The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

ph level of mother starter

mbass7mile's picture

ph level of mother starter

I froze my starter when I moved last year. I have resuscitated it and find that the ph level is too high.  (about 4.3) I want to get to 4.  I don't understand the ph concept when  it comes to making sour dough bread but am going by the recommendation of Peter Reinhart in the Bread Bakers App.  Thanks for your help.  

BreadBro's picture

Really, you shouldn't sweat too much about the ph level for just basic bread making. All in all, I've found it hasn't made much of a difference.

If you want to lower the ph, you should reduce  the number of feedings and allow the lactic-acid bacteria to create a more acidic environment, For instance, maybe  feed only once a day instead of twice.

DavidEF's picture

Distilled vinegar is acetic acid, which is a natural byproduct of fermentation. You could lower the pH of your sourdough culture by adding a little vinegar to your starter. I don't know how much it would take to get your pH to 4, but the pH of distilled vinegar is around 2.4, so a little math may go a long way. Or, you could just try starting with a tsp or so, and go from there. I know the brochure from Carl's Starter says to add a Tbsp of vinegar every once in a while to give the starter "a kick in the pants"!

For a more long term solution, BreadBro's suggestion will help you keep it consistent. It will probably take a little (or a lot!) of experimentation to find the right amount and kind of adjustments to make, but consistency in the process will show up as consistency in the final product, so you get a good return on your investment.

Depending on how tightly controlled you want your breadmaking to be, his other suggestion "you shouldn't sweat too much about the ph level" may be the best solution of all.