Author Topic: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough  (Read 1745 times)

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Offline fagilia

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Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« on: May 25, 2014, 05:43:08 AM »
Hello everyone,
I have tried to do some research about how to Control the acidity levels (sourness) of the neopolitan dough made with starter. With this i mean how to Control the sour taste not the flavor. I just want to be able to fix these levels if needed. Problem is my research online and in books is just full of contradictions. The question as i understand can be devided into two different subjects. 1. Manipulating the actual starter. 2. Manipulationg the actual dough. Time, temperature kneeding etc.
Below i will list some examples of contradictions i have read so far.

A wet barm is good for sour taste P.Reinhart
A stiff barm is good for sour taste P.Reinhart
Colder Environment for starter makes it more mild ed Wood
Warmer Environment for starter makes it more sour. The fresh loaf site general understanding
high feeding ratios creates a mild taste

colder dough proof makes dough sour, online opinions
warmer dough proof makes dough mild, online opinions
longer proof times makes dough sour, Very general opinions on different online forums.

These are just some examples of my findings. So the question is. Is there a real answere to this question or are the variables to many to Control?
My gues is that for neo dough. We in this forum use only small amounts of starter why this variable is not so important?
Myself i have only one real observation that i have not read about and that is to whip the starter almost like Cream when feeding to incorporate air it the strater smells to much of vinegar.

I posin this frum sinc iam only interested in neopolitn dogh.

Hopefully some of you here have own experiences that you would like to share since this subject seem to be a real djungle with no definite answere so far.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2014, 05:47:58 AM by fagilia »


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2014, 08:56:11 AM »
Do you want your crust to have a sour flavor?
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2014, 10:36:49 AM »
I went back and looked at my old notes, and the only times I noted a distinct sour flavor was in doughs that fermented for 60 hours which is the most I ever tried. I also have never tried anything between 48 and 60, so maybe something less than 60 would also do it. For me it's easiest to ferment in multiples of 24 hours.

Here are a few thoughts/opinions that come to mind.
- Pizza is not bread. Given the scope is NP dough, we can ignore breadmaking techniques (FWIW, Reinhart incorrectly uses the term "barm") that involve large amounts of (starter, poolish, biga, whatever) and result in a tough, bread-like crumb. When using tiny amounts or starter, making it stiff isn't going to make a difference - just hard to incorporate. Fermentation temperature of the starter isn't going to make a difference either. You aren't going to use enough to make a difference.
- NP crust should not have a distinctly sour taste. A sour element of the flavor could be appropriate, but not a distinct sour flavor.
- The bacterial makeup of your starter has a bigger impact than anything else. Some starters won't make a sour flavor - some are hard to make mild.
- Fermentation temperature is a factor, but perhaps not so much because it favors acetic or lactic acid formation. I think fermentation time is more important if you want a sour note in NP, so cooler temperature and longer time, all other things being equal. In my opinion, ~14C is about as low as one should go when making NP dough. I think going much lower compremises every snesory aspect of a naturally fermented dough. I would never suggest using refrigeration.
Pizza is not bread. Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2014, 12:31:57 PM »
Craig. No actually at the moment i am trying to understand how to Control it if now it turned out too sour or mild.
So when you say cooler environment, you mean cool like 4-8 degrees ? I am actually at the moment giving your workflow a try. Usually i use 24 hours fermentation 14hour bulk and 10 hours ball 22 degree C temperature.
Would you expect Craigs (your) workflow to be more sour then mine all else being equal? Or are the differences to small to make a difference?
Another question arises. Can you manipulate the bacterial makup of your starter or is it what it is?
I also have te ischia starter by now but its not stable enough yet to make a valid comparison with my other staters.
Any other experiences please share.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2014, 01:21:17 PM »
I think if your starter is stable, it is what it is with respect to the makeup of the flora. It might change if you let it get unhealthy and very weak, but it would be a crapshoot what you get. I don't think you can engineer a culture with specific attributes.

With respect to temperature, 18C +/- 0.5 is optimal in my experience. I think once you get much  below 14C you start to loose - particularly flavor attributes. Once you go into the fridge (<4C), you compromise quality across the board - flavor, texture and tenderness, structure, digestibility, you name it. It's probably similarly bad between 4-10C, but i don't know anyone who has tried this. Much warmer temperatures don't seem to develop as much complexity and also don't generally allow for extended fermentation. A while back I experimented with very warm fermentation (35C/95F) and was able to develop sour flavor rather quickly in bread - http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=14627.msg145628#msg145628

Since I (and others who have tried it) don't detect sourness in my crust, I wouldn't expect it to be more sour than your workflow.

Flavor is much more complicated than sour vs. mild. Flavor does not equals sour and sour does not equal flavor. It is only one element of the balance. If you taste a distinct sour flavor, I would say the dough is out of balance. 

Developing flavor complexity takes time, but it also temperature-dependent. In my experience, temperatures around 18C (64F) develop the most complex flavors with my cultures. Other folks such as Bill/SFNM had a similar conclusion if I remember correctly.

I think with most cultures, you have to go out of your way to make sourdough pizza crust taste sour.
Pizza is not bread. Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2014, 01:51:31 PM »

Developing flavor complexity takes time, but it also temperature-dependent. In my experience, temperatures around 18C (64F) develop the most complex flavors with my cultures. Other folks such as Bill/SFNM had a similar conclusion if I remember correctly.

I think with most cultures, you have to go out of your way to make sourdough pizza crust taste sour.


Yes, you remember correctly. The relationships of time and temperature and different strains of bacteria and yeast and relative metabolic rates and populations of each are very complex. Small changes can have big, unpredictable impacts on flavor. I've been playing with the same Ischia culture since 2006 and am still trying to dial it in. Recently, bulk fermentation for 24 hours @ 55F and 20 hours @ 62F and proof for 4 hours @ 75F have produced some pretty amazing flavors. No sour. Don't want sour. Slight tang with some complex buttery flavors.
Sometimes I use big words that I dont fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2014, 03:41:20 AM »
Ok thank you guys so far.
I will have to make a test and see if i can feel the difference between the 2 workflows.
I have been doing dough your way for 2 weeks now craig but i have not had time to bake them in my oven yet. I have made bread with the pizza balls. And they sure taste good. Better than any bread i can find in my town at least  ;D And no, no sour taste so far.

Actually my friend is making me a beer proofing box. That would be a cooler that he modifies the termostate on so i can controle the temperature on it exactly. Pretty easy it looks. Anything from 4C up to room temt.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2014, 03:44:13 AM by fagilia »

Offline Adrian

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2014, 10:07:46 AM »
There are usually two ways an Italian starter is stored:

1) under pressure - like a sausage in plastic/fabric and with a mesh/knots around.
2) under water. (as Italian starters have a hydration of just about 50%, it really works without diluting it)

The second one is usually the one that develops more sour as it can breathe.
You can find a lot about starter maintenance on "the fresh loaf". I can write something about temperatures and hydration later/tomorrow. I have to go buying a planting pot for my peperoni and the store closes in 50 minutes.

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2014, 12:39:13 PM »
Yes please do.
i can tell you that most of the contradictions i found was at the fresh loaf. Hopefully you have the brains to sort out some of the incredible amounts of info there. i have not yet identified the expert there so i dont know who to listen to.
At the moment iam making some test with only one variable change. That would be time.
thank you


Offline Adrian

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2014, 03:12:52 PM »
There are a view things that I can think of, that influence the aroma of a sourdough baked good (and for sure some more):

1) The flour you use
2) The hydration
3) The amount of sourdough used
4) The temperature
5) The starter symbiosis


When you read this forum, pizza is often made with the direct method. Also called 0-step method. This means you don't build a levain (or "build it in 0 steps" ;)) and use the starter directly in a small amount in the final dough. Therefore you cannot change the hydration and the flour you use.
Rye would give more sour and aroma. Also a stiffer dough would last longer to ferment and be more tangy.

The amount of sourdough in the direct method also usually is too small to have an effect on the tanginess of the final product. With bread you can built a levain (sourdough) that has up to 33% of the final flour (for wheat, even more for rye) already in it as a preferment. This preferment can be overprooved and therefore have a lot of tangy taste and flavour that it adds to the final dough. As you will add a lot of flour to the final dough, the overproofing of the final dough won't matter for the final rise.
You can do this with pizza as well, but not the whole 33% as the gluten in the preferment will get weakened. Craigs wonderfull table also might be off.

The temperature:
The temperature is something you can adjust. In general: The warmer, the more active the microorgansims, until it gets too warm for them and they start to die. But: this is not linear and the increase of activity and metabolism is different for different mos. At 26C the yeasts perform best compared to the others. Above that, more and more lactic acid is built (the fruity aroma) and below that, more and more acidic acid is built (tangy taste).
For bread baking some use a 3-step built of levain where at each step the levain is held at a different temperature and different hydration that all wanted aromas are there and the yeasts active. I use a 1-Step method with falling temperature form 30C to sometimes 20C sometimes 18C. Again for directly built pizza this is difficult to time and I wouldn't do that.
But what you can do, is lower the temperature to maybe 18C and prolongate the proof and then try if it is more a tu gusto.

The starter symbiosis:
You cannot switch out the microorganisms that are in the starter, of course.
But you can influence their balance with all the things from above. I for example mostly use a rye starter to inoculate the wheat sourdough for my pizza. It gives me the sensation of a fuller aroma.
In Italy, a 100%-starter is almost unknown. Usually they are at about 50%. This would make them more sour in theory, but they are refreshed with much more food (1:1:0.5 - starter:flour:water) and kept warmer before being fed again and then stored in the fridge. Also they are often kept under pressure like a sausage or under water.
In Italian language, but take a look at the pictures: http://blog.giallozafferano.it/fablesucre/lievito-madre/
It can happen, that the starter almost tastes sweet.

Adrian

Offline fornographer

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2014, 05:28:34 PM »
Here is what worked for me to remove the sour flavor.  I am using a sourdough starter that I made back in 2009.


1.  Frequent feedings.  Every 4-6 hours 2 days before I intend to use it.  I remove 50-80% depending on how it smells. Less if it smells milky, more if there is a hint of sour.  The starter is pancake batter consistency.  I do not measure, I just go by the feel when I mix.  It's quite liquid.
2.  Left at room temperature.  It is 68-72 degrees F in my kitchen during the winter and 74-82 degrees F in the summer.   
3.  Fed with pure 00 flour (san felice) or KAAF.  Rye or wheat, I noticed, tends to make it more sour. 


I use the starter when it is quite young, when it hasn't fully risen in the jar, but active, when there are bubbles and when it floats on the water.  I also go by smell. When it smells milky, in my experience that's the time to use it if I do not want any sourness at all.  Any hint of sour smell (vinegar), I wash the starter and feed it again. When I have no plans of using the starter, I just feed it every 12 hours.


The bread and pies that I have been making with my new way of treating my starter have been delicious. There is no sour flavor at all.  The last Tartine style bread I made tasted buttery and wheaty.  Almost the same with the Neapolitan pies, except the seemed a tiny bit sweeter.   There were some other weird delicious flavors also.  Something like a cashew nut..can't quite describe it. 
« Last Edit: May 27, 2014, 05:37:20 PM by fornographer »

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2014, 02:02:29 AM »
Hello,
Thats some good info right there. In Swedish books pasta madre and lieveto madre is often mixxed togeather in different ways. I will have to translate and read more carefully. I tried to sort out all these matters at Franco Manca in London where they use a pasta madre or lieveto madre in maby a 60% hydration. Problem is with a stiff starter, it would be hard to see when the strater has peaked at least for me. Maby the usability window is bigger though.

But both you and Craig are at least saying this (here i use acidic acid as something bad :D even if its maby not):

The starter itself will not affect the tangy acidic acid (or sour taste since maby not all acidic acid is bad) taste of the crust since we use so small amounts. This is true even if we would use a starter that is overly proofed and collapsed with a slight bitter vinegar smell. This would be because the method we use here for pizza is just the same as feeding a starter but with a really high ratio like 1:0,6:0,015 flour, water,starter. The small amounts of acidic acid that made the starter tangy (if you did taste it) is not enough to make a statement in the final dough.
The sour taste of the dough is purely affected by how you treat the final dough (direct method 0) and how the bacterial build up is in your starter (which you cant really affect).
It is not like if the starter has more acidic acid and less lactic acid in it when used it will also multiply in the same balance in the final dough. Let say for example that you have 70% acidic acid and 30% lactic acid in your starter. This does not mean you will end up with the same balance (70/30) in your final dough. The final dough is affected by the statement above.

Is the above statement true (at least in theory) or did i get it totally wrong here.

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2014, 02:03:20 AM »
I do also understand that there are many many more variables and i have read about many different ways to effect the sourness. I will also have to my own search in this matter. I will defenitely try your way fornographer just to see if it fits me too. If i remove 80% of my starter and feed it with 1part starter 2part water 2 part flour i cant feed it every 4-6 hours since it did not reach the peak. You should at least peak your starter Before feeding am i right?

A baker teached me that if a starter smells sour you need to add air into the starter. That is why i am whipping my starter like when making Cream for 30 sec or so. This is for me easier than to wash the Culture.

Ps. for some reason my pizzamaking is giving me capital letters all the time for no reason if somebody wondered.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2014, 02:07:38 AM by fagilia »

Offline Adrian

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2014, 04:31:49 AM »
Adding air to a starter will boost the yeasts.
Yeasts have a metabolism with and without oxygen. Simplified: With oxygen they will grow; without they will produce gas.
There is a method called "Schaumsauer" in German (foam sour), that was used in times where yeast was not available to reasonable prices. It is designed to have as little sourdough taste as possible.

About the starter:
You can definitely change the balance of yeasts vs. lactobacilli. This will affect later "generations" of the dough.

Offline fornographer

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2014, 05:39:01 AM »
I do also understand that there are many many more variables and i have read about many different ways to effect the sourness. I will also have to my own search in this matter. I will defenitely try your way fornographer just to see if it fits me too. If i remove 80% of my starter and feed it with 1part starter 2part water 2 part flour i cant feed it every 4-6 hours since it did not reach the peak. You should at least peak your starter Before feeding am i right?

A baker teached me that if a starter smells sour you need to add air into the starter. That is why i am whipping my starter like when making Cream for 30 sec or so. This is for me easier than to wash the Culture.

Ps. for some reason my pizzamaking is giving me capital letters all the time for no reason if somebody wondered.


I do not let my starter peak in those 2 days that I am preparing it for use.  I would guess I probably let it reach 90% of its peak and then start feeding.  As soon as can tell that the starter is very active, through the visual and olfactory cues I described, I start feeding it again. 


The reasoning I am following is that sourness, from acetic acid, is a waste product.  Therefore, if I do not want sour, I do not let it accumulate. 


I have NO idea what the biological mix of my starter is.  But since the pies and bread I have made since the beginning of this year have a noticeable wheat forward smell, and that is something I associated with bread leavened with fresh yeast, I would guess that my starter probably has a healthy population of yeast. 


I do not know if the consistency, stiff versus slurry, has a big impact on the sourness. I know of a famous pizza make here in town who maintains a very liquid starter but his pies are noticeably tangy and another who maintains a stiff starter but the pies are creamy/buttery.   Another baker maintains a liquid starter but the baguettes and sourdoughs produced from it are very creamy.  Then another baker who maintains a stiff starter but makes wonderful sour bread.


Needless to say, before I followed the simple logic and my senses, trying to understand how they made their flavors, as a beginner, was very confusing. 

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2014, 07:53:45 AM »
ok thanks,
I can see now i need to do much more reading before qontinuing this subject, its way over my knowledge for the moment.
I will go on when i have done some more reading.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2014, 08:14:49 AM »
I'd suggest less reading and more experimenting with your own starter. I have several cultures and each one exhibits different behaviors with regard to temp, time, pH, storage, etc. Temperature control is an essential element in getting to know your starter and getting the best out of it.
Sometimes I use big words that I dont fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence


Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2014, 08:48:37 AM »
Yes Bill offcourse. Iam experimenting every single day here. I have 6 different cultures on the go and notes flying around the whole kitchen and my head will soon expolode  ;D and my girlfriend hates me for it to. Straters leaves nasty little sourdough flakes around the table always hahaha.
In any case here is a link for some beginner like me that is somewhat easy to understand:
http://www.thefreshloaf.com//node/14913/very-liquid-sourdough


Thank you
« Last Edit: May 28, 2014, 08:54:37 AM by fagilia »

Offline Adrian

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2014, 09:05:18 AM »
Debra really is one of the TFL members whose posts are worth to read. Unfortunately I haven't read anything new from her in the last maybe half year to 9 month.

Interested in an Austrian rye starter that worked very well for me in the last years? If you are in the EU (my guess from the times you post and the word "Swedish" ;) ), I could mail it to you if you like?

(My wife's more complaining about all the other kitchen stuff, but not the starters.)

Adrian

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2014, 04:18:12 AM »
Thank you adrian for the offer. But right now one more starter is too much to handle. Hopefully soon i can start to work with rye and then i will contact you for sure. Right now we are pretty confident that or pizza dough is above avarage but we sure need to learn much more in the sourdough subject.
Iam curently going through all winks post at tfl. Nice reading.
i have already changed my feeding routine after seeing mistakes from reading here and tfl.

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #20 on: June 01, 2014, 01:51:41 PM »
I Think i have understod some of the things that came up in this post.
I have managed to make a non sour sourdough. Maby too mild for my taste but anyways.
I changed up my feedings according to fornografer and Adrian to be able to change the balance to favor more yeast. It showed that this did work since my dough was raising a lot faster now compared to Before.
In the different tests i made i used the chart that Craig posted that shows growth rates Lactic/yeast in different temperatures. Cant find it just now when i need it  ;D. This i used more for dough rise.
I did not care about a wet or a stiff starter since from what i have read you can change the flavor better with other methods.
I also found some old posts made by Marco that supports all this too, to some extent.
Unfortunately i cant explaine exactly what i did in precise Words since my knowledge is too low and i would probably make to many mistakes Writing and maby mislead people.
Heads up for anyone too take my Writing as a fact for this reason too.

So far so good.
There were though extreme differences in taste and dough strenght between the different starters that i use. Some dough balls expand in a more x axis and some more in an y axis even though Everything was made the same. But none was sour. This would support Bills advice to make tests
One very interesting finding i made was a Franco Manca sourdough i used came out to be very very similar to the ones i have had at their Place. Almost scary.
Hopefully ill get the same results when doing these tests many times.
I Think i will buy a ph meter too for starter and for cheese making.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2014, 02:15:34 PM by fagilia »

Offline Totti

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #21 on: June 01, 2014, 06:38:31 PM »
I wouldn't get too caught up in it all guys. After all, as Craig says if you are only using 3-5% in your finished products, it's going to have less and less relevance what the breakdown is in your starter, compared to how active it is.

Not sure if it has any relevance, but one of my arm hairs made its way into a dough ball last weekend and it was the pizza of the night.  :-D

Offline Adrian

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2014, 08:27:05 AM »
I wouldn't get too caught up in it all guys. After all, as Craig says if you are only using 3-5% in your finished products, it's going to have less and less relevance what the breakdown is in your starter, compared to how active it is.

Not sure if it has any relevance, but one of my arm hairs made its way into a dough ball last weekend and it was the pizza of the night.  :-D

The flavour components already present in the starter do have next to nothing influence on the flavour of the final dough. That's right. So don't worry if the starter has become too sour.
But the proportion of different microorganisms (and of course how active they are in relation to each other) has a tremendous influence on the outcome.
Especially as I believe, that the best flavour with a "just one temperature" method can be archieved at medium temperatures where all mos are active.

Adrian

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2014, 04:43:38 PM »
ok thank you Adrian and totti,
I have some more questions but i need to do some Reading first.

Offline fagilia

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Re: Controlling sourness of neopolitan starter dough
« Reply #24 on: June 12, 2014, 02:56:48 AM »
Here is the chart i was talking about Before: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13613.msg143261.html#msg143261

I have been doing a 60% hydration starter kept in lower temp versus a 125% starter kept in higher temps. Yes it made  difference for me at least.
The lower hydration and lower temps favours more yeast activity but also favours acetic acid over LAB from what i have read. I also kept feeding my starter at the same ratio for a week to reduce the lag times. But in any case as I lowered the over all bacteria over time it became less sour. Maby it was just my thoughts and not a fact. Maby I just wanted to suport my own hypothesis. I will make more tries.

But here is the question I have thave not found a real yes or no theoretical answere for (i know the answere has probably been written in other Words, even in this thread):
I believe it has not been written about so much since normal bread makers uses more % starter than us as Craig pointed out.

If you was conduting two test. One with a starter that had higher acid levels (eg. 60%yeast/40%Acid) and one with higher yeast levels (eg. 80%yeast/20%acid) compared to the other.
What would happen in theory to let say craigs recipe with the 2 tests everything else being equal?

My thoughs are that even if we use small amounts of starter it will reproduce itself in a ratio that is pretty similar to the starter itself. So the higher acid levels in the starter will show also in the final dough and vice versa.


Another question. Is it possible to measure yeast levels by using a PH meter. I know other people here uses it. I mean that if the starter has lower Ph value it contains more acid and if higher Ph value  it has more yeast. I suspect its more complicated than this though?