Author Topic: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?  (Read 30723 times)

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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #200 on: March 29, 2012, 02:51:43 PM »
My response to the Wink post:

I'm a big fan of science. As a biologist in a previous life, I was witness to many examples of the disconnect between what is measured in the lab and what is experienced in the real world. Sourdough cultures is one of those areas where theoretical rigor in the kitchen may be a poor substitute for empirical observations. Perhaps that is another way of saying that there are too many dependent variables out of our control to be able to apply much of the science in the kitchen. Contrary to many posting here, I'm content to learn about sourdough cultures from my pizzas and breads.       


Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #201 on: March 29, 2012, 03:00:53 PM »
Chau, you raise an interesting point about a CY leaven turning (for real) or not.

Craig, I want to reiterate that I am not all trying to be contrary (which I trust you know but I still want to mention it again), I am just trying to better understand sourdough (not exactly a crystal clear subject, even for the "experts"). You raise an interesting point about strains. Do you believe the strain (if not the species) is primarily if not wholly a geographical phenomenon?

Bill, I am with you, but please keep in mind Debra Wink is an accomplished baker herself and her interest in examining the science is purely to help herself (and others) better understand what it going on. She def has helped advance the science of baking, and I for one am grateful for her contributions.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 03:04:20 PM by johnnydoubleu »

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #202 on: March 29, 2012, 03:04:30 PM »
Craig, I want to reiterate that I am not all trying to be contrary (which I trust you know but I still want to mention it again), I am just trying to better understand sourdough (not exactly a crystal clear subject, even for the "experts").

I understand. It's all good.

Quote
You raise an interesting point about strains. Do you believe the strain (if not the species) is primarily if not wholly a geographical phenomenon?

I think it is more likely than not.

CL
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foolishpoolish

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #203 on: March 29, 2012, 03:40:43 PM »
I don't see any real conflict between Craig (and Bill's) qualitative analysis and Debra Wink's excellent treatise.

Debra describes the metabolic pathways of lactic acid bacteria and the associated fermentation products: lactic acid, acetic acid, ethanol and carbon dioxide. The ratio of these products will vary depending on environmental factors, substrate (ie available sugars: maltose, sucrose, glucose, xylose, arabinose etc.), co-substrates (eg  fructose, oxygen) and also the type of lactobacillus (homofermenter, heterofermenter, facultative heterofermenter).
Yeast utilise the EMP, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Additionally, lactobacilli and yeast both contribute to proteolytic activity in sourdough cultures (again varying by species) accounting for varying ratios of arginine, ornithine etc.

Putting that all together and factoring in residual sugars and additional flavour compounds (eg esterification of acetic/lactic acids and ethanol) establishes the palette of sourdough flavours.  The influence that starter feeding routines and environmental factors have on flavour should not be underestimated but is also limited, to a degree, by the nature of the Lb/yeast strains present. 

The difference between cultures is therefore not so much the result of "unique" flavour compounds from "special" strains of lactobacillus or yeast  but rather the overall effect due to particular ratios of flavours coming from a universal set of fermentation products.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #204 on: March 29, 2012, 03:44:43 PM »
Hey Toby. Long time no write. How are things?
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foolishpoolish

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #205 on: March 29, 2012, 03:47:30 PM »
Hey Toby. Long time no write. How are things?
OK, thanks for asking Craig. Trust you are well. Been seeing your incredible-looking pizzas on Slice etc. :)

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #206 on: March 29, 2012, 03:49:50 PM »
The difference between cultures is therefore not so much the result of "unique" flavour compounds from "special" strains of lactobacillus or yeast  but rather the overall effect due to particular ratios of flavours coming from a universal set of fermentation products.

I was not suggesting that flavor compounds are unique to specific strains; I guess that was not clear in my post. I am suggesting that the types and ratios of compounds produced is (in part) a function of the specific strains.

CL
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 03:54:13 PM by TXCraig1 »
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #207 on: March 29, 2012, 03:50:39 PM »
OK, thanks for asking Craig. Trust you are well. Been seeing your incredible-looking pizzas on Slice etc. :)

Yes, well thanks. Thanks also for the kind words on the pies. Missed your expertise here lately.
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Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #208 on: March 29, 2012, 03:52:15 PM »
@foolishpoolish

Good hearing from you, miss your comments here and at SLICE, hope all is well. Don't be a stranger!
Rest In Peace - November 1, 2014


Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #209 on: March 29, 2012, 03:57:09 PM »
Toby, I certainly wasn't suggesting a conflict and I think most of us are on the same page. However the fact still remains that some believe that certain sourdough cultures are purely regional and Deb feels they are not solely bound to regions.

Do you believe "complete" cultures are solely regional (bound to) or can they some how be fostered/invited to the party? Can one really create a "true" SF sourdough in NY by using the proper substrate, environment, routine etc.?

EDIT: Tried to make my thoughts more clear
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 04:08:47 PM by johnnydoubleu »

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #210 on: March 29, 2012, 04:00:23 PM »
metabolic pathways of lactic acid bacteria and the associated fermentation products: lactic acid, acetic acid, ethanol and carbon dioxide. The ratio of these products will vary depending on environmental factors, substrate (ie available sugars: maltose, sucrose, glucose, xylose, arabinose etc.), co-substrates (eg  fructose, oxygen) and also the type of lactobacillus (homofermenter, heterofermenter, facultative heterofermenter).
Yeast utilise the EMP, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Additionally, lactobacilli and yeast both contribute to proteolytic activity in sourdough cultures (again varying by species) accounting for varying ratios of arginine, ornithine etc.

Putting that all together and factoring in residual sugars and additional flavour compounds (eg esterification of acetic/lactic acids and ethanol) establishes the palette of sourdough flavours.  The influence that starter feeding routines and environmental factors have on flavour should not be underestimated but is also limited, to a degree, by the nature of the Lb/yeast strains present. 

Toby,

So let's say there is a certain very subtle flavor that I want to increase or decrease. How do I know what it is? And even if I somehow identify it as a certain amino acid or ester or combination of several compounds, do I have the ability with the ingredients and equipment at-hand to modify its concentration?
 

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #211 on: March 29, 2012, 04:11:39 PM »
Do you believe strains are solely regional (bound to) or can they some how be fostered/invited to the party? Can one really make a "true" SF sourdough in NY by using the proper substrate, environment, routine etc.?

I was not trying to suggest that certain strains are solely regional or bound to a particular region. I was suggesting that I thought it more likely than not that you would find different strains in different regions (as a result of evolution/adaptation; nature tends to work that way, right?) This should not necessarily imply that overlap is not possible or that a strain from one region can not survive in another.

As for the SF question, since yeast and LAB don't have GPS yet, I can't think of any reason why duplicating the process exactly in NY would not have the exact result as in SF.

CL
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Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #212 on: March 29, 2012, 04:17:05 PM »
Fine Craig, but when cultures are named after regions most/many people think they can't be made elsewhere. From the get go I have been asserting that you can make a culture (at any near any location) that has the characteristics one likes in a French culture or Ischia culture or whatever. Some folks weren't buying it.

And jeeze, the yeast and LAB better get themselves a smartphone with GPS already! It's 2012 for goodness sakes! :D
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 04:19:45 PM by johnnydoubleu »

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #213 on: March 29, 2012, 04:34:53 PM »
Fine Craig, but when cultures are named after regions most/many people think they can't be made elsewhere. From the get go I have been asserting that you can make a culture (at any near any location) that has the characteristics one likes in a French culture or Ischia culture or whatever. Some folks weren't buying it.

I thought saying that a culture was bound to a region would be without basis and also confusing. Likewise saying  "when cultures are named after regions most/many people think they can't be made elsewhere" is also confusing. It could be interperted to mean either a) you can't culture the same flora from the flour or air in different regions or b) you can't take the flora from one region to another and make the same product?

It seems like there are four basic questions:

1) do different cultures from different regions have different species and/or strains of yeast and bacteria? To this, I would say it is more likely than not. I would not exclude the possibility that the same strains could be found in different geographic regions.
Assuming the answer to Q1 is yes,
2)  do the different species/strains create to flavor and aroma differences in the final product. I would say yes, different species/strains can and do create differences, but they do not necessarily have to - meaning it is possible that two different species/strains could produce nearly identical results.
2) can you take a culture from one region and make a substantually similar product with it in another region? To this I would say almost certainly yes.
3) can a healthy culture from one region survive in another? Again, I would say almost certainly yes.

« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 04:36:54 PM by TXCraig1 »
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Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #214 on: March 29, 2012, 04:52:26 PM »
I feel like I have been trying to make a simple point that is getting crushed by pedanticness. Sigh. I could quote what has been said throughout this thread but I won't go there. I'll go back to the hole I came out from.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #215 on: March 29, 2012, 05:02:39 PM »
I'm apologize John if that is how I've come across. It was not my intent - nor was it my intent to push you away. I was not trying to be pedantic (I had to look up pedanticness - the first time I read it I thought you you were saying this discussion made you feel like you had appendicitis  :-D maybe it does come to think of it?). I'm not trying to split hairs, rather given some of the comments going back to the begining, I do think there is a need to be precise in this discussion.

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Offline Matthew

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #216 on: March 29, 2012, 05:18:11 PM »
Yes Gene, after feeding it is in a dough form, but after 24hours, it's soft and bubbly.  Not quite liquid though.  It's still a starter for all intents and purposes.  

John, thank you for letting me know that you maintain your room temp starter the same way.  I was going to dilute it before using as well.  

Thanks Matt for letting us know how you keep your starter as well.   Can I get you two to weigh in on the discussion?  Have you noticed your starter changing by maintaining it (or them) at room temps versus cold fermentation.




Chau,
My starter is always maintained under refrigeration.

Matt



Offline johnnydoubleu

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #217 on: March 29, 2012, 05:22:18 PM »
Craig, there is some irony there, isn't there. ;) No Worries. If only I was more articulate. I know what I mean, but choosing the right words proves ever elusive.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #218 on: March 29, 2012, 05:25:33 PM »
Chau,
My starter is always maintained under refrigeration.
Matt

That's interesting Matt.  Have you always kept your starters refrigerated at a 50% hydration?  If so why?  Is it for the convenience of your schedule, stability, flavor?   Even in the fridge, have you noticed you starter to change significantly over time?

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #219 on: March 29, 2012, 05:28:40 PM »
Craig, there is some irony there, isn't there. ;) No Worries. If only I was more articulate. I know what I mean, but choosing the right words proves ever elusive.

I could tell within the first five minutes of having met you that you are WAY more articulate than me, and in all honesty, you know a heck of a lot more about pizza than I do.
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #220 on: March 29, 2012, 05:30:30 PM »
That's interesting Matt.  Have you always kept your starters refrigerated at a 50% hydration?  If so why?  Is it for the convenience of your schedule, stability, flavor?   Even in the fridge, have you noticed you starter to change significantly over time?

I've also always kept my refrigerated but at more like 90-100% hydration (I never measure - just make a thick paste).
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
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Offline Matthew

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #221 on: March 29, 2012, 07:08:05 PM »
That's interesting Matt.  Have you always kept your starters refrigerated at a 50% hydration?  If so why?  Is it for the convenience of your schedule, stability, flavor?   Even in the fridge, have you noticed you starter to change significantly over time?

I have been doing this for a couple of months now.  At first it was for convenience.  I use to bring a full batch of active starter to the restaurant, measure out what I need, discard , feed and then bring the starter back home with me.  The back area of the restaurant is currently very small & I was always afraid of cross contamination.  I now only take the amount of starter that I need to make a batch of dough & keep the rest at home.  It is alot easier for me to take what I need at 50% hydration than say at 80-85%.  I also think that it is much more stable at this hydration & remains active for much longer.  My starter doesn't change consistency at all because it get used so frequently in large quantities.  I am happy to report that it I have made well over 120 batches of dough commercially roughly & have yet to use a milligram of yeast to help with the leavening.

Matt

Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #222 on: March 29, 2012, 07:11:51 PM »
Wow!  This thread exploded!

Quote
"Contrary to myth, the species that grow in sourdough starters are not tied to geographic location, but rather to the traditional practices in the different regions. Several organisms go into the mix, but the environment created inside the starter from the combination of flour, temperature and maintenance routines is what determines which ones will thrive. In type I, or traditional sourdoughs (i.e., those maintained by continuous refreshment at room temperature), the obligately heterofermentive Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis is the species most frequently and consistently found---not just in San Francisco where it was first discovered, but all around the world. And so it deserves special attention."

This is correct.  

But I would disagree with any implication that geography isn't a direct variable.  I know the author did not say it wasn't, but the point deserves clarification.  Indirectly related because of cultural practices, but directly related because geography determines what microscopics are present at what concentrations to begin with.

Although the author is trying to refute the "San Fran sourdough can only be had in San Fran" idea, the fact of the matter is if I start and maintain a sourdough in Italy it will likely taste different than the one I start and maintain in California.  Even though I'm the same person doing the same things.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 07:44:08 PM by David Deas »

foolishpoolish

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #223 on: March 29, 2012, 07:16:42 PM »
@dmcavanagh Hi :)

@johnnydoubleu  I think established cultures are largely bound to themselves rather than particular locations. So yes, you can probably transplant that culture anywhere. The "players" generally stay the same but the results are always going to be affected by environment. That's true whether it's a home game or an away game.

@Bill
That's a difficult one. Certainly some flavour characteristics can be modified by changing fermentation time, temperature, hydration etc. as I'm sure you've experienced.  So yes, one does have the ability to modify flavour profiles (eg bias towards acetic or lactic and hence their esters) but the degree of control may be limited.

Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #224 on: March 29, 2012, 07:41:03 PM »
I don't see any real conflict between Craig (and Bill's) qualitative analysis and Debra Wink's excellent treatise.

Debra describes the metabolic pathways of lactic acid bacteria and the associated fermentation products: lactic acid, acetic acid, ethanol and carbon dioxide. The ratio of these products will vary depending on environmental factors, substrate (ie available sugars: maltose, sucrose, glucose, xylose, arabinose etc.), co-substrates (eg  fructose, oxygen) and also the type of lactobacillus (homofermenter, heterofermenter, facultative heterofermenter).
Yeast utilise the EMP, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Additionally, lactobacilli and yeast both contribute to proteolytic activity in sourdough cultures (again varying by species) accounting for varying ratios of arginine, ornithine etc.

Putting that all together and factoring in residual sugars and additional flavour compounds (eg esterification of acetic/lactic acids and ethanol) establishes the palette of sourdough flavours.  The influence that starter feeding routines and environmental factors have on flavour should not be underestimated but is also limited, to a degree, by the nature of the Lb/yeast strains present. 

The difference between cultures is therefore not so much the result of "unique" flavour compounds from "special" strains of lactobacillus or yeast  but rather the overall effect due to particular ratios of flavours coming from a universal set of fermentation products.

An excellent post.  I said the same thing way back on page 1 (post #19).  And *again* on page 3.  We are now on page 12, but I think this answer should completely satisfy the OP. 

The original question was "do all starters become the same?"  The answer is no, they all don't.  The second part of the original question was whether there was "any truth" to that claim?  The answer is yes, there certainly is.