Author Topic: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?  (Read 29247 times)

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Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #25 on: March 23, 2012, 02:19:12 AM »
You aren't by anychance referring to a young versus a mature starter here are you?  Because if you are, while a young starter (one that is fed more flour relative to the seed amount and has much less residual acids) will have a less acidic and different taste than a mature starter (one that is fed less flour relative to the starter amount and has more residual acids), it is essentially the same starter and same flavor profile.  The taste will differ in strength and degree of acidity and can mask light sweetness from the flour breaking down, but is for the most part the same flavor.  

No.  There was post #19 you may have missed at the bottom of page 1.

If you change flours, you should see a change in the long term.


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2012, 02:38:38 AM »
No.  There was post #19 you may have missed at the bottom of page 1.

If you change flours, you should see a change in the long term.

Okay I did miss that one and nice post btw.  Your response in reply #19 I will happily accept.  Let me just refocus this discussion though.  The main question here is if local dormant yeasts can overtake an existing and actively replicating culture over time (2 weeks according to Brian Spangler).  Possible?  Sure anything is possible but highly unlikely.  

  
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 02:50:13 AM by Jackie Tran »

Offline JimmyG

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #27 on: March 23, 2012, 10:24:54 AM »
I am going to have to agree with Chau on this one.  Once bacterial colonization is established, the flora remains stable over time, as long as regular feeding practices persist (Meroth et al, 2003). While other bacteria may occupy the starter, it would appear that they never grow to any significant degree.  Moreover, aggressive bacterial strains will only takeover if the starter becomes neglected over time (Meroth et al, 2003), i.e. leaving out your starter for two weeks with out feeding it. This may in part explain Brian Spangler's observations with his particular culture.  

Meroth C, Walter J, Hertel C, Brandt M, and Hammes W. (2003). Monitoring the Bacterial Population Dynamics in Sourdough Fermentation Processes by Using PCR-Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis. Applied Environmental Microbiology 69(1): 475482.
This article is open access (meaning anyone can read it without subscription to the journal) and can be viewed here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC152404/
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 10:32:46 AM by JimmyG »
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Offline JimmyG

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #28 on: March 23, 2012, 10:42:31 AM »
Regarding yeast population dynamics in sourdough starters, here is an article written by the same authors who essentially conducted the same experiment only with yeast. I have not had time this morning to review this article, but it is open access as well and can be viewed here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC309968/?tool=pubmed

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Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #29 on: March 23, 2012, 06:50:29 PM »
Okay I did miss that one and nice post btw.  Your response in reply #19 I will happily accept.  Let me just refocus this discussion though.  The main question here is if local dormant yeasts can overtake an existing and actively replicating culture over time (2 weeks according to Brian Spangler).  Possible?  Sure anything is possible but highly unlikely.  

  

Flour yeast can't take over your starter under normal routine circumstances.  They can be a factor.  But how big of a factor depends on circumstances.  I can only construct maybe a couple of scenarios where some sort of *takeover* might happen.

I can explain Brian's results.  But a takeover need not necessarily be at the heart of it depending on what he was doing.

« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 07:02:57 PM by David Deas »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #30 on: March 23, 2012, 07:58:19 PM »
Flour yeast can't take over your starter under normal routine circumstances.  They can be a factor.  But how big of a factor depends on circumstances.  I can only construct maybe a couple of scenarios where some sort of *takeover* might happen.

I can explain Brian's results.  But a takeover need not necessarily be at the heart of it depending on what he was doing.



I would love to hear your theory on this David, b/c Brian's post is pretty clear....

One thing to keep in mind about sourdough cultures...

They all adapt to your available yeast strains and bacteria after about two weeks and no longer have many of the properties of the propagated strain that you purchase. After 2 weeks you have a sourdough culture that you could have made yourself.


So in other words, after a 2 week period, ALL starters will adapt to local yeasts and be a (drastically or completely) different starter than what you originally started out with.  That is the starter will have different properties.  I am assuming that he is referring to the flavor profile and leavening power.
 
Am I misinterpreting or misunderstanding anything here?  So whether you have 2 starters or 200, ALL will become the same starter if fed with the same local flour within 2 weeks because the local strain(s) will have taken over. This either is true or it is false.  It either happens or it does not.  And as far as my senses tell me, it has yet to happen in my kitchen.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 08:04:32 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #31 on: March 23, 2012, 08:18:31 PM »

Am I misinterpreting or misunderstanding anything here?  So whether you have 2 starters or 200, ALL will become the same starter if fed with the same local flour within 2 weeks because the local strain(s) will have taken over. This either is true or it is false.  It either happens or it does not.  And as far as my senses tell me, it has yet to happen in my kitchen.

Starter cultures you capture may or may not have the strength to resist contamination. It's like a box of chocolates... However, ones like you purchase from sourdo.com that have been in use for a few hundred years, that have been selected for excellent flavor and leavening, if properly cared for, are able to resist contamination in normal use. Let me tell you that the Russian starter I have is so prolific in flour and water, I find it hard to believe that any local invaders could ever establish a toehold.


 

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #32 on: March 23, 2012, 08:39:29 PM »
Exactly my thoughts.  One can probably contaminate any starter if one really wanted to or worked at it.  BUT does it happen on a routine basis as some believe? 

This also begs the question that if it does happen, how in the world would anyone be able to maintain a business of selling starters such as sourdo.com.  What would be the point of purchasing a starter? 

I have made several starters from scratch presumably propagating yeast that is uniquely local to the area or the flour that I use, and even a simpleton such as myself will tell you it tastes completely different from my other starters that I have received from other members.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #33 on: March 23, 2012, 08:48:20 PM »
I'm with you, Chau. I've been doing this wild starter thing for over 20 years. The "single local domination" theory is just a myth. That there is little difference between starters is also one of those myths. You know wine is just fermented grape juice but boy can those wine enthusiasts wax pedantic about minuscule differences in every factor you can imagine having a massive impact on the tongue and nose. Maybe wild starters in breads and pizzas aren't as varied as wines - the time frame from start to ingestion is considerable shorter. But the differences between cultures are still very significant.


Offline JimmyG

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #34 on: March 23, 2012, 09:09:11 PM »
Chau and Bill,
Both of your observations are completely consistent with the scientific literature regarding yeast or bacterial propagation in sour doughs starters. As long as you practice good feeding and storage habits with your starters, there should not be any issues regarding local flora takeover.
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #35 on: March 23, 2012, 09:11:19 PM »
Thank you for the links JimmyG.  I will read them over tonight.

Online TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #36 on: March 23, 2012, 09:47:26 PM »
The math - even with generous assumptions for the invading flora - suggests it is highly unlikely that an established healthy culture could be dominated under normal circumstances.

Model it if you don't believe me.

CL
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Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #37 on: March 23, 2012, 10:41:11 PM »
 I usually don't like to get into discussions about sourdough, too many conflicting opinions and information or more likely misinformation. My question to those who believe a culture remains stable, can you still make genuine San Francisco sourdough with your starter once you leave San Francisco? San Francisco bakers say NO! So do a lot of sourdough "experts".  ???
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #38 on: March 23, 2012, 11:02:29 PM »
I usually don't like to get into discussions about sourdough, too many conflicting opinions and information or more likely misinformation. My question to those who believe a culture remains stable, can you still make genuine San Francisco sourdough with your starter once you leave San Francisco? San Francisco bakers say NO! So do a lot of sourdough "experts".  ???


DMC, I don't know enough sourdough science to say yeah or nay.  Common sense tells me yes it's possible.  I agree with you there is a lot of misinformation out there among experts and non experts.  As far as making SF SD outside of San Fran, if not then why not?  If you have any credible information one way or the other, by all means post it up.  

Also, have you or do you use starters? If so, did you note if the flavor profile changed over time?
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 11:25:03 PM by Jackie Tran »

Online TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #39 on: March 23, 2012, 11:18:21 PM »
I usually don't like to get into discussions about sourdough, too many conflicting opinions and information or more likely misinformation. My question to those who believe a culture remains stable, can you still make genuine San Francisco sourdough with your starter once you leave San Francisco? San Francisco bakers say NO! So do a lot of sourdough "experts".  ???


Yes, I can do it anytime I feel like. I have had plenty of SF bread in SF. I know what it is supposed to taste like.
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Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #40 on: March 23, 2012, 11:44:01 PM »
I always have a starter on hand, sometimes several at once, but all my starters are made in my house, I've never imported one. Flavor profile remains pretty constant. I don't get too deep into the technical stuff, I usually keep my starters under refridgeration, and when I'm gonna use them to bake I'll start a feeding regime to bring them up to strength. I  used to read a lot about sourdoughs, then I just decided to go my own way and I get great results. I do remember reading that eventually the local strains would overtake the original yeast strains. With all the conflicting info, that was the reason I decided to just do my own thing and not worry about the science behind it.
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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #41 on: March 24, 2012, 12:07:53 AM »
I usually don't like to get into discussions about sourdough, too many conflicting opinions and information or more likely misinformation. My question to those who believe a culture remains stable, can you still make genuine San Francisco sourdough with your starter once you leave San Francisco? San Francisco bakers say NO! So do a lot of sourdough "experts".  ???


In a way, I did the experiment. I used to live near San Francisco - about 30 minutes outside the city. I had captured a local culture from outside my home - one that wasn't very sour so not the classic one everyone knows. It had a nice flavor but was a little anemic in the leavening department so I would add a little yeast to each batch of dough. When I moved to Santa Fe, I brought it with me. It was my only starter for about 6 years during which time it was my sense that it never changed from what I had originally captured. (After discovering the amazing cultures from sourdo.com, my San Francisco starter fell into disuse was eventually dumped with no regrets). 


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #42 on: March 24, 2012, 12:25:40 AM »
I always have a starter on hand, sometimes several at once, but all my starters are made in my house, I've never imported one. Flavor profile remains pretty constant. I don't get too deep into the technical stuff, I usually keep my starters under refridgeration, and when I'm gonna use them to bake I'll start a feeding regime to bring them up to strength. I  used to read a lot about sourdoughs, then I just decided to go my own way and I get great results. I do remember reading that eventually the local strains would overtake the original yeast strains. With all the conflicting info, that was the reason I decided to just do my own thing and not worry about the science behind it.

Okay, have you noticed among your different starters if they remained different or have they become the same starters?  Are you interested in me sending you 2 distinctly different starters to reactivate and use.  You can without much effort, monitor them over the course of say 1 month, feeding them with the same flour and routine as you normally would with your local starters.  Then at the end of 1-2 months of use, you can compare them to your local starter(s) and then report back...

1) if both starters have remained fairly consistenty in flavor and leavening strength since reactivation.
2) if both starters have remained different in flavor and leavening strength from each other.
3) compared to your local starter(s), if the 2 new starters remain different in flavor and leavening strength if applicable.

By now, I am assuming that you are well familiar with the flavor of your local starter(s) and will be able to tell the difference in flavors of the raw starter and finished baked goods.

PM me if you are interested.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 01:33:30 AM by Jackie Tran »

Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #43 on: March 24, 2012, 01:28:23 AM »
Jackie Tran

Done!
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Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #44 on: March 24, 2012, 01:49:42 AM »
I would love to hear your theory on this David, b/c Brian's post is pretty clear....

One thing to keep in mind about sourdough cultures...

They all adapt to your available yeast strains and bacteria after about two weeks and no longer have many of the properties of the propagated strain that you purchase. After 2 weeks you have a sourdough culture that you could have made yourself.


So in other words, after a 2 week period, ALL starters will adapt to local yeasts and be a (drastically or completely) different starter than what you originally started out with.  That is the starter will have different properties.  I am assuming that he is referring to the flavor profile and leavening power.
 
Am I misinterpreting or misunderstanding anything here?  So whether you have 2 starters or 200, ALL will become the same starter if fed with the same local flour within 2 weeks because the local strain(s) will have taken over. This either is true or it is false.  It either happens or it does not.  And as far as my senses tell me, it has yet to happen in my kitchen.

Well.  As I said, I can construct different scenarios.  

So lets say for instance I had a starter that was in bad health, or very nearly dead due to self poisoning.  I don't feed it.  I store it out in open air in my hot apartment in Florida.  It's been all around mistreated in general.  It's got too much alcohol, or too much acid, or mold or whatever crap in it you want to dream up is in it.  

If I add flour and water to it, it does two things; dilutes the environment to one that is inhabitable and introduces the only healthy yeast in the jar.  Eventually I get my culture back and I notice that it tastes the same as the one it was sitting right next to it that I started myself.  In response I come up with this theory about how all starters adapt to their local environment eventually.

There is one *takeover* scenario that might happen to one person but not another person.  So it can be hard to say if something is point blank true or false without describing the conditions involved.  For all I know, Brian stores his starters in his wallet.  Back pants pocket all day long.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 02:04:05 AM by David Deas »

Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #45 on: March 24, 2012, 02:15:36 AM »
Okay, have you noticed among your different starters if they remained different or have they become the same starters?  Are you interested in me sending you 2 distinctly different starters to reactivate and use.  You can without much effort, monitor them over the course of say 1 month, feeding them with the same flour and routine as you normally would with your local starters.  Then at the end of 1-2 months of use, you can compare them to your local starter(s) and then report back...

1) if both starters have remained fairly consistenty in flavor and leavening strength since reactivation.
2) if both starters have remained different in flavor and leavening strength from each other.
3) compared to your local starter(s), if the 2 new starters remain different in flavor and leavening strength if applicable.

By now, I am assuming that you are well familiar with the flavor of your local starter(s) and will be able to tell the difference in flavors of the raw starter and finished baked goods.

PM me if you are interested.


You should also have a jar with an example that has been properly maintained so that you can document any developed differences at all should any occur.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 02:17:07 AM by David Deas »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #46 on: March 24, 2012, 03:01:24 AM »
We can go about this all day David, but I think we both agree on some things here.

1) anyone can contaminate a starter as you described and no doubt it could change.
2) a properly or routinely maintained starter is not likely to be overtaken by dormant yeast in the flour.

Do you agree with these statements?  If so, this is not what Brian posted.  Brian states that ALL starters no matter the origin will be taken over by local yeasts within 2 weeks.  Of course I'm paraphrasing here but his statement is with the understanding of routine use and maintenance, not left to die and then add a bunch of crap into it.  And I am sure Brian is not walking around with starter in his back pocket either.  :-D

I'm not saying starters are indestructible.  They are hearty for sure but you can kill one if you intend too.  But for routine use at room temps and /or storing it in the fridge, I contend that you can easily maintain the original starter.  Easily...there is not a chance it will be overtaken with routine use.

BTW, even an over ripened and neglected starter that has been dormant in the fridge for 2 months will revive to it's orginal state within 4-5 feedings (less than 24 hours) and not taken over by yeasts in the flour.   I can revive an old decrepit acidic starter in less than 24 hours, a much shorter time frame that it takes to create a new starter from yeast in flour which takes me 6-7 days to propagate.  

I'm curious if you have 1) revived a starter from the dry state and/or 2) have created a starter from scratch.  How long does it take you to reactive a dry starter vs one made from scratch?

And just for clarification, what do you consider is proper maintainance of a starter?

If it is true that All starters will be changed to local floral within 2 weeks, then any routine for maintaining a viable starter will suffice, as it won't matter what the routine is anyway.  But if the starter will maintain it's orginal characteristic flavor, despite varying maintenance routines, then my point proven even more so.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 11:15:51 AM by Jackie Tran »

Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #47 on: March 24, 2012, 03:30:57 AM »
We agree.

As to whether or not I've ever revived starters?  All the time.  I keep my starters at room temperature.  I do not refrigerate and in many cases I don't even bother using an airtight lid.  They can go sour and get difficult to return to an aggressive 'ready to use' state, but it is what it is.  That process can take about a week or so.

Making a starter from scratch?  That takes a month or two to do realistically.  Maybe even longer.  I don't have any purchased starters so that's the process I have to go through if I want something new.

It might also be worth mentioning that I do not feed different starters different flours.  I have a culture started and maintained with Caputo 00 flour, I have one made with KA, HM flour, etc.  My go to is either the Caputo 00 culture (because of the type of things I most often make, which use 00 flour) or some ale barm slurry from a local friend.  And predictably enough, my 00 culture does not like KA flour or any other type.  It will eat other flours but it is slow.  It gives a very sluggish response.  It just doesn't like them.

Properly maintaining a starter would involve a fridge and an airtight container, IMO, if you don't make bread every day.  IOW, I'm hardly the poster boy for properly maintaining cultures.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 03:41:02 AM by David Deas »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #48 on: March 24, 2012, 03:40:36 AM »
Well how long it takes a starter to truely stabilize, I have no idea.  I know it takes me about 6-7 days minimum to make a working starter.  That is I can make a loaf of bread or use it in pizza and it behaves as a typical starter does.  Beyond that, and it gets too scientific and confusing for me.   :-\




Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #49 on: March 24, 2012, 03:57:47 AM »
If you can make a brand new starter using just straight flour and water left out in the air within about a week, you're the man.


 

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