Author Topic: What to do with the hooch  (Read 3670 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Totti

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 154
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2014, 05:08:07 PM »
Stir it back in a few times, note the flavor.  Then pour it out a few times and note the flavor.  Then you'll have your answer :)

There's enough people stirring it back in to know that you're not going to destroy the culture, might as well experiment doing both and get it to your liking.

Cheers. Note the flavour by tasting the culture, or the pizza?  :P


Offline hockeyfox

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: United States
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2014, 09:30:58 AM »
Had my own homegrown starter for 4 years.  Used and refreshed once a week.  Never poured out the hooch.  Still as strong as ever with no signs of dying out.

Offline adletson

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 108
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Northwest AL
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2014, 10:47:28 AM »
I don't have anything to add, but I am beginning to work with starters and this is of interest to me.

Offline DNA Dan

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 830
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2014, 02:04:54 PM »
In all seriousness, here's my thoughts. You have to think about what the hooch represents. It's basically the "waste" products of the organisms (byproducts of fermentation). So in there is a ton of flavor and essence of what you're growing. Remember, it's the products of fermentation and NOT the organisms themselves that gives your crust that flavor.

When the organism have depleted their food source, (Sugars, etc.) they will go into what's called stationary phase growth. For some yeasts this involves a transformation of the cells where they enter into a low metabolic state, cell walls thicken, etc., so that they can survive longer. You will probably see "hooch" before the cells do this, so seeing the hooch isn't necessarily a sign of stationary phase growth, but it's a good indicator the cells are headed that way. The only downside I see of mixing the hooch back into the starter is that it probably alters the pH and doesn't really promote the cells to "grow" again into log phase. Log phase is where the cell numbers will double every hour or so, the peak of yeast cell division so to speak. So by mixing in the hooch it will theoretically take more replenish cycles to get your starter really active again. Probably makes them more "sluggish" until you have gone through two or more rounds of replenishing. By doing the replenishing procedure, you are adjusting the pH back to a normal environment for the yeast and diluting out any bad compounds in the hooch. This effect depends on your replenishment schedule, whether it's 1:1 or 2:1, etc. This may not necessarily be true for all starters, it really depends on the cells ability to switch from stationary to log phase. Some yeasts do it easily, some not so fast.

The other effect pH has on the environment is the ratio of other organisms in the culture, for example lactobacillus. I don't recall the actual numbers, but I think a low pH (acidic) environment favors lactobacilus growth. So changing the pH will affect the balance of these organisms in your culture as well.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 12:51:35 PM by DNA Dan »

Offline Totti

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 154
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2014, 01:58:56 AM »
In all seriousness, here's my thoughts. You have to think about what the hooch represents. It's basically the "waste" products of the organisms (byproducts of fermentation). So in there is a ton of flavor and essence of what you're growing. Remember, it's the products of fermentation and NOT the organisms themselves that gives your crust that flavor.

When the organism have depleted their food source, (Sugars, etc.) they will go into what's called lag phase growth. For some yeasts this involves a transformation of the cells where they enter into a low metabolic state, cell walls thicken, etc., so that they can survive longer. You will probably see "hooch" before the cells do this, so seeing the hooch isn't necessarily a sign of lag phase growth, but it's a good indicator the cells are headed that way. The only downside I see of mixing the hooch back into the starter is that it probably alters the pH and doesn't really promote the cells to "grow" again into log phase. Log phase is where the cell numbers will double every hour or so, the peak of yeast cell division so to speak. So by mixing in the hooch it will theoretically take more replenish cycles to get your starter really active again. Probably makes them more "sluggish" until you have gone through two or more rounds of replenishing. By doing the replenishing procedure, you are adjusting the pH back to a normal environment for the yeast and diluting out any bad compounds in the hooch. This effect depends on your replenishment schedule, whether it's 1:1 or 2:1, etc. This may not necessarily be true for all starters, it really depends on the cells ability to switch from lag to log phase. Some yeasts do it easily, some not so fast.

The other effect pH has on the environment is the ratio of other organisms in the culture, for example lactobacillus. I don't recall the actual numbers, but I think a low pH (acidic) environment favors lactobacilus growth. So changing the pH will affect the balance of these organisms in your culture as well.

Interesting insight. So, for someone with a starter that hasn't activated after two weeks. What would you suggest to try to make the cells as active as possible? I have tried everything.

Online bigMoose

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 245
  • Location: OH
  • Kneading is Happiness!
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2014, 07:33:31 AM »
I use my starter about every 4 or 5 days.  In between it is in the fridge.  I went to feeding it 100% flour/100% water about 5 months ago and have never seen any more hootch.   Before I was seeing hootch on day 5 when I was feeding it a higher hydration mix.

Offline DNA Dan

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 830
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2014, 12:50:15 PM »
Interesting insight. So, for someone with a starter that hasn't activated after two weeks. What would you suggest to try to make the cells as active as possible? I have tried everything.

If you aren't seeing growth from activating a starter for two weeks, then I would say the cells are dead. I could put out just a plain water/flour mixture and capture a "wild" yeast in that timeframe. Was this starter in dried form when activated? Was it exposed to heat?

Regardless of how many cells you start with, the growth RATE is pretty much the same for all yeasts. That is a doubling of cells every 90 minutes or so. In the replenishing regime, if you start with less culture it will take them longer to achieve stationary phase. (I incorrectly called this "lag phase" in previous post, I corrected this.). If you start with more culture, they will reach stationary phase sooner. This has to do with the cell density. The stationary phase can be thought of as "maximum cell density". Once this point is reached, the cells undergo changes and slow their metabolic rate. The yeast know when they are becoming to dense for the media they are growing in. You can play with this saturation point and make the culture take longer to reach stationary phase by changing the ratio of your replenishing scheme. For example, instead of a 1:1 culture to flour ratio, use a 0.5:1 ratio. The downside to diluting the culture like this is it leaves it vulnerable to being contaminated or taken over by another organism, so that's why many prefer the 1:1 ratio. Remember, no matter how sterile you are, the flour, water and utensils are more likely to introduce something every time you replenish.

Using very little culture to activate (which is typical) or replenish is also not very good. There is a certain minimum number of "cells to volume" food source that needs to be established for the cells to reach log phase. A lot of time people activate a small amount of starter in like 2-4 cups of flour. This is almost so dilute that it's the same as just mixing flour and water then waiting for something to be captured. So until the culture is strong and established, the volumes and food source need to be kept very small.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 12:57:59 PM by DNA Dan »

Offline DNA Dan

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 830
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2014, 01:01:12 PM »
I use my starter about every 4 or 5 days.  In between it is in the fridge.  I went to feeding it 100% flour/100% water about 5 months ago and have never seen any more hootch.   Before I was seeing hootch on day 5 when I was feeding it a higher hydration mix.

This is a good cycle timeframe. I would suspect if you let the culture go a few more days you would start to see some hooch. You're probably getting it right at saturation. The fridge also helps slow the critters down. Good culture management is such an art and I just don't have the patience to keep one going for long.

Offline adletson

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 108
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Northwest AL
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #28 on: March 24, 2014, 09:37:38 AM »
So much good information here!  In a couple of posts, DNA Dan has explained what a lot of sourdough books don't get to in their whole contents.  Thanks!

Offline Totti

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 154
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #29 on: March 27, 2014, 03:31:57 AM »
DNA Dan, you are magic. Thanks for the insight.

I have just a couple more questions before I restart an Ischia project in a couple of weeks (And bring with it a puzzling rant about Ed Wood's customer service, but that will follow)

When you say 1:1 with the flour, does that mean if you have 100 grams of starter then - you feed it 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water? Or 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water?

What would you recommend for initial activation procedure of the Ischia? I did it per the instructions last time and it never activated. I can only assume something went drastically wrong during the initial phases, or it was simply dead before it arrived.


Offline adletson

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 108
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Northwest AL
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #30 on: March 27, 2014, 12:07:10 PM »
The normal procedure is to use 1 part starter:1/2 part flour:1/2 part water.  So 100 grams starter would get 50 grams flour and 50 grams water.  This would give you a 50% dilution of the starter.

Offline Adrian

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 38
  • Location: Austria
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #31 on: March 28, 2014, 12:46:29 AM »
adletson: Do you put your starter back to the fridge immediately? If not, I'd think this would be underfeeding. Putting it back immediately after the feed gave me a drastic decrease in activity. (Tested it with 2 jars from same seed starter.)


I usually "feed" my starter or built a new one with this formula: Starter:Water:Flour 1:2:2.
This I let sit at room temperature for about 3 to 4 hours before putting it back to the fridge.

If the activity gets lower (doesn't double in 4 hours at room temperature), I repeat the feeding at 26C/78.8F. This is about the temperature where the yeasts are most active compared to the acidic acid and lactic acid producing bacteria. (Not absolutely most active but compared to the others.)

Today I used about 5% starter for a less then 12hour built of pizza. For longer fermentation times I'd even use less starter. Therefore I think the small portion of hooch cannot have much impact on the taste itself. It is more about the temperature and time (not that much the variation of hydration with pizza, I assume), that makes the difference in taste.
And then there is always the possibility to built a special starter, that you maybe use just for one batch. seeded by your old starter, where you can control even the hydration. With this you can adjust the micro flora you want to begin with; much better than with re-adding hooch which I also mainly see as adjusting the micro flora by maybe inhibiting one organism more than the other.

As I mainly maintain rye starters and keep at least the current line well maintained, I haven't handled hooch in a while. It's just on the old "backup" starters, that are stored in the fridge but I'd never use for baking without feeding them at least 4 times before.

Offline adletson

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 108
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Northwest AL
Re: What to do with the hooch
« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2014, 09:50:05 AM »
I am pretty new to baking with starters so I am an authority by no means, but that is the feeding I have been doing and I've been getting a doubling in about 3 hours and a rise in the final baked good.  We'll see if that pattern works in the future. 


 

pizzapan