Author Topic: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?  (Read 22970 times)

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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.


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!

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.


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #50 on: March 24, 2012, 10:48:44 AM »
in many cases I don't even bother using an airtight lid.  

Cuts down on explostions that way...
Pizza is not bread.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #51 on: March 24, 2012, 11:07:04 AM »
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.


David, with all due respect, this example is bordering on absurd. Notwithstanding, it still is probably a lot less likely than you think. I have on many occasions left a starter unfed and unattended on my counter for over a week. The food supply has been completely exhausted for days, and it is full acid, alcohol and the other waste byproducts of the yeast and bacteria. That does not mean the entire flora is dead. I feed it some flour and water it will come back in a day or so and behave exactly as before (I do draw the line at mold – any mold and it’s going into the trash).

When you say adding flour introduces “the only healthy yeast in the jar,” I do not believe you are correct. The yeast cells in the flour are not healthy. If they were, it would not take a “month or two” to start a culture from them as you indicated is necessary. It would take a day or so.

If you are correct that it takes a month or two to start a culture from flour and water, I don’t see how could also believe the yeast naturally in flour could take over an existing, established culture given any realistic set of assumptions.

CL
 
Pizza is not bread.

Offline trosenberg

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #52 on: March 24, 2012, 01:03:35 PM »
Pardon me for hijacking  but as long as I have all the sourdough guru's attention, I have a question/problem.   I buy some starters from  sourdo.com & activate them as per the instructions.  The smell great, I feed them a few more times and they lose the sour smell and flavor.   When I use them to bake Tartine bread or anything else they perform well as far as leavening but the flavor is virtually non-existing.  I have had the same experience with Ishia, SF,  Camolodi.  Any ideas? 
Trosenberg

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #53 on: March 24, 2012, 01:08:31 PM »
Pardon me for hijacking  but as long as I have all the sourdough guru's attention, I have a question/problem.   I buy some starters from  sourdo.com & activate them as per the instructions.  The smell great, I feed them a few more times and they lose the sour smell and flavor.   When I use them to bake Tartine bread or anything else they perform well as far as leavening but the flavor is virtually non-existing.  I have had the same experience with Ishia, SF,  Camolodi.  Any ideas? 

Fermentation temps? Times? Amount of starter in dough? Frequency of feeding?

Offline trosenberg

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #54 on: March 24, 2012, 01:20:30 PM »
I typically feed 2 times per day.  I remove all but about 1/2 cup and add about 1/2 - 3/4 cup flour and enough water to make a very thick batter.   I have tried temps from 65-80 with out an variation in flavor although as expected starter activates a lot faster with the higher temps.
Trosenberg

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #55 on: March 24, 2012, 01:52:19 PM »
I typically feed 2 times per day.  I remove all but about 1/2 cup and add about 1/2 - 3/4 cup flour and enough water to make a very thick batter.   I have tried temps from 65-80 with out an variation in flavor although as expected starter activates a lot faster with the higher temps.

2x per day every day?

Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #56 on: March 24, 2012, 02:49:08 PM »
David, with all due respect, this example is bordering on absurd.

Why?  Because its impossible?  Or because its unlikely?  

And furthermore, how would you explain all these different observations out there?  Would you simply say that everyone who experiences their starter's uniqueness withering away over time with successive feeding cycles is a flat out liar?  That's too easy.

Notwithstanding, it still is probably a lot less likely than you think. I have on many occasions left a starter unfed and unattended on my counter for over a week. The food supply has been completely exhausted for days, and it is full acid, alcohol and the other waste byproducts of the yeast and bacteria. That does not mean the entire flora is dead. I feed it some flour and water it will come back in a day or so and behave exactly as before (I do draw the line at mold – any mold and it’s going into the trash).

A week is nothing.

Try an entire summer in an unairconditioned place because you spend the summers somewhere else in another state.  I'm describing myself there.  And yes, I've had mold grow in starters.  And I've resurrected starters with mold in them.  Mold does not necessarily mean all hope is lost.  Just dig down past the mold, grab a tiny sample, put it in a new jar, add some flour and water and within the next two weeks or so of intensive care you're back at full froth.

If you do that, is your starter going to be the exact same as it was before?  That is another question.  A question I feel is important and related.  The very question we're trying to answer, in fact!!  Some people say yes.  Some people say no.  Some people say maybe.

When you say adding flour introduces “the only healthy yeast in the jar,” I do not believe you are correct. The yeast cells in the flour are not healthy. If they were, it would not take a “month or two” to start a culture from them as you indicated is necessary. It would take a day or so.

I do not believe that the healthy yeast cells present within the flour need to be at high concentrations to contaminate a weak colony, which is by definition an unstable colony.  You don't need a complete takeover to change characteristics.  You simply need contamination to do that.

If you are correct that it takes a month or two to start a culture from flour and water, I don’t see how could also believe the yeast naturally in flour could take over an existing, established culture given any realistic set of assumptions.

CL
 

With due respect to you, you should read the thread a little more thoroughly before replying.  I don't feel like its that long.  

I've stated, in my very *first* post AAMOF, that folks should not have a problem maintaining purchased starters so long as they take care of them properly.  I've also stated, more than once, that under proper circumstances there should be no real issue with native microorganisms taking over a sourdough culture.  I've stated that, so you should not be attributing alternate beliefs to me by this point.

However, I have also stated that there is some truth to the idea that starters are hardly 'bulletproof' things.  'Indestructible' is not a common description for a sourdough starter.  This thread would, in fact, be the first time I've ever even seen that implied.  Here we have folks literally scoffing, implying that any negative experiences reported with sourdough sustainability are utterly unbelievable!!  Based on what I've seen, sourdough cultures are instead most often described as 'finicky, temperamental, inconsistent, and not worth the trouble' compared to plain yeast.  In other words, it ain't exactly uncommon to have a starter destroyed and to have to replace it, or reorder another one.  Apparently, though, nobody here has ever heard of that.

Lastly, I have also stated in post #19 that changing food sources can mean changing a lot.  It really can turn out to be a pretty big deal.  You can change an entire culture based on what you feed that culture over a sustained period of time.  Switching food sources means switching certain enzyme concentrations, certain sugar concentrations, certain impurity concentrations, etc, etc in the actual food source.  This means that for a given strain of microorganism different metabolic pathways now become preferred, which means that the same byproducts being produced by these microorganisms are now being produced at different relative concentrations.  This alone can give the *impression* of the starter changing over time with successive feedings, even though the microorganisms actually present have not changed that much at all in terms of their relative concentrations.

Furthermore, different metabolic rates and process mean different microorganisms propagate at new and different rates, opening the door down the road for an eventual change in micro-organic concentrations.  We call that evolving.  Or at least one way of a colony evolving to accommodate a steady particular food source.  I've actually had that happen.

« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 04:34:40 PM by David Deas »

Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #57 on: March 24, 2012, 03:01:32 PM »
I typically feed 2 times per day.  I remove all but about 1/2 cup and add about 1/2 - 3/4 cup flour and enough water to make a very thick batter.   I have tried temps from 65-80 with out an variation in flavor although as expected starter activates a lot faster with the higher temps.

Try cutting down on your feeding.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 03:03:31 PM by David Deas »

Offline trosenberg

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #58 on: March 24, 2012, 03:15:33 PM »
Here is the routine; I take the starter out of the fridge,  feed it 2X day for a day or two until it gets real active.  I then use what I need,  feed the starter again & leave on counter for an hour then return to fridge until needed again.
Trosenberg

Offline David Deas

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Re: do all sourdough starter cultures become the same?
« Reply #59 on: March 24, 2012, 03:20:12 PM »
Here is the routine; I take the starter out of the fridge,  feed it 2X day for a day or two until it gets real active.  I then use what I need,  feed the starter again & leave on counter for an hour then return to fridge until needed again.

That sounds fine.  

Just try once per day instead temporarily.  Let us know how that works out first.


 

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