Author Topic: Activating Italian culture - too fast??  (Read 8872 times)

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Offline JRo

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Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« on: May 06, 2008, 10:09:06 PM »
I began activating the Camaldoli culture yesterday.  I built the proofing box as described in the literature, etc.  Added the 3/4 cup flour and 1 cup water plus the culture to a wide mouth quart jar and put it in the proofing box at 87-88 for the night.

22 hours later, it was almost touching the top of the jar.  Looked good, but the hooch was on the bottom.  This is said to be a bad thing, but since it's basically a porous sponge, how does the hooch end up anywhere except on the bottom?  It smells good to me, although the kids don't like the smell.

I stirred it up and added 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup water.  This was enough stuff, so I split it into a second jar.  Put both jars in the proofer.  3 hours later, one jar is touching the lid, and the other is actually oozing out the side, again hooch was on the bottom on both.  It seems like this would indicate that things are 'fully active', but does this seem a little too fast?  Pretty much ready to go in 24 hours?

I stirred both up, added another half cup of flour and little over third cup water to both.  Put one into the fridge and decided to make some dough out of the other.

Dough is in progress.  I made one batch without starter and an identical batch except using the starter.  Waiting until Friday to try them will be tough...

What do you think?  Is this too fast to be good, or did I just get lucky and things went well?   Do I dare eat the dough? ???


Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2008, 10:34:12 PM »
JRo

Same thing happened to me. Ed Wood told me it was contaminated and advised doing the wash procedure. It won't kill you to eat it, however I tossed the first dough batch and washed the culture several times to get it right. Every sourdough expert will tell you hooch at top, and both my starters have hooch at top only.

The Camaldoli when right has a flowery smell to me. I am sure it smells different to others. Trust your kid's nose!

PNW

Offline JRo

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2008, 01:08:09 AM »
OK, that sux.   :(

I started the washing procedure and tossed the batch of dough.

Thanks for the feedback.

Can anyone explain how good vs. bad causes the hooch to be on the top vs. the bottom?

Offline scott r

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2008, 02:00:48 AM »
There is some nasty stuff (bacteria etc.) that can occur in beginning cultures that you really want to avoid.  They can cause the hooch to move to the bottom and will make your resulting pizza or bread way to sour.  I recommend at least a week of happy healty (hooch on top) feedings before you do any baking.  This link might help you to wait when the anticipation is too much for you.

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

Offline asheborobluecomets

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2008, 07:54:26 AM »
Thanks for posting. I bought the Camaldoli culture several weeks ago & was going to activate this weekend. If my hooch was on the bottom I would have stirred it in & made a pizza. Now, I know what to look for!
 :chef:

Offline JRo

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2008, 10:33:05 AM »
So, I washed the culture last night about 10.  This morning at 7, it has leaked out all over the counter and died back down again, but all of the hooch is on top.  The smell hasn't changed, but I don't think it was unpleasant to begin with, smells like fermentation to me.  The kids still don't like it, but that just may be because it's 'different'.

I washed and fed it again, and put it back in the proofer.  We'll see how it looks after work, and I guess I'll continue washing and feeding for a few days.

Offline gdallas

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2008, 12:58:07 PM »
Can someone please review my pictures of my Camaldoli activations and tell if I have a contamination. The pictures were after the second feeding at around hour 36. Thanks, GTD

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2008, 01:06:08 PM »
Hard to tell from that angle. What is on top of the hooch layer? Is it just remnants of the foam that fell from the activation, or is it a layer of starter?

I think some of us don't actually have contamination when we think we do and others have it and don't realize it.

But playing it safe and washing the culture won't kill you or the starter.


good luck and happy baking.

PNW

Offline scott r

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2008, 01:10:36 PM »
yes, wash a few more times.

Offline gdallas

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2008, 01:29:37 PM »
Hard to tell from that angle. What is on top of the hooch layer? Is it just remnants of the foam that fell from the activation, or is it a layer of starter?

I think some of us don't actually have contamination when we think we do and others have it and don't realize it.

But playing it safe and washing the culture won't kill you or the starter.


good luck and happy baking.

PNW

Thanks for replying PNW. I will commence washing. Cheers, GTD


Offline gdallas

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2008, 01:31:05 PM »
yes, wash a few more times.

Thanks Scott r! 

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2008, 01:39:31 PM »
All these contamination reports in the Italian cultures makes me wonder if it is within the original dry culture as sold by sourdo.com .

Would be interesting to hear from those that activated Camaldoli without any problems.

Offline deb415611

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2008, 05:34:09 PM »
All these contamination reports in the Italian cultures makes me wonder if it is within the original dry culture as sold by sourdo.com .

Would be interesting to hear from those that activated Camaldoli without any problems.

I activated mine about a 1 1/2 years ago with no problems.  It's still going strong. 

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2008, 05:57:36 PM »
All these contamination reports in the Italian cultures makes me wonder if it is within the original dry culture as sold by sourdo.com .

Would be interesting to hear from those that activated Camaldoli without any problems.

I have the cultures sitting in the fridge, waiting for activation... guess I'd better get on it and get the Camaldoli started.  I've started some of Ed's other cultures before, with great sucess, but that was several years ago, so this will be interesting!  I'll post my results, pro or con.

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!

Offline gdallas

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2008, 07:05:33 PM »
yes, wash a few more times.

Hi Scott - I just checked out my starter after my first wash. I have three containers going and all are the Camaldoli that I started at the same time. I want a lot of starter as I plan on making a lot of pies every day. Like twenty pies every day.

The jar with the blue lid is showing mostly hooch on top. The two clear Cambro containers show a 1/8 inch foam over the hooch. Do I need to wash all three again?

Please check out my pictures and let me know. These were taken 6 hours after washing.

Thanks again for taking a look and for guiding me through my my first adventure with sourdough activation.

Offline scott r

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2008, 02:45:56 AM »
They are starting to look a little less funky so go ahead and put them through normal activation procedures now.   It might not hurt to leave one container in wash mode in case we are rushing things.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2008, 02:49:11 AM by scott r »

Offline scott r

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2008, 02:52:41 AM »
All these contamination reports in the Italian cultures makes me wonder if it is within the original dry culture as sold by sourdo.com .

Would be interesting to hear from those that activated Camaldoli without any problems.

Easy activation does seem to happen from time to time, although the norm seems to be contamination.  If it makes you feel any better my favorite starter ever was an Ischia that got contaminated and went through a long wash cycle during activation.

Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2008, 11:36:05 AM »
I have read before that contamination is very likely due to the yeast alreadty present in the flour you choose to activate it in.  Just as you can fairly easily make your own starter from flour itself.  It makes sense to me.   -marc

Offline gdallas

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2008, 01:21:14 PM »
They are starting to look a little less funky so go ahead and put them through normal activation procedures now.   It might not hurt to leave one container in wash mode in case we are rushing things.

Thanks Scott. The two in the Cambro containers I washed again and left them in the proofer for 12 hrs at around 85F. I will start them on normal activation now.

Do you have a picture of what a fully activated starter looks like? Or if anyone that is reading this has a picture to share I would really appreciate seeing one. Even better would be a photo gallery of the complete activation process with the prize at the end :>)

BTW, the smell coming off the starter is very mild and fragrant now compared to the really pungent aroma being emitted after the first 24 hours. Is the mild aroma what I am expected to smell?

I am getting really excited. I have a wood oven that is begging to produce its first pizza.

Cheers. GTD




Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Activating Italian culture - too fast??
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2008, 02:34:22 PM »


Do you have a picture of what a fully activated starter looks like? Or if anyone that is reading this has a picture to share I would really appreciate seeing one. Even better would be a photo gallery of the complete activation process with the prize at the end :>)

BTW, the smell coming off the starter is very mild and fragrant now compared to the really pungent aroma being emitted after the first 24 hours. Is the mild aroma what I am expected to smell?

I am getting really excited. I have a wood oven that is begging to produce its first pizza.

Cheers. GTD



Here is a video of mine that includes shots of activated Camaldoli - very foamy and yes, the smell should be very mild.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQd38yoND0g" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQd38yoND0g</a>


I've got some Camaldoli activating right now and will take some shots of it in a few hours when it is fully active if you like.

Bill/SFNM