Author Topic: newbie to sourdough  (Read 11697 times)

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Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2006, 01:23:25 PM »
adding yeast is not needed. That's not the strain you are after.  Keep in mind though that what you catch in your kitchen is kind of random. It could be amazing. It could be terrible. I usually recommend going with a known high quality starter, but if you have the patience for trial and error, then by all means see what you catch.  Also, just leave the culture exposed to the air, as you are trying to catch something. There is some yeast in the flour also, but there is in all likelyhood a dominant strain in your house/neighborhood. 

Jeff

Being a molecular biologist, I would highly advise against trying to capture wild strains with an open container. For one, many people who do not know microbiology are not familiar with the smell, consistency or characteristics of a "normal" wild culture. You can easily capture pathogenic organisms that can be harmful to your health. More times than not, the pathogenic strains are dominant because they have some part of their genetics out of whack (They divide quickly, have resistance to extreme temp, etc.) You are much better off (and Safer) buying a "known" culture from a repudable company that specializes in yeast or bacillus strains.

If you are going to attempt this method for capture, I would highly recommend you educate yourself on the characteristics of  s. cerevisiae (baker's yeast) and other bacteria used in cooking. One huge misconception is that if it grows really fast, it's a good strain. Strains that have unregulated cell cycle growth are often pathogenic to some degree. Also, if you see any bright colors, Yellow, pink, etc. that is also not a good sign.

I don't want to see you folks die in pursuit of a better pie. (cause then you won't be able to share your recipes with me! :P) BE SAFE!


Offline varasano

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2006, 01:40:27 PM »
Just to clarify, I always recommend sourdo.com and tell people that I don't recommend capturing anything wild.

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2006, 02:26:15 PM »
Being a molecular biologist, I would highly advise against trying to capture wild strains with an open container. For one, many people who do not know microbiology are not familiar with the smell, consistency or characteristics of a "normal" wild culture. You can easily capture pathogenic organisms that can be harmful to your health. More times than not, the pathogenic strains are dominant because they have some part of their genetics out of whack (They divide quickly, have resistance to extreme temp, etc.) You are much better off (and Safer) buying a "known" culture from a repudable company that specializes in yeast or bacillus strains.

If you are going to attempt this method for capture, I would highly recommend you educate yourself on the characteristics of  s. cerevisiae (baker's yeast) and other bacteria used in cooking. One huge misconception is that if it grows really fast, it's a good strain. Strains that have unregulated cell cycle growth are often pathogenic to some degree. Also, if you see any bright colors, Yellow, pink, etc. that is also not a good sign.

I don't want to see you folks die in pursuit of a better pie. (cause then you won't be able to share your recipes with me! :P) BE SAFE!

How many people have died from eating bread? Even when homebrewers get a contaminated batch of beer they don't really have any health problems when they drink it, other than that bitter beer face. Hell, with lambics they are inviting wild yeasts to contaminate the beer, throughout the Belgian air and in the lining of the barrels they use to age the beer in. Everything about a lambic is controlled by wild yeast.

Won't baking the dough/bread for 40-45 minutes kill any bad organisms that may be in the bread? I know to look for pink off-colors in the starter so I'll keep an eye on it. Hopefully it'll start smelling good soon, when it subsides. Do most bread books warn the reader about capturing harmful bacteria when making sourdough? I know the W-S book didn't.

Thanks for warning though, I'll keep my eye on the starter for off-colors.

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2006, 03:09:14 PM »
I found this from the KA website.

Catching a "Wild" Yeast of Your Own

A second way to get a starter going at home is to capture the wild yeast that resides in your own kitchen just as the Mediterranean baker did. Capturing wild yeast is fun though a bit unpredictable. The summer and fall are times of the year when there will be more of them around. If you bake with yeast fairly often there may be enough wild yeast in your kitchen to activate a starter. If you can afford the time and the haphazardness of the results, it's worth a try. When you've captured some wild yeast successfully, you'll feel very accomplished. Here's how to set your trap.

 •  2 cups warm water
 •  1 tablespoon sugar or honey (optional)
 •  2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Mix the water, flour and optional sweetener together thoroughly in a clean, scalded glass or ceramic bowl. The scalding will ensure that you're starting "pure." Cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth. Put it in an area where there's apt to be the highest concentration of airborne yeast as well as the warmth that is needed to begin fermentation.

If the surface begins to look dry after a while, give the mixture a stir. It should begin to "work" in the first day or two if it's going to at all. If it does, your trap has been successful. As you would with a dried starter or active dry yeast, let this mixture continue working for 3 or 4 days giving it a stir every day or so. When it's developed a yeasty, sour aroma, put it in a clean jar with a lid and refrigerate it until you're ready to use it.

If the mixture begins to mold or develop a peculiar color or odor instead of a "clean, sour aroma," give a sigh, throw it out and, if you're patient, start again. Along with the vital yeasts, you may have inadvertently nurtured a strain of bacteria that will not be wonderful in food. This doesn't happen very often though, so don't let the possibility dissuade you from this adventure.


The link to the full page can be found HERE http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/tip.php?id=48481

You are correct in that the hazard is probably minimal because it's a cooked product. However, there are bacteria for example that live in underwater lava vents. The point here is that people assume that because they are using a specific food source to attract them, they will attract ONLY critters that like to eat on it. This is probably a fair assumption, however in the Biology world there is a mantra that states "what CAN happen, eventually will." Part of the essence of bacteria is that they fill virtually every single niche on Earth. They mutate rapidly and take over niches. Part of the hazard here is also not the food per se, but keeping that stuff in your fridge, or in your house with other food that you eat raw, such as veggies and fruits.

I am not saying the risk is high, it's actually probably quite low, but just know what you are growing. Is it a mold or a yeast? That sort of thing. I mean no one wants to be that .000001% person that died of some mutant pizza, or inhaled mold spores that gave them a respiratory infection.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2006, 04:14:12 PM by DNA Dan »

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2006, 08:45:34 PM »
Here's a couple photos of my starter from this evening...my fiance decided to get a camera tonight, though I'll be the one using it the most probably.....


Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2006, 09:45:46 PM »
Was this a purchased culture or one you snagged from the air?

I just ordered the three starter cultures available from the KA bakerscatalog. They have two French varieties and one New England.

Suck that liquid off and distill yourself some alkeeehol!

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #26 on: September 28, 2006, 10:00:29 PM »
Was this a purchased culture or one you snagged from the air?

I just ordered the three starter cultures available from the KA bakerscatalog. They have two French varieties and one New England.

Suck that liquid off and distill yourself some alkeeehol!

This was one that got from the air in my kitchen. I mixed the flour and water on Tuesday evening. I read that if you mix the liquid throughout the starter that it'll be more sour, don't know how true it is though. I have to say the smell is going away slowly. I got home today and my god our kitchen smelled like vomit.

Isn't it usually somewhere around 13-14% alcohol? I don't think I'd have the nerve to drink that stuff.

King Arthur sells starters on ther site? If this fails I'll get a trusted starter for sure.....but I want to learn sourdough the hard way....

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #27 on: September 29, 2006, 12:46:56 PM »
LOL The alcohol would need to be distilled! Don't drink that stuff or you will be sick for sure. The liquid (alcohols) are the waste products of fermentation. Typically this is floating on the top. I don't know why yours is separated on the bottom like that. You need to nurture the culture to promote the colony. I would decant the waste products, (The liquid) into the sink. Then take a freshly cleaned (Prefereably sterilized) hot container from the dishwasher and add new flour/water to it, then innoculate it with about 1/2 to 1 cup of your captured yeast. I would do this process about 3-4 times, giving it atleast 3-5 days to grow in between each innoculation to enrich for the dominant critter in your capture.

Basically you want to remove waste products, add to a new container (without introducing other critters), feed it, then let it grow again. This will ensure that everytime you use the starter, the colony is the same, and not changing over time. If you made bread now, then again after 6 generations, you may find that the breads are quite different. This is because the culture was not enriched for any particular strain. Right now you probably have several strains growing in there. You need to grow them and let them out compete one another. You may still end up with a few strains that can grow in symbiosis, but at least at that point the starter should be consistently the same creature everytime you transfer and feed it. The idea here is maintain the organism that take over the pool.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2006, 12:49:10 PM by DNA Dan »

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #28 on: September 29, 2006, 01:33:51 PM »
LOL The alcohol would need to be distilled! Don't drink that stuff or you will be sick for sure. The liquid (alcohols) are the waste products of fermentation. Typically this is floating on the top. I don't know why yours is separated on the bottom like that. You need to nurture the culture to promote the colony. I would decant the waste products, (The liquid) into the sink. Then take a freshly cleaned (Prefereably sterilized) hot container from the dishwasher and add new flour/water to it, then innoculate it with about 1/2 to 1 cup of your captured yeast. I would do this process about 3-4 times, giving it atleast 3-5 days to grow in between each innoculation to enrich for the dominant critter in your capture.

Basically you want to remove waste products, add to a new container (without introducing other critters), feed it, then let it grow again. This will ensure that everytime you use the starter, the colony is the same, and not changing over time. If you made bread now, then again after 6 generations, you may find that the breads are quite different. This is because the culture was not enriched for any particular strain. Right now you probably have several strains growing in there. You need to grow them and let them out compete one another. You may still end up with a few strains that can grow in symbiosis, but at least at that point the starter should be consistently the same creature everytime you transfer and feed it. The idea here is maintain the organism that take over the pool.

The liquid has since moved to the top. Though I poured it off at lunch today as you said. When I get home tonight I'll probably end up feeding since the activity has subsided. Do I feed it an equal ratio of flour and water? Say 1 cup flour, 1 cup water? I still doesn't smell that great though. A little better now that I poured off the liquid. You think as of right now it could go into a sponge for a bread or should I wait until it smells better? I fear that 'bad' yeast may have taken over because it does not smell good at all. Havign never smelled a soughdough starter I don't know what is normal. Should I wash or feed it and wait to see if it improves?

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #29 on: September 29, 2006, 04:07:01 PM »
Like I said, I would grow it a few generations to see if the smell improves and to make sure the selection process has occurred. Do this by taking a NEW container, mixing equal parts of water and flour, then innoculating it with some of your culture, like 1/2 to 1 cup.  Once it plateaus in the lag phase, (For yeast this is about 48 hours) do the same procedure again. Take a new container, add equal parts of flour and water, then innoculate it with some of the culture. Once you have done this a few times, if it's worth keeping it should smell like a yeast. Smell it while it in the log phase, about a day after feeding.


Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #30 on: October 02, 2006, 11:39:49 AM »
I think I've given up for a while on making my own starter. I tried to grow it a generation but it didn't respond at all. Maybe it died since I didn't feed it after the first sign of activity. Also it smelled way too bad, I had a feeling that sourdough is NOT supposed to smell like vomit...at least not continuously after the primary fermentation. I think I captured a bad yeast.

Next time.....perhaps set the jar outside instead of my kitchen. Greater chance of capturing a better yeast than what's lurking in the kitchen. I'll also use less flour and water, maybe 1 cup water with 1 cup flour or half cup water with half cup flour. I just wasted 2 cups of good quality KA flour on a bad starter. I may try to find a cheap reputable culture online and avoid the gamble altogether. At least I tried to capture something.

Thanks for all the help.....

Offline ojuice

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #31 on: October 02, 2006, 11:00:42 PM »
Oh, don't give up, just try different methods.  Using so much flour and water isn't really necessary, when I started mine I used a mere 1Tbs. Rye Flour/1Tbs. Whole Wheat flour and 2Tbs. of water.  Keep adding the same amount every day for four days.  Then take 1/4 Cup of what you have, and add a 1/4 Cup of Flour (Whole grain or AP, whatever) and 1/4 Cup water.  Repeat that step until it smells delicious (it will smell kind of sweet, and very yeasty), then you can start building it up, doubling it with each feeding.

This should work for you.  You'll be using a lot less material, so less goes to waste, and it's easier to mix together, so it won't take very long to manage it each day.  :)

[note: I actually used pineapple juice instead of water for the first three days]
« Last Edit: October 02, 2006, 11:04:21 PM by ojuice »
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Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #32 on: October 03, 2006, 11:56:34 AM »
Here's a good read on the history of Lactobacillus San Francisco.

http://www.slowfood.com/img_sito/riviste/slow/EN/34/sourdoughs.html

I never thought about using different substrates like pineapple juice. The article does mention that S Exiguus prefers a more acidic environment to S. Cerevisiae. Makes sense. Did you pick that up from reading somewhere or just trial and error?

I don't think the '49ers had pineapples.... but perhaps not showering for 2 weeks inparts some acidic compounds in your sweat which would be consumed by the starter in your pocket? It cracks me up thinking of those guys walking around the hills of the Sierras with a starter in their pocket looking for gold! Little did they know the gold was already in their pockets!

Offline ojuice

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #33 on: October 03, 2006, 01:29:50 PM »
I read about it over at The Fresh Loaf, which is a bread baking site.  Hehe, yeah, I kind of frowned when I tried it with the pineapple juice about how unauthentic it seemed, but it worked and you can't argue with results!  Speaking of bread, I'll be baking three sourdough loaves this Saturday, I'll post some photos in the Off-Topic Foods section.

Here's a couple photos of my starter:
« Last Edit: October 03, 2006, 01:32:40 PM by ojuice »
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Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #34 on: October 03, 2006, 08:59:58 PM »
Ok, I'm trying it again. I mixed 2 tablespoons water with 2 tablespoons AP flour and covered tightly with plastic wrap and poked lots of tiny holes in the wrap. It's sitting in my kitchen window although the window is closed (supposed to get cold tonight). Wish me luck once again......

Offline ojuice

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #35 on: October 05, 2006, 01:48:46 PM »
DNA Dan,

I've read in a few places that Yeast needs oxygen in order to bud, so it's best to use a whisk to really get some air into it whenever you feed the starter.  Do you know if there's any truth to this?  Or is it just more bunk seeping through the masses..
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Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #36 on: October 05, 2006, 02:03:29 PM »
DNA Dan,

I've read in a few places that Yeast needs oxygen in order to bud, so it's best to use a whisk to really get some air into it whenever you feed the starter.  Do you know if there's any truth to this?  Or is it just more bunk seeping through the masses..

I can comment on this to a certain degree. When I add brewer's yeast to wort (unfermented beer) I violently whip the yeast with a sanitized paddle to whip in as much oxygen and air as possible, for about 3-5 minutes. This will promote a healthy fermentation. Yeast thrives on oxygen. Once fermentation is over you want to minimize as much oxidation and aeration as possible. That's why homebrewers siphon the beer from one vessel to another once fermentation is complete.

It's not bunk....at least not in the brewing world. I would think the same applies when making starters.

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #37 on: October 06, 2006, 02:58:29 PM »
This link has some very good detailed information about S. Cerevisiae. Probably too in depth for most.

http://home.earthlink.net/~ggda/The_Artisan_Yeast_Treatise_Section_One.htm#Yeasts%20Available%20to%20Bakers

Here is another source from the Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast

Yeast is basically a facultative aerobe. That means they prefer aerobic conditions for the oxidation of sugars, but it's not required. They can adapt the fermentation process to be anaerobic. (Without oxygen).  The equation is sugars = ethanol + carbon dioxide. Part of the condition for getting good yeast growth is moderate agitation as kidder described. This not only "aerates" the solution, but there is a mechanical aspect here. Since yeast is primarily a budding organism, the cells tend to "clump" with one another as they bud and this affects the growth, structure of the colony, etc. Agitation ensures that once the yeast buds, it is free in solution to bud again and not be complexed with other yeast cells. That's why in the lab, yeast is typically grown in orbital floor shakers using an Erlemeyer flask, (looks like an inverted funnel vessel.) This way you get the proper aeration and agitation of the cells. Kidder, if you buy an orbital plane shaker to grow your yeast, you may find that the colony is better. (Swirls the liquid in the vessel while it grows)
« Last Edit: October 06, 2006, 03:06:51 PM by DNA Dan »

Offline Locke

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #38 on: October 14, 2006, 11:19:53 PM »
Quote
"what CAN happen, eventually will."

So that explains why my dinosaur park went so horribly wrong.....
This of course also means that some time, some where, a purchased culture will turn become the killer in your kitchen and mutate into an unstopable monster yeast.

As for advice on capturing your own I can't give much since I guess I got lucky. All I did was leave the jar out for a week or so and add 4oz of flour and 4oz of water every morning tossing out excess starter as needed.

Offline Finnegans Wake

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #39 on: October 17, 2006, 10:51:00 AM »
Well, I just got some sourdo.com yeasts (the Italian and French), which I'm going to tinker with this weekend.  A few general questions, since folks here are so knowledgeable...    :)

1. Starter vs. Sponge. My original notion was to activate the yeasts, and keep them in the fridge as sponges.  But now I see that a fair number of recipes in Wood's book cal for the liquid starter.  I simply don't have the space to do 3 yeasts in both starter AND sponge.  Would my best bet be to keep them as starters, and to convert to sponge as needed?

2. Container.   In preparation of the Grand Experiment, I went to Target and got 3 containers.  I haven't figured out the volume of them yet (sold as "cookie jars"), but suffice to say they're about the size of large cantaloupes.  So, a few quarts, easily.  Good size?  They are glass, have very wide mouths... Only possible negative is that they have large metal screw-type lids.  I know metal in contact with starter/sponge is a no-no, but if the lid never comes in contact, can I assume I'd be OK?

3. Proofing box.  OK, we live in Pennsylvania, and frankly my wife and I like keeping our house a little cooler.  The thermostat reads 60-62F, although I think it's actually a bit warmer than that, maybe 67F just by feel.  Anyway, I know 85-90F is optimal.  Will the cooler room temps screw up the process?  I looked over Ed's proofing box suggestion, and can hear my wife's objections already.   Well, I remembered that somewhere in the garage I have a seedling heating mat, which IIRC heats to 10-20F over ambient temps, which would put us in the basic range.  Good idea?  Skip it and go room temp?  Suck it up and do the proofing box? 

Any suggestions are welcome.  Can't wait to get the science project going...!
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. --
Mark Twain


 

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