The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter and water

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andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Starter and water

Do starters get used to a particular water? My starter is some years old now and very vigourous. I always use the same make of flour and my home tap water. I have given starter and instructions to friends who seem to have big problems with it. Then recently I took some of the starter to my boat and attempted to make bread. I was amazed. instead of responding as usual, the dough just didn't rise.


 


Usually I activate the starter in the  morning using 10g starter, 20 g water and 30g bread flour,  In the evening I take 50 g starter, add 50 g each of bread flour and water, mix, leave overnight (by which time it usually very bubbly) and make up the dough in the morning to bake at night. Well, the starter didn't go bubbly overnight. I carried on and made my dough - but it didn't rise and took over 24 hours to be ready to bake! The remaining 10g starter I fed as usual to make my next starter and again, nothing really happened.


 


Got the poorly performing starter home, fed it here - and POW !! It was back to usual strength and made a lovely loaf.


 


The ONLY thing I can think of that was different is the water. The tap water where the boat is tastes different - is starter SO sensitive to water? Would it have performed OK if I had got it used to mineral water and used the same mineral water at the boat?


 


Andrew

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Is the water at the marina (presuming that is the source for your boat) heavily chlorinated?


If you used water that was contained in a holding tank on your boat, how old was that water?  Stored water can get raunchy.


For future baking on board, why bother with mineral water?  I would think that the simplest thing to do is just bring a gallon of water from your home and use that to refresh your starter and for baking purposes.


To answer the question about a sourdough culture getting used to one type of water, in my case I've found no difference.  When my water well failed last summer, I had to use bottled water for a time and found no noticeable reaction in the culture, nor when I switched over to the newer (and much deeper) well.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I would definitely suspect the water source on your boat. Perhaps the water is highly chlorinated. I have read that that can cause problems. If you don't want to bring some water from home, as Lindy suggests, I think that the chlorine will dissipate by just exposing the water to air for a time.


--Pamela 

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Yes, I think the water at the marina is chlorinated. And the two friends who couldn't get the starter to work have more chlorinated water than I have here at home.


 


So - I shall try it again on the boat but with bottled mineral water - shouldn't be any chlorine in that! But I am determined to get the starter to work on the boat - I could (and do) use fresh yeast - but I prefer the taste of bread made with a starter.


 


Andrew

Pain Partout's picture
Pain Partout

I experimented some with different bottled waters when I was first playing around with my sourdough starter.   We buy all of our bottled drinking water at Sam's Club...Aquafina, by PepsiCo.  This was my starting point with bottled water.  I then bought a number of pricier "upscale" mineral waters, which the yeasties seemed to prefer, but price was often rediculous.  I now use ONLY Dasani purified water, by Coca Cola, which is easy to find on sale.  Dasani has added minerals.  My starter loves this stuff.....

LindyD's picture
LindyD

If you do a little research, you'll find that Coca Cola's Dasani brand is tap water taken from local municipal water supplies. See source


Nestle drilled a big well near Mecosta, MI and uses that water for their Ice Mountain brand.  It's just good old well water from a Michigan aquifer.  


Cold water, I might add, since the daytime temp this July 18 is 52F.  No boating today!