The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter micro flora and the fridge...Gerard Rubaud's drying method

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sournewb71's picture
sournewb71

Starter micro flora and the fridge...Gerard Rubaud's drying method

I was doing some reading on Gerard Rubaud (very interesting baker) and caught this:

"Gérard feeds his levain every five hours, which means that he never sleeps more than five hours at a stretch or leaves the bakery for longer than that. When he needs to go away for a few days, he dries it up. Exceptionally he may put it in the fridge for 12 hours at a time (but then he makes sure the temperature never goes below 46 degrees F/8 Celsius) to avoid losing some tasty acids."

Source: http://www.farine-mc.com/2009/11/meet-baker-gerard-rubaud.html

Has anyone experimented with just leaving their starter out to dry verses refrigeration?  Professor Calvel is another voice that says refrigeration destroys the micro flora which is responsible for the flavor in levains.  Obviously liquid levains probably wouldn't work so well with this method.  Sure today we all have access to refrigerators, but are they necessary to keep a levain alive?  I mean if these starters weren't stable, strong and resillient, how have some survived generation after generation?

Anyways if anyone has information on Gerard's process for drying out the starter I'd be interested.  Right now I'm thinking just mixing a firm starter and covering it with flour.  I will keep a backup in the fridge but I'm interested to see how this would effect flavor.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

As you feed a leaven more often it becomes purer, in the sense that it becomes more a technical aid rather than for flavour.

I keep an Italian sourdough which is fed every 4hrs, kept at 28C and fed with white flour.

The most important factor for flavour is the flour. Wholemeal is the flour of choice for flavour. temperature is important too. Below 25C is best for flavour.

Starters have been kept alive so long because they've been used and fed regularly. Feeding regularly is what keeps it strong and healthy.

 

To dry a firm leaven (50% hydration) add an equal weight of flour and mix to a even powder. spread on a tray and allow to dry. bag up, removing air, place in an air tight container and place in the fridge until needed. rehydrate with water to bring back to life.

Michael

sournewb71's picture
sournewb71

Michael,

Fed every 4 hours?  That's dedication!  I've heard that argument that before refrigeration people just fed their starters more regularly, however I'm not sure that's the only way.  I wonder if there are any books that talk about the tradition of sourdough back in the day when refrigeraiton wasn't used.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

http://sfbi.com/maintaining_an_italian_starter.html

When keeping this starter for longer periods the dough is wrapped tightly in cloth.

You can use larger feeds to delay the time before the need to feed again but this changes nature of the sourdough. The reason for the more frequent feeds is to keep it from turning sour.

It all depends on what you want from your sourdough.

sournewb71's picture
sournewb71

Well it looks like what I was looking for was called a desem starter:

http://www.sourdoughbaker.com.au/starters/desem-sourdough-starter/using-desem-starter.html

Anybody have any experience with Desem?