I know that San Fransico people are very proud. But, can you really tell the difference? Has anyone actually kept more than one colony and compared the difference?
Well its been said (and I am no expert) that the starter you keep depends on the flour you are feeding it with and not your environment. Traditionally it has been said that your area and the organisims in the air are where your culture comes from and I guess this is not the case. I would imagine if you have more than one different culture from different areas if you feed them at the same ratio with the same flour you will eventually (and probably pretty quickly) have a couple of identical cultures. I am sure someone more qualified than I will jump in and give you a more expert answer but that is my two cents.
I have three different cultures each of which has retained their own flavors and behaviors for the past 4 years. I feed them the same source of flour and water, and am careful not to cross contaminate. You can taste the difference when used the same recipe, so I rotate regularly for variation. My wife like the sourdough a bit more sour than I, so I use the Italian sourced one for her and a San Francisco one for the sweeter taste. I have a second Italian one I use exclusively for pizza dough.
I can confirm that the are different.
How are your Italian sourced and San Francisco sourdoughs different? (What did you do to create them and how do you feed them?)
I purchased mine from Sourdough International and had them posted to me in Australia.
They have quite a few on offer, all with differing behavior and flavors.
I originally feed them according to Ed Woods method, but now I'm into Jeffrey Hamelman's methods as I find them more suitable with less wastage.
I haven't started my own yet, but intend to this spring (Australia). There’s been much discussion on this site regarding cultures and what’s going on in them. A good read is http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/8229/starting-sourdough-starter-summary-internet-research
Rats. I went to look at the descriptions on sourdo.com and see that the how the differences are achieved is secret. I'm curious but not curious enough to buy the starter (it's all I can manage to maintain one starter as it is). But I'm guessing it's not a secret to tell whether the Italian version is more or less sour than the SanFransisco version. (going to look at the freshloaf sourdough thread)
Both the Italian cultures produce a more sour bread than the SF culture.
Looking back over the thread, I see that you already said that. I guess it IS a secret to say how you maintain the different starters you have so that they keep their flavours. (I must say I'm quite surprised to hear that the SanF starter is LESS sour. Having never tasted one, I had always thought that SanF sourdoughs were quite sour.)
Sorry I overlooked that query from you. I've tried a few different methods to maintain my cultures over the years. I've settled on Hamelman's method as it suits my situation and is not wasteful. I keep about 28-30 gram of each culture in small sealed labeled containers in the refrigerator. I usually only bake at the weekend, so, about Wednesday night I chose the culture(s) I intend to use on the following weekend and commence to active it by adding it to 170 g water and 136 g flour (125% hydration - Hamelman's method) and place it in my proofing box (about 24C) overnight. The next morning before leaving for work I check to see if the culture is fully active if so, put it in the refrigerator until Friday night and repeat the process overnight Friday night so I have the amount of fully active levain required on Saturday. If when checking the culture after overnight and it's not to my satisfaction, I repeat the process that day and check it in the evening. I noticed over the years that starting with a small amount of culture keeps the flavours true and not over acid and smelly.
You can influence the sourness of your final product by varying the fermentation methods and times. I've had many disasters in the past with sourdough, but in recent times I have good consistent results after reading plenty of theory on temperature control throughout the whole process.
No need to apologize, Gavin. Just to clarify, you're using Hamelman's method for both your Italian AND SanFranscisco starters? (ie: same hydration percentage) and the Italian one is still more sour?
Correct, same method for each.
Best of luck with your experiments.
When I went to Paris, I ate the sourdough bread my friend makes. The smell of the starter and the taste of the bread was very different, to me. Even though she does the same thing as I do. After a couple of days, my palate "adopted" her bread. You know the psychological phenoma, "We like what we know". I think that very much applies to sourdough bread in different areas because I think it is pretty evident that each starter has it's own little hosts.
So, yah, I'm proud of my yeasties!
I love the aroma of our wild yeast bread baking. It somehow smells cleaner than commercial yeast bread. I'd still like it to come out a little less sour but all in all we're pretty happy with the results.
I used the method for capturing yeast outlined by Susan McKenna Grant in her book Piano Piano Pieno: authentic food from a Tuscan farm. The thing I like most about her recipe is that it is truly designed for the home baker - calling for a few tablespoons of flour at a time rather than cups. The resulting amounts are plenty to make 2 loaves of bread and probably would be enough for 4....
(Here is my take on McKenna-Grant's wild yeast starter recipe.)
I am proud of my yeast. For sure. My sourdough starter came originally from the Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley, CA about 6 years ago, and has travelled across the country with me twice now. For a while, I thought that moving it had caused it to lose its sour, but I've recently produced some of the best sourdoughs I've ever made with that culture. I live in Pennsylvania now, and am making breads that compete for complexity and sourness with anything I've had in the Bay Area.
another question about the yeasts would be, do they eventually conform to the native yeasts. I've heard multiple stories about how 'eventually' the yeast will simply migrate over to the local enviornments native yeasts. Not sure if there has been any research on this subject or not.