Author Topic: newbie to sourdough  (Read 12665 times)

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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. --
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Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #40 on: October 17, 2006, 11:10:43 AM »
1 Starter vs Sponge

I think most people maintain starters rather than sponges. Wouldn't keeping them as sponges be a terrible waste of dough? Its cheap, i know, but still seems like a lot of work too.

2 Containers
I use Small jars, of about a pint in size. Wide mouthed makes for easier cleaning. Mine ar doing just fine with metal lids. Quart will be ok if you have room in your fridge.

3
I kept mine in a warm place to get them going, like on top of the fridge. Your heating pad might be good for the first few days. I think as you bake with them you will develop a knowledge of how long breads or pizza need to proof for. I just work with room temp.

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #41 on: October 17, 2006, 10:49:28 PM »
1) It's my understanding that a sponge and a starter are the same thing except for the hydration %. For example, if you took some starter and mixed in flour so it was somewhat dry, it would produce a sponge. However, if you took that same sponge and let it sit in the fridge for a long time, you would be back to a "runny" consistency starter as the food source was consumed by the yeast. I am not a expert on the terminology so correct me if I am wrong. The reason most recipes call for a "sponge" is because you took the time to feed the yeast and make sure it was actively growing well prior to putting it in your dough and made sure it wasn't in a "dormant" state. Once in the fridge for a long time, the yeast will enter into a lag growth phase and not be very active.  That is why you typically don't use a starter right from the fridge into your dough, because you will get less activity out of it.

2) Use whatever container you can get your hands on, I don't know about metal. Something to be mindful of is contamination. Some cultures are fairly fragile ecosystems and they are easily contaminated with other strains. If you are growing more than one culture, be very clean in your technique so you don't contaminate one culture with another. (I would use a separate utensil for each.) that sort of thing. If you use small amounts of starter while growing in the container, don't overfeed them. You need to let the culture grow to gain size, before you add more flour to it. (Another reason for making a sponge.) Be sure to store some of your culture in a small little vial which has never been fed. This way if you contaminate a starter, you can start over and innoculate again. I have read of some people dehydrating a sheet of starter so they can permanently store it. I have never tried this but it seems like the viability would be low. In the lab, we store cultures @ -80C with 20% glycerol in the cells so they don't pop from freezing.

3) Even in the fridge, the culture will grow, albeit VERY slowly. I would try your seedling mat to get some warmth there. If that doesn't work, try a heating pad on low. I believe this is more critical when you actually go to make the bread or the pizza. If you don't get a proper rise before the dough dries out, you will be left with a tortilla! I would also cover it to keep the humidity in there. You might have to proof your sponges longer than normal if the weather is really cold. However for the actual dough rise, you need to find a warm solution.


Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2006, 11:02:32 PM »
I believe a sponge consists of a cup of active starter, a cup of flour, and a cup of water. Mix this and let sit for about 4 hours before adding a cup or a little more of this sponge to your dough ingredients. IMO a sponge ensures that you have an active culture before making your dough. If this sponge doesn't froth and bubble away in the 4 hours then you have a problem. Better to find out at that stage than at your dough stage, because then you just wasted 3+ cups of flour. Thought...I added this excess sponge back into my jar of starter but since the yeast (in the sponge) have consumed a large amount of sugars in the flour there really is no point of adding this sponge back to the starter, at least that's how I feel.

I'm actually in the process tonight of making a sourdough bread. Well, I'm making the dough tonight, retard in the fridge for ~16 hours and then bake it tomorrow after work. I started the sponge or 'refresher' at 5:30 this evening. Right now it's sitting at around 80F for about 2 hours.

I'm following this guy's method...http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=27634. His bread looks absolutely amazing. Now that I received The Bread Bible in the mail today I'll be using that exclusively.

Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #43 on: October 18, 2006, 08:09:29 AM »
Is this your first Kidder?

Nice link too.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2006, 08:13:38 AM by ernestrome »

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #44 on: October 18, 2006, 08:19:55 AM »
Yeah this is my first sourdough bread. I found it incredibly sticky to work with but I hear they are notorious for that. I ended up letting it warm rise for 3 hours and it should be cold rising for around 16 hours. I'm not expecting much being my first time so we'll see how it turns out tonight.

Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #45 on: October 18, 2006, 08:52:13 AM »
Gonna take and post pics?

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #46 on: October 18, 2006, 09:02:16 AM »
I'll take some tonight. I didn't take any photos of the mixing stages but I'll take some of what the dough looks like before and after the oven, plus soem slices. Don't expect great looking bread from me though.

Offline Finnegans Wake

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #47 on: October 18, 2006, 09:10:40 AM »
Thanks for the input, everyone, just what I was looking for.  Makes sense now.

 ;D
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. --
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Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #48 on: October 18, 2006, 11:17:14 AM »
Dan, i found the starter i froze lost the taste but not the spring, so i assumed the yeast survived the freezing but not the lactobillus.

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #49 on: October 18, 2006, 12:00:24 PM »
Forgot to mention that I made 2 pizzas last night as well that were made with the sourdough starter and just a pinch of IDY. I probably should've given them another day or two in the fridge because they were a little tough and flat. They tasted good though, topping got way too hot and the cheese was way too done. There was a slight sourdough 'twang' to the crust though which was good.

The dough was in the fridge for two days, maybe I should've used more sourdough starter. Hydration was way too high as well, and since I'm not baking at 800F I should probably make it drier. The dough pretty much just felt apart and I had to knead it again.