Author Topic: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?  (Read 1975 times)

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Offline phishie

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Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« on: March 07, 2013, 04:37:38 PM »
I'm in the process of activating my Ischia culture for the first time and wanted to ensure I'm on the right path.  I purchased the culture over 2 years ago and have kept it in the fridge the entire time.  I mixed it with 105 grams of Caputo flour and 225 grams of bottled water in a large jar and have had it my proofing box for about 18 hours at 85-89 degrees

When I check it this morning, after about 12 hours, it has a layer of what I presume is hooch on the top.  Is that expected?  I didn't think I would have any hooch at this point, as I thought hooch indicates a starter that has collapsed and needs to be fed again (but activation instructions indicated next feeding is after 24 hours).  This image is how it looked at 12 hours in.

This second image is my culture at 18 hours in - uh oh, the mixture is bubbly now but the hooch has moved to the bottom.   Seems to me I'm contaminated!  Although the smell of it is decent - yeasty and sour like.  Should I wait the requisite 24 hours to determine or start a washing procedure immediately?

Pictures are attached, your help is greatly appreciated.  (The starter seen on the jar above the layer of hooch is just there from when I initially mixed the starter.)

Thanks again,
Trevor


Offline MaximusTG

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2013, 05:57:30 PM »
You say you kept the culture in your fridge for 2 years, not doing anything with it since purchase? In what state did you receive it? I suppose it was in a dried state? Sealed package?

And you mention you added about twice as much water as flour to this culture; Isn't that extremely wet, more batter like? I used to keep my own sourdough fed with a 1:1 mixture, but now it is 4:3, flour to water (by weight). This allows me to more clearly see the activation of the starter.
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Offline PetersPizza

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2013, 06:49:10 PM »
Welcome to the forum.

I activated my Ischia a few weeks ago and it looked the same as yours did after 24 hours, but it smelled sweet and slightly vomit like. It took 3 washings to get it healthy, after the third wash/feeding it smelled yeasty and rose by a few inches without producing any hooch.  Depending on how it smells, I think yours is contaminated and needs washing.

Stick will it, the good guys always win  ;)

-Peter

Offline phishie

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2013, 08:06:23 PM »
Yea it was in a dried state and sealed for that time period it was in storage.  The water and flour weights were given from the culture seller sourdo.com and I believe they're very reliable.

I actually emailed Ed Wood, the seller, and he said to hold off and just move forward with feeding for a couple days, he doesn't seem to think it's for sure contaminated yet.  Hoping for the best!

Offline phishie

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2013, 12:35:44 PM »
This is what my starter looked like this morning at 36 hours in (one feed at 24 hour mark).  It's a bit stinkier than it was at the 24 hours mark so I'm really starting to think it's contaminated.

Either way I split it into two jars and fed it once more.  I'm going to check it at the 6 hours mark and see where I'm at.  I'm thinking there may be some washing in my future.

Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2013, 12:32:15 AM »
Your Ischia culture was "contaminated" the moment you refreshed it.  Mail-order cultures will not last more than one refreshment, unless they are, indeed, the very one and the same Lactobacillus species found to dominate all continuously-backslopped wheat and/or rye "Type I" sourdoughs the entire world over.  Even then, native strains of Lb Sanfranciscensis will almost always out-compete the exact same species in powderised form more than 80% of the time in laboratory settings, with an even higher success-rate in bakery or home environments.
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Offline RookieDave

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2013, 01:48:46 PM »
Welcome to the forum.

I activated my Ischia a few weeks ago and it looked the same as yours did after 24 hours, but it smelled sweet and slightly vomit like. It took 3 washings to get it healthy, after the third wash/feeding it smelled yeasty and rose by a few inches without producing any hooch.  Depending on how it smells, I think yours is contaminated and needs washing.

Stick will it, the good guys always win  ;)

-Peter

I'm going through the same thing.  Can you tell me how long I should wait between washings?

Offline PetersPizza

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2013, 09:31:31 PM »
Hi Dave,

I waited about 24 hours between the three washings that I did, keeping the culture at 70F during that time. As the Sourdo.com instructions dictate, initially you should see a large reduction in activity, then consistent growth of 2-3 inches after feeding. Keep at it, smell is the biggest indicator. 
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 09:10:30 AM by PetersPizza »

Offline RookieDave

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2013, 08:38:42 AM »
Thanks Peter.

Offline csafranek

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2013, 03:04:48 PM »
Hi Dave,

I waited about 24 hours between the three washings that I did, keeping the culture at 70F during that time. As the Sourdo.com instructions dictate, initially you should see a large reduction in activity, then consistent growth of 2-3 inches after feeding. Keep at it, smell is the biggest indicator.

So what should it smell like?

Thank you,
Chad


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2013, 11:18:43 AM »
Your Ischia culture was "contaminated" the moment you refreshed it.  Mail-order cultures will not last more than one refreshment, unless they are, indeed, the very one and the same Lactobacillus species found to dominate all continuously-backslopped wheat and/or rye "Type I" sourdoughs the entire world over.  Even then, native strains of Lb Sanfranciscensis will almost always out-compete the exact same species in powderised form more than 80% of the time in laboratory settings, with an even higher success-rate in bakery or home environments.

I think you will find more than few people here who will disagree with this. I have three mail order cultures (Ischia, Camaldoli, and SF - all from sourdo.com). All are at least 4 years old, and all are still distinctly different not only in flavors produced, but also in leavening activity. There are other members with more than three cultures that have experienced the same thing.

The idea that local yeast will take over a culture is something that is often repeated, but is not my experience, and I have not seen any scientific literature that supports the claim. Can you point to any?
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Offline 2stone

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2013, 12:09:25 PM »
Craig, are any of the three starters more active than the others, or do they all perform about the same? -wg
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2013, 01:00:44 PM »
By activity, I do you mean speed of leavening? If so, AOTBE, the difference is not great, but SF>Ischia>Camaldoli. The same order also holds for acidity and the differences there are very meaningful.
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Offline rrweather

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2013, 07:59:42 PM »
EDIT: I removed my post and started a new thread. Didn't want to hijack another person's thread.

Randy
« Last Edit: July 01, 2013, 09:04:57 AM by rrweather »

Offline rsimonrules

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Re: Is my Ischia Culture contaminated?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2013, 10:36:03 PM »
Keep feeding and try a thicker consistency. Be sure to discard some starter before feeding. It can still make it.