The Fresh Loaf

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Can I pinch off the poolish to make a starter?

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DrPr's picture
DrPr

Can I pinch off the poolish to make a starter?

I made a poolish using a quarter tsp of instant yeast. Can I take a tbspn or so and begin a sourdough starter?

totels's picture
totels

We're talking semantics here.

Nowadays the term Sourdough is usually related to a wild yeast started sour dough. The term sourdough literally means a soured dough, e.g. a piece of your old dough that has soured (because it wasn't used yesterday to make a loaf, etc.) So yes, technically, you can pinch a piece of poolish to make a sourdough starter. You will have a yeast culture that you could maintain and use to start new loaves, but it would not be considered a wild yeast starter. Technically speaking it IS a sourdough, but most bakers would not consider it a legitimate Sourdough.

P.S. Also referred to as a Natural Leaven (which a pinch off a sweet dough poolish would NOT qualify as).

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

of a sourdough starter, it is one already.  Just not the wild yeast variety and not very stable without the support of a bacterial community.  But that will change over the course of a week.

It has been done so go ahead.  What you have is yeast and not much bacteria but that should come along after a few days.  Raising the temperature might help closer to 30°C and adding a little flour and a pinch of malt if you have some.  Don't overdo the feedings keeping the culture small and wet.  You may experience a drop in activity before the wild yeast take over the starter from the commercial yeast.  Encourage the poolish sample to become completely exhausted and smelling strong of beer before feeding more flour.   Go for it.  

Pioneer Foodie's picture
Pioneer Foodie

I've read several sources which indicate that cultured yeast cells create byproducts in dough which are actually in conflict with the ideal culture preferred by the complex micro-flora which is sourdough. The text suggested that commercial yeast can actually slow the development of sourdough cultures. That said, some instructions for starting a sourdough culture call for seeding the mix with a very small amount of yeast as an attractive bait for the wild cells.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

is correctomundo as usual!  It will take longer than one made from scratch but over time it will be converted to a decent SD culture with all the right stuff - or die because you will kill it for\ not being sour enough after a month!

Davo's picture
Davo

At the risk of being contrary, I'll differ. I don't think it's a sourdough already, because I don't think not baking with yeasted dough immediately makes it sour. What makes sourdough sour is the lactobacilli, that bring the pH down to 4-odd. Until they are established, you won't have a sourdough, 'fyask me.

My understanding (which may be wrong) is that commercial yeasts will compete with the LABs, because they both eat the same sugars, whereas most wild yeasts don't eat the same sugars they eat the ones resulting from the breakdown effected by the LABs. And from what I gather that's why using a commercial yeast culture is probably not a shortcut to sourdough. It no doubt is a short cut to something that will raise bread, but then so is opening a packet of yeast....

DrPr's picture
DrPr

My original question was simply whether I could make a starter from a portion of poolish that I feed and maintain. I made a successful "wild yeast" starter in the past but couldn't maintain it over a move 2000 miles across the country. I wondered about using the poolish because I made one for a ciabatta, but haven't set about asking a wild yeast starter again. I think I'm still in mourning. Perhaps the issue is what "starter" means, since I purposely didn't say "sourdough" starter. If a starter refers only to wild yeast, then I don't have a starter, but something that works just like one (sour flavor and all), which is sufficient for my temporary purpose. So is this just a semantic argument for bakers or something deeper?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you did write sourdough starterrr...    (as in cat prrr-ing and making a lazy "8" around your chair...)  

So you are in mourning.  Sorry to hear it.  You may also be dealing with another kind of culture shock.

Wear black, but start and maintain another starter, it may turn out even better than the last one!  :)

 

DrPr's picture
DrPr

Ah yes, I did.  Got us all in a tizzy! It was a good discussion.  I am still in mourning for my original starter, but I'm sure my new wild yeast starter will cure me. The commercial yeast starter would have been fine as well- just different. The art and science is what makes bread baking so much fun. 

DrPr's picture
DrPr

I think I posted an answer but the Internet ate it.  

Yes I see I did say sourdough- oops- and started a tizzy! I enjoyed the discussion nonetheless, and look forward to success with my new wild yeast AND commercial yeast starters. :-)

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

DrPr,

Mini is right. You have a starter. It may or may not evolve over time and feedings into a sourdough culture. I expect that it would. But, it is a starter, more or less.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

conversion along it helps to put a tsp of orange juice in the starter to lower the ph a little and to use wholoe rye and whole wheat for feeding it.  Eventually the wild yeast and Lab will take over.  It just takes a little longer than starting one from scratch.