#81  
Old 07-01-2011, 04:00 PM
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Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Thanks for offer to send starter. I'm sure this will work for me though. I've been reading my various bread baking books section on SD Starters (never paid much attention in the past) and found the science as interesting as you've described it. Baking is quite the alchemistic (is that a word?) process and I take if for granted.
If it weren't for the long holiday weekend, I might have brought the jar to my office and watched for it's feeding time!
Thanks, Dino
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  #82  
Old 07-02-2011, 12:19 AM
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Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

You guys have inspired me to retry my starter again.
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  #83  
Old 07-02-2011, 07:19 AM
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Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Hi lwood!

Go for it!

Where does your flour come from?

While the lore is that the beasties come from the air, recent university experiments show that it is very hard to establish a sourdough starter using sterilized flour, suggesting the beasties are present in the flour. Whole wheat has more beasties and nutrients than white flour and is usually a bit easier to get going. Rye flour is even higher still and is typically the easiest. (Note: it is not that I think your flour is a problem, but more a curiousity for your from scratch starter will probably have the character of the source wherever that is.)

Good luck!
Jay
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  #84  
Old 07-02-2011, 04:30 PM
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Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Jay,

Sounds logical that beasties attached to a piece of grain could be the catalyst for a given starter. If a healthy starter is then moved from its origination point and (according to lore) morphs into the new location's starter profile, wouldn't this be from the local airborne yeasts?

John
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  #85  
Old 07-02-2011, 06:38 PM
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Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

IIRC, I read someplace that most sourdough starters contain more than one kind of bacteria, so it could be that changing location or environment changes the profile of the starter because the conditions better suit a different strain in the mix.

Someday we're gonna get ourselves a member who is a lab chemist or biologist who will offer to conduct DNA analysis on all of our starters, sustain them for a while in their new conditions, and then reanalyze and then we'll have some real info!
Actually, I think this would make a stellar kids science project. I remember doing DNA electrophoresis in 9th grade biology lab, except with subject matter that was way less interesting than the ingredients of great bread.
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  #86  
Old 07-02-2011, 07:29 PM
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Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Hi John!

Experiments suggest that the yeast populations in healthy are pretty robust and difficult to penetrate. I.e. the dominant yeast strain is difficult to displace. Also...from what I know the yeast strain has more to do with its acid tolerance, dividing speed, and thus speed in leavening dough than in flavor.

The primary differences among starters from a flavor perspective lie in the bacteria. While the baceria in a healthy starter are also relatively robust, they will be infiltrated by other bacteria over time - from flour, air, and other potential sources of contamination (like hands!) It is supposedly rather difficult to keep a starter bacterial populaiton pure for an extended period in an "alien" location (like SF starter in Boston). I personally find the fact that Baccillus sanfranciscus is not bulletproof intersting since it is a bacterium that yields very acidic environments. I would think the high acid would be a hostile environment to most other sourdough bacteria... But... it does get corrupted.

The best defense to keep your starter "true" is to keep it well fed. The less robust it is the more vulnerable it is to being infiltrated by either other yeasts or bacteria.

I think you are right, splatgirl! A great science fair project!

Jay
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  #87  
Old 07-07-2011, 08:43 AM
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Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

8 days later, I have a normal looking, smelling, acting SD culture. It's been this way for 4 days now, consistently.

It only had 2 days (early on) when it started smelling a tad cheesy with tiny (low-foamy bubbles). That's when I converted to the 4 to 1 feeding and switched to AP bread flour instead of whole-wheat and it just took off on each daily feeding with that wonderful doughy-sour-yeasty aroma and activity you want.

I used Arrowhead Mills Whole Wheat flour to start. I thought I'd be more likely to use the whole wheat flour in baking than the rye flour. I'll do some trial bread baking this weekend, see how strong it is. BTW: I'll be freezing some dried flakes of my SD so I don't have to do this again

thanks for the help, Dino
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  #88  
Old 07-07-2011, 02:51 PM
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Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Sounds like you had it easy, Dino! Keep feeding it for a while though. It will (almost certainly) get more robust and change character some over the next few weeks as the bacterial and yeast populations find their happy balance. (I actually think they change gradually for at least a year but...???)

Glad you are "back"!
Jay
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