Some Sourdough Questions

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by brisket, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. brisket

    brisket

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    1)  Reading through posts on the forum I saw advice saying that half of the starter should be discarded and the other half fed.  What is the reason for throwing some away?

    2)  Our starter is 19 months old now, and just flour and water has gone into it so far.  Is there anything else that should be in there like honey or sugar or added yeast?

    3)  How much should we be feeding it and how often?  We have about 6 liters of starter.

    4)  There a trappist beer that I really like called Orval.  It was a strain of yeast in it that makes it taste very delicious.  Will something bad happen if I replace the water in the feed with beer?  The beer contains a wild yeast called Bretanomyces.

    5) The texture of our starter is fairly runny and spongelike.  I've seen other starters that were more like dough.  Our starter doesnt double up in size either but it does have a lot of bubble and frothing action going on so it must be alive.  Why doesn't it double up?  Should it be more doughy?

    6)  When we make sourdough its a three days process of letting it rise and punching down.  Does it have to take this long?  Chef says its to allow the gluten to develop.  What does this mean?

    Thanks guys :)
     
  2. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Hi Brisket -- good questions.

    1)  Reading through posts on the forum I saw advice saying that half of the starter should be discarded and the other half fed.  What is the reason for throwing some away?

    So as not to build up an unmanageable amount of starter.  You only want enough to keep the culture going.

    2)  Our starter is 19 months old now, and just flour and water has gone into it so far.  Is there anything else that should be in there like honey or sugar or added yeast?

    No.  Absofrigginglutely not.

    3)  How much should we be feeding it and how often?  We have about 6 liters of starter.

    Most people feed weekly.  Most people throw out half the old starter and replace it with the same amount of 50/50 water and flour.

    4)  There a trappist beer that I really like called Orval.  It was a strain of yeast in it that makes it taste very delicious.  Will something bad happen if I replace the water in the feed with beer?  The beer contains a wild yeast called Bretanomyces.

    Maybe, maybe not.  Next time you feed your starter, save a little of what you'd ordinarily throw out and start another culture with it and the beer.

    5) The texture of our starter is fairly runny and spongelike.  I've seen other starters that were more like dough.  Our starter doesnt double up in size either but it does have a lot of bubble and frothing action going on so it must be alive.  Why doesn't it double up?  Should it be more doughy?

    As long as you can figure out proper hydration ratios for your breads, they rise and taste good -- it's cool.  Starters are a lot like animals.  No two are going to be absolutely alike. 

    If you want to stiffen your starter up a little, try making the feed mix 2 or 3 parts flour, to 1 part water and see if that doesn't do it for you.  You can adjust flour/water ratio at any feed.  

    6)  When we make sourdough its a three days process of letting it rise and punching down.  Does it have to take this long?  Chef says its to allow the gluten to develop.  What does this mean?

    Three days isn't that unusual, especially if you're not using regular, commercial yeast as well.  Wheat flour has a kind of proteins called glutens.  They are stretchy -- and when you stretched help the bread to develop texture and chew.  The more they are stretched, whether by kneading or autolysis-punch down, the more they "develop." 

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
  3. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Ya know, Boar, you're supposed to leave a little room for discussion. But you've gone and answered all the questions perfectly.

    Spoilsport!
     
  4. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    KY,

    Despicable me.

    BDL
     
  5. chefross

    chefross

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    I have a poolish that was made from grapes 17 years ago. It was given to me by a French Chef acquaintance of my client.

    A few years back I added a bottle of Heinekein's to it to see what wold happen. The taste was pretty good, so every years I do it again.
     
  6. brisket

    brisket

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    Well answered, thank you. :)