Author Topic: starters - anything I should know before i begin?  (Read 8318 times)

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Offline scott r

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  • I Love Pizzafreaks! starters - anything I should know before i begin?
« on: April 01, 2005, 11:36:12 AM »
I just got my Italian cultures today.   Are there any tips, or things I should know before I get going with this project.  I believe I remember reading somewhere on this forum that the recipe (maybe the directions?) that comes with the cultures is inaccurate.  Is there a particular recipe that they seem to work best with?  I plan on getting Caputo pizzaria flour in the future, should I wait to feed the cultures with that flour?  I didn't buy Ed Wood's book, so I just want to make sure I am doing everything right for pizza.

Offline bakerboy

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Re: starters - anything I should know before i begin?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2005, 12:20:45 PM »
I've never bought cultures before.  How were they shipped?  i suspect they were shipped with nutrients to keep it alive.  Are these liquid cultures or dry cultures? 
If the cultures longevity is in question, i would make a flour soup....flour and water mixed until soupy and mix in your cultures.  you can add your cultures to the water with a bit of sugar to kickstart them before adding the flour if you want.  Don't worry about the hydration right now, just make it soupy and let the cultures start growing and multiplying.  When you get the flour you plan on getting, then you can begin refreshing your starter at whatever hydration you wish.  good luck.  sounds like a fun project.

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: starters - anything I should know before i begin?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2005, 12:37:06 PM »
Wild Cultures do not feed on saccarossium, but only on simple sugars. So do not add anything. The rule you need to keep in mind is to avoid contamination. Thus use only clean utensils and all clean surfaces and avoid too much exsposure to air.

The wrong recipe in the booklet is the one about Pizza. Follow the one I have given in an earlier post. The instructions on re-activation and feeding are ok.

Take care

Offline scott r

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Re: starters - anything I should know before i begin?
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2005, 12:42:03 AM »
Thanks to both of you for helping out here.  I feel so safe going into this uncharted territory knowing that I have people like you to watch over me. We are all so lucky to have you masters lurking around here.

Bakerboy, I haven't opened the cultures yet, but they come in pouches that seem to be foil, or plastic lined.  They seem to be somewhat hydrated, a little squishy.  The instructions say to keep them in the fridge.  They were shipped regular mail, in a large envelope.

Pizzanapoletana, I don't have any Caputo yet, only Bel Aria 00.  Is it ok to start feeding these cultures the Bel Aria even though I will be using Caputo eventually?  Nice job on letting me know how to avoid contamination.  The instruction booklet that came with the cultures does not even mention it happening at all!

Offline varasano

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Re: starters - anything I should know before i begin?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2005, 04:37:08 AM »
You should really buy Ed's book. It's well worth it. You can feed it with any flour for now. Don't put any sugar in it. Just flour and water, that's all you should EVER  put in it. Use utensils that have been in a hot dishwasher to prevent contamination. Never let a drop of Instant yeast or any other yeast get in it. 

Ed talks about building a styrofoam box an then putting a light bulb in it to get it at a constant 85-90F. I don't do this. I have a double oven and the top one I'll just heat up for a few seconds then turn it off and it stays warm. But I only do that when the culture has been dormant for a month or more.  Normally, I keep it in the fridge and when I want to revive it I do it at room temp for a few feedings.


Offline davtrent

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Re: starters - anything I should know before i begin?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2005, 12:44:17 PM »
I’ve sent these directions to forum members who have requested free sourdough starter cultures from me.

These procedures  have worked for me in the reactivation and maintenance of sourdough  cultures from dried starters.   Feel free to deviate from my suggestions based on your experience and inclination.

Reactivation of the dried starter is fairly straightforward.  The starter is mixed with water and then refreshed periodically.    I use spring water (to avoid the chlorine present in the municipal supply) and  King Arthur bread flour or KA Sir Lancelot.  (No need to use exactly the same flour as in your final dough)

Nothing other than flour and water should be added to your starter.  NEVER add commercial yeast!

After the dried culture has been rehydrated and fed for several days, it may then be refrigerated.  “Withdrawals” are made from this mother culture to build an overnight  poolish to incorporate in your pizza dough.

Once established, a starter culture is fairly stable, but efforts should be taken to minimize the possibility of contamination.  Make sure everything is very clean: your hands, containers, spoons, thermometer, work surface, etc.  Try to minimize the amount of time the culture is exposed to the open air. Be careful not to cross-contaminate different cultures by using the same (unwashed)  equipment in different cultures

Although a  “mother” culture being held under refrigeration doesn’t need regular feedings like one held at room temperature,   it should be refreshed and transferred to a clean container periodically.  I do so about once a month.

If you are maintaining multiple cultures, it’s a good idea to label both the lid and the container w/ the type of culture and the date of last refreshment.  (If only the lids are marked, it’s easy to put them back on the wrong container.)

Reactivation Procedure

Begin by pouring 4 oz. of spring water into a plastic container (Tupperware or Rubbermaid Servin’ Saver food storage containers w/ plastic snap- lids work well).
Microwave container and water for about 15 seconds on high (ovens vary) until water temperature has reached 95 degrees F.  Use a (clean) thermometer to check this temperature.  If it is too hot, allow temp to drop to 95 degree range before adding dried starter.

Add ½ packet starter to water (keep half as back-up) and stir/ chop-up dried starter with (clean) spoon.  Mix for several minutes…the starter need not be totally dissolved.

Add 5 tablespoons bread flour and mix thoroughly.

Cover container with lid.  Leave container at room temperature.

 Swirl container a few times during the next 24 hrs.

Starter may show a few bubbles after 24 hours but may take as long as 36 hours before activity is noticeable.

Upon initial reactivation of the starter, I’d recommend regularly feeding the starter twice a day  for at least three days in order to “stabilize” the culture prior to refrigerating or
using in pizza dough making.

After this initial three-day stabilization period the culture may be refrigerated, and a small portion withdrawn to inoculate a 50/50 spring water/flour mix for a shorter period (12 hrs.) prior to incorporation in dough.

If the starter is always doubled, you’d go through increasingly larger quantities of flour and need ever larger containers.  Instead, simply dump-out half of the starter you have ,then rebuild the original quantity with new flour and spring water.  For instance:  If you had a pint of starter that needed refreshing, pour out half the pint of starter and add 7/8 cup of flour (4 oz. ) and ½ cup of water (4 oz.). to equal one pint (16. oz.) of newly refreshed starter.

I wish success and pleasure in your pizza making!