The Fresh Loaf

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pH of stiff starters

andythebaker's picture
andythebaker

pH of stiff starters

i'm doing some R&D on stiff starters, and while i'm following instructions and washing diligently once a day, and my starter is raising beautifully in 4 hours, and i'm tasting each step, i'm still confused about if there's a general consensus on how to actually get the pH of the starter.

i have a pH meter, but what do i measure?  do i dissolve a portion of the madre in water?  what percentage?  won't that dilute my reading?

or do i use paper of some sort?  and then, do you just lay that up to the stiff starter?

thanks.

~andrew

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

giving their starter a bath (i'll try to see if I can find it).

He kept a very low hydration starter and explained that every so often he'd bathe the starter to reduce the acidity. In this tutorial he showed how a bathing a starter worked by measuring the PH level of the water before and after. So he measured the water after giving the starter a wash.

Of course this won't tell you the PH level of the now washed starter but I suppose if you broke off a small amount, washed it and then measured the water it'll give you an idea. He also didn't do it to show an exact reading but rather to show the water is now acidic. That's it.

Not sure how accurate it'll be but it'll be in the ballpark. Now I'm just guessing here but I can see how a small amount of starter in a large amount of water won't give a good reading so logically for a more accurate reading will be a large amount of starter in a small amount of water.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Abe, is this the video you want?

https://youtu.be/HPz36H7JpYs

Here is part 2.

https://youtu.be/AkBdaPpPUh0

Dan

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Thank you :)

andythebaker's picture
andythebaker

that was fun to watch

albacore's picture
albacore

Follow the method here  It also includes how to measure total titratable acidity - trickier and optional.

Lance

andythebaker's picture
andythebaker

big help.  thanks.

~a

albacore's picture
albacore

Andrew, I'd be interested to know what you find. I've only done 2 young stiff (56% hydration) levains so far.

First one was 4.08, second 4.30 - quite a difference.

Practically, the stiff levain or starter is difficult to mix with the water. I've found the easiest is to put the water in a small press and seal poly bag and drop the levain straight into the water. Seal the bag and squidge in your hands to mix. Dunk pH probe in liquid in bag.

You can use half quantities too - there should be enough for a small pH probe; I'm using one of those Ebay cheapies.

Lance

andythebaker's picture
andythebaker

hey lance:

fed for about a week, at about 45% hydration, my lievito madre ended up being at around 4.2.

(although i'm also using a cheapy i got from amazon.  and i barely know how to calibrate it properly, so, yeah...)

my panettone's proofing right now!  i'm worried though because the bulk went way too far while i slept.  (that was by far the most eager, super yeasty push i've ever gotten out of a stiff starter.)  so the secondo ended up just slightly stringy/greasy by the end of the mix, so i don't have high hopes.  maybe just medium ones.

cheers.

~andrew

 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Lance, would you elaborate more on your TTA testing? Procedures, test kit, accuracy, etc. Please explain how calculating the NaOH necessary to get to 6.6 indicates.

I am interested to learn.

Dan

albacore's picture
albacore

Sorry Dan,

I've never done TTA - a step too far, even for me! The method was just included in with the pH measurement method I found.

I guess you'd need either a colour change indicator in with the mix (poss phenol red?) or titrate with pH monitoring. So not everyday or even every week stuff!

Burettes are tricky too: tall, thin and very breakable.

Lance

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Doc.Dough tried helping me with that, but I am unable to understand. I can’t tell you how much I wish my brain was up to the task. I can only comprehend what my brain will allow, and some times my brain is very stingy :(

I thought your article indicated the test to be relatively easy. Doc told me that it is time consuming and somewhat complex. I was hoping that you had a “light” version :)

Boy, I thought I was obsessive! I use a pipette to measure the water for my starter. I know nowthat I will have finally graduated (OCD University) when I find myself using a burette <LOL>

Dan

albacore's picture
albacore

Well, I would say it is simple in a lab environment, but not a home one. I'll just stick to the occasional pH measurement, so I have some benchmarks in case my starter goes belly-up acid wise.

pH meters only 12usd on Ebay, so not a big investment!

Lance