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Compilation of pH, pH Meter, and other such things

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Compilation of pH, pH Meter, and other such things

As a untrained baker concerning all things pH, I thought it good to provide this post for others that may be interested in learning along with me. The more I learn the more it becomes evident that pH and pH meter handling and maintenance is no simple thing. Although not rocket science a certain degree of knowledge is very beneficial. It is hoped that those with technical knowledge will join in and offer their expertise.

The following information may be intimating to some. I find myself in that category.
But it is, what it is...

Here is a short list of the pH meters that are commonly used among bread bakers

  • Hanna Halo Wireless- with ATC (Automatic Temperature Compensation) able to capture readings at interval over time -VIDEO-
  • Hanna Bread and Dough pH Meter - this looks like a very nice entry level model.
  • Milwaukee Pro pH and Temperature with ATC. Both a bulb type and also a spear tip probe are provided with this unit
  • others can be listed once they become known

pH strips and very inexpensive pH meters have not worked well for me. I know Benny has used an inexpensive unit, and I look forward to hearing from him about his experience.

As more information becomes available, it will be posted.

THIS VIDEO explains the basics of how pH meter determine the precise pH of a substance.

THIS VIDEO provides excellent tips for pH probe handling and maintenance.

Best practice to clean probe tips after they are used for starters, levains, or bread dough

We are cautioned to NOT WIPE the probe tip with a cloth or paper towel
I contacted Jason with Milwaukee Instruments. He tells me that this procedure will work.

  1. Use the sprayer on the kitchen sink to wash off ant debris from the probe tip
  2. Rinse the tip in distilled water
  3. Store the probe tip in dedicated Storage Solution - Storing in water will ruin the probe

pH Probes are delicate, extremely sensitive and require special care. They should NEVER be stored dry.
The perfect probe for dough and bread, but not the cheapest is the Spear Tip Probe. It will even measure the crumb via direct insertion with reasonable accuracy. 
Note - Milwaukee Instrument states that the probes do require replacement. They claim about a year, but I am hoping that they will last longer with occasional use.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Excellent videos, thanks for sharing Danny! I really liked the one with mistakes: some of them were obvious to me from training in university (I am afraid to imagine what our professors/TAs would do if we left the electrode dry or in water), and some - less so!

GaryBishop's picture
GaryBishop

Very interesting.

albacore's picture
albacore

I have to say I am guilty of wiping the probe with a paper towel - otherwise removing dough or levain residue would take some doing!

 

Lance

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I have been consistently guilty of that one also. I’m going to try my best not to in the future though. These probes are too expensive.

Starter on probe tip -
I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to use the kitchen spray to clean the tip, then rinse in distilled water, and place back in storage solution.

Lance, are you storing your probe in storage solution?

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Have you tried dissolving the starter in (distilled) water, say, 1:10, to measure the pH? I think the result should be the same, since water has no buffering strength, and it won't stick to the probe (and maybe a cheaper probe shape would work then, is there is a difference in price?).

From one of Rus Brot videos I seem to remember that's how it's normally done in professional settings, but don't quote me on that.

albacore's picture
albacore

I suspect the no-wipe recommendation is more relevant to traditional glass probes and probably not so much for spear tip epoxy or PVDF probes.

I store mine in a homemade mix of 50/50 3M KCl/pH4 buffer.

 

Lance

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

No Lance. The video shows a spear tip. And Jason at Milwaukee Instrument confirmed to not wipe the clear tip. As you know it is super sensitive. It is my understanding that it is best not to wipe any probe tip.

Gadjowheaty's picture
Gadjowheaty

This is what I do.  I've used my Milwaukee extensively in brewing and traditional alpine cheesemaking for years, and have always done a two-point calibration, rinse with a DI-filled wash bottle, dab (not wipe) with lens paper, and in between sessions the probe goes in storage solution.  I used to make my on 1M KCL but it's so convenient to buy, I stopped going the titrated, DIY route.

Kistida's picture
Kistida

Hi Danny, I'm amazed how many dedicated bakers have such quality control machines for their starter. I don't have one now but I've used many types back at the lab.

pH probes I used to work on were stored in potassium chloride (KCl) or pH 4/7 buffer solution. You can stir the probe it in a beaker of warm water to remove any residue, then rinse using running tap water and final rinse it in deionized, distilled water or reversed osmosis (RO) water before storing in its buffer solution. Never store the probe in the any type of water as this desensitizes the probe and ions on it will leach into the water.
Also having a range of pH solutions allow you to calibrate your machine too.

To check starter pH, a dilution of 1:5 or 1:10 might make it easier for the pH to be read. Just be sure not to expose your water too long in the air as that lowers its pH and check your water pH before diluting your starter.


 

 

 

Benito's picture
Benito

My inexpensive pH meter, it is no longer useful to me.  I is fine for what it is, I can measure pH of levains and starter easily but it isn’t useful to measuring pH of dough unless one is willing to cut a portion off and then break it down in some water.

I’m thinking of upgrading to the Hanna Bread and Dough meter and would interested in hearing anyone’s reviews of it.  I’m wondering if it is relatively durable and easy to maintain.  I’m also wondering if it is important to purchase the cleaning solutions, storage solutions etc. from Hanna or if these can be purchased from Amazon as needed.

I’m interested in using pH data as additional information in making decisions about fermentation, in particular I’m interested in seeing how it might benefit my baking of 100% whole red fife.

Benny

albacore's picture
albacore

Benny, I'm sure the 3rd party solutions are just as good as the Hanna ones. I make my own storage solution with pH4 buffer and KCl off Ebay.

Doesn't Kat have that Hanna pH meter?

 

Lance

Benito's picture
Benito

OK that’s good to know Lance, thank you.  I think I’ll bite the bullet and give it a go.  I really think that using pH based fermentation decisions will be especially helpful with certain doughs.

Benny

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Benny, Kristen uses the Hanna Halo Wireless. See the OP for links. 

I think she started out with the Hanna Bread and Dough pH Meter. Both should be excellent, but the ability to log data and set alarms should be appealing to you.

Benito's picture
Benito

Too late, I pulled the trigger on the Bread and Dough pH meter, it’ll be much better than what I have anyhow.

Thank you Dan.

Benny