The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"Nom Nom"

Lechem's picture
Lechem

"Nom Nom"

Just tasted my starter for the first time since it's creation 4 years ago. It's been through many different flours and hydration in that time. More recently it's 100% hydration 50:50 blend of bread flour and whole-wheat flour. Fed 24 hours ago and refrigerated when peaked. Just built a levain from it and decided to taste a half a teaspoon of it then spit it out. Since it's my first time I'm not considering myself a connoisseur in starter tasting. What am I looking out for? Can I discern different tastes? etc. So please excuse my very amateurish description. So I'm not getting a lot of different tastes really. The first overwhelming taste is sherbet vinegar. However with a bit of swishing around the mouth this subsides to a much more mellow taste which I can't really pinpoint. Will have to repeat but not sure what descriptions come to my mind. It was pulled from the fridge so perhaps a cold starter will be more difficult than a room temperature starter but that's it for now. Perhaps a little guidance? 

The inner connoisseur told me to spit it out which I gladly listened to. Washed my mouth out with water and now downing a vintage oak aged apple cider :) 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

No idea on what to look for but the couple of times I dared to sample a smidgen of my starter, it was just very sour/vinegary and not pleasant at all. 

Curious to see the other responses. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

When it's ready. Now I aim to learn to taste my starter for the benefit of better bakes. At the moment I'm in the same boat as you. Overwhelming vinegar taste. Not sure why it would subside to a mellow taste, if that's normal and what to interpret from it. I'm hoping someone can shed light on this. 

Eventually I want to be able to taste it and say - mmmm I think what I'm looking for is more/less hydration and to ferment it at such and such a temperature to get the bread I'm after. Or to be able to say - needs more feeding to build up the yeasts or lesser feeds for more tang. 

Right now - "vinegar"

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

i used to do a 1:1:1 wholewheat/white starter and found it was more vinegary especially when it maxed out...i have since switched to 1:3:3 and have a much mellower one, slight acidity with citric notes if you get my meaning...i also have a rye starter which has a wonderful crab apple taste...  these days im using young levains so get them really active in the day leading up to bake and then using within 5 - 6 hours. Mellower flavour with great activity (which i prefer).  

Lechem's picture
Lechem

So a mix of white flour and whole wheat gives a more vinegary flavour but you also kept it at 1:1:1. The bigger feed mellowed it out giving it a more citric note - that's it! The starter was given a big feed and then left to peak. The "sherbet" vinegar must have been the citric notes I was tasting. I'm assuming the vinegar was quite strong as it was mature. Crab apple sounds like an interesting flavour to have in a starter. I do have another whole rye starter which I should taste next and compare. So you prefer two feedings with the first to strengthen it and the second to mellow it out. 

Thank you! It's good to compare notes. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

tastes like prime rib but then I would be horribly under appreciating it.  After 24 weeks in the fridge it smells like a something you don't want to eat ....like over ripe brie cheese.  Then, when you taste it, is more like some old gym socks, worn many times and put away wet in a smelly old gym bag ....... then left to ripen and turn a bit green.  All I can say is yum and you dolt want to use it till it is just like that too.....if ......you are at all interested in unique, really sour bread:-)

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Building an NMNF starter and putting it away for 24 weeks at the back of the fridge without touching it. One day I'd really love to taste your bread Dabrownman. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Abe, I’d imagine you saw this post, but if not take a look. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/54884/my-personal-starter-challenge

Jim’s experiment is well documented and eye opening.

Dan

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Abe, I looked for the article but didn’t find it. But I think the following is accurate. The difference in Sour from a PH of 4 to a PH of 3 is ten fold. So, a starter at 3.5 is 5 times more sour than one at 4.0. I bought test strips and even a digital meter to test acidity. But I’ve learned that taste is the most reliable method. I like you and others found the thought of tasting the starter semi-repulsive. But if you start out by tasting a “sweet” starter it is actually pleasant. Forget the spoonful, just the slightest amount (use finger tip) is plenty good enough to discern. If you do find you like the taste, don’t forget to save some for refreshing. Hehehe... LOL

This is how I am presently training my taste buds. I determine the PH with either a meter or strip. I find either one to be accurate. Then I taste the starter. Now since mine is presently sweet (PH of 4.0) after feeding the starter, I leave some out to continue its LAB development. In a matter of hours it will start to sour. Test with strips again (maybe down to 3.5) and taste. You will quickly learn that the taste differences are not subtle but drastic. The taste difference between 4 and 3.5 are obvious. I know that may be a little obsessive, but for me it settled the question.

If my starter too acidic, I follow your advice and feed a higher ratio of Flour to water. I’m building my starter for yeast, lifting power. Finally got mine to go 12 hrs from feed to recede, by feeding 1:3:5 (5 - 1, starter to flour) using KA AP flour @ 76 F. I can set my watch by it. 

If you want to try the strips, it is important to select on that test a very small range in order to be more accurate. I think it is Rienhart that suggest this range.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LY1KIWY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I am pretty sure the above is accurate, but if anyone finds any inaccuracies, please let us all know.

HTH, Dan

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Well you learn something new everyday - the difference between 4 - 3 on the PH is tenfold. I wonder where my starter is at. Getting some PH level strips should be interesting. 

Thanks for that Dan. 

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

Abe.. my experience would tell me that if I keep my starter well and consistently fed and in a warmer spot, then I get a sweeter smelling and less sour starter. I also agree with the view that a rye or whole wheat fed flour seems more acidic and more sour tasting to me than one fed with bread or AP flour. I've moved to entirely AP feedings recently..

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I agree with the rye and whole wheat tasting more sour. But I wonder if the sour taste derived from those whole grains are a result of the increased metabolism they create in the starter or the actual flavor of the grains?

I guess we could test the PH of the starter. Or maybe bake bread with a sweet starter (no whole grains) and add rye and/WW into the final dough. Then taste the bread for results.

Dan

Lechem's picture
Lechem

But the starter tasted very sour so I wonder how sour a starter has to taste to get a tangy bread. Also it's how it's used within a bread I'm thinking. 

A good experiment I suppose would be to follow Forkish's sweet Levain recipe. We have three stages... 

1: a mature starter

2: fed and left for 3 hours

3: fed again and left for 4-5 hours

If I remember it correctly. Perhaps a taste at each stage would prove interesting results. 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Pretty sure that if you build a starter (using your sour starter) with 100% whole rye or a Levain with a fair amount of rye you will get sour bread.

It would be very interesting to know if whole rye increases the lab making it more sour, or if the rye itself taste sour. Or maybe a combination of the two.

In my very limited experience rye is king of sour.

Danny

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Which is 100% whole rye. I'll test that one too. 

Whenever they speak of rye sourdough they always call the starter a rye sour. Just an interesting observation. 

Corn also brings out a lovely flavour with a nice tang. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

How about DBM’s method using 90-92 degrees temperatures? That will rev up the LAB. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/40918/no-muss-no-fuss-starter

That definitely works when combined with whole rye.

Dan

Lechem's picture
Lechem

https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/san-francisco-style-sourdough-bread/

Next week's bake but I'm doing two builds of the recommended starter feed. One now and again midweek. This one is just taking a bit of my rye starter and turning it into this new starter and I'll refresh again before baking. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

You’ve got me started.

I pulled my NMNF 100% rye starters out of the refrigerator. I’m regenerating my latest of the 3. It goes back to October 6. The 2 others are 1 and 2 months older and they are not responding well. But the 13 week old starter doubled on the second feed. Boy, is that starter sour, and I’m diggin’ it.

I decided today that I’m going to peel off a few pounds. I still plan to bake bread, but after tasting it, others will reap the benefits :-(

It’s a real shame that bread tends to build the belly muscles. LOL

Looking forward to hearing about your bake.

btw - is the starter pictured above 100% home ground rye? It looks very different from mine.

Dan

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Is the recommended build in the myweekendbakery.com link for the San Francisco style bread. It's a low hydration bread flour starter.

Let me know how yours goes.

What is the taste of the final bread like of these really sour starters?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

The taste of sour - sourdough.
The words that come to mind are satisfying, complex, memorable, deep, not flour like, not yeasty at all, and I guess tangy. I wished I could be more definitive in defining the flavor in a more understandable way. It's mysterious.

But of all the descriptions, memorable stands out. After I've eaten it, and wanting more but denying myself because of excess carbs, I can still draw upon the memory I have of the texture, crunch, and flavor. Thinking hard enough will cause you to salivate.

And I'm in the process of temporarily cutting back. :-(

Dan