Author Topic: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?  (Read 5213 times)

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Offline Tampa

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2013, 07:20:47 PM »
This is, of course, true. It's not "necessary," per se.  Notwithstanding, I can bake a much better pie with SD than with BY. Using a culture isn't for everyone either. That's not meant to be elitist or negative towards anyone. It is what it is. Using a natural culture is an additional level of complexity and difficulty and requires extra effort that some will find is not worth the potential gains.
Thanks for the delicate response Craig and it is good to learn about success with SD over BY.  Your opinion and contributions are appreciated by many forum members and I've yet to read a post that is elitist.  I'm not sure what bothers me more, your humble attitude or those Craigarita pictures. ;D
Dave


Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2013, 09:48:09 PM »
Hi All,

I'm new here and fell in love with this forum. It's great to see I am not the only person who obsesses over this stuff. First, let me say that I have the Italian starters from sourdo.com. However, haven spoken with some artisan bread baker friends they think I could have easily saved the $20.

I have been working with sourdough for sometime in pizza, bread, pancakes, etc. and have mostly used my own homegrown starter to do so which may be why I am siding with their point. Their argument to me was that after my first few batches of dough the "Ischia" strain would have been completely replaced by the yeast strains locally present in the flour. This makes sense as with each feeding they are being divided and then outnumbered as competing yeast strains are introduced. Reinhart also makes this point in "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" though I feel that airborne yeast is not really a factor given the higher concentrations in the flour itself.

Given all of that. Couldn't you just start and feed your own italian culture using an imported Italian flour such as Caputo?

I don't want to revive the circuitous debate that recently ensued, but you are correct in your assessment that introduced cultures will not likely survive.  Introduced cultures, when "fed" for the first time, still experience the same three-phase evolution as any other spontaneous fermentations on their way to achieving a fully-viable, stable consortia, which means they must still undergo the same competitive stresses as localised strains.

A few notes about some comments on this thread.

First, those lactobacilli and yeast most highly adapted to a continuously-propagated sourdough environment are very rarely recovered from the raw flour used in the starter.  This suggests other routes of contamination, most likely from humans and those species commonly associated with our biome (insects, mammals).

Second, the lactic-acid bacteria population tends to determine the composition of the yeast culture rather than vice-versa, due their elevated numbers and greater metabolic fitness to a carbohydrate-rich (rather than a highly saccharolytic) substrate.

Third, the means by which sourdough microbiota "compete" are much more varied and complex than any single member on here realises, with acute differences between species and, to a lesser degree, strains.  E.g., Lb sanfranciscensis has a greater r-RNA operon density compared to most sourdough LAB (seven compared to two to four); this gives a significant advantage even after two refreshments, as it has double the number of cell sites by which to replicate.  Or the fact Lb sanfranciscensis's genome encodes for the simultaneous uptake of basically any nutrient scenario that can exist in its specific niche (rye, bread and durum wheats, spelt or teff), while other, less-evolved organisms might only be able to catabolise one or two external sources and often not at the same time.  Or through the production of metabolites repressive to the growth and reproduction of other cells.  And so on.  Examples abound, with too many scenarios to count, but it should be obvious some organisms have a clear competitive edge making head-to-head comparisons in population doublings useless.

Fourth, instability is the rule not the exception.  Any time there's a change in refreshment temperature or in the flour used, etc., there's the chance of introducing circumstances that favour a different (set of) organism(s).  The reason particular species (like Lb's sanfranciscensis, fermentum or plantarum, for example) are more commonly recovered from sourdough fermentations is because their genome encodes for a wider array of stress conditions than others.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 09:51:34 PM by arspistorica »
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Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2013, 09:57:58 PM »
Hi Craig,

I usually feed my starter 70g flour and 70ml water but would like to reduce this down as Im left with too much starter, what is the least you would advise?

Ten (10) grams of flour (or whatever you can accurately measure), assuming you can maintain an exact and constant temperature, because, in reality, there's not too much of a difference in the thermal stability of dough masses this small.  I.e., they are both more likely to be influenced by whatever ambient temperature they are stored at.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 10:00:20 PM by arspistorica »
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2013, 11:34:17 PM »
Third, the means by which sourdough microbiota "compete" are much more varied and complex than any single member on here realises, with acute differences between species and, to a lesser degree, strains.  E.g., Lb sanfranciscensis has a greater r-RNA operon density compared to most sourdough LAB (seven compared to two to four); this gives a significant advantage even after two refreshments, as it has double the number of cell sites by which to replicate. 

Replicate what?
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Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #29 on: December 31, 2013, 12:26:37 AM »
Replicate what?

"It is generally assumed that multiple copies of rRNA operons in prokaryotic organisms are required to achieve high growth rates . . . Given the high demand for rRNA transcription and the central role of rRNAs in the regulation of ribosome synthesis, it is conceivable that the number of rRNA operons may dictate the rapidity with which microbes can synthesize ribosomes and respond to favorable changes in growth conditions. Transcription of the rRNA operon is regulated to correspond with resource availability and can represent as much as 70% of total cellular transcription during rapid periods of growth."

"rRNA Operon Copy Number Reflects Ecological Strategies of Bacteria," Klappenbach, et al.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. April 2000 vol. 66 no. 4 1328-1333
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Offline misterschu

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #30 on: December 31, 2013, 10:40:44 AM »
To me, the reason to purchase a sourdough starter like this Ischia from sourdo.com is to be able to immediately start using a strong, healthy, developed culture.  You can putz around in your kitchen (as I've done in the past) to try to get a good starter going, but purchasing it will be a quicker and more reliable method.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #31 on: December 31, 2013, 04:36:02 PM »
"It is generally assumed that multiple copies of rRNA operons in prokaryotic organisms are required to achieve high growth rates . . . Given the high demand for rRNA transcription and the central role of rRNAs in the regulation of ribosome synthesis, it is conceivable that the number of rRNA operons may dictate the rapidity with which microbes can synthesize ribosomes and respond to favorable changes in growth conditions. Transcription of the rRNA operon is regulated to correspond with resource availability and can represent as much as 70% of total cellular transcription during rapid periods of growth."

"rRNA Operon Copy Number Reflects Ecological Strategies of Bacteria," Klappenbach, et al.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. April 2000 vol. 66 no. 4 1328-1333

This is why I question how much of what you write you actually understand. You seem incapable of giving a simple answer to a simple question. You could have answered in one word yet, as in the past, you instead pull out some tangentially-related text from a journal article. I asked because it almost sounded like you were talking about fission.

Your terminology can be surprisingly sloppy for someone who tries to be absurdly precise in his language. “Saccharolytic” does not describe a substrate characteristic but rather the capability to break down sugar.  “Seven compared to two to four” is not a density measure but rather a count. Density would be expressed as a function of base pairs. At least one Lb found in SD has 9.  Some bacteria have more than that. What drives up the density in Lb.s is the relatively small size of its genome.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2013, 09:44:48 PM »
This is why I question how much of what you write you actually understand. You seem incapable of giving a simple answer to a simple question. You could have answered in one word yet, as in the past, you instead pull out some tangentially-related text from a journal article. I asked because it almost sounded like you were talking about fission.

Your terminology can be surprisingly sloppy for someone who tries to be absurdly precise in his language. “Saccharolytic” does not describe a substrate characteristic but rather the capability to break down sugar.  “Seven compared to two to four” is not a density measure but rather a count. Density would be expressed as a function of base pairs. At least one Lb found in SD has 9.  Some bacteria have more than that. What drives up the density in Lb.s is the relatively small size of its genome.

You're quite right "saccharolytic" does not refer to a substrate characteristic!  I originally was going to write "fermentation" in place of "substrate," but, as is often the case with my posts, it was written on the fly.  I'm glad you know its meaning too. (Your ribbon's in the mail.) One of the reasons I'm careful with my post language is because there are stentorians like yourself cruising around here, ready to bust my chops at a moment's notice!  Keeps me on my toes, though.

Second, I posted the journal article for all to read, not just you, in case some members here don't have the illustrious background knowledge you seem to possess.

Third, "operon density" comes from the language of microbiologists, not me, often when mentioning the number of operons compared to overall genome size.  I'm sorry their language is too imprecise for you; maybe you should bark up their tree, too!  I'll let them know the guy from the pizza forum's coming.

Fourth, yes, some bacteria have a greater number of rRNA operons -- 15 is the highest recorded thus far -- but operon density is not solely determined by genome size.  I.e., Lb sanfranciscensis currently has the smallest recorded genome amongst all lactic-acid bacteria, but, as you said, there are some LAB with more.

Lastly, I make mistakes and do not know everything.  Oh, to be human is but to err, err, err.  Thankfully, I have my own personal editor and fact-checker in the guise of you, so I can be as sloppy as I wish!
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2013, 10:07:59 PM »
Third, "operon density" comes from the language of microbiologists, not me, often when mentioning the number of operons compared to overall genome size.  I'm sorry their language is too imprecise for you; maybe you should bark up their tree, too!  I'll let them know the guy from the pizza forum's coming.

Fourth, yes, some bacteria have a greater number of rRNA operons -- 15 is the highest recorded thus far -- but operon density is not solely determined by genome size.  I.e., Lb sanfranciscensis currently has the smallest recorded genome amongst all lactic-acid bacteria, but, as you said, there are some LAB with more.

"Operon density" is precise. You have confused the number of operons with the operon density. Take Lb.s for example, 7 operons and a genome length of 1.3Mbp = an operon density of 5.39/Mbp.

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"operon density is not solely determined by genome size."

You have a firm grasp on the obvious - not to mention this is exactly what I noted above. Lb.s high operon density is not due to a anomalously high operon count but rather a small genome.
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2013, 10:17:39 PM »
I'm careful with my post language is because there are stentorians like yourself cruising around here, ready to bust my chops at a moment's notice! 

Stentorian? You think I'm loud? You haven't seen loud.

I'm not busing your chops. I'm busting your BS. You think you can get attention by throwing around a bunch scientific mumbo jumbo. When I suggested some time ago that you should lighten up on the big words, it's wasn't because I don't understand it; it's because you don't understand it.
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Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #35 on: January 01, 2014, 12:46:22 AM »
Stentorian? You think I'm loud? You haven't seen loud.

I'm not busing your chops. I'm busting your BS. You think you can get attention by throwing around a bunch scientific mumbo jumbo. When I suggested some time ago that you should lighten up on the big words, it's wasn't because I don't understand it; it's because you don't understand it.

When you have something substantive to say re my posts, I have and will reply at length; where errors are made, I graciously accept correction; and to say I do not understand is probably an understatement!  The science on this subject is very new and poorly understood in general, and, as such, we are all ignorant on the subject, including those professionally closest to the research at hand (though much less than you and I).  This being said, most of what I write is a factual account of current research trends, and any error in communicating them is mine alone.

I will continue to write as I see fit; I know you Texans are sceptical of words straying beyond more than one syllable, because, as you know, I was raised in Houston.  Call out my posts as much as you see fit, but, please, make it around the matter being discussed rather than pithy comments like "you don't understand," etc.  These sorts of statements reveal more about you than they do me, and do little to verify or disprove the content of my posts.

Btw, which sourdough specific lactobacilli have 9 rRNA operons?

Side note:  I should mention that because my background is as a hospitality professional and not as a scientist, one of the ways I use to learn about this subject is by keeping in constant contact with researchers in this field, many of whom are open to having an ongoing, continuous dialog.  This helps to reinforce the technical literature I read on a daily basis or to clarify issues I might have trouble understanding; to me this is the true basis of learning, rather than ad hominem and minor objurgative attacks in an online forum.  Like most people on these boards, I am only here to learn and share.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 02:37:38 AM by arspistorica »
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Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #36 on: January 01, 2014, 02:42:58 AM »
"Operon density" is precise. You have confused the number of operons with the operon density. Take Lb.s for example, 7 operons and a genome length of 1.3Mbp = an operon density of 5.39/Mbp.
 
You have a firm grasp on the obvious - not to mention this is exactly what I noted above. Lb.s high operon density is not due to a anomalously high operon count but rather a small genome.

I meant the phrase operon density, and, no, I didn't conflate it with total number of operons -- I just didn't bother to say, parenthetically,  the average density of most sourdough-typical lactobacilli compared to Lb SF because I didn't have the time when posting to look it up.  Your quibbles have nothing to do with the overall point of the post, which is competitiveness in a particular niche comes down to more factors than what anybody on this thread has yet to consider; therefore, it's not just a question of whether "the math supports" particular starting population numbers, etc.  The few relevant studies done on this subject matter -- many already mentioned in other posts -- clearly illustrate that beginning population size of an introduced culture matters very little, especially when a new substrate (say, a different flour, etc.) is introduced, as autochthonous organisms will, on average, have a distinct advantage beginning from the first refreshment.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 02:50:26 AM by arspistorica »
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Offline kiwipete

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #37 on: January 01, 2014, 05:18:00 AM »
I'm glad you know its meaning too. (Your ribbon's in the mail.)

I don't understand most of the stuff you guys are talking about, but i do think the above comment is condescending.

Simple Pete from NZ.


Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #38 on: January 01, 2014, 06:25:14 AM »
I don't understand most of the stuff you guys are talking about...

Apparently I have been informed I don't either, so that makes two of us!
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #39 on: January 01, 2014, 10:10:35 AM »
Btw, which sourdough specific lactobacilli have 9 rRNA operons?

At least one strain of L. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus.
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Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #40 on: January 01, 2014, 10:13:40 AM »
At least one strain of L. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus.

Ah, yes, a non-sourdough specific strain, too, as the one you're referring to is a specialist in dairy-based fermentations. (Yes, there have been strains recovered from sourdoughs, but the specific strain you're referencing -- which recently had its genome mapped -- is from continually propagated dairy fermentations; I think you'd find the strains in sourdough do not have as great an operon density as Lb SF.)
« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 10:17:09 AM by arspistorica »
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #41 on: January 01, 2014, 03:19:12 PM »
Ah, yes, a non-sourdough specific strain, too, as the one you're referring to is a specialist in dairy-based fermentations. (Yes, there have been strains recovered from sourdoughs, but the specific strain you're referencing -- which recently had its genome mapped -- is from continually propagated dairy fermentations; I think you'd find the strains in sourdough do not have as great an operon density as Lb SF.)

If 2011 is "recent." I never disagreed that Lb SF has the highest operon density. As far as I know it's the highest of any organism. Where we differ is when it comes to speaking in absolutes the way you do. What happens in a lab is all fine and dandy, but if the results don't carry over to the real world, their usefulness is limited. Even if everything you have written on the subject accurately reflects the relevant research, it doesn't explain the empirical results such as "sweet smell" scenairo I described in a previous post or how another member here can maintain 5 distinctly different cultures.

FWIW, here is a list of operon counts and density for Lactobacillus with complete genomes in GenBank.
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #42 on: January 01, 2014, 03:25:38 PM »
I know you Texans are sceptical of words straying beyond more than one syllable,

I'm skeptical of people who unnecessarily complicate things.

“A genius is someone who takes a complex thing and makes it look simple. An academic does the opposite.”
― Robert Fanney
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Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #43 on: January 02, 2014, 12:35:01 AM »
If 2011 is "recent." I never disagreed that Lb SF has the highest operon density. As far as I know it's the highest of any organism. Where we differ is when it comes to speaking in absolutes the way you do. What happens in a lab is all fine and dandy, but if the results don't carry over to the real world, their usefulness is limited. Even if everything you have written on the subject accurately reflects the relevant research, it doesn't explain the empirical results such as "sweet smell" scenairo I described in a previous post or how another member here can maintain 5 distinctly different cultures.

FWIW, here is a list of operon counts and density for Lactobacillus with complete genomes in GenBank.

2011 (yes, I knew the year; I follow the microbiology of fermentation in general, not just sourdough) is indeed recent for LAB genomes that've been mapped.  There's a limited number done so every year, with that figure increasing as it gets closer to the present day, but it's still at a relatively slow rate.  E.g., this limits the number studies done into the pan-genomes of particular lactic-acid bacteria, and pales in comparison to those done on their eukaryotic cousins, say, for S. cerevisiae (but more are slowly trickling out, like one just published for Lb. sakei).

It's funny, the way certain people want to cherry-pick the available science to fit their needs or to interpret it in a very inexact way to fulfill their own personal worldview.  Take your predictive model, for example, based upon the very foundations we've been discussing.  This data was developed in a lab, with clear real-world results, except your extrapolation of it does not fit the wide range of doughs I use, as it doesn't account for osmotic stress, decreasing pH conditions, and, particularly, salt as expressed as ionic strength, which has perhaps the biggest impact on fermentation time outside of temperature.

Most of your "evidence" is off-the-cuff and anecdotal, odd for someone who insists on using high evidentiary thresholds.  Five starters that are different?  Well, how are they different?  In what ways, and are they rigorously maintained and recorded?  Doubtful.  If so, then let's investigate and try to fit it with what we know from the available research.  I have likely maintained more starters than most people on here, both professionally and at home, and under every conceivable permutation -- in terms of type of flours, both freshly-milled, commercially-available and even custom roller-milled; means of creation, temperature, inoculation size, and so on -- and on various parts of the globe to boot.  What's more, nearly every baker and pizzamaker I know tends to end up with similar results as what the available science shows, a near impossible coincidence to me, and my network isn't exactly small.  Are there differences between sourdoughs maintained at the laboratory and bakery level?  Of course, no one said there isn't, especially since the former conditions tend to be more aseptic, with less likelihood of cross-contaminating events.  This being said, the science is getting better, more predictive, and, in my experience, very much fits with what I do in the real world.

There has been a proper explanation proposed for how your two starters are different, which seems obvious to me or any other experienced sourdough baker, I would imagine.  The culture, whatever its make-up, shifted due to different processing conditions:  one was kept in the fridge so as to essentially halt fermentation and maintain the old regime, and the other was left to experience massive cell death, substrate depletion and increasingly oxidative and acidic conditions, allowing what was likely a sub-dominant bacteria to become dominant, one more tolerant of the end conditions it was exposed to.  This sort of shift is seen constantly in laboratories and in bakeries, and is one of the reasons researchers and professional bakery texts insist that type-I cultures maintained at ambient temperatures be refreshed on a daily basis.

Continue to be sceptical, because, despite what I say, I think scepticism is healthy and always warranted when it's substantive and impersonal, as the opposite -- blind allegiance to ideals in the absence of evidence -- makes for a much scarier world.  That being said, scepticism can blindly stumble down a similar path, when scepticism is adopted for its own sake, and thus choosing to ignore evidence from the real world.

Regardless, we both use sourdough and use it to sling pies, with very different outcomes.  This shows that even if fermentations are uniform under similar conditions, process parameters can always slightly be tweaked to end up with results that are vastly distinct and unique.  I see this as a good thing.

(For the record, I don't profess blind allegiance to the available science, as there's many areas in which I find its explanatory power to be incorrect, lacking or entirely incomplete, but, with this being said, I have found that much of the research that is available [and hasn't really been reported on in the relevant food literature] tends to be powerful, insightful, and more often right than wrong.  This is one of the reasons I began looking into the scientific aspects of pizza, bread, and so on, as there is a lot out there that can be explained but no one has really bothered putting in the legwork.  There's a tremendous gap between the science and the mainstream understanding, whereas I find this gap to be much less apparent in other food sectors, like wine- and/or beer-making, for example.)
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 12:53:02 AM by arspistorica »
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #44 on: January 02, 2014, 09:37:38 AM »
It's funny, the way certain people want to cherry-pick the available science to fit their needs or to interpret it in a very inexact way to fulfill their own personal worldview.

What funny (and ironic) is the way you are trying to use that statement to take a swipe at me.  If trying to help people is fulfilling my personal world view, then you got me. I’m guilty.

Quote
Take your predictive model, for example, based upon the very foundations we've been discussing.  This data was developed in a lab, with clear real-world results, except your extrapolation of it does not fit the wide range of doughs I use, as it doesn't account for osmotic stress, decreasing pH conditions, and, particularly, salt as expressed as ionic strength, which has perhaps the biggest impact on fermentation time outside of temperature.

A lot of people want to try using a culture and don’t know where to start. The purpose of the model was simply to help them find a starting point to work from. I built it to try to help people – not to try to prove how smart I am or how much information is packed into my head. That’s the difference between you and me. I identify what is important and work to make things simple and useful. You unnecessarily complicate things, and what you post is completely useless.

Quote
Most of your "evidence" is off-the-cuff and anecdotal, odd for someone who insists on using high evidentiary thresholds. 

I never said my observations were anything but anecdotal. Regardless of your standards, you should be skeptical when your real world experiences differ from what someone tells you. That’s called common sense. I’m not sure why you find this odd?

Quote
Five starters that are different?  Well, how are they different?  In what ways, and are they rigorously maintained and recorded?  Doubtful. 

If he wants to respond, he can. He’s posted on this subject enough over the years that you should be able to figure it out with a little searching.
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Offline Steve

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #45 on: January 02, 2014, 01:48:05 PM »
Please stop with the public bickering.

Offline arspistorica

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #46 on: January 05, 2014, 01:25:37 AM »
Please stop with the public bickering.

Indeed.  I bid this site adieu, and would like to thank all those members who have contacted me privately or have followed the threads in which I've participated.
"Senza il mio territorio sarei solo un panificatore."
                                  -Franco Pepe

Offline stonecutter

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #47 on: January 05, 2014, 07:44:26 AM »
That is a shame. It's really our loss...and your posts are very far from completely useless.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 08:02:33 AM by stonecutter »
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Mal

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #48 on: January 05, 2014, 10:22:20 AM »
That is a shame. It's really our loss...and your posts are very far from completely useless.

+1

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Is buying Ischia starter really necessary?
« Reply #49 on: January 05, 2014, 11:11:52 AM »
Ian,

I, too, would like you to reconsider. Often I do not quite understand what you write but I think I get the drift and, with time, would perhaps get a better understanding of the factors and issues involved.

Peter


 

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