The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Good idea or not?

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

Good idea or not?

An electric yoghurt maker that has a good range of temperature (many are too warm for sourdough culture but this has a wider range) for building my starter/levains builds. Or do you think it's a bit much especially if it's only for starter and i'll still have to improvise for the dough?

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/31794/Lakeland-Multi-Yogurt-and-Soft-Cheese-Maker

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Looks like the price isn't bad, though I did not see the range of temps.  My rig is closer to $125  -  a wine cooler  ( to handle retardation at temps  in the 50's F ),  and a heating pad and a controller which can set warmer temps.  If you found a small wine cooler used, you could make one for even less than I did.   

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

for a while. My ideal purchase would be something to proof the starter and dough but difficult to find something in a good price range.

Here is a snippet from the description : "An easy-to-read digital screen allows you to set the time and temperature (between 1-99 hours and 25-65°C)..."

I've seen others but they're mostly 40-45°C which is too hot for a starter.

My aim would be to ferment my starter/levain and encourage different qualities/bacteria which will thrive at different temperatures. And of course for liability in the cold weather.

How did you make yours and how controllable is it?

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

Since I am a DIY kind of guy I am more inclined to go this route:

http://www.ink-bird.com/products-temperature-controller-itc308.html

Inkbird makes many different types of controllers and this is only one example. One of these, an incandescent light bulb and some sort of container would probably do the trick. With this you are not constrained to the size of the container. If you up the size then use a larger heat source.

This particular model will control both a heating and cooling source at the same time.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

A thermos box and a temperature controller?

I am not a DIY kind of guy at all. So bear with me.

How will I know whether the temperature controller will suit the size of the thermos box and how would I set it up?  

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

This type of device is pretty simple. On one cord is a temperature probe so you put that inside your container. On another cord are two outlets that are controlled on/off by relays. One outlet is for heating and the other is for cooling. Plug in a small incandescent lamp, or some other heat source like a terrarium or plant warmer mat into the plug and put the heating source in the container with the temperature probe and the culture.

Program the controller to the temperature you desire. Since I'm guessing you need heat more than cooling you would set the heat set-point. Usually there is a hysteresis configured into the controller so that the unit is not constantly cycling every time there is a single degree change. The envelope might be plus or minus a few degrees so if you set it to 25C it will probably cycle up or down a couple of degrees.

With this method your container could be as small as a dutch oven or as large as a walk-in cooler. The only thing that changes is your choice of heating and chilling equipment. To reserve energy, although I do not think it is an issue on this small a scale, insulate your container. This is why your home oven might be a good choice since it is already insulated.

Never assume your set-point is the actual temperature inside the container for the first time or two. Always run a couple of tests with a thermometer to confirm that the temperature you select is actually being produced.

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I have this one. Bought it when I lived in a colder climate and it is great for proofing and culturing. I have never used it for "slow cooking". I think they must have decided on that feature after I bought it.

This unit was beta tested here by Fresh Loaf people-some of whom got either a prototype free or a first production unit for a great discount. I just referenced that thread for someone else recently. Unfortunately, the reviewer in that thread passed away but the other posters may still be around to answer any questions.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25326/brod-amp-taylor-folding-proofer-review

I liked it because it folded away so nicely. The size can be an inhibiting factor if you are making large or more than 1 large loaves. I see now they have an add-on rack for stacking. The temp control is not precise but it was always in an acceptable range for me and my doughs.

Good luck!

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I've had my eye on this for a long time and it's something I really want. However things always cost the same in £ as it does in $ without the exchange rate. So something which costs $148 in America costs £148 here.

One day I may just buy it. I usually look around first and end up going back to my first choice but I'd like to see if I can buy/make one for cheaper.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

looking for way I would use terrarium heater with thermostat for $8 to $25 or this one which is a  hydroponic seedling heater for $25 at Amazon

 https://www.amazon.com/iPower-Hydroponic-Seedling-Thermostat-Germination/dp/B01IDQD32Y/ref=sr_1_5/139-8202188-5921061?ie=UTF8&qid=1511967538&sr=8-5&ke...

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Never heard of it but just taken a look and that is an amazing idea. Do I need to use this inside something like a thermos box or do I just rest the starter/dough on top of it?

Portus's picture
Portus

... as I found the idea/design here on TFL.  But reptile mat and computer fan (manual override switch) coupled with  thermostatically controlled lamp provides a reasonably constant temperature controlled environment for levain and proofing of two loaves. All in cost of some ZAR600 or US$45/GBP34.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

I'm thinking of something like this but with a seedling mat. Anything else will be way over my head. The extent of my knowledge for anything electrical is changing a lightbulb. But a heated mat within a container sounds like something I can handle. Nice set-up and very innovative.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Lechem,  I don't mind diy, so I wired up one of these very basic digital controls-  https://www.amazon.com/Inkbird-All-Purpose-Temperature-Controller-Fahrenheit/dp/B00OXPE8U6/ref=sr_1_5?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1512006466&sr=1-5&keywords=digi...  -  they come in many variations in terms what power they need to run, and what power they can control.     A slightly more expensive, but much easier,  route is to go with a plug and play controller like Jim linked to, this one is $30 here  https://www.amazon.com/WILLHI-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat-Improved/dp/B00V4TJR00/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1511957068&sr=8-5&keywords=digital+tempe...   The main thing you need to confirm is that the output of the controller has enough watts, and the right voltage, to control the heat source.  The one I linked handles 1100 watts at 110 volts, which is plenty enough for a heating pad on low.    Of course, you don't need a wine cooler like I used if you don't need to cool the dough, so you could just use an ordinary ice chest or igloo type cooler, or any other insulated container.  The insulation helps keep the temp steady, and cuts down on electricity.  

I don't think the seeding mat with the starter resting on top would be ideal, unless you kept it in some container, since you would only be warming the bottom of the dough.  The solution suggested by dabrownman looks like a cost efficient route, though since it says it will only increase temp 10 to 20F above ambient,  I would put it in a thermos box.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Just had a look and reeled back in horror at the photo captioned "How to wire" :-O

I think I'm settling on the idea of a simple plug in heated mat with a box of some sort. Thanks for the advice and for your patience in trying to teach someone like me DIY.