The Fresh Loaf

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Seed culture with no acidity after Phase 4 - how to proceed?

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MontBaybaker's picture
MontBaybaker

Seed culture with no acidity after Phase 4 - how to proceed?

I'm following the seed culture instructions in Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day, aerating 3 times a day and feeding as directed based on fermentation.  Using Pyrex measuring cups to monitor growth.

5/20 p.m.   Started Phase I with rye flour and juice from a newly cut pineapple.  5/23 a.m. started Phase 2 with half whole wheat/half bread flour & cold pineapple juice from Day 1.  5/26 10 a.m. had robust bubbles and foam, and started Phase 3 with half wheat/half bread flour & bottled water.  5/26 4 p.m., after hours of bubbling (and doubling each time after 2 aerations), using 1/2 c. culture I started Phase 4 even though it was less than 24 hours - the instructions say it's OK to do so.  5/26 at 8 p.m. it had more than doubled twice after 2 aerations.  As of 11 p.m. bubbling has slowed down but is doubled again.  The book says Phase 4 takes 4-24 hours to become fully active.     

This culture seems to be quite potent and working as described in the book.  However, as of now there are still no signs of acidity on pH testing.  I tested the paper with apple cider vinegar and got the correct color, but my culture doesn't change the color beyond showing the paper to be damp (same as water).  The paper is off a new roll from my compounding pharmacist.  Based on fermentation activity the book says to proceed with turning it into a mother starter, but the pH says otherwise.  What to do?  Leave it at room temperature vs. put it in the fridge, aerating and wait for the pH to be correct, or move on now to the starter phase?  I live in the Monterey Bay CA region; cool nights but 70 during the day - culture is on kitchen table, away from heat.

Would using extremely fresh pineapple juice vs. canned/bottled be a factor?  Thank you and Happy Labor Day! 

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Give it more time.   As you can see from this study, eventually pH drops, some take longer than others.  You might want to note the incubation temperatures used are well above 70°F  (21°C)    

Reducing amounts of available food may help if temperatures are low, either reduce your food amounts or give the culture a longer time to digest the food.  You do not want to refrigerate when food is exhausted.  You can chill it and test it again in a day or two and see if the pH had dropped any.  Or split the starter and put one half in the fridge and leave the other one out until the pH drops.  Might be more interesting.  :)  

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1828776/

 

MontBaybaker's picture
MontBaybaker

Thanks MiniOven!  Being 10 minutes from the ocean, we'd been running cool until 3 days ago.  As you suggested I reduced feeding (1 TBSP KA whole wheat every other day), stirred 2-3 x a day, sprouted some patience and didn't check pH until yesterday - went by changes in smell.  The watched pot.  pH now very close to 3.5 -4.0!  Will split the culture and convert to mother starter tomorrow per the book's instructions.  It smells pleasant but less alcoholic, with a few bubbles and mild growth after the prior "witch's cauldron phase" due to feeding too much too fast.  No signs of mold or crust, so think I'm on the right track.  Can't wait to start baking with my new bannetons.  I've been working through all 3 of Peter's books for a few months, and have been eager to play with sourdough.   

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Glad to hear it's coming around.  Go for the sourdough!  

You may find your rises longer than the book if the temps stay cool.  Keep a cool head and take your time.