The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cheese starter culture as a sourdough starter

120ThingsIn20Years's picture

Cheese starter culture as a sourdough starter

I just made a loaf from a cheese starter I had in my freezer, because wikipedia tells me the same micro-beasties that make a cheese starter are also in a sourdough starter. 

It worked!

I thought it was going to be a miserable fail, because the milk I was using as liquid in my loaf separated out to curds and whey. Or at least to whey. The curds were mixed up in the (I cant remember the word for the proofed liquid and yeast.) ~ sponge?~ Anyway, there was yeast in there as well. 

I made a loaf out of it using that method where you roll it out and cut it with scissors bending each spike one way and then the other.

I served it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and dukkah. 

And it actually worked :)



mrfrost's picture

Sourdough starter contain (wild)yeasts, which are primarily responsible for raising the dough. Yes sourdough starters also contain the same, or similar, bacteria as the cheese starter. The bacteria, are primarily responsible for the "sourdough" taste. The cheese starter, by itself, would not raise the bread sufficiently, without an additional yeast component added to the dough.

Buttermilk and yogurt(both containing active cultures) are used as starters for some types of cheeses.

However(if I'm not mistaken), there is at least one type of bread that is raised solely by bacteria: salt rising bread. It's pretty rare, and said too be very "cheesy" smelling and tasting. There are threads here on the subject.

120ThingsIn20Years's picture

From everything I've read on here the starter culture is a complex beast indeed. At least in it's makeup if not in it's behoviour. 

No doubt there have been others before me that thought they might try to shortcut the process :)

To be honest, I'm not really ready for a real sourdough. I'm more at the ... "Look mum I made bread!" stage. (and I'm in my 40s :) )

It's enough to follow the lessons and the tips in the handbook at the top of this site, but all the threads on sourdoughs are tempting. 

Currently my bread is working well as far as it's texture and getting some nice rise in the oven etc, and I'm really happy with it compared to most of the stuff I've bought in a plastic bag, but unfortunately for me I've been fed some really amazing traditional (I presume (from a 70 year old first generation migrant to Australia who is now unfortunately no longer with us)) wood oven baked Italian bread in the past, and I dont think I'll ever be satisfied :)

Oh well. I get the feeling I'm in good company around here as far as never being satisfied. 

So much to learn, and only one lifetime to learn it. I wish I'd started a bit sooner. 

I did see something about salt rising bread on wikipedia, but that stuff is whey* out of my league. 


*Boom boom, Tisssh

120ThingsIn20Years's picture

Does that mean I should be thinking of adding a tub of yakult and some natural yogurt to my sour dough starter?

With my homemade beer, there is a certain urgency in establishing the right beasties before the wrong ones get a foot in the door. Once the beer yeasts get control, they seem to push out any of the natural yeasts that tend to be your beer's enemy.

Obviously the reverse is true here, so I wonder if the same tactics apply. 

Is it a case of the more I introduce beneficial, wanted cultures, the better off I'll be, or can I assume that the natural sour dough yeasts and other beasties will be competitive enough to overpower the store bought yeast that's no doubt all over my kitchen?

I'm starting to see bubbles in my sourdough starter, but I must have packet yeast all over my house by now. 

I wish I knew what I was doing/I'm really enjoying not knowing what's going on here  :)


120ThingsIn20Years's picture

When making a sourdough starter, do I have to take steps to protect it against being inoculated with the store bought yeast that's no doubt all over my house now? 

I'm pretty sure any decent TV crime scene investigator would find traces of my bread machine pre-mix packs all over the kitchen, and probably all through the house. In fact I suspect I could probably make a small loaf from just what I could shake out of the kitchen curtains.

It's been a messy two weks so far :)





120ThingsIn20Years's picture

I've just started (two days ago) a sour dough starter, and there are some signs that the water and flour mix are separating a bit. It actually looks a lot like the states I've seen in cheese making.

ie it looks a bit like a primitive form of curds and whey where we see the milk fats separate out from the water. I wonder if there is a similar reaction going on with fats, proteins, and whatever else is in the sourdough starter as there is in cheese making. 

I do realise I'm grasping at potentially visually meaningless straws here, but it does look really similar. 

I love the way this chemistry unfolds without [me] having a clue what's going on.


Flour, salt, yeast, fire, water. 



pmccool's picture

but not drawing a clear picture, I'm afraid.

Here is some suggested background reading that will help you with your starter quest:

Debra Wink's The Pineapple Juice Solution, Part 1

Debra Wink's The Pineapple Juice Solution, Part 2

gaarp's sourdough tutorial

sourdolady's sourdough process

Lots of good information to assimilate and apply.



120ThingsIn20Years's picture

What an amazingly well written pair of articles. 

Thanks for the sense of direction PMcCool.

But now I have sentence structure envy :)