Compare 3 Starters, 1 w/sugar
Benny started an interesting experiment that was right up my alley. He wanted to know the affect that sugar had on a SD starter. I am always looking to enhance the yeast in my starter. So here I go…
Images above and below show calibration before any readings were taken.
Image below shows pH reading of original starter after removal from fridge and warmed on counter for 2hr.
Below is pH of standard refreshed starter, mixed 1:1:1. NOTE - all feed flour was high protein white.
Below - No Sugar pH. Mixed 1:1.5:3 (~50% hydration)
Below - 33.3% sugar when calculated against the feed flour. Mixed 1:1.5:3:1 (starter:water:flour:sugar)
All 3 starter will be covered and placed in the proofer that is set to 80F.
Quadruple rise after 4hr on 1:1:1 - 100% hydration w/no sugar
pH at refresh was 4.52 - At maturity (image below) 4.19
1:1.5:3 matured in 6hr, ~4x rise
pH at refresh was 4.88 - At maturity (image below) 4.04 ~50% hydration w/no sugar
1:1.5:3:1 (starter:water:flour:sugar) ~3.25 rise after 7hr
pH at refresh was 4.84 - At maturity (image below) 4.51 ~50% hydration w/sugar
After the testing was complete, the probe was checked against a calibration solution of 4.01.
The original 1:1:1 lowered pH by 0.33
The stiffened starter 1:1.5:3 lowered pH by 0.84 (I wonder if the extra 2hr it took to mature this starter over the 1:1:1 account for the large drop in pH)
The sugared starter 1:1.5:3:1 lowered pH by 0.33
NOTE - all 3 starters fermented @ 80F
Another interesting observation -
The original starter, which is kept @ 1:1:1 and fed once a week (unless it is used to bake, in that case more often) shows a pH 4.19 at maturity. But once refrigerated for a week the pH reading was pH 3.84. A pH drop of 0.37.
- - - Just realized something that wasn’t taken into consideration - - -
After the refreshed starter matures and before it is refrigerated my practice is to add a large pinch (~3-4g flour) is added to the starter for extra feed and also to maintain a stronger starter with less degradation over the following week. I plan to not only measure the pH at maturity, but also after the extra feed is stirred in. The extra flour will probably raise the pH a bit.
Why is it others commonly report the pH of their refreshed starters higher than 5? And my refreshed starters are always in the high 4s?
Benny’s answer (whole wheat and buffering) may answer this question.