Taste the Difference
I've been maintaining both white and rye starters for about a year now. Probably because we're snowed in, I decided to see if I could really taste the difference between my SD and active yeast. Afterall, I don't really save money by maintaiing a SD starter, particularly when I can buy active yeast in large containers. I had to know.
Yesterday I made two poolishes (Is there a plural?). Each poolish had 80 grams of unbleached bread flour and 80 gram of 72 degree water. I added a smidgeon of yeast to one and a smidgeon of my starter to the other.
At first the active yeast poolish outgrew my SD poolish. But then ultimately my SD took off, doubling the size of the active yeast poolish.
Now for the taste test. I labeled the bottom of each jar, grabbed my husband, and ordered, "Taste." (He likes my bread, so he had no choice but to humor me.) His comments, "At first, I thought they were both the same, but # 1 had a strong yeasty aftertaste. # 2 was fully developed." Smart choice. My SD is # 2. Since he is an engineer, I consider him a reliable source of information.
Next, I tried the taste test. The active yeast poolish has a strong, bitter taste. My SD has a complex bitter-sweet taste.
My conclusion is that it definitely is worth maintaining and using SD in your bread doughs.