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Measuring Dough pH

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chris319's picture
chris319

Measuring Dough pH

I'm so confused! I want to measure the pH of my dough with some degree of precision. PH paper lacks precision yet I can't find a pH meter which doesn't have a litany of horror stories associated with it if the reviews on amazon.com are to be believed. What to do?

Can anyone recommend a pH meter that they use and like? I'm looking for a dough pH of around 5.5 and want to make sure my dough isn't too far off from this. Or should I abandon the notion of a meter and use pH paper and consider it "close enough"?

Thank you.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

ebay. Search "pH meter". The yellow one. They do the job well for under a tenner! Be lost without mine!

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

@mwilson

I've long been curious to understand the evolution of pH through the starter/levain/dough process. How do you use your pH meter? Are there critical values that you look to achieve? What are the actions that are triggered at those thresholds?

TIA,

Les

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Hi Les.

I follow professional Italian baking mostly in the realm of panettone. Italian sourdough is quite specific and slightly complex. As a result my Italian style sourdough is powerful and reliable. Measuring pH is quite helpful as some formulas even specify pH of the mother dough (lievito madre) used.

You can have a look at this blog post of mine to give you some idea of what I'm talking about.

If you're interest stretches even further you can follow the links on this page from my blog

Cheers,

Michael

chris319's picture
chris319

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll try it, but if it's no good it's YOUR fault! But at those prices how far wrong can you go?

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

My kitchen laboratory has a new toy tool. Thanks for the pointer Michael.  Looks just like the meter I use to check my water and it has lasted years.  

Janet

mwilson's picture
mwilson

No problem Janet. Tool / toy, what's the difference?!!  :D

asicign's picture
asicign

I'm pretty sure I've posted this info before on Fresh Loaf, but I purchased a Hanna Instruments Checker pH meter model MHA-52301 maybe 5 years ago.  It's still working perfectly.  I use it on sourdough starters.  The medium has to be a bit loose: I don't think you could get a reading on a stiff dough.  In any case, I've had no problems with this very inexpensive instrument.

Andy

chris319's picture
chris319

To measure the pH of dough do you dissolve 15 gm dough in 100 mL distilled water and measure the pH of this slurry?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I don't know the appropriate or best way to get the most accurate reading. But I know that by adding water you'll alter the true pH of the starter by diluting it. So I just add as little water as possible to the dough and wet the end of the meter before taking a reading.

chris319's picture
chris319

Here is a description of how to do it:

http://www.nyx.net/~dgreenw/howdoesonemeasurethephofso.html

chris319's picture
chris319

I wound up getting a Milwaukee pH600 from amazon.com and a bottle of calibration solution. I love it!

It is easy to calibrate and VERY sensitive. It can read the pH change from adding just a few drops of vinegar in water. The numbers are a bit small but no big deal.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Looks identical to the ones on ebay, except branded. Glad you like it. It's a very handy tool. Let us know the readings of your starter...

I noticed the same thing with vinegar. The tiniest amount does indeed drop the pH quite significantly. 

chris319's picture
chris319

Branded or not, I'll bet these are all imported from a certain far-off land and are the same basic design manufactured very cheaply in the same factory. I paid a little more but was more comfortable ordering from amazon.com than from some guy on ebay, and did not have to pay extra for shipping for both the meter and the cal. solution which were shipped together.

It's for the dough, not the starter. Now that I've got the recipe adjusted to the desired pH, I'm basically done with the meter. I got a satisfactory reading just by sticking the meter into the dough and didn't have to use the slurry method, i.e. dissolving a portion of dough in distilled water.

 

Here is the guiding document: http://aem.asm.org/content/64/7/2616.full