Individual Starters and their Unique Characteristics
I wonder. Have we taken into consideration that starters are unique and produce individual results? I have read (and believe) that our starters have basic similarities. The type(s) of yeast and LAB(s) that are found in one starter will often be found in another. From what I’ve read, it seems that the microbes in our starters (the world over) have more in common than not.
What I hope to discuss in this post is the characteristics of our starters. Some starters double in 2 hours while others may take 12. Some starters will maintain maximum rise for hours where others may not. I’d venture a guess and say that some starters favor different temperatures than others. Many bakers liken their starters to pets. And have even given them names. We all know how different one pet is from another. None behave exactly the same.
Considering the above, I wonder - are we aware of the possible variables that a sourduogh culture introduces to our bread baking? For most of the sourdough bakers with experience, I think we are. But probably our awareness is unconscious. I know mine is.
If we were to forego our starters and use commercial yeast, our baking variables would greatly (maybe completely) be eliminated. If we knew our flour and water, and could control the temperatures, we would be able to follow a recipe instruction with precision.
But sourdough is both art and science. The instructions, especially timing, for SD bread are given as a generalized reference. And we all do well to take them as just that. If the baker fails to mention the temperatures at ferment, we’re even more so on our own. My point is, even though the baker has instructions that are precisely detailed, temperature and all; how can the instructor know the characteristics of each of our starters? His or her starter may double in 3 hours, when it takes 8 hours for mine to get there.
Natural fermentation is an art. I believe many of us are drawn to sourdough because of that. And then there’s the flavor...