Author Topic: The Italian starters are here!  (Read 22437 times)

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Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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The Italian starters are here!
« on: October 20, 2005, 10:50:39 AM »
Woah. I haven't been this happy from opening the mail since I got my college acceptance letter. ;D

Unfortunately, I have only two weeks left until major exams. I don't want to screw up due to, of all things, sourdough. But I have a major pizza party planned on the Sunday after my exams finish and I am hell bent on using "CRISCETO".

I think I will activate them in the coming days during a study break or something. (What an excuse)

Although I bought Ed's book, I don't think I'll have time to read every word in detail. I had a good skim and get the general idea. A lot of you guys have experience with these starters. Some advice on how I should get started would be highly appreciated. :)

Cheers,
-James


Offline scott r

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2005, 11:50:53 AM »
James,

The small booklet that is labled Italian Sourdough Starters (came with mine for free free), is very basic and easy to follow.  There are only really two pages of directions on maintaining and starting the cultures.  Everything you need to know is spelled out pretty simply there, but I know I was nervous about possibly messing up.  Guess what,  I DID!  If you do a search on the forum you will find some posts from others about what they did wrong, and advice from the experienced.  Here is what I did wrong.

For the first few days of feeding it really does not seem like anything is happening at all.  You are supposed to feed them on a set schedule. The book says that after the first signs of activity you can start feeding them every 6 to 12 hours.  I ended up not being around to feed them for a lot longer than recommended, and when I got back I found the the culture had peaked, expanded to spill out all over my counter, and fallen back.  This must have happend right after I fed it, and it had sat for way too long with no food after peaking.  I think I had forgotten that I was on the 6 to 12 hour feeding schedule, and thought it was OK to leave them unattended for 24 hours.   Normally this is not a big deal when the cultures are mature, but since the starters were in the activation stages this really set me back.  Luckily Marco came to my rescue and told me that I had just let the culture over acidify, and recommended a procedure for getting everything back to normal.  The problem is that it took me so long to get the cultures to recover I was sure I had killed them.  Sure enough these resilient little buggers ended up pullling through and becoming my prised possesion!

Bottom line here is keep an eye on them and be ready for that first time they explode with action.  At that point they will need a feeding very soon after.  Follow all of Eds instructions to a T.  Get the temp right (my oven with the light on and the door cracked was perfect).  Get the feeding schedule right.  Measure out the flour and water.  Discard the right amount each time.  If you follow all that is in the booklet (unlike big old dummy me) , you will surely be successful.  Also just remember that these things are actually hard to kill.  I remember a fellow forum member who got to the point where the culture spilled out, and they threw the whole mess away.  Don't be discouraged, because you will be rewarded.

GOOD LUCK, and feel free to ask any more questions.

Offline David

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2005, 12:36:40 PM »
james,
Scott has covered your questio and I thought you may be interested in my storage method.I chose to use these wide mouth "Rubbermaid" brand containers for a number of useful reasons.I tend to keep 3 cultures ,just in case i should screw up with one,i've goty a couple of reserves in the fridge.Two of the three here have just been pulled from the fridge and have a layer of liqid on the top ("The Hooch")I like rotate them and to activate each one ,so that none of them feel neglected ! ;)Here are my reasons for using these containers:

1)Wide mouth for easy feeding

2)I can mark the sides as the starter rises if I wish

3)The pop up spout will POP (And I MEAN POP !!) when the container is full of gas (Great Aural Alarm to know your starter is working)

4)The supple plastic BULGES at the sides as gas is produced (Great visual indicator )

I do not use any IDY or ADY at all now.Stick with these.Really all the info you need in Ed woods book is confined to Chapter 4.Good luck
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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2005, 09:11:56 AM »
James,

Allow time for possible contamination and the required washings. I found that if your culture has the slightest off-smell, then it is contaminated and it will only get worse. I was in denial and continued feeding a contaminated culture - boy did it get to smell awful. Marco's cultures have the most heavenly smell. You'll know it when you smell it.

Bill/SFNM

Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2005, 04:58:29 AM »
Hey everyone, thanks for posting your thoughts. Here's what has transpired so far.

Last night at 7PM, I started the Camaldori culture and left the mixture in my oven, which stablelised at 30C/86F degrees.

At 7AM, I saw a good deal of bubbles and some 'hooch'. It smelled somewhat odd. I was ready to wash them per Bill's warning but after stirring them, it didn't smell so bad. It just smelled like acidifed dough. So instead, I took a 1/4 cup out and fed this small sample ahead of time just to experiment (I couldn't wait).

It's now 24 hours and the original mixture, according to my mom, smelled 'bad'. So I did the first cycle of the wash procedure, adding fresh flour and water. Now it's fermenting again.

This washing procedure is quite mysterious. It's amazing that somehow diluting the mixture and adding new food will somehow allow the native culture to overcome the contaminant. But I sure hope it works that way!

Will keep you guys updated.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2005, 05:48:17 AM by JF_Aidan_Pryde »

Offline Ronzo

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2005, 11:47:00 AM »
What's a starter and how can I make or get one?
Fuggheddabowdit!

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Online Pete-zza

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2005, 12:34:17 PM »
Ron,

If you go to this link: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2027.0.html, you will get some of the basics and also additional links to other threads on the forum at which the subject of starters (preferments) has been discussed in some detail.

Peter

Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2005, 10:35:30 PM »
Time elapsed: 36Hours
Number of feeds: 3
Smell: Acidic
Confidence level:70%

Activity is pretty nominal. In fact, the first 12 hours saw more foaming than the last 24.
Both the washed and unwashed cup look and smell identical. They both have a layer of hooch at the surface. The washed culture has more, since it contains more water and hooch seems to be mostly water.

The mixtures smell acidic (certainly not by any measure heavenly) but the it hasn't got worse since it started smelling like this 12 hours ago.

Keeping the faith and hopeing they'll explode into action sometime today.



Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2005, 07:09:22 AM »
Check one of my reply to Scott some times ago..

As the feeding progress, you have to reduce the time laps you feed your culture:

24-12-6-4-4-4-4-

Also be careful on the quantity of feeding vs culture.

Ciao

Offline cdodson

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2005, 10:13:42 AM »
What's a starter and how can I make or get one?

I have three on the way.  The two Italian starters from http://www.sourdo.com/italian.html

and then the classic sourdough starter from http://shop.bakerscatalogue.com/landing.jsp?go=timberyeast&c1=adwords&source=YeastsLeaveners&kw=Instant+Yeast

Is this site addicting or what?  To justify all this to my girlfriend I have to let her know I'm trying to perfect several recipes so I can someday sell pizza.  In fact, she and I just completed our ServSafeTM course through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation http://www.nraef.org 

So now the pressure is on!  :o
« Last Edit: October 28, 2005, 10:35:58 AM by cdodson »
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Offline Wazza McG

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2005, 08:51:49 PM »
G'Day JF_Aidan_Pryde ,

Hello fellow Aussie, Hope you succeed with your first starter!  Looks like we both started a similar thread on preferment/starters around the same time.  Anyway, I think this link will help you more than me because I actually have not started making one and you have.

http://www.sourdough.com.au/links/   - scroll down to where it says - "Sourdough and Artisan Baking Web Sites"  There are some really great links in this and not just the suggested category I supplied.

Good luck and keep us posted on your findings.

Makybe Diva to win it's 3rd Melbourne Cup!! ~ Cheers

Wazza McG
Fair Dinkum - you want more Pizza!  Crikey ! I've run out out them prawny thingymebobs again!

Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2005, 10:54:20 PM »
Time elapsed: 65Hours
Number of feeds: 5-6
Smell: Less acidic than before
Appearance: Thick and bubbly (but no height growth)
Confidence level:80%

I haven't been quite following the water/flour feeding ratio; I've been biasing toward flour. As a result my mixture is more battery.

It's been almost three days now and I know for sure they're doing something, but they just haven't 'fully' activated. So far, when the culture forms bubbles, it's only at the surface. The bubbles do not crawl up the jar like other photos I've seen. They just kind of lay flat on the surface, staying at the same height as after the feeding.

---

Marco, thanks for the suggestion. I will try to accelerate the feeding schedule. Can you elaborate on the feeding vs. culture issue? I understand that if you feed 1:1 ratio to a over acidified culture, the food will be insufficient. But what if I have a semi-active culture and I give it lots of food, will this dilute and slow down the process?

---

Hey Wazza,
Nice to see another aussie on the board. Thanks for the links, I'll check it out. Keep us posted on your pizza progress!

Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2005, 05:44:32 AM »
Time elapsed: 72 Hours
Number of feeds: 6-7
Smell: Acidic
Appearance: Thick and bubbly
Confidence level: 95%

It happened. It took three days but it happened.

Since my last feed about two hours ago, it has more than doubled in height. This is pretty good considering my jar is fairly wide. There is no hooch, just a thick, bubbly mixture. It smells pretty acidic.

I'm guessing I'm one feed away from being able to use them. I just need a recipe.

The recipe that came with the book is wrong according to marco. Although I found the marco's recommended one, it only mentioned quantity, not procedure. The one in the book seems unacceptably complicated. Three proofing periods? I would have starved to death already!

Jeff's recipe with IDY, cold rise, then warm rise seems more familiar to me. But that's with the Pasty's culture. I'm not sure how it'll work for this culture.

Tomorrow, I'm going to have pizza for breakfast.  :D

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2005, 06:15:16 AM »
Do not use any IDY or other commercial yeast. If you were looking for an easy ride, then you should never have gone toward using a starter...

With Neapolitan pizza there must be a rest and then a proofing time. You do not need to use as much starter as specified in the booklet. one suggestion I can give you to start with is use 1 part of starter for each 20 part of final dough weight.


Regarding the feeding, I believe you should not use less then 1/2 part feed vs 1 part culture, and during the activation it should be actually a rule (so to not overcome the dormant microflora).

I am sure you will have much fun with your Crisceto, so enjoy...


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2005, 11:22:21 AM »

I'm guessing I'm one feed away from being able to use them. I just need a recipe.


The pizzas I made immediately after activating the starter were not as good those after several weeks. As Marco says, they need "experience". Here is the latest formula I'm using with Caputo 00 and the Camaldoli starter. I probably use more starter than Marco recommends:

Ingredient    Grams       Bakers %   Total %
Flour               1,042.60    100.00%      57.38%
Water                650.91    62.43%     35.82%
Starter                  90.85       8.71%      5.00%
IDY    -                               0.00%      0.00%
Salt                    32.64         3.13%   1.80%
total              1,817.00                100.00%

I dissolve the salt in the water and add to the mixing bowl with 75% of the flour and all of the starter. I mix until it is all combined and then start sprinkling over the additional flour as Marco recommends. Sometimes I use more or less flour for this stage until I get the right action in the mixer. I'm still experimenting with how to know when to stop kneading, but it is usually 10-20 minutes in the fork mixer. Allow for a 20 minute reposo. Mix again for 1 or 2 turns around the bowl.

I then let it rise in a covered bowl (no oil), for about 18 hours at room temp, then retard in the refrigerator for about 8 hours, then form balls and proof for about 3-4 hours.

You'll quickly discover there is no exact formula here. Each batch I make is different, some better than others, and still have a long way to go before getting a handle on all the factors. But the Camaldoli starter is well worth the effort in my opinion.

Bill/SFNM

Offline scott r

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2005, 11:48:00 AM »
I totally agree with everything Bill has said, but I just wanted to add a few points since I am making the same recipe (pretty much) at sea level.

I have found 2.65% Ishca starter, and 2.8% salt to work perfectly for me.  This is much less starter than Bill uses.  I let the dough go for 12 hours, then make dough balls and let it sit for another 8-12 hours.  All of this time is spent at 65-67 degrees.  If your room is warmer you will want to use more salt and less starter.  If you really must use the refrigerator (I have found the dough to turn out similar, but the texture does seem to suffer slightly)  I have found that the best way is to put it in the fridge after the initial 12 hour period.  If the dough is in the fridge for a day, I let it sit for a few hours.  If the dough has been in the fridge for two or three days, I only leave it out for an hour before making pies.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2005, 11:58:02 AM »
I might add that for James' purposes, he may want to use a lower hydration ratio and also add some oil to the dough since he is using a standard home oven (I believe at normal oven temperatures). Otherwise, he may end up with a cracker-like crust.

Peter

Offline Christopher

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2005, 04:29:06 PM »
alright pizza pals, i just received my starters and built a proof box. last night i started the calmodoli at 7:45pm and it has been sitting in there all night. i just checked it and opened the lid. there are some bubbles on top and smells okay, but there is hooch in the middle of the starter. i understood the manual to mean if it smells bad and there is hooch at the bottom or middle then to wash. is it contaminated? or should i wait out the full 24 hours? or start washing it now before it goes wrong? :o
thanks for any help,
christopher

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2005, 04:38:46 PM »
Wait.

Bill/SFNM

Offline Christopher

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2005, 04:49:51 PM »
thanks, Bill, i will hang in there and feed it again at the 24 hour mark. now am i correct in understanding that after 7:45pm tonight i will start feeding it every 6-12 hours after that until it is fully activated?
thanks,
christopher