The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough Device

sourdough_research's picture
sourdough_research

Sourdough Device

Hey everyone,

I am a design student at Loughborough University and I have designed a device that maintains sourdough starters for my final year project. The device has a water bath in which a sourdough starter is placed inside. It monitors the conditions and allows you to create the perfect conditions for keeping it active. 

I've attached some photos and it would be great to get some feedback to see what everyone thinks! All feedback is welcome, and if there is any way it can be improved then let me know! 

 

 

Comments

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I see pictures and it looks neat. But can you talk us through what it does? And perhaps a video? 

sourdough_research's picture
sourdough_research

Yh sure! So you remove the lid and pour 100ml of water into the water bath. You then place the container (which would have your sourdough starter) into the water bath. You then place the lid back on top. It comes with a mobile application which then allows you to either 'maintain' or 'activate' it. When you maintain it, you choose how often you want to feed it and it keeps it at a stable temperature. When you choose the activate feature, you have the ability to create a routine and decide when you want it to become active for baking. In the app you can continuously check its activity levels and condition. When its active, you will be notified and simply remove it from the device. It uses algorithms that adjust the temperature and controls its activity levels.

I've attached a few more pictures so let me know what you think! 

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

If it can do all that then it sounds very good indeed! 

So I get that this is somewhat of a small proofed for a sourdough starter. It can maintain a temperature which can be controlled by an app. Now I'm no mavin when it comes to computers or electronics but I think I can understand all that. 

Now purely from someone who uses sourdough starter... How does it know when the starter is ready when starters are alive and there will be variables for all starters? 

Unless it's also a refrigerator it'll never need feeding in two days. 

How does it know my starters health? 

Or taste it's producing? 

sourdough_research's picture
sourdough_research

So the device has an infrared and carbon dioxide sensor in the lid which both monitor how much it is rising and also how much CO2 it is releasing. It will be able to register when its reached peak activity levels using these sensors, tell you when its ready for baking and also know its condition! Adding a refrigerator feature is potentially something that could be adintointo a future model so that it can keep it dormant. 

I did some research and identified that you can control the taste by controlling the temperatures and conditions. When you adjust the taste, the device would automatically create the perfect conditions that would favour certain bacteria to create specific tastes!

Is this device possibly something you would use?! and is there anything you would change? any feedback is welcome haha 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

So the device has an infrared and carbon dioxide sensor in the lid which both monitor how much it is rising and also how much CO2 it is releasing. It will be able to register when its reached peak activity levels using these sensors, tell you when its ready for baking and also know its condition! 

Very interesting! That I can get on board with. Put all this in the description. The two day feeding is not a possibility yet though. 

From a purely novice point of view when it comes to technology it seems very good. If indeed it can do all that. 

While it seems you can control the starter and sense when it needs to be red or when it's peaked, taste in the final product has a lot to do with how it's used within the dough as well. So as far as taste goes it can be a guideline! 

sourdough_research's picture
sourdough_research

So you like the technology behind it by sounds of things! Would you use it and what do you think about the visual design? 

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I think it sounds like an electronic yoghurt maker for a sourdough starter with an advantage of the high tech stuff when it comes to maintenance. I use a yoghurt maker for my starter but toggle it manually. Yours has an app attachment and takes care! of the starter. Controlling everything from reading when it peaks down to bringing out different qualities within the starter. It's not just a choose the temperature and time. 

Design looks very good. 

One last point... This will need to be used for a starter kept as a seed only. But for starter used as both seed and production starter or for levain builds where much more might be needed and it's what goes into the dough! what happens then? 

Edit: actually it does look like it can hold quite a lot. I suppose it could be used for both! 

Wetdough's picture
Wetdough

Love the concept. If it can accurately measure CO2, pH, and temperature PLUS if there sna mechanism that can show the physical level of rise, then you have a winner. Perhaps you can use a laser that measures distance from the top of the unit to the top of the starter, a similar laser that carpenters use to measure distance in rooms. Good luck and please keep me posted if this ever goes to production!

albacore's picture
albacore

How is the device powered? I don't see any leads.

An interesting looking gadget! Maybe you could do with a pH meter in there as well!

Lance

sourdough_research's picture
sourdough_research

At the moment it's only an appearance model so it doesn't function, but it would be powered by 12 volts through the mains! What would the pH meter be used for?

albacore's picture
albacore

When making a production leaven, the pH of the leaven will drop as the levain fermentation proceeds. A suitable pH can be taken to mean that the levain is ready for use in the main dough.

French professional bakers seem to like this technique, if YouTube is anything to go by! Here is an example.

However, measuring dough pH is problematic because levain is not a liquid. There are a few spear probes that can measure a dough directly, but they don't come cheap. Otherwise a small quantity of dough is slurried up with deionised water.

Also of course, if you have a lot of sensors you are going to end up with an expensive device....

Lance