The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

So what is this thing?

paul0130's picture
paul0130

So what is this thing?

I finally got my own starter going! I first tried my hand at sourdough last year and failed at making my own starter, so I ordered KAF starter online. This helped me to get some experience and find out what it's supposed to smell like and how it looks like when it rises properly, etc.So this year when I went to the beach at Myrtle for a week I tried again. I started with a very liquidy mix of water and unbleached white flour and set it out on the screened balcony for about a day. Then I just kept it going for the rest of the week at about 100% hydration. But here is where it gets interesting.

When I got home it wasn't as warm as the beach so I decided to stick it in the oven with the light on for a few hours. When I took it out the glass jar was very hot to the touch. Darn! I thought I killed it. It seemed to stunt the growth for a couple of days, but then started back up again. Now it's great and doubling up quickly.

So my crazy question is this. I'm calling this my beach starter. Is this really "beach yeast" or did I just pickup yeast from the air back home after the oven episode? Or did the heat just temporarily stunt the growth. I would like to think I have a souvenir starter from the beach. Either way, I'm baking this weekend! Just curious to know exactly what yeast is in there. Also, when I smell it, it has a really good lemony scent, but it almost burns my nose from the acidity scent. It's stronger and not as fruity as my KAF, but I think it's going to make a good sourdough. Thanks all for your feedback!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

starter comes from the flour you use - not from the air where you started it or keep it.  If you use whole meal flour instead of white you will get many more LAB and yeast since they are on the outside of the grain and make it through into the final whole flour mix.  White flour has the outside of the grain removed along with much of the good stuff you want to make a SD culture.

Happy SD baking

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Without the exact temperature of the excursion peak it's difficult to say what happened to the culture.

Getting a KAF culture is a good idea and pays for itself if you're conscientious about its maintenance.

 After all the ups and downs developing my own I now advise that it's better to buy a live culture - taking the guess work out of the equation allows the neophyte to concentrate on more important aspects of learning the craft.

But, on the other hand, having one's own "Beach Culture" is great as a conversation piece...,    

Wild-Yeast 

paul0130's picture
paul0130

Thanks folks! I used the white unbleached flour in an attempt to capture wild yeast vs. getting it from the flour like some do with rye and wheat flours. I was under the impression there was no yeast in unbleached white. So if you don't get yeast from the air, and it's coming from the flour, does that mean that if I have 5 different starters, and always refresh using the same flour, then eventually all 5 will be the same as the flour yeast would have taken over the original? This is all so confusing to me :) But it's so interesting at the same time. The KAF starter taught me how to use sourdough starter. After just a couple of refreshes it was bubbling over my mason jar and I was just like "WOW, that's what's supposed to happen". It's hard to kill too. It can sit in the fridge for a while and be fine after just a couple of refreshes. My new "beach culture" is coming along nicely too and the acidity almost burns your nose when you smell it, but I wonder if I should just rename it King Arthur unbleached white flour starter :) 

doughooker's picture
doughooker

There is one strain of yeast and one lactobacillus of interest to sourdough bakers. Broadly speaking, all wheat flours contain them in varying amounts, depending on such variables as where the wheat was grown, the prevailing weather conditions, how the flour was milled, etc. The very process of milling flour introduces many variables.

The answer to your question is "yes". You may as well combine all five of those starters into one to simplify things.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Ha! So many things wrong with those statements... One "strain". Well you've already shot yourself in the foot there! I think you mean species. But even then the world of sourdough is so much more diverse than the l.sanfranciscensis, c.milleri relationship. And who are you to say what is and isn't of interest to sourdough bakers?!

Broadly speaking, all wheat flours contain them in varying amounts

I know you have no proof of this because there is none. l.sanfranciscensis has never been isolated from the flour itself, ever!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

 Over time, asourdough culture will tend to become a  mix of one of a dozen or so wild yeast strains and one of twenty or so different lactobacillus strains.  So,what your culture has is unknown until you have a lab test it.

Here is a web site that talks about it http://www.sourdoughhome.com/index.php?content=whatissourdough

doughooker's picture
doughooker

Ha! So many things wrong with those statements... One "strain". Well you've already shot yourself in the foot there! I think you mean species. But even then the world of sourdough is so much more diverse than the l.sanfranciscensis, c.milleri relationship. And who are you to say what is and isn't of interest to sourdough bakers?!

Broadly speaking, all wheat flours contain them in varying amounts

I know you have no proof of this because there is none. l.sanfranciscensis has never been isolated from the flour itself, ever!

Instead of arguing, why don't you simply set the record straight without going into minute detail and in such a way that won't confuse a confused first-timer even further?

Can you explain, without being argumentative, the source of L.SanFran? It comes from somewhere. If not the wheat, where?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

l.sanfranciscencis has only ever been isolated from sourdough. It has been looked for on wheat but not found. For you to state that it exists on wheat is a completely unsubstantiated claim and the only source of confusion in this thread.

I find interesting that the optimum pH for growth is 5.5 and the pH of human skin is around the same. I don't believe anybody has made this point until this very moment.

I highly object to you speaking for others hence my tone. If you feel shot down then know you brought it upon yourself.

The are plenty of working sourdough starters in the world where l.sanfranciscensis has never been identified and are dominated by other LAB species.

mariana's picture
mariana

l.sanfranciscencis has only ever been isolated from sourdough. It has been looked for on wheat but not found. 

Not really. New methods of molecular source tracking found it in oh so many places. It has been isolated from the air, from flour (regardless from the type of flour), bakery equipment, etc. It's everywhere. It does exist on wheat, probably brought there by insect fecal matter (it has been found in insect gut microflora). 

For example,

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2008.04094.x/abstract

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Ok so I've had a quick scan over that paper. Can't see anywhere that says they found l.sanfranciscensis in any of the flours. If I have missed it, please point it out to me. I fully accept my knowledge may be out of date.

However all of these samples were collected in the bakery where sourdough is processed. It would be expected to find it in the air, and on the equipment and such, but they surely would have originated from the culture itself, no? This is contamination.

This is like how wine yeast s.cerevisiae is rarely, if at all found on the skin of grapes where various others wild yeasts dominate. However it is found in the winery and on the equipment everywhere.

I think it's true to say that the type of fermentation select for the types of bacteria and yeasts. Where they originate from nobody knows...

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Conclusions:  The results obtained in this study indicate that specific strains of LAB persist in artisan doughs over years and circulate in the bakery environment. Furthermore, the importance of air as a potential carrier of LAB in artisan bakery environments was demonstrated.

Significance and Impact of the Study: PheS-based real-time PCR can be used to detect, quantify and/or monitor specific LAB species (e.g. starter cultures) in sourdough and bakery environment samples.

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi,

The article that I linked was mostly to show that they are everywhere. If they are in the AIR, don't you think that they are naturally in the flour then? Flour is exposed to air and air is exposed to flour. 

But specifically, there is an article (2013) that shows the heat map for sourdough biodiversity, including day one sample, freshly mixed wheat (A = aestivum) or durum wheat flour (D =durum) and water, nothing else.

And presence of Lb. sanfranciscensis in freshly mixed wheat and durum dough is shown from the very beginning, minutes after being mixed (A0, D0).

And in rye dough 8hr @25C and 16h@ 10C after the mixing of rye flour and water (R1). 

The flours were purchased from the mills, not from the bakeries. The samples were mixed in a clean lab environment, so we can exclude air, baker's hands, and bakery equipment as sources of Lb.San-Fr. 

http://aem.asm.org/content/79/24/7827.short

 

the type of fermentation select for the types of bacteria and yeasts.

Indeed. Procedure exerts the biggest selective pressure. As the above article shows, even samples that had noticeable numbers of Lb.s-f. on day zero, or day one, or day five ff spontaneous sourdough fermentation, would lose them by day 10, all due to the schedule of feedings and  fermentation temperatures chosen by the investigators. 

As with everything else in bread, success with starters, and which kind you'd get, depends more on the recipe, than anything else. Good formulas give good results. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

they have scientifically proven that L San Fran is present in milled flour.  You are correct......  It is pervasive and everywhere.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Based upon that summary it looks like they couldn't find it in the wheat or water and only found it when wheat was mixed with the water.  I am no biologist or chemist but maybe, just maybe, it is a combining of ingredients that creates the bacteria in question. The living dough that that creates life Itself.  This is biblical. 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

D

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Well that clears that up, thank you. My knowledge was out of date. Up until now I had not seen any proof that l.sanfranciscensis exists natively on the flour. I believe you were the only member on TFL that was privy to this new information.

The fact that yeasts and bacteria are transmitted through the air is of minor interest to me, it's just a means for dispersal. I'm more interested in where they live. I think the proliferation of l.sanfranciscensis is due to us humans making sourdough cultures. Type 1 cultures favourably select for it and is where it thrives. The question is would it even exist if we didn't make sourdough bread?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

fine artical on Sourdough cultures from discover magazine

http://discovermagazine.com/2003/sep/featscienceof 

paul0130's picture
paul0130

Good feedback guys, thanks. Good article too. The funny thing about my current starter is after my little oven episode, and a day or two of thinking I killed it, this thing really took off. It's doubling in size every 12 hours, at 100% and about 1:5:5 ratio or so. I'm pretty much eye balling ratios. But the scent is most puzzling. I'm telling you, it almost burns the nose from the acidic smell. My KAF is not like that at all, and has a more fruity smell. Anyone ever seen (smelled) that before? I'm telling my family it's beach bread anyway :) That is where it was born after all.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

stop feeding it, give it a chance to catch up to the feedings.  Skip one or two feedings (let if ferment more) and see if it disappears or changes aroma or gets milder when you stir it.   Stir is about 3 or 4 times a day.

Mini

paul0130's picture
paul0130

Thanks for the tip! I thought if I didn't feed it I would "starve" the yeast and it would become more acidic. Man, I have a lot more reading to do! I'll skip tonight's feeding, but I was going to start building it up tomorrow morning to start my sponge Saturday morning. Will it still be good with the higher acidic level, or should I skip two feedings, get it stable, and shoot for Sunday morning?

paul0130's picture
paul0130

I'm using a stainless steel spoon for stirring :/ Hope that's OK.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Lets see... you're feeding at 1:5:5 and it only doubles.  

Do you let it rise further?  Don't get caught thinking doubling is all it can or has to do.   It should be going much higher in 12 hours that is why I suggest you skip a feeding or two in a row.  Let it rise until it can no longer, slows down, levels out (starts to dimple in the middle) and falls down (deflate) a little bit.  Stir.  Hopefully the aromas have improved and when they have,  add flour and water to it (no discard) if you want to build for a recipe.  You don't have to worry about starving them just yet.  It is possible to overfeed them or feed too soon.  Better to err on the side of not feeding enough than overfeeding, if you want the truth.  When you see that level out, pop it into the fridge and use it when you are ready to mix up bread dough.  

More important to let it peak or rise to it fullest first peak (yeah, there is a second one before the food runs out) before giving all those little beasties more food.  That tends to increase the yeasties and make lots of em work for ya.  By the way... is that Myrtle beach in South Carolina?   :)

paul0130's picture
paul0130

That's SC :) I think the warm weather really helped getting that bad boy started. My air conditioned house was probably too cool when I tried last year. That's good advise about waiting on the feedings. I did not know that and wish I knew earlier. I skipped last night and just stirred. It doubled again overnight, but still burns the nose. So I stirred again this morning without feeding and see where I am tonight. Guess I'll bake Sunday if it smells OK. It's true what they say about this process being part art and part science. I think that's the appeal for me. I saw the thread about naming your starter. Don't know if "Myrtle" is a great name. Laird is more of a surfer name :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

As a kid, picked up lots of ancient shark teeth on that beach, how about:  "shark tooth" starter? 

Myrtle is a good name.   :)   So is "Sandlapper"    (I think I just heard them break into song, "We are good sandlappers, yes, we're good s...  ..very finest fridge in the USA!" )  Wonder if I can teach my starter beasties to sing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbVkkvxHA_g 

paul0130's picture
paul0130

Those are good suggestions... maybe I'll steal Jimmy Buffet's beer name and call it LandShark!

SCruz's picture
SCruz

While surviving a scorching heat might indicate that your SD was local to Myrtle beach, If the yeast came exclusively from there it would smell more like wet beach towels, the grips on miniature golf putters, or donuts. ;-)

Case closed.

paul0130's picture
paul0130

LOL! Now that you mention it...

doughooker's picture
doughooker

For you to state that it exists on wheat is a completely unsubstantiated claim and the only source of confusion in this thread.

I highly object to you speaking for others hence my tone. If you feel shot down then know you brought it upon yourself.

I don't mind being corrected, in fact I welcome it, but is it possible for you to make a point on this board without being argumentative and bellicose?

I suspect it isn't.

 

doughooker's picture
doughooker

Thank you for posting that, Mariana.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Now I can go back to stating that it comes packaged with the wheat berries. Thanks to Mariana for posting.

The fact that Sanfranciscensis is also found in saliva is something I'd rather not let a wider audience know - detracts from the art form...,

Wild-Yeast