The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pour off the hooch.

dennisinponca's picture

Pour off the hooch.

As  a new member, I want to off my 2 cents worth on hooch and get some opinions.

I suggest you always pour off the hooch to prevent making the sourdough bitter.  Here is my line of thought.

Yeast produces alcohol and in sourdough, it is the clear or off color liquid we all know as "hooch".  Part of this hooch is dead yeast cells that have died for various reasons, including being exposed to too much alcohol, lack of food and just old age..

In wine making, it is acknowledged that once all the food (sugars and starch) is gone, the yeast will begin to eat dead yeast and will produce a bitter off taste to the wine.

Therefore, even in bread, I think you should always pour off the hooch and remove the off colored starter to prevent bitterness.  Stirring it back into the starter just does not seem to be the best thing to do.



LindyD's picture

I think one can avoid the hooch in the first place by following a regular feeding schedule.

I haven't seen hooch in three years - first and only time I saw it was when I first started a sourdough culture (liquid).  I poured it off then simply because it was waste material.

I now maintain a very firm culture.  No hooch, even if it has been refrigerated for a week or so.

Are you a vintner, Dennisinponca?

greydoodles's picture

Ditto. No hooch here either. Once I learned to feed my sourdough enough and on time, all hooch disappeared, even when my sourdough spends time in the refrigerator. The consistency of my sourdough is a stiff, thick liquid.

Hooch is a sign that your sourdough is hungry. Feed it.

JeremyCherfas's picture

... but I've never noticed any ill-effects from stirring the hooch in just before a feed to start building up my starter.

Lke the others, I've found a good feeding schedule is vital, but sometimes when I have to be away and the starter gets hungry, a little hooch is unavoidable. I just stir it in.


dennisinponca's picture

Lindy D,

Yes, I make a bit of wine now and again.  I like to use some of the wine yeasts to flavor some of the recipes but the sourdoughs flavor overpowers the wine flavoring. 

I can taste some differences when I use wine yeasts in non sourdough breads. 

I take it you are a vintner, how about beermiester?  I am considering that branch this summer.