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No Throw Starter Question and Others!

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thegreatnicski's picture
thegreatnicski

No Throw Starter Question and Others!

I have a little experience making sourdough, and thought I'd branch into using home milled flour. I usually make the starters at 100% (ish) measuring the flour so I know the running weight of the starter but just adding water till it looks right - a thick gloopy paste. I have some questions - it seems the more I learn, the less I know!


I feel that throwing away the starter during feeding is a waste, and came across this recipe http://www.sustainweb.org/realbread/sourdough_starter/  for a no throw starter that I am trying with a more or less 50:50 mix of organic wheat and rye. I am curious to the opinion of those more 'soured' than I - why are recipes that require throwing out so popular when this seems so easy? To me it looks like the starter might be a bit hungry but is that counted by the rye being more 'yeasty'?


Also, this is my first time making a starter in Perth AU, much hotter and humid than my original town of Christchruch NZ - I'm thinking this will speed up the process, what else do I need to be aware of?  In terms of proof/retard times?


 


I have read somewhere, I think on here, that home milling can damage the starch in the flours, but adding acid like pineapple juice, grape, or vinegar can help counter this? Or is this only with 'quick' breads, and souring is going to counter any damage anyway?


 


I'm also considering using commerical organic flour for the first bake, as from what I've read home milled can be so different in behaviour. So perhaps get my starter going with home milled, and use commerical in the bread recipe to lessen chance of a flop. Or am I being too cautious and if I use a bit of common sense should be fine all the way with home milled?? Oh the decisions!


Thanks very much to those who can give advice and experience, it's so interesting I have to watch myself that I don't get carried away!


Nicola


 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

that is, I started with tiny amounts of flour (20 gr+25 gr apple juice)  and in 3 days time I obtained a starter strong enough to raise all that I needed. I put it back in the fridge and now, routinely, I don't refresh it until it's almost finished.


I keep only 100 gr of starter in my fridge. When there are only 10 gr left I add 50 gr of water and 40 of flour, let it triple then back in the fridge.


There's one error in that link: you should not feed a starter with small amounts of flour, e.g. if you take away only 20 gr don't put back in 10+10: it's too little and the starter won't even notice (in my case it doesn't rise at all, as if starving).


I use my starter to make everything from bread to very enriched doughs, so I can guarantee that my method works.


 


The added acidity will probably slow down the effect of amylase enzymes (particularly active in rye flour) on the damaged starches, so yes: it makes sense to me.


 


As for "green" home milled flour I can confirm what you have read: if things go wrong the dough gets really scary: it makes threads and spreads everywhere, but it loses all elasticity. Those are the effects of the "thiol syndrome".

thegreatnicski's picture
thegreatnicski

Hi there


Thanks for the reply, glad someone has had success with a similar recipe. I was suspicious of the low feeding amounts, I wondered if that had to do with the 'no throw' or what?! So good to have some outside thought on that .


Does it make sense to you that acid needs to be added for home milled flour, or that using a starter will counter this problem? ie - do I need to add acid to a starter if home milling?


 


 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

There are various things to consider here:


-some form of acid when developing the starter is a good thing because it prevents the growth of harmful beasts that slow down the development of the starter


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2


once the starter is ready  you can use just plain water.


-in a dough made with flour with a high amount of damaged starches a starter with a good level of acidity (pH 4) will counter somewhat the slackening effect of amylase, but I *guess* (I have no evidences) that it won't suffice and that some other form of acid will help to keep the dough together. Probably how the dough reacts also depends on the amount of starter you use. Maybe using only a flour like that overall is a bad idea  and you had better mix it with some AP or bread flour.


-the main problem with home milled flour is that if it's freshly ground it can (and most likely will) contain the thiol compounds that I mentioned above. Hamelman in his "Bread" book talks extensively about this issue, saying that flour should be oxygenated and made rest for 1 month before use. Probably a home-milled flour also contains a lot of damaged starches (adding more problems), especially if using a micronizing mill that is more "violent" on the grains, but here I'm just guessing and speculating.


 


My advice is to test (beginning with small amounts) how your bread doughs react with your starter and take notice every time of how your bread evolves.


 

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

just add a tablespoon of flour and equal amount of water, grows best in humid and warm conditions, in the winter I let it sit in the microwave oven with a hot cup of water. The microwave is suspended above the stove with a light underneath it. I keep that light on, this seems to keep the inside of the microwave warm.


Good job !


anna


 

thegreatnicski's picture
thegreatnicski

I haven't had a microwave in years! I wouldn't know how to use one anymore. Is a tablespoon enough to feed it? I'd have thought once it reached a certain size that wouldn't be nearly enough. (learning all the time!)


Reading up on Thiol, found an interesting online book - http://books.google.com.au/books?id=VA6y1EMnkpYC&pg=PA32&lpg=PA32&dq=thiol+and+bread+problems&source=bl&ots=W7URYGQUBl&sig=WLAKEBVAJyDf-Ettn_WiV25s1qQ&hl=en&ei=DAyTTdr7DdG6ccLJwIkH&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false


My starter has nearly doubled since its last feeding, only 2 hours ago... never had it go so fast before! Time to fridge it?


Thinking home milled flour = too hard basket and will switch to commerical stuff

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

the site says that the content is unavailable for viewing or that  I exceeded the limit.


 


How old is your starter and what smell does it have? If it's fruity and pleasant I'd refrigerate it.

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

which is the average amount I use to bake with 600 gr of flour and 425 gr of water.


The fridged starter gets fed maybe every 3 to 4 days, it seems to be very forgiving.


 

thegreatnicski's picture
thegreatnicski

but maybe scroll up or down to different pages, as there are some that aren't available. - I only had one the didn't load up to page 50


 


the starter is only a couple of days old, so I'm surprised that it's doubling in a couple of hours - back home (much cooler more changeable weather) it'd take a day. So I'm worried if I leave it out it'll get over ripe. It smells good, still a bit 'wheaty' more than soured. - yes, I'd say fruity, definately pleasant.


 


 


 

G-man's picture
G-man

I never throw out my starter either, but that's because I keep my discards in a separate container and make pancakes, waffles, cakes and other quickbreads with it.


 


The problem with the method you've linked, as you and nicodvb both said, is that your starter will be starving since it isn't being fed enough. Conversely, if you do feed it enough you'll encounter the swimming pool problem...in a couple days you'll have enough starter to fill a swimming pool.


 


As for it becoming overripe...in my (albeit fairly limited) experience, you have to neglect a starter for a long time before it starts behaving poorly. If it's rising in a couple hours that seems like not enough time has passed. I'd feed according to schedule anyway. Yeast have a way of adjusting to your habits...

proth5's picture
proth5

 


Starch Damage


Let's clear up some misconceptions.  Starch damage does occur in milling, but moderate starch damage is desirable - even required for good baked results.  Starch damage impacts (among other things) water retention and crust color and should be optimized for the product desired.


Excessive starch damage is connected with "aggressive" roller milling (rolls placed very closely together early in the milling process) and for home millers most often with micronizer or impact mills.


An indicator of excessive starch damage is that the dough seems to need a lot of water to come to the desired consistency and then later in the fermentation/proofing cycle becomes very slack.


If you have concerns about the starch damage in your home milled flour, you can also send a sample of it to a lab (sorry, the lab that I use is in the USA) but that tends to be an expensive sort of thing. Most home millers are content to assume that the starch damage in their flour is sufficient, but not excessive.


A while back another home miller and I did some comparisons of starch damage and baked loaves using 85% extraction home milled flour.  Although his samples showed excessive starch damage, the baked product showed little evidence of any problems.  Our tentative conclusion was that whole grain or near whole grain flour has compensating elements (bran, germ, etc.) that do not come into play in white flour.


However, once starch is damaged, the damage is done - no acid will help it.


Green Flour


I've done a lot of testing with aging home ground 85% extraction flour and found that aging had little impact on how the flour performed, but the aging (at room temperature) did have a negative impact on taste (and probably nutrition, but I did not measure this).


I've since spoken to respected bakers and millers on this topic and have heard that indeed there is some impact that aging has even on whole grain flours, but  even they admit that in their home baking they would prefer fresh ground for the taste.


Again, there seems to be compensating factors in the whole grain (and I'm sure we will be getting studies on this now that interest in whole grain baking has really gotten off the ground).  None of the bakers that I spoke to would bake with green white flour.  When I did my white flour milling I aged all flour prior to baking.


The use of very small quantities of vitamin C is often recommended to oxidize home ground whole wheat flour (yes, I know that vitamin C is called an "anti oxidant" - but nevertheless it is an oxidizing agent in flour) and provide extra strength.  I've used it a few times and can't say that with my hands and techniques I saw any advantage.


Starters


After reading the "no discard" method I can only say this.  Every discussion that I have been in with professional bakers has emphasized that starter health is the key to successful "sourdough" bread.  None of them would keep their starters in a refrigerator.  Also most use enough starter each day so that they are not discarding it, but using it in bread.  If the "no throw" works for you, it works for you.  But why would I feed my starter more than a tablespoon of flour and why would I keep it unrefrigerated when this method is so "easy"? Because I like to keep a sufficient volume of starter so that maximum flavor develops (and when one is talking fermentation, volume matters) and I want to keep it in top condition.  I've contemplated the "waste" involved  (only so many waffles I should eat) and come to the conclusion that waste is in the eye of the beholder.  Where I live, people drive enormous cars into the mountains to strap boards to their feet and pay large sums of money to have an electrically powered conveyance haul them to the top of a mountain so they can slide down.  There is considerable fuel burned to allow this activity.  Yet, no one speaks of "waste" because people "need" to have "fun."  I prefer to call it "choice."

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Pat, thanks for your extensive explanation.


I was suspecting that a micronizer mill could yield an excessive amount of damaged starches and you seem to agree that the risk is concrete. What i wrote about the addition of acid is connected to amylase: as far as I understand it, the higher the amount of damaged starches in the flour the more alpha-amylase will impact the dough producing soluble malto-dextrins with the effect of slackening the dough. Lowering the pH should also lower the activity of alpha-amylase. Please, correct me if I'm wrong (I'm not at all a chemist and the informations I have may be incomplete or outright wrong).


 


How did you measure the extraction rate of your flour? Did you sieve it and obtained 15% of coarse bran that you removed?


All of the other informations are very interesting, too.

proth5's picture
proth5

a bit on this topic and you are making a good guess, however I find no discussions (nor have I ever heard discussions) about using acid to mitigate the effect of starch damage.  So, I don't know either way and your guess is as good as mine until someone with more knowledge weighs in.  There is so much going on in a simple dough that I have stopped speculating on some things. 


But, what I say is true - starch damage is a mechanical process and once done, is done.


I have often wondered why there are so many people who have to treat their home milled flour differently than commercial flour to get good results.  Certainly there are differences in process - especially roller milled vs stone  ground flour - but I have never had to make a single adjustment.  Perhaps it is because I use a gentle milling process rather than the more popular micronizers or the also common practice of putting grains through a mill to get fine flour in one mill pass.


My white flour (once malted) behaved as I would expect any high quality white flour to behave.  I don't often mill white flour, but I'm thinking of getting back to it.


I have sent my flour to a lab and have gotten starch damage numbers in the low acceptable range - so I am content.  Very few home millers will send their flour to a lab...


I do an elaborate milling and sifting process to get my flours and I have extensive blogs on these pages that you can read rather than my repeating it here which would go on for pages - but yes, that's about right I add or subtract sifted bran/germ to get my desired extraction rate.


Glad you enjoyed the rest of the information.

thegreatnicski's picture
thegreatnicski

and thanks for your time to reply. Please continue with the discussion!


It sounds like green flour is something I could continue with? As I understand what has been said, there is starch damage, but mightn't affect results, esp with souring process and using whole grain can minimise effect (potentially).


The book I had linked to above (the bread builders) I think was saying that using rye grain lowers ph to around 3.7-4 which to me is pretty low. But others have had success adding grapes/juice etc to white flour starters.


And I should basically 'get over' the waste component - it is after all only flour!


 

proth5's picture
proth5

one thing I never say is that people should "get over" what they deeply believe.


Some people cannot abide discarding any food product.  That is their choice and they will make compromises to live that choice.


Some people will forego things that they consider frivolous so that they can spend their resources on those things that are important.  That is a choice and they can live that choice.


What I do object to is subscribing so strongly to one's choices that other people's choices are belittled.  Why would someone do a thing?  I explained why I would.  Your choice is up to you.


The topic of what I know about mitigating the effects of starch damage with acids is in my post above and it is "Never heard of it - awaiting better information..." 

thegreatnicski's picture
thegreatnicski

on 'getting over' things.  I didn't mean the term so strongly, but I whole heartedly agree.

thegreatnicski's picture
thegreatnicski

What is your blog please?

thegreatnicski's picture
thegreatnicski

I'm working this site out... by clicking on your username, that's where I'll find it! Right?!

proth5's picture
proth5

My blogs on milling are quite old...

Chuck's picture
Chuck

why are recipes that require throwing out so popular...?


They are???
(What did I miss?)

thegreatnicski's picture
thegreatnicski

It seems every recipe I googled or found in a book at the library contained discarding. And, as someone pointed out, this isn't a problem if you are baking with the 'discard' but if you aren't planning on a daily bake then out it goes. The only recipe I found that didn't involve this involves very little feeding.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Yep, a whole lot of recipes certainly do mention discarding starter, but as a "necessary evil" rather than as a "good idea". (To me "commonly mentioned" isn't the same as "popular"  ...maybe that's splitting hairs.)


There were some calculations here on TFL recently that with some starter feeding schedules and some home baking schedules, if you didn't discard, the starter would soon grow larger than your entire refrigerator and threaten to take over your whole kitchen. Remember that scene with Woody Allen in Sleeper where he's chasing with a broom in a kitchen a blob that has grown to the size of a medicine ball?

Davo's picture
Davo

Even if I have  some excess beyond what will go into pancakes and the like, I cook up whatever would otherwise be thrown out (usually as a rough pancake), and feed it to our dogs or chickens. It gets used. That's also a good way to soak up any oil in a pan that's been used for frying, that would otherwise get washed down the sink.

G-man's picture
G-man

Or if you don't have dogs or chickens, co-workers or friends work just as well! I freeze leftover waffles or pancakes as breakfast during the week. If I make a large batch of english muffins that I can't get through before they go bad, I take the excess to work or, more often, end up giving them to friends.