in Little Ceasar's yeast food:

Yeast Food (Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate, Wheat Flour, Potassium Bromate)

Calcium is the big player, but you want to add it in such as way that you aren't raising the pH, so a calcium supplement by itself may not be the best answer.

Salt will strengthen gluten. How's your salt content?

If it were me, I'd probably track down a bottled water that was bottled in a location where water is normally harder and check the specs on it. As we're finding out, most bottled water these days is just filtered tap (and sometimes not even filtered!).  If that search proved fruitless, I might bump up the salt a tiny bit and grind up a portion of a calcium supplement tablet. I also might play around with a tiny bit of vinegar (to offset the alkalinity of the calcium), but I probably do it without first.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2010, 12:16:49 PM by scott123 »

Offline jpc

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Re: water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 12:45:51 AM »
Not sure if this will help you, since I have no idea what the ideal water for dough may be, but...  I am a homebrewer, doing all-grain beers.  The water chemistry greatly affects the beer-- there are a number of important ions that can make or break a beer.

The main reason I mention this is because a lot of people "build" water to meet their needs; that is, in areas that have soft water, people will add the various minerals to their water to get the profile they want.  I would supposed the same could be done with water for pizza dough, although it may be difficult to do it on such a small scale.  For instance, for five gallons of tap water, I will add a couple grams of calcium chloride and gypsum to get my water in order.  For the half liter or so you'd need for pizza, it'd be difficult to weigh the salts needed.

If you decide to go this route, a well-stocked homebrew supply store can be a good source of salts like calcium chloride, gypsum, foord-grade epsom salts, etc.

Offline pizzaboyfan

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Re: water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 11:18:27 AM »
The only "bad" part of the tap water is the chlorine and chloramines.
You can let your tap water sit overnight and the chlorine will be gone
I prefer to decant and aerate it by pouring two pitchers back and forth..the aeration removes the nasties
You can smell the difference after a few minutes.
I once made some dough with Evian....the result was a very flat,gummy and not workable dough

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 12:10:23 PM »
I made my two neapolitan batchs with Fiji water and them seemed fine to me. I didn't get a gum layer, and my crumb puffed up fine.

Edit: I found this IDK if it helps? http://www.nyx.net/~dgreenw/howdoesonemeasurethephofso.html

I have been doing searchs for this but I can't really find anything, anyone have anything good to read related to this subject. I read what sabinoapizza wrote up which was very informative but other than that can't really find anything.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2010, 01:52:31 PM by BrickStoneOven »

Online Pete-zza

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Re: water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2010, 01:56:12 PM »
Marc,

Some time ago, Tom Lehmann apparently had the opposite problem to yours where his tap water was hard. He discusses how he addressed his problem at the PMQ Think Tank at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7320&p=49366&hilit=#p49366. You will also note that he recommends adding mineral yeast food or calcium sulfate to the dough. At another PMQTT post, toward the end, Tom recommends that the calcium sulfate be used at the rate of 0.5% of the formula flour. I am sure that there may be more elegant solutions (see, for example, Tom's PMQTT post at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?p=3109#p3109) but trying the calcium sulfate might be a quick and easy place to start with your doughs. If that works, then you might find an alternative solution to getting a water with the degree of hardness that will suitable for your purposes.

Peter

Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2010, 05:48:44 PM »
Thanks everybody for the input.  I have found some calcium sulfate at the local brew shop and will surely report back if I make any progress.  -marc

Offline jpc

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Re: water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2010, 06:48:11 PM »
The only "bad" part of the tap water is the chlorine and chloramines.
You can let your tap water sit overnight and the chlorine will be gone
I prefer to decant and aerate it by pouring two pitchers back and forth..the aeration removes the nasties
You can smell the difference after a few minutes.
I once made some dough with Evian....the result was a very flat,gummy and not workable dough

Chloramine will NOT dissipate overnight; this is precisely why it is used over chlorine (i.e., it lasts a lot longer). It has a particularly bad effect on homebrewing, as it can impart a "band-aid" flavor to the finished product.  Homebrewers will use sodium (or potassium) metabisulfite to eliminate the chloramines.  One typical tablet will treat 20 gallons of water.

I haven't an issue, as my city water comes to me from a "pristine" well that needs no chlorination.  I've had it tested professionally, and there is no residual chlorine present.

Offline c0mpl3x

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Re: water opinions please, not the typical NYC water post.
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2010, 07:31:44 PM »
Chloramine will NOT dissipate overnight; this is precisely why it is used over chlorine (i.e., it lasts a lot longer). It has a particularly bad effect on homebrewing, as it can impart a "band-aid" flavor to the finished product.  Homebrewers will use sodium (or potassium) metabisulfite to eliminate the chloramines.  One typical tablet will treat 20 gallons of water.

I haven't an issue, as my city water comes to me from a "pristine" well that needs no chlorination.  I've had it tested professionally, and there is no residual chlorine present.

same with me.  my dough tastes just fine, all there is is a 5ppm cotton fiber filter, no treatments or softeners.
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